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Check background apps for possible bandwidth usage System
I am a frequent user and tester of synchronous Internet applications -- iChat, Skype, various SIP phones such as Eyebeam, and a variety of desktop videoconferencing solutions. I have had very mixed performance with these lately.

Last night I wondered if I had any new 'podcast' videos (since I had subscribed to a feed of funny videos, following this hint). And then it struck me: by leaving iTunes running while trying to do a videoconference, I was opening the possibility of another network and CPU-intensive operation occurring while I was trying to talk to someone. Some of those videos are hundreds of megabytes -- hardly what you want downloading while you are in a videoconference with your boss!

This possibility hadn't previously occurred to me, but once I started thinking about it, I started to think of all the other apps that do periodic checks and possibly download significant amounts of stuff: Safari with its RSS feeds, NetNewsWire and its RSS feeds, even Mail and the periodic checks that it does.

The simple solution, of course, is to quit these apps when attempting a voice or video connection. A longer term solution would be for these apps to 'notice' what else is happening on the network interface and alert the user somehow. In fact, given this trend, it might make sense for Apple to build this in as a framework that is available to all application developers and include some sort of priority setting ("ask all other apps to stop doing periodic network checks while I am in iChat"...) which would be simpler and less intrusive than having to quit the application.

There is precedent for this. iChat already sends a message to iTunes to stop playing the current song. As Apple moves to integrate more communication services on the computer, they are going to have work out a way for them all to get along. Currently third party applications, like Skype, don't take advantage of even simple things like pausing iTunes, but hopefully they will do that AND pause network-instensive (and CPU intensive) activity, at least as an option.

If this isn't a system function, perhaps it is an opportunity for a third party app: something that you could 'register' your various network intensive and CPU intensive applications with and then when you started using one, it would offer to (or automatically) pause the others.

In the meantime, I will be manually quitting apps when I have an important conference call. I hope this hint helps others in this situation -- especially those of us without a lot of bandwidth/CPU to spare.
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Authored by: ThreeDayMonk on Oct 25, '05 09:17:06AM

Perhaps trickle might work:

trickle is a portable lightweight userspace bandwidth shaper. It can run in collaborative mode (together with trickled) or in stand alone mode.

trickle works by taking advantage of the unix loader preloading. Essentially it provides, to the application, a new version of the functionality that is required to send and receive data through sockets. It then limits traffic based on delaying the sending and receiving of data over a socket. trickle runs entirely in userspace and does not require root privileges.

By replacing the executable within a .app package with a wrapper using trickle, each application could be configured to use only a set portion of the available bandwidth.

However, the current version of trickle doesn't build on OS X due to some poll() irregularities.

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Authored by: Delarue on Oct 25, '05 03:28:31PM
trickle version 1.07 (get it here) compiles with the following changes made to the file trickle-overload.c
< #if defined(__linux__) || (defined(__svr4__) && defined(__sun__)) || defined(__OpenBSD__) || defined(__MACH__)
> #if defined(__linux__) || (defined(__svr4__) && defined(__sun__)) || defined(__OpenBSD__)
However, it doesn't seem to do anything, at least not on my system (Tiger). Running trickle on curl or Safari seems not to affect download rates within these programs at all. Maybe trickle has to be adapted to Darwin? Would be interesting to know. Maybe someone who knows about these things can tell us?

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Check background apps for possible bandwidth usage
Authored by: adrianm on Oct 25, '05 09:45:08AM
I noticed that my wireless access point (Netgear WPN802) has a WMM feature:
WMM (Wireless Multimedia) is a subset of the 802.11e standard. WMM allows wireless traffic to have a range of priorities, depending on the kind of data. Time-dependent information, like video, audio, or voice will have a higher priority than normal traffic. For WMM to function correctly, wireless clients must also support WMM.
Obviously wireless only, but does the wireless extreme cards in Mac's support this? Would iChat / QuickTime support it?

Would be very nice if iChat AV, QuickTIme etc was higher priority than regular surfing, and background high volume downloads (System Update, iTunes updates, bittorrent, etc) would be a lower priority.

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The Best Solution
Authored by: lullabud on Oct 25, '05 09:53:42AM

Thinking network-wide here, you don't want to go shutting down all apps on every node when you are running a video conference with your Boss, so the best solution is really having a router which supports QoS. Skype doesn't appear to support diffserv tagging, but there's no doubt it will some time in the future. Until then you'd have to have a QoS router where you could set up IP QoS rules based on IP addresses, protocol and port number. That way your time-sensitive traffic always gets highest priority, even when other internet traffic exists.

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The Best Solution
Authored by: samkass on Oct 25, '05 02:24:59PM

The iChat that shipped with Tiger enabled QoS flagging for all its packets. It caused all kinds of problems with routers and ISPs that didn't support it, leading to a significant number of people that couldn't use it at all. I think 10.4.2 either made it optional or disabled it entirely. QoS isn't really ready for "prime time" yet.

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The Best Solution
Authored by: BiL Castine on Oct 26, '05 06:22:18AM

if you have a Linksys WRT54G router, Sveasoft many others) make hacked firmware that will enable QoS scheduling. read the web site before purchasing a router, and be sure your router is v4 or lower (v5 is current and severely crippled compared to earlier versions)

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Check background apps for possible bandwidth usage
Authored by: Delarue on Oct 25, '05 03:39:04PM
Have a look at this thread discussing some bandwidth limiting applications (Carrafix and Throttled). These applications limit throughput portwise and/or for certain IPs.

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Check background apps for possible bandwidth usage
Authored by: Angostura on Oct 26, '05 06:23:40AM
I must admit I simply leave Net Monitor ( running in the dock I've been using it for years and it tells you at a glance how much traffic is coming in/out.

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Check background apps for possible bandwidth usage
Authored by: minn on Nov 15, '10 04:59:24AM

as for me I prefer ProteMac Meter ( )

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