Transmission FOSS BitTorrent client hits version 4.0
Torrenting is still a thing, it still works, and it's not just for illegal downloads to get around streaming restrictions
Version 4 of the most widely used FOSS BitTorrent client is here, and it's worth a look if you have any difficulties with streaming media services.
Transmission is the default BitTorrent client for quite a few Linux distros. As a general rule we advise against running anything-point-zero releases of, well, pretty much anything if you have any choice in the matter. Saying that, though, Transmission 3.0 came out nearly three years ago, in May 2020, and there was never so much as a zero-point-one version. It just worked from the day it appeared. That is pretty much unheard of these days, and as such, we are guardedly hopeful that although it's apparently a total rewrite in C++ – famously a bad idea – 4.0 should be pretty good.
We don't talk about it much any more but BitTorrent never went away. Various well-known search engines such as the Pirate Bay are still there. In these days of faster home internet connections, especially faster upload speeds, it works better than ever.
There are perfectly legal use cases for it. Although The Reg FOSS desk has just relocated from Central Europe to the British Isles and is suffering relatively glacial internet speeds as a result, it can be faster to grab a Linux distro ISO file over torrent than a direct download from the other side of the world. Just a dozen people on your continent sharing can be enough to grab an ISO in minutes.
- Belarus legalizes piracy – but citizens will have to pay for it
- Like Ubuntu, just a bit less hassle: Linux Mint 21 'Vanessa'
- Enterprise-strength FreeBSD-based TrueNAS releases v13.0
- Next versions of both Fedora and Ubuntu head into beta
Yes, some people do indeed use it for sharing naughty copies. Don't do that, and don't download proprietary software: if it's on a torrent site, it's stolen, and probably has viruses deliberately implanted in it. For playback, VLC is pretty reliable – just be scrupulous about keeping it up to date, and run it on Linux, not Windows.
Transmission runs on Linux, macOS and Windows. It's free to use and unlike some proprietary-freeware torrent clients doesn't display advertisements.
On a related note, Netflix is threatening to crack down on password sharing, as it has before. Although they change often and vary by region, earlier this year the company's FAQs said that your devices must connect to their home Wi-Fi at least once per month or you will be disconnected.
As Cory Doctorow's exceptionally eloquent and insightful essay last week observes – and we highly recommend reading it – that may not sound so bad, unless you are, say, a migrant worker. (This vulture, as mentioned, just moved house and country, followed within days by a business visit to Brussels. It's a thing, not just for migrant workers building stadiums for a World Cup in the desert.) What if you're a child seeking distraction from your parents separating? How do Mum's and Dad's now-separate homes fit a corporate definition of a "household" then?
All that aside, if like The Reg FOSS desk household at the moment, you don't have internet access at home at all, second-hand DVDs (and indeed DVD players) are very cheap in charity shops, and quite possibly in your local library too. External USB DVD drives are surprisingly affordable too, if you no longer own a computer with an optical drive. Nobody will ever revoke your right to play a physical disk sitting on a shelf. ®