BitTorrent Review

very good
key review info
application features
  • simple and easy interface
  • (3 more, see all...)

A new version of a linux distro you want was just released. You want to download it, you read what's new and what has been fixed in this new release. A few seconds later you decide to start downloading it, but, when that download starts, it doesn't download anything or displays a message that tells you "the servers are busy at the moment, please try again later". This means that you have to wait and try again later.

When someone talks about "bittorrent", some may be confused and ask "what are you talking about? Isn't bittorrent the name of the file sharing protocol?". That is correct, but the name of the file sharing protocol is also the name of the official bittorrent client, Bittorrent, the application that is written in Python.

Bittorrent is getting more and more popular, even some of those who don't know what it is have seen its name on a website. When someone downloads a file with a bittorrent client, the bittorrent client downloads from other users in the same way as others download from that person. That means that while you're downloading that new Linux distro, you help others by uploading to them what you have already downloaded. This process is completely transparent to the user, the only thing that the user does is to download the .torrent file from the server, load it in a bittorrent client, for example Bittorrent and all the "magic" happens.

Let's say that someone wants to download the latest beta version of Fedora Core 5, our fellow goes to linuxtracker.org, finds "Fedora Core 5 Test3 DVD (i386)", then he sees the link to the .torrent file on the page that describes that torrent, grabs the file FC5-test3-DVD-i386.torrent and loads it up into Bittorrent. Bittorrent starts downloading the FC5-test3-DVD-i386.iso DVD image and if he has a fast internet connection, he will download that file very fast. Wait, there's more, while he downloads it, another person started downloading the same file, and that person will download this file from the other guy who started downloading earlier. A big happy family.

Installation and Usage

Bittorrent, the official client for the bittorrent file sharing protocol, has a graphical interface and is very easy to use. Depending on your Linux distribution, you download a package and install it; you might also want to check if you can find it in your distro's package repository before installing a generic package. Those happy users that can find the package in the repository of their distro might find a new shortcut somewhere in their desktop environment's menu system after the package was installed and launch it by using that link. Those who don't have a shortcut can launch it by simply writing "bittorrent" in a console. Once the application was launched, a very clean and simple interface appears - this is Bittorrent's interface. There's a pause/play button that pauses and resumes all active download tasks, a slider that allows the user to set the maximum upload speed, a search box, which can be used to search for torrents, and a network activity indicator.
Below all the above mentioned interface elements, the download tasks appear. Statistics, current download and upload speeds are shown for each download task; even more, it also estimates how long it's going to take to finish the download at the current download speed and the percentage.

When the user wants to add a download task, there are two choices: load a .torrent file from the hard drive or just type in a link to .torrent on the Internet and the download starts. Bittorrent makes only one single download at a given time; when another task is started manually by the user, the previous one is paused until the current one is finished. This is the default behavior that can be easily changed just by modifying the value for the setting "When starting a new torrent" to "Don't stop other running torrents", a setting that can be found in the "Downloading" tab of the Settings dialog. Bittorrent's default download location can be easily changed in the "Saving" tab of the Settings dialog. If you would like to "convince" Bittorrent to "talk" to you in a different language, you can change the language in the "Language" tab, in the Settings window. Even if you don't plan to change the language, you can still check if a particular language is supported.

Some advanced users might wonder if there's a way to create torrents, which they plan to upload to a tracker, in Bittorrent, this is just another thing that bittorrent knows how to do.

The Good:

Bittorrent has a very efficient interface, the app's window isn't crowded and beginners won't be frightened by the complexity of this piece of software. There's no complex install procedure, the default settings work in most cases without any change. In case you have any questions, the answer might be found in the F.A.Q. on the official website.

The Bad:

Bittorrent is written in Python, which is an interpreted language; such languages aren't as fast as some of the compiled languages. Because this application is written in such a language, memory usage and CPU usage increase as the number of torrents grows. The same thing happens if your hard drive is slow and you're downloading very fast.

The Truth:
Bittorrent is a great way to download new Linux distros from LinuxTracker and software from other sources that have chosen to distribute their products through torrents. Because it reduces the processing speed, storage and bandwidth requirements of the servers, the Bittorrent file sharing network is a very good way to distribute software. Those who don't want to check on a server each 15 minutes if it's not busy anymore and if it can download their favorite Linux distro can go to linuxtracker.org and make the same download through bittorrent sooner and, hopefully, faster.


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user interface 3
features 3
ease of use 5
pricing / value 5


final rating 4
Editor's review
very good
 
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