Tuesday, September 23, 2003

What is BitTorrent?

Whenever new software appears, like the latest Knoppix (3.3 appeared yesterday), I read at Slashdot that "BitTorrent" links are available. I decided to investigate this and found myself at the BitTorrent web site. Like the pages of most developers, it's cryptic and not immediately apparent how to use the software.

This Wiki page was more helpful, clueing me in to the fact that BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file-sharing system. O'Reilly wrote about this too. I installed the BitTorrent client at degreez and tried it out with the files listed at BitTorrent Files for Slashdot Effect Victims.

I clicked on the Red Hat 9 Binary ISOs link, which points to http://f.scarywater.net/redhat9.torrent. This brought my BitTorrent client up. It prompted me for a location to save the file I would download via BitTorrent, so I selected a directory. Next, I could see the BitTorrent client work its magic.
I plan to experiment with this. I initially tried to retrieve Knoppix 3.3 via BitTorrent, but eventually downloaded it via a fast overseas mirror over HTTP. Update: Here's another example of using BitTorrent -- Slackware 9.1. Linuxtorrents provides several links. Here's a script to run bittorrent in the background on UNIX. There's a great FAQ.