Everybody Loves BitTorrent


Yes, there are. You can start here: http://www.legaltorrents.com/index.htm

Is there a legitimate use for these networks

Jeff mentioned World of Warcraft patches, many linux distributions offer Bittorent link, likewise, TA Spring installers and stuff used to be avaible on BT (I don’t know if they still are, haven’t played for some time), Sub Pop Records offers some files via Bittorent (http://www.bittorrent.com/users/subpoprecords/) on top of the “regular” downloads available from their website.

other than sharing stolen software or multimedia files?

  1. That probably wouldn’t be a “legitimate” use
  2. We disagree on the meaning of the term “stolen”, but oh well…
  3. Part of the “illegitimate” multimedia file distribution lies in a gray area: british TV series downloaded by americans or chineses who couldn’t have access to them legitimately, fansubbed japanese animation watched by westerners who’d have no way to access most of them legitimately (because most of the series aren’t distributed in western countries, and because most of the westerners don’t speak japanese), …

So while most of the uses of bittorent are illegitimate, there is a legitimate use for the networks indeed.

Finally, about part 3 (especially on the subject of japanese animation), it should be noted that the “popularity” of series’ fansubs can be used as a market study on the potentials of an official distribution of the serie.

Along with the legitimacy of the downloads, is BitTorrent secure? Is there any mechanism to ensure the integrity (i.e., non-modified nature) of the downloads/uploads? Is there some mechanisms to keep my machine secure once I open the firewall to BitTorrent? How do I ensure that I have a legitimate (i.e., non-malware) torrent downloady-thing (client software?)?

you don’t need a seed, as long as the peers have all the pieces amongst them.

BitTorrent is a terrible Long Tail client.

That’s only half right. Most people haven’t caught on yet, but BT is great as a supplement to existing protocols. That is, don’t just provide an HTTP or FTP link, but provide an alternate torrent link. When the torrent dries up, you still have the direct download to fall back on. Even better, work has been done to make PHP (and other-language) scripts that act as both seeding clients and trackers, so that you don’t need anything more than a standard web server. (Because, really, that’s what the HTTP Partial-Content spec is all about. Same for FTP ranges.)

Similarly, there are RSS clients that are smart enough to use the torrent file if it is provided, but will fall back to the direct download if it is not. I’m pretty sure there was even work done to provide an (unofficial, of course) HTML attribute for anchor elements that would specify a torrent to try before the regular link. You’d need an extension to handle it, but it’s not like building an extension is rocket science. Effectively, you’ve recreated the opposite of the old LOWSRC attribute. “Try this high-bandwidth option first, then fall back to the old stuff later.”

I’ve spent more time than I can retell trying to convince podcasters to provide two feeds: one with direct-link enclosures, and one with torrent file enclosures. A large majority of the people smart enough to subscribe to a podcast are also smart enough to recognize the benefits of BT. Give them a simple page that shows how to use their BT client to subscribe to an RSS feed (uT and Az can do this), and you have faster podcast downloads with smaller bandwidth bills. And really, BT is perfect for podcasts, as the flash mob you get with BT is exactly what you get with a podcast. Similarly for vlogging, screencasting, etc.

The most common argument is “but I can’t track it, and I can’t advertise with it”. This is totally untrue. You can track BT downloads just as well as you can track HTTP downloads. (Yes, there are edge cases where you can get in via DHT without talking to the tracker, but a stealth client in the swarm will catch those malfeasant folks.) And really, you can advertise in a torrent file RSS feed the exact same as in a direct-download RSS feed.

http://www.publicdomaintorrents.com is one.

I’d love to see some BT implementations that make it work well for small bits of content… E.g. a plugin to Firefox that is a BT client that can download images, and a server-side component that would be the tracker and also embed the tracking info into the HTML document so the client doesn’t need to do a seperate request for that.

Second Life should probably also adopt a similar technique if it wants to actually scale.

This is a great blog, but I was disappointed to see lots of inaccurate information in this post. Most of which has already been pointed out above so I will refrain from re-posting it.

Hmm… why do I love Bit Torrent?

  1. Super slow downloads. I can get stuff through bearshare twice as fast.

  2. 10 minute tracker connections. P2P stuff like Kazaa and Bearshare are connected in 30 seconds, but Bit Torrent takes 10 minutes before it will start looking for other peers to download from. Now that’s efficiency.

  3. Stability. I’ve tried various Bit Torrent clients (and client versions) and with the exception of the WoW updater, all have caused my firewall, antivirus, or both to crash. Then the Bit Torrent clients crash themselves. On Windows XP SP2, that’s a lot of fun.

  4. Security: see #3.

  5. Availability. I’ve let the max upload and download run on my machine and had plenty of space, but no one is ever on sharing the stuff I want. The host says there’s 40 seeders and 20 leechers on right now, why can’t I get anything? I don’t care about porn, or music, I just want to get the stuff I want.

Yeah, I love Bit Torrent… NOT

You only need to provide a traditional download link because many people don’t have bittorrent clients. You can get rid of your ftp server, and just seed your own file.

Eventually, browsers will have bittorrent capabilities, and you will be able to right-click and save, and not even notice the difference (unless no one is seeding.)

About the connection speed. I have also suffer with many torrents, mostly the ‘unpopular’ ones, and I came back to emule, which I stopped using some years ago because it was really crappy and, voila! It has become a fast reliable way of sharing. If you have never given it a try, do it now, if you have and dropped it, give it a second chance as I did.

Maybe it’s been pointed out already but bittorrent was not first with this kind of “sharing your bandwith”, so he doesn’t deserv any reward for that. Although he was probably the first to base a protocol for distributed file sharing on top of HTTP which was what made it explode.

All the other solution that predated BT was too complicated and required central servers.

Even NASA agrees :
“I thought P2P and Filesharing were illegal!
This is a common misconception. BitTorrent, and peer-to-peer (P2P) are protocols, like HTTP and EMail. It is true that they can be used to share files illegally, but the same is true of HTTP. Our use here is legitimate, however, so you should have no need to be concerned.”

From the Visible Earth FAQ, located here: http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/faq.php

Totally agree, but I think before that can happen, we need mass penetration of a “don’t make me think” torrent client. Perhaps something in the web browser, like Opera, or as a native part of the OS itself.

I’m actually somewhat surprised that Firefox hasn’t included it into the base OS. Perhaps I should check for plugins? That’d be a big thing for Firefox to have, a Bittorrent client built in… simply click the torrent and Firefox will take care of it for you.

Any Firefox coders in the house? :slight_smile:

mynameishere: Opera has bittorrent capabilities, I don’t notice the diference :slight_smile:

To Tom: hummmm… with the right trackers BT starts almost inmediatly, and when it comes to proper legal downloads (Linux Iso’s and so) it’s amazing how fast it goes. About the rest of yopur complains… a) you don’t have tried a good client and b) you don’t understand what’s about.

To Sailor Moon: I use to leave the most uncommon torrents for a few weeks before deleting them from the incoming folder. I like to keep the share ratio over 2.5, for that I have just left the PC at home with no downloads but loads of seeds, just for the spirit of sharing. Some people were nice to you, be nice to the following in the chain!!

Love it… it’s fast, lightweight and does what it says in the tin.

Thanks for the background on BitTorrent. I really exicted by the idea of leveraging this stuff with .NET.

Jonathan Allen

I was disappointed to see lots of inaccurate information in this post

How so? Others have clarified with additional information, but I don’t believe anything I said was inaccurate.

BTW, if you’re running Windows, the best client by far is uTorrent (Micro Torrent). It’s ultra small, has a very clean UI, and it’s extremely efficient:


Also, if you want to experiment with a torrent for the first time, try out the South by Southwest (SXSW) artist showcase torrent. 739 MP3s from 739 artists.


AND it’s legal. :wink:

You might also mention the distribution of various Linux operating systems as a highly utilized, perfectly “legal” use of the BitTorrent protocol.


“To Tom: hummmm… with the right trackers BT starts almost inmediatly,”

so what are the right trackers? I’ve been to over a dozen websites and checked trackers on all of them"

“and when it comes to proper legal downloads (Linux Iso’s and so) it’s amazing how fast it goes.”

Is that why I couldn’t get Red Hat 9 disc 3?

" About the rest of yopur complains… a) you don’t have tried a good client"

Huh? Double check your grammar please, and what is a good client. As I stated before, I have tried multiple clients and multiple versions of them over the last couple of years. I gave up on Bit Torrent a month ago after three popular clients failed. The first caused an error in Zone Alarm, the second caused Avast to shut down, and the third just crashed the entire system.

" and b) you don’t understand what’s about."

Care to enlighten me?