Linking students together for a summer

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Metalink improves downloads automatically using mirrors, hashes, and digital signatures. In 2012, Metalink participated for the first time in Google Summer of Code. We had four students (with a fifth via the GNU Project). All five students successfully completed their work, adding not only to our codebase, but also to our community. We learned a great deal from our students and hope we were able to teach them as well. Below is a brief description of the 5 students and their respective projects.

aria2 Web UI and Metalink/HTTP support in DownThemAll!  by Hamza Zia 
aria2 is a wonderful command line BitTorrent and Metalink client, but the terminal isn't always the best option for everyone and having a Web UI available makes it more accessible to more people. Additional features were also added to the Firefox Addon download manager DownThemAll! this summer. Hamza says, “Before Google Summer of Code I was an amateur web programmer, I had never written or worked with codebases beyond a couple of hundred lines of code. This all changed after the Google Summer of Code program, where with the help of my mentors I was able to approach a large project in manageable chunks and work with some of the very high profile Firefox Addons (DownThemAll!). At the same time I was able to create my own open source project (a web UI for aria2).”

Metalink Downloader Chrome extension by Sundaram Ananthanarayanan 
We didn't want Chrome users to be left out, so Sundaram created this extension from scratch.

Metalink/HTTP support in KGet by Aish Raj Dahal 
Aish added Metalink features to KGet, the native download manager for KDE. Aish says, "Getting to work on an Internet Standard that spans across platforms, download managers, and browsers has helped me gain an insight into the workings of open standards and implementations of RFCs. The small yet excellent community around Metalink has taught me several aspects of real world open source development for which I shall always be thankful."

wget Metalink support by İlim Uğur 
İlim added Metalink support to this ubiquitous command line downloader. This was done with the support of the GNU Project.

Apache Traffic Server cache hits for download mirrors via Metalink by Jack Bates 
The same exact file downloaded from different mirrors isn't automatically detected as already present in proxy caches. Jack had a busy summer, doing double duty online with Google Summer of Code via GPRS modem and sometimes by candlelight, while also volunteering at the Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village for orphans in Rwanda for a year. Jack says, "This project aims to address the number of times the same large files are transferred over the same internet connection, because large files are often distributed from many different mirrors or a content distribution network. This is sometimes called duplicate transfer detection and is especially helpful where a lot of people share one small, congested internet connection, like at the rural village in Rwanda where I was a volunteer."

Thanks to our students, mentors, all other contributors and supporters, and the Google Open Source Programs Office people who arrange such cool things. The Mentor Summit was tremendous and we are thankful for the whole Google Summer of Code experience.

By Ant Bryan, Metalink Organization Administrator