From time to time, I may link to files associated with posts which are available via BitTorrent (magnet links). Without getting overly technical, BitTorrent is a technology which allows files to be shared without the use of something like a web server; computers or devices share the files directly among each other using a “seed file” (filename ending in “.torrent”) which contains the file names, file sizes, and enough information about the files to ensure that the correct data has been transferred (specifically, a checksum for each piece).

I recommend these BitTorrent programs (clients) specifically:

  • Unix-like and GNU variants (including the many distributions of GNU/Linux): Transmission (available on most distributions as a package/port)
  • Multi-platform (Unix-like and GNU variants, Windows, MacOS X): Deluge
  • Android: LibreTorrent, available from the Google Play Store, will accept both *.torrent seed files as well as magnet links.

(I know of others but so far these are the only ones I can really feel comfortable recommending for a variety of reasons.)

Note that at the current time I specifically recommend against the unofficial Transmission binaries for Windows. This is of course subject to change as improvements are made. Also, do not use Transmission 2.90 for MacOS X due to malware (earlier or later versions should be fine).

You are of course free to use something different, particularly if you have one you like. As some torrents may be shared trackerless, DHT (Distributed Hash Table) should be turned on, and I recommend also enabling PEX (Peer Exchange). Both Transmission and Deluge have settings for these (I think both even have them turned on by default), and just about any other relatively modern client should as well.

Contrary to what some might tell you, use of the BitTorrent protocol and other peer-to-peer technology is not unlawful (in the United States at least) in and of itself. Any BitTorrent link from this blog will be to files which are legal to download and share at least within the United States of America. However, it is quite possible and quite easy to share files via BitTorrent unlawfully (particularly with regard to copyright law), and if it’s against the law, it’s almost certainly against the terms of service/acceptable use policy of your provider of internet access as well (as most terms/policies prohibit activity which is against the law). Note that some particularly strict providers of internet access may not allow the use of BitTorrent at all and/or may run a non-neutral network where BitTorrent traffic is either dropped or severely limited. It is usually ill-advised to use BitTorrent from public wireless internet access points, even if it is not specifically blocked (as it quite often is).