Mac BitTorrent Client: Transmission

This post and software is obsolete. ImagesĀ and broken external links have been removed.

Fedora 8 was released recently and I wanted to download a copy. With a DVD size of over 3GB bittorrent was the way to go. I’d used Azureus in the past, but hadn’t re-installed it after upgrading to Leopard. I decided to change up and go with something new. Azureus was moving heavily toward video and had the interface to prove it. I wanted a simple client that would just download files. I went with the popular Transmission open source bittorrent client. The Mac version is a universal binary. The latest version was released May 11, 2007 and is at version 0.92. Using it couldn’t have been easier.After downloading the DMG I just copied transmission.app to my applications directory and fired it up. I was asked if I wanted to allow incoming connections through the OS X firewall. (I use Leopard and have the firewall set to “Set Access for Specific Services and Applications”.) Initiating the torrent download was as easy as downloading the torrent file and double-clicking it to initiate the download via Transmission.Port assignments were automatic. At least they were with my Apple Airport Extreme. The screenshot below shows the port configuration screen.The main Transmission screen is shown below. The first download listed is the Fedora download. It’s completed downloading but it still being used to seed. I’ve set the seed ratio to 2.0 so it will stop seeding when it reaches that limit. The current ratio is 0.46 as I’ve set a cap on my upload bandwidth of 256KB/s, about a third of what’s available. the second download shown is still downloading and uploading.Another feature I like is that the dock icon for transmission shows the current upload and download speeds. The icon is shown to the right. Transmission also automatically integrates with Growl and sends notifications when downloads complete, among other events. Transmission can watch a directory for torrent files and automatically begin to download them when new torrents are added. You can cap the bandwidth used and the number of torrents being downloaded or seeded at any one time.While I’ve only done a couple of downloads but I’ve found Transmission to be a light, fast and easy to configure bittorrent client for the Mac.

Azureus Bit Torrent Client for the Mac

Ubuntu 7.04 was released and I decided to download it so I could install it under Parallels over the weekend. I didn’t have a BitTorrent client on this Mac, not needing one since I got the Mac at the beginning of the year. While I could download the ISO I figured the Ubuntu servers might still be busy so it was a good time to find a BitTorrent client.

I decided to give Azuerus a spin since I’ve heard about it from various places and was fairly well commented on at torrentfreak.com.

I downloaded version 3.01.2 which they have named “Vuze” and is the latest version. I’m unfamiliar with the earlier versions, but it’s obvious from the web page that the client is built around video, and high-def video. “The largest library of high-def video” and similar phrases are common on their webpage. They have deals with Showtime, BBC, Starz and others.

Installation was simple. Download a disk image file and copy the Azureus icon to the Application folder. Starting Azureus the first time presented a graphics intensive screen as Azureus promotes their video and high-def abilities. I use Little-Snitch as an outgoing port monitor and it went crazy as the connections went out to various servers to get the previews. So telling Little Snitch to ignore everything Azureus does on any port to any server is a necessity.

The first order of of business was to run the configuration wizard from the “Azureus” menu. I select English, Beginner (as the hint says, all that’s needed to manage torrents), my line speed (leaving the settings for the line speed at the defaults) and then I’m presented with the port tester. I need to open a port in my firewall for two-way communication. They recommend using a port number between 49152 and 65534. I pick a port, open it up in my OS X firewall for my Mac and in my Router firewall (my router will forward the port only to this Mac). Back in the port tester I pick an blocked port first and the test fails. Then the connection works on the port I opened and I click next. I leave the default location for downloaded torrents.

There’s a visual guide for setting up port forwarding for many routers at PortForward.com. To open the port in the Mac OS X firewall go into Preferences -> Sharing and click the firewall button. Click “New” where you’ll be presented with the configuration screen. The following is a guide of what to input (use the port #’s in the TCP and UDP port fields – I entered the same port # for both). The name can be anything meaningful.

If you’re paranoid (like me) you can go back into the firewall once your done with Azureus and uncheck Azureus in the firewall. The port will again be blocked but you can easily return and check it when you need to unblock it, no need to completely reconfigure.

Starting the torrent is simple. I click on the torrent file in my web browser and when prompted I tell the browser to open the file in Azureus. It takes a couple minutes for the download to take off.

I monitor my internet connection through the first twenty or twenty minutes of the download. The download bandwidth is maxed out and stays maxed out once things get going. Upload bandwidth swings wildly but is usually around 50% of what’s available. Limits can be set on both upload and download bandwidth that’s used. The limits cab be changed on the fly and the transfers can be paused completely. The download takes less than an hour but I leave Azureus running for the rest of the nights so it can upload the file to others.

Azureus is certainly much more than I needed to just download Ubuntu but it was easy enough to set up. The videos may provide interesting viewing in the future. (Although I noticed some are available as rentals.)