Article by Goblin[RFD]

Mention Bittorrent to people and you will get one of these responses, a look of childlike bewilderment, a look of distrust (after all you MUST be a pirate if you use Bittorrent), or you may get an open source view which is that bittorrent is great for Linux distros and open source in general.

Fact is bittorrent is mainly used by people who download copyrighted material.  Thats a shame as the protocol is excellent for enabling quicker distribution of data without having to worry about hosting and bandwidth issues.

gtk-smallFor an open source user like myself, I use it to download obscure distros of Linux (Ubuntu Satanic Edition for example) and also the many licience free clip art available on it.  So you want to use Bittorrent? I wont ask any questions about what your intent is!  On 09/11/08 Transmission v1.40 was released, and due to being a happy user of 1.34 that came bundled with Ibex, its only right that I keep ontop of the releases!

Before I go any further, for any users that dont know what Bittorrent is, please read the next few paragraphs.  Everyone else can skip onto the section So whats so great about Transmission?

Ok, you have heard about piracy, you know it goes on and youve heard about Bittorrent, here is a simple explanation of what it is, what to use and what you should know.  The bittorrent protocol is very simply a good way of sharing files.  You first of all need a bittorrent client to connect to what is called a swarm (which is a group of users all downloading/uploading the same file)  This review is about Transmission, its very good!  There are others though, and the nice thing about our community is that you are free to choose and change as much as you like.

So lets presume that you have installed Transmission.  Bittorrent works by all users downloading different pieces of a file and sharing them with each other.  There are two types of user, Seeders and peers.  The seeders are the ones who have the whole file and are kindly still sharing it, and the peers are the ones downloading the file.  Where bittorent is different, is that everyone is sharing with everyone else, so for example the piece of the file I may download from a seeder, I will be sharing it with other peers.  This removes the need for the file to be hosted on a server, removes any bandwidth issues and enables everyone to help share the file.

Now this system is very good.  A bittorrent tracker is simply a site that keeps logs of files that are being shared.  To start downloading, it is no more difficult than clicking on the link, waiting for Transmission to load and then waiting for it to download.  There are plenty of trackers about.  Some legal, some not (depending on your country of origin and/or your viewpoint)

I will not be using this guide to either tell you about or direct you to copyrighted material.   Bittorrent is excellent, if used for opensource, and you will find many mainstream distros have a bittorrent link for their iso.  I also encourage people to help seed their favourite Linux distros, and its a way that everyone can help their Linux flavour of choice!

So whats so great about Transmission?

Transmission has been my bittorrent software of choice, since as long as Ive used bittorrent.  Its a great package, that if required allows the user to forget about “fiddling” with all the little options.  However should you be a “fiddler” it gives you alot to “fiddle” with, and thats no bad thing.

When Im forced to use the Binary Slug called Windows (at work) I will use uTorrent, and to be honest in terms of functionality I find the results of both packages exactly the same.  Transmission is great because its a small program that only opens a small window on your desktop and is very unobtrusive.

All the features of a bittorrent client that you would expect are here.  Setting max upload limit/download limit, set max amount of peers etc.  All these features are very familiar to any bittorrent user and should come as no supprise.

Transmission comes as standard with Intrepid Ibex, however you will find a version of it in most (if not all) repositories.

So is 1.40 better? and how?  Like I say I was using 1.34, and had no issues with it whatsoever.  1.40 seems more of the same, but since Im a sucker for the latest version I have installed it.  It is very difficult in my opinion to write reviews on Linux software, as in most cases it performs exactly how you would expect it to and a review of a Linux package is usually an exercise in stating the obvious.  Transmission is no exception, and Id expect the majority of bittorrent users already have this excellent piece of software.

The features of the new version (as stated on the official site) are:

  • Tracker communication uses fewer resources
  • More accurate bandwidth limits
  • Reduce disk fragmentation by preallocating files
  • Better stability, security, and performance in the Web UI and RPC server
  • Support compression when serving Web UI and RPC responses
  • Simplify the RPC whitelist
  • Fix bug that prevented handshakes with encrypted BitComet peers
  • Fix 1.3x bug that could re-download some data unnecessarily
  • Lazy bitfields

Visit the official site by clicking here!

95% – Yet another difficult review to write, as Transmission works exactly how its supposed to! When will opensource developers make buggy software like Microsoft?  At least it makes reviewing them easier!