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Topic 99 of 109: BitTorrent

Thu, Jan 27, 2005 (08:23) | Paul Terry Walhus (terry)
BitTorrent is the new, more stealthy napster.

It's a way to use the net like your own tivo.
5 responses total.

 Topic 99 of 109 [web]: BitTorrent
 Response 1 of 5: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Jan 27, 2005 (08:24) * 7 lines 
It's peer to peer file sharing.

The above faqs will help get you going.

 Topic 99 of 109 [web]: BitTorrent
 Response 2 of 5: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Jan 27, 2005 (08:26) * 18 lines 
You'll need a client. Here's one.

I get a lot of good, open source free software on sourceforge these days.

Then the next step is to find a "tracker site"

Here's a site that keeps track of tracker sites:

You'll also need a few players like RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, Quicktime and maybe even Divx for mpeg4's. Get one on

 Topic 99 of 109 [web]: BitTorrent
 Response 3 of 5: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Jan 27, 2005 (08:29) * 7 lines 
I've heard good things about

It will take you anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to download a 30 minute tv show. I've heard good things about Bittornado also.

Be careful, make sure you have a good firewall and anti-virus program before you mess with this stuff.

 Topic 99 of 109 [web]: BitTorrent
 Response 4 of 5: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Jan 27, 2005 (08:30) * 1 lines is a good tv torrents site.

 Topic 99 of 109 [web]: BitTorrent
 Response 5 of 5: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Thu, Jan 27, 2005 (08:33) * 35 lines 


Blogtorrent is a package that makes Bittorrent easy to use. Bittorrent is the most popular way to distribute large audio and video files online. Right now Bittorrent constitutes about 35% of all internet traffic (for real). Using Bittorrent, anybody with broadband can distribute a large file (for example, television programming) to a mass audience, without needing a big expensive server. This works because with Bittorrent, everyone who wants the file helps distribute it.
Bittorrent Basics
Here's how it works. First, people make files available on their webpages using Bittorrent. In order to download these files, you need to get a Bittorrent client for your computer. Once you have the client, you can download files from any website that uses Bittorrent.

When you click on a link to a file, you actually just get a tiny "torrent" file that tells your Bittorrent client how to get the file you're looking for. Specifically, the torrent file tells your client to connect to a special type of server (called a tracker) to find other people who have all, or parts of, that file. Once your client finds those people, it starts downloading from them. As long as one person has a whole copy of the file, everybody will get it eventually.

Blogtorrent Basics
The problem with Bittorrent is that downloading files can be confusing to first time users, and making files available is difficult for everybody--even geeks. Blogtorrent is a specially packaged version of Bittorrent that solves all these problems by letting the Bittorrent client communicate with the tracker.

Blogtorrent also makes it really easy to set up trackers. Just upload the folder to your website, change some permissions, and it's ready to go.

The Details
Once you have Bittorrent installed, using it to download files is really simple. But--and this is going to sound crazy to all you programmers out there--there are tons of people who just never make it over this hurdle. So, what blogtorrent does is give users "easy download" links in addition to links to the torrent files. The "easy download" link gives them the torrent file they want wrapped in an executable installer. The installer just installs Bittorrent, asks them where to save the file, and starts getting the torrent they want.

We can pass information to the installer by using PHP to append data to the .exe file, and a modified version of NSIS that's aware of any data appended to the exe. If they already have Blogtorrent installed, the "easy download" links just give the user a torrent file.

We only have a Windows version of the Blogtorrent client (help fix that!) so for now we just detect when people aren't using Windows browsers, and don't show them the easy download links. For Mac users, we give them instructions on how to download and install the OS X Bittorrent client. And for non-Mac, non-Windows users, we assume that since they're running some weird OS, they can probably figure Bittorrent out themselves.

This is where things get cool. By letting the tracker talk to the client, we can make starting a torrent as easy as uploading a file to a webpage. When somebody who already has the client clicks upload, they get a small file, that Blogtorrent is registered to handle. The file contains all the necessary information about the tracker, so when the client opens the file, it knows exactly where to upload torrents to. The client just asks the user to pick a file to upload, and when the user picks a file the client makes a torrent out of it, uploads the torrent to our tracker, and begins seeding. There's also an authentication process so that unauthorized users can't upload torrents to the tracker. Finally, we use the same pass-data-to-the-exe technique, so that when a first time user wants to upload something, the get asked to choose a file right after they install (no need to go back to the upload page and click again).

The Tracker
The tracker is a simple PHP tracker (based on FBTT) designed to be easy to install. We chose to use flat files instead of MySQL so that people don't have to fiddle with setting up a database. Just upload the folder and it's ready to go. Some people might need to change permissions on certain folders, but if that's the case the tracker realizes it and tell them so. The first person to login can make an account, and then they can manage the tracker.

Another feature we're really excited about is RSS. Every tracker makes an RSS feed of all publicly available torrents. The RSS feed supports enclosures, so it will work with programs like Torrentocracy or iPodderX that can automatically download RSS feeds of torrents. The RSS feed also includes "stats" data on your most popular torrents. If people want they can ping with the URL to their RSS feed. At some point, we hope we can put together an awesome, blogdex-style "Blogtorrent Top 40".

More at

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