By now, most MakeUseOf readers should know all about BitTorrent, the most popular peer-to-peer technology on the web. We’ve talked about the protocol more than once, and even released the Big Book of BitTorrent“”a great place to start if you find BitTorrent too confusing for your use.
There are thousands of BitTorrent clients on the market; that is, thousands of applications you can use to download files using BitTorrent technology. If you’re curious which BitTorrent program is the best, everyone has their own favorite – but today, we’re going to profile what I believe is an underappreciated piece of software: Deluge.
This is a program that, at first glance, doesn’t seem too different from others out there, but offers quite a bit for those looking to access their torrents across their home network. Best of all: it works on Windows, Mac OSX and Linux, so no one is left out of this post. Let’s check it out.
Like I said: on its surface, Deluge appears to be just like any other BitTorrent client. And if that’s all you want to use it for, that’s all it is.
You’ll find all the features that made clients like Transmission and uTorrent great. You can download torrents, select which files you want to download within that torrent, set certain files as top-priority and configure your overall bandwidth usage. There are even a variety of plugins you can install to add functionality like reading RSS feeds.
Add to all this the ability to encrypt your downloads, and the fact that it runs on all three major platforms, and you’ve already got a winning BitTorrent client. But all this just brings Deluge up-to-par with other BitTorrent clients on the market. What really gives Deluge an edge over its competition is its daemon/client model of doing things.
A daemon, for those who don’t know, is a program that runs in the background of your computer without a visible user interface. Such programs can usually be controlled by a graphical user interface, but do not require that interface in order to operate. The advantage here is that the program in question can be controlled by more than one client (a word used in this case to describe user-interfaces) as well as over the network. In the case of Deluge, there are three main interfaces: the standard graphical interface, a web-based interface you can access from your browser and a console-based interface that works by typing commands.
Why would you want an alternative interface? I’m glad you asked. Let’s explore the two alternatives interfaces Deluge offers and why you might want to use them.
It’s not hard to see the appeal here: it’s Deluge, in your browser. This interface can do practically everything Deluge’s primary interface can do, over the network, and works on any computer with a browser. This means you can check the status of the downloads happening on your desktop or media-center from the comfort of your laptop””without interrupting whoever may be using either of those computers.
To get this working outside of your home network, you’re going to need either a static IP address or to make use of a service such as DynDNS, which gives you a URL you can use to access your network anytime. Expect an article by me on using DynDNS in the weeks to come for more information.
If you like typing commands better than you like clicking things, you’re weird. Or at least, I’m sure that’s what our commenters will say.
Except now that I’ve said that, the commenters will be mad at me for implying using the console is weird.
For the record: I’m weird, and love the fact that Deluge comes with a console interface. Typing commands isn’t always the fastest way to accomplish things, but long-time console-users know the efficiency of the command line is not to be overlooked.
Deluge is no exception. Adding a torrent is as easy as typing “add” followed by the URL of the torrent, meaning I need only copy-and-paste the URL to start the download. If I want to pause my torrents, I need only type “pause.” If I want to see what’s happening with all my torrents, I need only type “info.”
You get there idea: play with this interface and I’ll be you’ll come to think of a few uses for it.
Best of all, a completely console-based interface means you can use SSH to access your torrents. This is a great way to securely check your downloads from work.
These interfaces are cool, but there’s something to be said about using the default interface to get your work done. Happily, you can set up that interface to control another computer’s instance of Deluge over the network: check out Deluge’s own instructions here.
Deluge is a feature-rich torrent client that runs on Linux, Windows and Mac–and it features a well-executed daemon-client model to boot. What’s not to love?
For me, not much. I’ve made Deluge my BitTorrent tracker of choice, and don’t expect to be looking back anytime soon. Download Deluge and try it out for yourself.
What about you? What do you think of Deluge? Do you have your own favorite BitTorrent tracker, and if so what features do you like? You’re always welcome to share your views in the comments below.