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Brief explanation about the origin of the term itself:
The expression refers to the tales of Baron Munchhausen, who pulled himself out of a swamp by his own tuft in the german version of one of this tall tales. In some later english versions, he used his own bootstraps instead of his hair to pull himself out of the swamp. (Perhaps the term otherwise was called "tufting" or "hairing" instead of "bootstrapping", who knows...).
In technical use, the term approximately means, that a complicated system is activated by a simple one, until this one supports itself.

Relating to our mule, it means, for being able to connect to the Kademlia network, one already has to be a part of the Kademlia network before. Since this seems quite impossible to realize at first view, the method to connect anyway, is called "bootstrapping". This means, that one connects from only one known Kademlia compatiple client and its contacts to the entire Kademlia network. (Comparable with connecting to a server, whereby one gets access to the ED2K network.)

Usually, the automatic bootstrapping works quite well, using the data stored in the nodes.dat file. If this fails for some reason (outdated or no usable entries in the nodes.dat file, or even no nodes.dat file or nodes at all), you can manually bootstrap as well from any known Kademlia compatible client. The corresponding menu item is located in the menu "network" from the toolbar under the tab Kad --> Bootstrap from known clients

If this also fails "somehow" for lack of kademlia compatible clients, here some possibilities to connect the kademlia network:

  • One can download a Nodes.dat_file.
  • Another way is, to connect to a server, and start a (pro forma) download, so that after short time several kademlia compatible clients should appear, which can be used to connect the kademlia network. After successful being connected to the kademlia network, the "pro forma download" can be cancelled (also the connection to the ED2k network, if not desired).
  • Or you get a valid IP and port of any kademlia compatible client and enter its data into the input boxes in the upper right corner of the tab.