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Opera Unite alpha lets you share files -- but is it safe?

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Software

Opera Software's announcement that it's going to bundle Unite, an easy-to-use Web server with content-sharing applets, with the Opera 10 Web browser sounds great -- at first. Upon closer inspection, though, there could be some real security headaches.

For now, Unite, which is available for Linux, Mac OS X and Windows, is alpha software. That means it breaks. A lot. (I experienced a number of disconnects and freezes.) Still, I was able to get it to work on systems running Windows XP and SimplyMepis 8.0, a Debian Linux distribution.

How does it work? Unite is both a Web browser and a Web server. With the included JavaScript applets, you can easily set up what you want to share and what services you want to provide, such as an online discussion forum. Users don't directly connect to your PC -- instead, they hook up with Opera's Web proxy servers which, in turn, pull the data from whatever folders you elect to share. For example, you can share all your music or just one directory from your music library.

To make this happen, your PC and its Internet connection have to have port 8840 open. To let others get to your computer, you tell them your Unite URL.

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Opera Unite could be downright dangerous (to trees!)

roytanck.com: It lets you share files, host a chat and even serve web pages from your PC. For as long as that PC is on, and Opera is running. And that’s what scares me a little. If this thing were to seriously catch on, a lot of people might be tempted to leave their PC on longer, or even 24/7.

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