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 Post subject: [One][Ice][Two] Torrent
PostPosted: Wed Jun 09, 2010 6:10 am 
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Joined: Thu May 20, 2010 8:56 am
Posts: 2132
Class: Generic Bittorent tutorial
Difficulty: Using torrents is very straightforward in most cases, and the client, Transmission, is already installed on Peppermint
Time: A torrent takes seconds to set up, but time of download depends on your connection and the number of and quality of peers, as well as the size of the file being shared, of course
Desirability: Using torrent is a free (as in speech), efficient and effective way of sharing large files

This is a brief tutorial for anyone wondering what a torrent is and why it can be useful to them and the community as a whole. It'll explain how you can use transmission, which is installed by default on Peppermint OS, to download and share files with other users.

BitTorrent is a protocol for sending and receiving files from other clients (i.e., people on the Internet who have the file locally), rather than the traditional method of uploading a file to a centralized web server (e.g. the ones team Peppermint pay for) and then having individual clients download it from that location.

The advantages are quite clear; the bandwidth cost of sharing the file is shared by those interested in that file, and the sharing process is not endangered by the problems which can strike a central server (e.g. crashes). Further, the rate at which you can download is not limited by any server restraints, but only by your available bandwidth and that of the users you are downloading from.

In terms of distributing the Peppermint OS .iso, while it may make it trickier to track the number of downloads there have been, it is a small way of contributing, by taking load off the servers.

The important thing to bear in mind about using torrent is that two separate files are involved in the exchange; the file which is being shared itself (for example, the Peppermint OS .iso disk image), and a torrent file (e.g. 'PeppermintOS.torrent') which stores the metadata required by a torrent client to be able to download and share the file. Outside of that it's quite easy.

When you click on a torrent link (here, try this one), your web browser should automatically offer to open it with Transmission, which is a torrent client. When it opens, it looks like this:

Image


The options are fairly self-explanatory. It is safe to move the torrent tracker to trash if you wish. Click the add button to add the download to transmission's list of tasks and proceed.

Image

Be patient, it might take a little while to find other seeds from whom to download. 'Seeds' are users who have already downloaded the file, but are keeping it on their hard drive deliberately so as to upload it to other users. To begin with, you will be a 'leecher', but even while your download is just getting started, you might notice a figure with an upward arrow on the right showing that you have begun uploading what you've downloaded so far to other users. At this point, you are a 'peer'.

By default, transmission fires on all cylinders, but if you're like me and have to watch bandwidth usage, you can place limits on transmission through it's edit -> preferences menu. These should be all fairly self-explanatory, but I'd mention just two things.

In my experience limiting download and upload rates is only partially effective; torrents seem to spike quite a bit and if the rate of uploading and downloading is critical enough that it needs limiting for you to browse the web simultaneously, it may be best simply to postpone the torrent until you don't need the connection for anything else (e.g., meal times, TV time, bed time).

Secondly, ratio refers to the number of times you have uploaded data equivalent to the size of the file. Now, while my connection is reasonably fast (my torrent of the Peppermint respin iso finished in the time it took me to write this), it is limited (if I go over a certain data limit, I have to get my wallet out or face bandwidth shaping). As such, I want to do my best to share, but have to look out for myself, too. As such, I limit my ratio to 2, which is a kind of minimum value to ensure that the file propagates (imagine if everyone, man and woman, on earth has two children, i.e. four child families -> population growth).

I'm pretty sure that deals with torrent basics and the use of Transmission, but if you do encounter any problems post about them in the software and applications board. Happy sharing!

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