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some notes on transmission, ctorrent, and rtorrent
09-27-2012, 08:14 AM (This post was last modified: 10-13-2012 06:12 AM by westcoaster.)
Post: #1
some notes on transmission, ctorrent, and rtorrent
I'm afraid this is a pretty long post, but I had some time over the past few days to test bittorrent clients and try to figure out how they work. I tested ctorrent, and transmission 1.80 (from snacsnoc's repository), as well as rtorrent. My particular interest is in finding a bittorent client that can run in the console, can handle magnet links, and is efficient with resources--especially important with old computers. If the bittorrent client is going to run entirely in the console without a fancy X-based web browser to supply it with torrent files and magnet links, then it would be nice to figure out how to use lynx or links to do the copying and pasting. (Update--I think I can do it with lynx now, with a How-To coming one of these day.).

ctorrent is a well behaved command line client with a simple and intuitive interactive user interface. I was easily able to do basic operations on a torrent. In the terminal, I think each instance of ctorrent handles only one torrent, but ctorrent can be daemonized and controlled with CTCS--CTorrent Control Server--not available in Deli(cate). I think CTCS uses a web browser interface. ctorrent handled *.torrent files just fine, but didn't seem to handle magnet files. I tried an online magnet-file-to-torrent-file converter (, but ctorrent didn't like the format of the url's in the created *.torrent file, so it couldn't connect to the torrent trackers. The same magnet-to-torrent file worked fine in transmission-gtk 1.80, so I guess the problem lies with ctorrent.

I had no success at all in setting up the command line client of either transmission 1.21 or transmission 1.80. I worked at it for many hours but seemed to have connection problems that I couldn't resolve (something about DHT not being ready)--or maybe I just kept making the same mistakes over and over again, who knows. Anyway, it seems odd because transmission-gtk (both versions 1.21.and 1.80) and also ctorrent connected and ran without any problems at all.

I did get transmission-cli 2.52 and transmission-daemon working on my eeepc (Debian Testing). So at least I got to see how they are supposed to work, but I didn't find them very intuitive.

I tested transmission-gtk-1.80 fairly thoroughly and it worked beautifully. (I had to install libevent separately, as it was missing from the transmission-1.80 install.) Sometimes magnet links took a long time to start, but they eventually started and downloaded at full speed. (To copy a magnet link to transmission using Skipstone, right click on the magnet link on the web page, select "Copy Link Location" then go to the transmission GUI and left click "File" and select "Add URL..." To paste the magnet link into the URL box, you have to middle click the mouse, as Ctrl-v doesn't do it.)

Under Debian on my eeepc, I was able to get ctorrent-dnh3.3.2 (same version as Deli(cate)), transmission-2.52, and rtorrent-0.9.2 running. I don't know if this is really useful, but I thought it might be interesting to look at their relative resource usage while downloading torrents. Using htop I just watched percentages of CPU usage and Mem usage to get a rough idea of what they were like.

                            Eeepc running Debian
                            %CPU usage      %Mem        Notes

ctorrent-3.3.2                0.0-1.0        0.5        1 torrent downloading
                                                        1 torrent per instance of ctorrent?

transmission-cli-2.52         1.0-2.0         0.5        1 torrent downloading
                                                         1 torrent per instance of transmission-cli?

transmission-daemon-2.52     4.0-8.0         0.7        3 torrents total:
                                                         2 torrents downloading, 1 stopped

rtorrent                      0.0-1.0        0.9        28 torrents total:
                                                         3 torrents downloading, 25 uploading or idle
transmission-gtk-2.52        3.0-4.0          1.9        1 torrent total: 1 downloading

transmission-gtk-2.52        7.0-10.0         2.4        6 torrents total:
                                                         3 torrents downloading, 3 torrents idle
                                                         CPU usage spikes to 25% at times
                                                         The computer seems laggy while running this test.

aria2-v1.15.1                1.0-2.0         0.3         One torrent downloading

aria2-v1.15.1                2.0-4.0         0.5         7 torrents total:
                                                         4 seeding, 2 downloading, 1 idle

ctorrent is fairly efficient and easy to use, but doesn't handle magnet links.
I already had rtorrent installed for some time, that's why so many torrents are in the list, but notice how efficient it is. Before installing rtorrent, I used to run transmission-gtk because it has a nice interface and is supposed to be lightweight, but cpu usage seemed high and the computer was very laggy at times, so I switched to rtorrent, which has a useful ncurses interface.

Here's some info on transmission-1.80 and ctorrent running on my AMD K6 328 Mhz, 160 MB Ram

                        Compaq Presario 1245 running Deli(cate)
                            %CPU usage    %Mem      Notes
transmission-gtk-1.80        15-20        8.0        1 torrent total, 1 downloading
transmission-gtk-1.80        35-40        9.0        3 torrents total, 3 downloading
ctorrent-3.3.2              3.5-7.0        8.2       1 torrent downloading
                                                     1 torrent per instance of ctorrent?

So aside from requiring X for its GUI, transmission-gtk-1.80 looks pretty heavy even for this relatively "powerful" laptop!

Perhaps someone else can try to get transmission running in the command line? The easiest implementation would be something like
transmissioncli some-ubuntu-iso.torrent
and it might just work. I think by default transmission listens on port 51413, so that port may need forwarding although I didn't have to do that.

Some of my speculations and observations about these bittorrent clients could be wrong, or just plain ignorant, so please feel free to point them out, or to correct them.Tongue

Edit Added aria2 information to the first table, "Eeepc running Debian"
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some notes on transmission, ctorrent, and rtorrent - westcoaster - 09-27-2012 08:14 AM

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