The eDonkey file sharing network is decentralized like many other file sharing networks. Two kinds of applications connect to the network, client and server. Clients allow users to connect to the network and to share files. Servers act as meeting hubs for the clients. Both client and server are available in Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and other UNIX variants.
EDonkey uses md4 hash checksums to identify files. This function allows identification of identical files with different filenames. Another feature of eDonkey is that it shares file segments before the download completes; this speeds up file distribution throughout the network.
Users on eDonkey predominantly share large files such as CD images, videos, games, and software programs. Some websites list the checksums of sought-after files to ease file searching. Some of those websites also have lists of active servers for users to update.
The Network is based on a decentralized server network. Anybody can set up a server. Because the server network is changing very often, there is a need for server lists.
There are numerous open source and free software clients for the eDonkey network. eMule is an open source Windows client, xMule is a port to several Operating Systems of eMule, MediaVAMP is a korean only client, MLDonkey is a free software client which runs on many platforms. As of 2003 the only free software server is available from the MLDonkey project.
The inventor of eDonkey invented another file-sharing network called Overnet, which interoperates with the eDonkey network, but without the use of any servers. Most eDonkey Clients now also use the Overnet Network.
See also: Ed2k link