Tag Archives: torrent

gtorrent-ncurses: Not quite ready for prime time

It’s no secret I’ve been an rtorrent fan for nearly a decade now. It has its shortcomings and at times it seems to lack some features that the new kids have. But overall, it has been a reliable standby.

That doesn’t mean it’s the best way of doing things though, and when you stop trying new things, that’s when you get old.

But gtorrent-ncurses — the text-only option to the full gtorrent — might not be the one to take the throne.


It looks like a good start, and as best I can tell it is actually working. But that interface looks suspiciously broken, and as best I can tell, there are only two controls: “a” for add a torrent, and “q” for quit.

No progress indicator. No bandwidth meters. No throttling controls. No help screens, priority settings, peer lists, sharing ratios, tab completion for adding files … the list goes on.

I only looked briefly at gtorrent’s full graphical interface, so it may be that it’s possible to get those things from the full X-based UI. They are suspiciously missing from the text-only version though, and in this day and age, more than a dozen years after the original BitTorrent, it’s a little hard to overlook.

I’m willing to give gtorrent-ncurses the benefit of a gestation time, and come back to it later. Like I said, it appears to be working, even if the “interface” wasn’t doing much to tell me that. I’ll be back in a little while. 😉

pirate-get: A tool is just a tool

I have to remind myself that today’s first treasure is just a tool, and a tool is just a tool. What you do with these things is none of my business.

pirate-get, as you might infer, performs a search of the world’s most infamous bittorrent tracker, and returns the results in the console.


I could leave it at that, and allow you to glean from that what you will, but there are a couple of things that pirate-get does that are worth pointing out. And not for any reasons except that it does those things well.

First, as you can see above, pirate-get by default returns results in descending number of seeds. I really, really like that, because searching for — ahem — Linux ISOs is not just a matter of what best matches my search terms, but what matches and is available. Perhaps you can sympathize.

Second, pirate-get will automatically cue up transmission-remote and send your selection through. This, as you can also imagine, speeds up the search-to-download process on the whole … if you use Transmission, of course. 😉

For those who don’t, pirate-get can accept a --custom flag, and pass the link to another program. I tested it with pirate-get Ubuntu --custom "deluge %s" and it gracefully handed off the magnet link to a running session of Deluge, no questions asked.

Which brings up an important point: By default, pirate-get returns the text of the magnet link to your $BROWSER, and I don’t see an option to download the actual torrent unless you somehow pipe that link through another site or utility that will convert it. If I don’t include the custom command with pirate-get, my selection is dumped into elinks, which only shows an error message.

So keep that in mind if you prefer to work with the actual torrent (some people do; I know, it’s old-fashioned) you might need to do a little jerry-rigging to get it going to your satisfaction.

(I will add one other small complaint, and it’s a fairly obvious one: As far as I can tell, pirate-get only works with … well, you know. One tracker. If you prefer others, you’ll have to dig into the code or search around for alternatives to pirate-get.)

I like pirate-get a lot, mostly for the things I’ve mentioned above, but also because it can do things like return “all” the results at once, or spit out the torrents added in the last 48 hours. It’ll also show descriptions and file lists, which can be helpful if you’re skimming through a list of distros and aren’t sure what’s what.

One last note: There’s a --color flag available, and what you see in the screenshot — basically alternated bolding — is the result. Personally that doesn’t really qualify as “color” in my mind, but I’m willing to overlook it. If you want to get that effect, you’ll need to install python2-colorama, for the Arch version at least.

That’s all I’ll say about pirate-get. I’m sure you will use this tool in only the most honest and forthright adventures, and eschew any temptation to use your newfound powers for evil. 🙄

transmission-cli: Add this to the list

I should have a separate category for CLI utilities of graphical programs. Inkscape would be on there. So would deluge, avidemux, handbrake and a bunch of other titles. You can add Transmission to the list now.

The CLI version appears in both Arch and Debian as “transmission-cli,” which I suppose is the obvious title for it, given how it appears on screen.


Use is fairly straightforward — trigger transmission-cli and follow it with a torrent name. Bandwidth settings and a few other points are controlled as flags. On-screen, you get a healthy log of the network and software transactions, as well as a progress indicator and speed meters.

The Arch package specifically installs with a daemon version and a few other related tools, including a torrent creator utility. That alone might be worth keeping track of.

I should mention as a side point that transmission-cli appears to be different from transmission-remote-cli, which should be a tool for accessing a machine that’s running Transmission, from a distance.

I’m not sure what the relationship is between the two; it’s a little confusing to me that the home page for Transmission links to transmission-remote-cli, but I don’t see a mention of just transmission-cli. I’m also not sure transmission-remote-cli can negotiate with transmission-cli. You’ll have to do the footwork there.

I should probably try out transmission-remote-cli though, because the screenshots on the git page look promising. I think the actual arrangement of the remote machine running Transmission might make it a challenge though. I’ll save that for another day.

In any case, if you prefer the Transmission way of doing things but can’t bear to live life without your blinking cursor, this might be one way to have it both ways. 😉

torrentinfo: Torrent information, of course

I think you can probably infer what torrentinfo from its name. Here’s what it looks like in action.


As you can see, torrentinfo not only decodes the otherwise indecipherable mess in most torrent files, but breaks it down into easily readable chunks, color-coded and neatly spaced. Very nice.

I noticed that torrentinfo can handle a string of torrents, but any flags you want to use have to be listed at the front. Putting -b at the end, for example, caused torrentinfo to spit out errors.

That’s about all I can think of to say about torrentinfo. There are a few other *info tools that do similar tasks, and they’re worth investigating in the future. If not installing now and again. 😉

rtorrent: Needs no introduction … again

Since I’m on to tools that everyone knows and are quite popular, I might as well throw rtorrent into the mix.


By most accounts it’s the program that I had no real part in developing, but seemed to bring me a lot of attention. It’s hardly fair, and I should probably apologize for riding its coattails.

But the strange part is, nearly a decade later, it’s still the smartest, leanest, sharpest torrent client for the console there is, and rivals a lot of graphical ones too.

In my lowly opinion, of course. 😉

So again, I won’t waste your time by fawning over rtorrent ad nauseum. And I won’t waste my time writing about something that I’ve fawned over ad nauseum already. Again, and again, and again. … 😯

Let’s just assume you know about it, and its endless progeny, and you’re also a fan. Next, please. …

lftp: Teaching an old dog to do new tricks

I do believe lftp was the first console-based FTP client I used in Linux. And I remember trying that after working with things like WS_FTP and Filezilla and thinking, “Geez, is this how people do this in Linux?”

Of course the answer to that is “no,” and I know that now, but it does amuse me to think that I assumed anything FTP would happen in a terminal emulator in Linux.


lftp has its origins way back in 1996, can handle any number of protocols including direct server-to-server, and can run on machines as lowly as 486s, if the supporting OS is there, I presume.

Blah blah blah. Tell me about the torrent client!


That’s right, don’t let your system administrator find out, but lftp can handle torrent traffic too. It’s fairly simple and doesn’t nearly have the frills that some others do, but you can kill two birds with one stone now.

My only fear is that this will usher in an age of lftp becoming a jack-of-all-download tools, and I prefer applications find their focus and concentrate on it.

Regardless, it’s nice to see a program with such an extensive history picking up a few new tricks to stay apace with technology. 🙂

P.S., last update was in October. 😀

hefur: An exceptionally lightweight tracker

I can show a little of what hefur does, even though I can’t really show it in action.


hefur is a bittorrent tracker, written in C++. Note that it’s a tracker, not a client or a downloader.

Which is the reason I can’t say too much about it; I don’t have the setup for a real, honest-to-goodness tracker.

Doesn’t matter — I give a gold smilie to any console application written in C++. 😀

But as you can see, the daemon starts and shows a stat page when you connect to http://localhost:6969/stat. If you want a live example, I believe the author’s tracker is up at

hefur is in Arch but not Debian; I imagine that could change in the future. It doesn’t take much to build it, so if you’re feeling adventurous, get build-essential going and give it a try.

Before the Arch users get cocky, there’s a small packaging glitch that will give you errors when you try to run hefurctl.

Check this page for help on getting that fixed; hefurd will run without it, but only for the lame purpose of showing weak screenshots on some Internet back-corner thumbsucker blog. 😉

btpd: Strictly a daemon

I knew the B section would have a lot of bittorrent software in it. I didn’t know so many of them would fall by the wayside as abandoned or unbuildable.

Regardless, here’s one that’s strictly business: btpd.


And as you might have guessed by its name, this is strictly a daemon. Sort of.

See, btpd alone comes with btcli, which is sort of like a taskmaster for the daemon.

You set some options through the daemon, like I did above by choking my bandwidth to 30Kbps down and 10Kbps up.

But btcli is how you add, start, stop, list or check the status of torrents that are running.

And you can set the btcli stat command to refresh after x seconds, and you get a rolling update of whatever btpd is up to.

No, it’s not really an interface. It just spits out data. But I guess we’ve seen lots of applications like that in the past … remember dstat and ethstats? Not much different in that way.

On the plus side, btpd is extremely light, taking up only the tiniest sliver of memory and CPU on this machine, which isn’t saying much but I thought worth note.

Some low-end machines lose out on interfaces and fancy menus. If that’s you, btpd might be what you need.

P.S., it looks like there are projects for web-based and GTK+ interfaces to btpd too. No guarantees on those. …

bittorrent and bittornado: The original and its mimic

Unless I’m mistaken, this is the original beast that started it all.


Which makes this its nearest relative, so to speak.


On top is bittorrent, and below is bittornado. Definitely a resemblance. Oddly enough, they both seem to have similar shortcomings too.

I almost skipped over both of them. Because bittorrent, as luck would have it, no longer has a home. And bittornado, as luck would have it, no longer has links to its source code (you can just let that spin for a while, if you want).

Debian comes to the rescue again though, and as you can see, both work fine in Wheezy.

As far as I can tell, you can’t add multiple torrents to either. So one torrent, once instance.

However, both will allow you to tack a link to a torrent directly into the command line, and they’ll immediately start downloading. Which is nice.

And they both have pleasing, if somewhat rudimentary, interfaces. With progress bars and torrent information, which always wins points from me.

There are better, more developed bittorrent clients for the console these days. And some download tools that can handle torrents too.

But it is nice to check back with the original, and a close relative. Good to see they’re still working. 😉