Monday, January 12, 2009

On the Download…

Confession time again here.

Very rarely do I touch a torrent file.


Most of the software that I get come from sources that use either ftp or http protocols.  And I’m not out looking for movies or songs to download.  We worship at the iTunes mountain for those. 

If the only option is to download a particular file I need is via torrent and it isn’t a must-have, I generally take a pass.

However, every now and then the Linux LiveCD distro I’m looking into only supports download via a torrent.  So I pull out one of any number of portable torrent downloaders and grab the file.

Torrent Support via Firefox – Light Lifting only

Even my favorite Firefox browser doesn’t support torrent downloads automatically.

Otherwise, both the Download Statusbar :: Firefox Add-ons and the DownloadHelper Add ons are the only ones I have ever found use for in my Firefox configurations.

So I noted with interest a new Firefox add-on in early development stages that seemed to fit the bill:

This indeed seemed like a helpful utility for a casual torrent file downloader as myself.

Information from the project page is next-to-nil so from the TorrentFreak post FireTorrent Brings BitTorrent to Firefox comes a bit more background on the project from Ernesto:

The add-on uses the popular libtorrent library and fully integrates into the native download manager of Firefox.

Since it’s an alpha release, there are no options or preferences to configure yet. The official release, however, will include adjustable download and upload limits and several other basic configurable settings. Completed downloads will currently be stored in the desktop folder, this can be changed in the beta release that will come out in a few weeks.

Firefox 3.0 or greater is required to get the add-on to work properly. At the moment, the upload speed is capped at 15kB/s. This is for the alpha release only, but since BitTorrent is based on ‘tit-for-tat’ sharing, it doesn’t really help to get the downloads up to full speed. That aside, the add-on works just fine, and download speeds on most connections are comparable to clients such as uTorrent and Vuze.

You can sign up for the alpha project info or just jump to the download page.

The Fat Lady really can Sing!

Reading the comments from the TorrentFreak page led me to another realization: Opera natively supports torrent file downloads.

So that’s a second resource for grabbing torrent file downloads.

Yes I’m a bit late to that dance.  Feel like the last guy to dance with the prom queen again.

Anyway, some folks actually feel pretty strongly about not using an embedded torrent manager in Opera. If you feel that way too there is a way to Disable BitTorrent Integration in Opera [Techie Buzz].

Heavy Download Lifting, Torrent Style

Though I don’t really use “standalone” download managers for daily use, I have found they can come in really handy when downloading ISO files or other similar files that are over 300 MB.  In my case these almost always end up being Linux LiveCD ISO’s.

In these cases, download managers can dramatically assist in reducing download times by splitting the file into sections and downloading them simultaneously via multiple connections.  As long as it doesn’t overwhelm the server (and others) by using too many connections at once, and as I do it infrequently, I don’t feel too bad.

Free Download Manager - absolutely free download accelerator and manager - (freeware) – is a pretty amazing tool I’ve been playing around with.

The GUI is very nice and polished; very intuitive stuff.

The feature list is very rich as well:

  • GNU General Public License   
  • BitTorrent support available in Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista
  • Upload manager
  • Flash video download
  • Portable mode
  • Enhanced audio/video files support
  • Download acceleration
  • Resuming broken downloads
  • Smart file management and powerful scheduler
  • Adjusting traffic usage
  • Site Explorer
  • HTML Spider
  • Simultaneous downloading from several mirrors
  • Zip files partial download

I also like that when running it provides a transparent “drop-zone” that allows me to drag/drop download links out of my browser onto for download queuing in the program.

Spotted over at this post:

Other popular (and free) Torrent download applications

µTorrent - The Lightweight and Efficient BitTorrent Client

BitComet - A free C++ BitTorrent/HTTP/FTP Download Client

Orbit Downloader - File and media download manager. Newer star on the block.

BitLord - The Ultimate Torrent Downloader

Halite BitTorrent Client – – Fairly active project that uses a clean interface to get the job done.

G3 Torrent – Python coded utility that has a nice and simple interface with lots of features under the hood.  Hasn’t been updated for quite a while (years) as far as I can tell.

BitLet - the BitTorrent Applet. This one is an odd duck.  It actually isn’t an “application” but a web-based applet that allows you to paste in a torrent-file link and then it will act as the intermediary handler to download to your otherwise torrent-unsupported system locally.  Clever and handy to bookmark and use in a pinch.

Then there was this one…

Vuze/Azureus - Bittorrent Client

That last one is pretty contentious.  I (like many others really like it under the Azureus builds, but since it got gobbled up and rebranded/modded into the Vuze product as a media-torrent file downloader/manager, many folks who are purists have been loath to recommend it.  Fortunately, you can still fine old versions of Azureus still around for download.

Most all of those listed above are “portable” in some form or fashion for hauling around on your USB stick.

Many, many, many more BitTorrent clients can be found on this List of BitTorrent clients page over at Wikipedia.

Just use all this downloading power for good.

--Claus V.


Jon B said...

Any updates to your series on getting Dell KB support in VistaPE using the SP1 WAIK? Eagerly awaiting an update!!

Claus said...

@ Jon B - I hope to get one or two more installments tossed up over the weekend (if time allows!).

I'm encouraged to hear that folks are interested!

I've downloaded the WAIK Beta for Win 7 but haven't had time to extract and play with the Win PE wim files yet.

So many neat toys.....!