Azureus: A Better Way to BitTorrent

Azureus is the way to go online if you’re searching for torrents.
BitTorrent has become one of the most widely used apps on the Internet — so popular, in fact, that it’s estimated that over 33% of all Internet traffic is now generated by BitTorrent. 33%! It’s not that surprising, really. BitTorrent is an awesome tool. Grab Linux ISO images, download music by the Grateful Dead and other share-friendly bands, and acquire movies from around the world. If you haven’t discovered BitTorrent yet, find out more about at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bittorrent.
As cool as BitTorrent is, the official client is a pretty spartan. In reaction, numerous other clients have sprung up to offer an enormous variety of features. The best software, however, is Azureus, a Java-based program that runs beautifully on Linux (and Mac OS X and Windows as well).
To use Azureus, make sure you have an up-to-date Java Runtime Environment (JRE) installed and configured with the java executable in your PATH. Next, download Azureus at http://azureus.sourceforge.net. Choose the appropriate version of Azureus (you’ll probably just want the one based on GTK), and once it’s on your computer, untar it with tar xvjf Azureus…tar.bz2. Now cd into the resulting azureus directory and enter ./azureus to start the program. If things don’t work, check out the tips at http://azureus.sourceforge.net/howto_linux.php.
Simply opening Azureus isn’t enough. You need to start downloading a torrent to really see the magic. You can find Linux ISOs and software at http://www.tlm-project.org/torrents/ and http://www.solidz.com/torrents/, or perhaps you’d rather download some lossless-encoded music from http://www.thetradersden.org/forums/forumdisplay.php?f= 12. Once you find something interesting, save the .torrent file on your hard drive, and then go to File, Open,.torrent File. Point Azureus at the downloaded. torrent file, choose OK, and in a few moments, your download should begin (and a corresponding upload, as that’s the way BitTorrent works).
Azureus’ top pane gives you information about the files you’re downloading (and sharing), including size, the number of bytes downloaded (in both file size and percentage complete), speed, and more. In particular, the “Health” column and its smiley faces provides an easy-to-read indicator about the quality of your connections. Once a download finishes, leave it open for as long as you can so others can continue to download it.
If you want to find out more about a torrent, just double-click on it. Azureus opens another tab with a wealth of data, separated into four areas:
*“General” shows total progress, as well as the status of the various pieces of your download, the elapsed time and the time remaining, download and upload speeds and file sizes, and more.
*“Details” lists the machines you’re interacting with (BitTorrent doesn’t hide your IP address), transfer speeds for each machine, and who initiated the transfer. To learn more, right-click on an IP and choose “Column Setup.”
*“Pieces” lists all of the pieces you’re currently transferring, with the status of each piece (requested, written, downloaded, cached), and the speed of the transfer.
*“Files” shows a catalog of files inside the torrent you’re downloading, including folder structure, size of each file, amount completed, number of pieces in total and remaining, and a progress bar that visually displays which pieces are on your computer and which you still need to get. If you have all the pieces of a particular file, you can begin listening to, viewing, or using it immediately.
Powerful and extensible — check out the RSS plug-in that makes it super-easy to subscribe to RSS feeds and automatically pull down torrents that interest you as soon as they’re published — Azureus is a must-have for every Linux user.

R. Scott Granneman teaches at Washington University, consults for Bryan Consulting, and writes for SecurityFocus and Linux Magazine. You can reach him at class="emailaddress">scott@granneman.com.

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