Category Archives: P2P

Peer to peer file sharing

CPU pegged at 100% while downloading video under Ubuntu?

totem-video-thumbnailer at fault?

Close Nautilus, the file-system browser that you’ve got open on the directory where the files are being downloaded. It file is constantly getting pinged as having been updated, and so it’s getting thumbnailed over and over again, to no end.

Note your download speeds may improve after this fix.

Magnet protocol using Transmission

Note to the Internet:

The Transmission bittorrent client supports the magnet bittorrent protocol, but only after Transmission has run once. On it’s initial run it registers itself as the provider of the magnet: protocol. If you haven’t started Transmission (at least, a version after 1.80) and restarted (say) FireFox, the magnet: protocol won’t seem to work.

You need to use the age-old solution of closing everything and starting it back up again.

This is not documented anywhere, but if you search hard enough through the closed bug reports for Transmission you might figure it out eventually.

Speeding up torrents

Call me slow, but it took me until the weekend to work out why my torrents were running so slowly. (You know, all those Linux distros I keep downloading. Yeah.) Almost always stuck at about 15-20kbps — if that. Sometimes markedly slower.

Having read about problems with the original firmware, I got to the point of flashing my WRT54G router with the very nifty DD-WRT, which is so amazingly cool that I can’t believe some people took the time to develop it for free. Enthusiasm for innovating is a wonderful thing. But that didn’t fix it.

I switched from ABC (“Another BitTorrent Client”) to uTorrent. Which gave me nifty features like scheduling that will help me avoid burning up my peak hours (7am to midnight) traffic quota. (Came perilously close last month to being “shaped” down to dialup speed. Eek!) But that didn’t fix the torrent speed.

Finally I resorted to fiddling with my speed limits in uTorrent. Changed the upload speed from unlimited down to 20kbps and suddenly the download I was on jumped to 35kbps. Brought the upload down to 15kbps and the download leapt again to 60-70kbps. Eureka!

Dropping the upload to 10 didn’t really affect it further. And by that point I was happy with the speed, so I left it at 15.

See, I’d been going with the principle that it was good to uncap your uploads, to share everything around. What I’ve now learnt is that it’s a good idea to cap them while downloading, and set no limit for once the download has finished. And with the scheduler in uTorrent, you can also tweak things so that most of your downloads happen in off-peak periods at night, but uploads can keep on pumping all the time. (With appropiate caution if you use an ISP that charges for uploads; happy to say mine doesn’t.)

Why don’t they explain this stuff when you start? I guess there’s a bunch of complex stuff to explain to beginners. Mind you, if I’d actually read the documentation, that might have helped.

There’s some other things you can do to optimise Torrents, including patching and fiddling with the Windows XP TCP configuration and lots of other tweaking.

TV downloads

Channel 9 launches commercial downloadable TV in Australia (the ABC’s broadband casting of their shows has been going for a while, though theirs don’t download), starting with a freebie episode of McLeod’s Daughters. It’s WMP files (so playable on Windows computermachines only) and normal price will be A$1.95 for a show that will play for up to 7 days. (via TV Idents blog).

I wonder how prominent AU shows are on BitTorrent, anyway?

Meanwhile there’s speculation that Hollywood may embrace Torrents, with Warner Brothers planning to use it to distribute some of their content, at US$1.00 per episode for TV shows. It’s unclear if users outside the US will be able to join in — so those who, for example, Torrented the final West Wing earlier this week may have to stay on the wrong side of the law. Making this content available internationally must be considered at some point — many overseas viewers are sick of waiting to see their favourite shows months or even years after they broadcast in their home territories.

The Most Basic Guide Available To Downloading Television Shows With Bit Torrent

A little while ago Jennifer de-lurked to ask about downloading television shows so she wouldn’t be at the mercy of our networks.

What follows is a completely non-exhaustive, unofficial, as basic as you can get guide to getting what you want on your telly, when you want it.

What You need

First off you need a broadband connection.

You can do this on dial up but when you are dealing with files about 350MB you won’t be answering the phone for a very long time. If you don’t have a broadband connection yet go to Netspace and tell them ‘caffeine’ sent you.

A Bit Torrent client.

BitTorrent is what makes this whole thing possible. I’m not going to explain how in detail, you can get that from the BitTorrent Introduction page. Put simply you get bits of the file from different people and in turn you share the bits you already have with other people. You can see that the more people accessing file, the more choice of downloaders you have and the faster it should go for everyone.

Bit Torrent is free. Don’t pay for it. You can use the original BitTorrent client from but this tends to confuse people ’cause nothing appears to be installed after you install it. There are other clients around – Bit Comet for Windows and even Mac users (Hi Rob and Rob) can get in on the action with the Java based Azureus.

Torrent files for each episode.

The shows are downloaded via torrent files. These tell your client where to start looking and how to share your download. These torrent files are listed on web sites and here Google is, as always, your best friend. Googling ‘torrent desperate housewives‘ should return you a list of pages with torrent files for Desperate Housewives.

What I Use

So what do I use? I use Bit Comet as my torrent client and do most of my searching on to search for shows or go straight to or and search from there.

How I Do It

This is the simple part. Once you’ve installed your client and found the show you’re looking for you click on the torrent file link. Your client should start up and then, after a few seconds, start downloading and sharing at the same time. It’s that simple.

Things I’ve Found

The show names. I always go for those marked HDTV_LOL – these are great qualities .avi files, wide-screen and around 350MB per episode (42 minutes of show time). I still have no idea what the LOL bit means but they always work for me. One I downloaded had some obscure sound format that needed a codec, which all became too difficult so I downloaded a different file. I think most are encoded with mp3 so Windows Media Player plays them no problems.

Those marked HDHR are High Resolution files and look stunning – but are twice the size and hence take twice as long to download.

Some are encoded with surround sound too, just look at the file name and it should be obvious which ones these are.

Variations in download time
This is the killer. Some files have taken 14 hours to download, and just last night one took only 4 hours. The time taken depends upon many factors from how many peers (those holding the file to download) to net traffic, to which way the wind is blowing. I’ve found it really helps to download new episodes the day after they are aired, when demand is greatest. Older episodes – even those a month or so old – can take significantly longer to retrieve.

As for old old shows, such as the first season of Carnivale that screened in 2003 in America yet is only getting it’s first airing here, you can almost forget it.

Most shows ripped (or capped) from television will have the network logo watermarked on it. Ads are always removed and sometimes end credits can be missing too.

Don’t leach. Make sure you keep the torrent available for as long as you can – remember there are others like you probably wanting the same episode and the longer you keep it open, the more people can share and the better (quicker) it is for everyone. BitTorrent depends upon many people sharing the same file.

And that’s pretty much it.

In summary :

  • Get a bit torrent client
  • Find a list of torrent files
  • Download or click on the torrent you want
  • Open this file, or it should open automatically
  • Download, share and enjoy

Oh yeah, you may want to invest in a DVD burner for your PC so you can watch them on your television.