Hotline – The Glory Days Of P2P
The world of Hotline was pretty exciting in the late 1990’s to early 2000’s. Hotline Comm initially ran the two main tracker servers known as mac.hltracker.com and pc.hltracker.com. Between the Mac and PC users there was much conflict and whenever a server purposely listed on the wrong tracker, it was often attacked or hacked in some way. Icon lists made their way into Hotline providing a graphical overhaul of the userlist. The three more well known lists include SoSueMe, Badmoon and Digital Obsession. Eventually a few large and open trackers united all servers together. A few examples include tracker.sunwave.com, tracked.group.org and dmp.fimble.com. Sadly, most of the community has gone on to other things. A few people still linger on the remaining Hotline servers, and a few others have moved over to the KDX protocol (closed source, no longer being developed). Two other protocols which have small followings include Wired and Carracho.
I grew up in the days of dialup Internet with a Macintosh IIsi and a 28.8kbps modem. My introduction to the Hotline software came during high school when I saw a friend of mine downloading pirated software on our school’s T3 line. Having previously only toyed with FTPs and some light IRC, the Hotline software opened the door to a new world of chat and file distribution for me. It wasn’t long until I had to install a dedicated phone line and purchase more storage in the form of an Iomega Zip drive. In those days we downloaded software for the sake of having it, and only bothering to use 25% of the software you downloaded wouldn’t be unheard of. Ultimately I found the greatest benefit to be in Hotline’s chat feature. Having a certain file on your server may be what brought users to you, but the chat discussions are what made people stay.
If you’re interested in seeing what’s left of the Hotline community, archived versions of the client and server software can be found at https://preterhuman.net/gethotlinekdx.php and a snapshot of some remaining trackers can be found at http://tracker.preterhuman.net.