The World of P2P: BitTorrent Protocols and Software

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BitTorrent[edit]

BitTorrent is a protocol ( BitTorrent Protocol Specification v1.0 ) created by Bram Cohen derived from the Gnutella concept, but primarily designed to distribute large computer files over the Internet and permit WEB integration, in fact it aimed to be a substitute for the old centralized HTTP downloads, not a full P2P network. As such it initially avoided the limitations of transmitting search request across the network, something that recently has been implemented with the adoption of a DHT similar to the eDonkey solution, that permits searches across a network. Making BitTorrent a two tiers P2P.

BitTorrent is used to distribute legitimate content but in itself does not make any differentiation about the copyright status of the shared material, as any other decentralized network this permits infringement on a massive scale. Bram Cohen and Ashwin Navin founded on September 22, 2004, BitTorrent, Inc. headquartered in San Francisco, California, as a privately held American company that develops transformative technology and products to continue the advancement of a more efficient and open Internet also promotes development of the BitTorrent protocol through R&D and open specifications.

BitTorrent ( http://www.bittorrent.com ) is also the name of the original implementation of the protocol it started as a Python ( source code and old versions ) application, now refereed as BitTorrent Mainline, to a full featured commercial enterprise. BitTorrent.com part of BitTorrent Inc. is now a destination to download entertainment content using the BitTorrent protocol. The site provide fast, on-demand access to the most comprehensive licensed catalog of thousands of movies, TV shows, music and games, but it also provides content creators a publishing platform to list their works in high-quality alongside the most recognizable titles from major movie studios, TV networks, and record labels.

BitTorrent Inc. also contributes through more broadly focused standards bodies like the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) at the LEDBAT working group ( http://www.ietf.org/html.charters/ledbat-charter.html ). BitTorrent, Inc. owns the clients BitTorrent Mainline and µTorrent, as the BitTorrent DNA (Delivery Network Accelerator) which is a free content delivery service based on the BitTorrent protocol that brings the power of user-contributed bandwidth to traditional content publishers while leaving publishers in full control of their files.

The BitTorrent protocol is peer-to-peer in nature, its innovative approach in the beginning, was due to not be centered about the creation a real distributed network but around the specific shared resources, in this case files, preferably large files, as users connect to each other directly to send and receive portions of a large file from other peers who have also downloaded either the file or parts of the it. These pieces are then reassembled into the full file. Since the users are downloading from each other and not from one central server, the bandwidth load of downloading large files is divided between the many sources that the user is downloading from. This decreases the bandwidth cost for people hosting large files, and increases the download speeds for the people downloading large files, because the protocol makes use of the upstream bandwidth of every downloader to increase the effectiveness of the distribution as a whole, and to gain advantage on the part of the downloader. However, there is a central server (called a tracker) which coordinates the action of all such peers. The tracker only manages connections, it does not have any knowledge of the contents of the files being distributed, and therefore a large number of users can be supported with relatively limited tracker bandwidth.

The key philosophy of BitTorrent is that users should upload (transmit outbound) at the same time they are downloading (receiving inbound.) In this manner, network bandwidth is utilized as efficiently as possible. BitTorrent is designed to work better as the number of people interested in a certain file increases, in contrast to other file transfer protocols.

BitTorrent is redefining the way people share and search for content and is getting very popular for downloading movies, TV shows, full music albums and applications (it gains in performance with other alternatives) since it is very file specific and it gains on the "new" factor of P2P content, more users equals more speed, but it will not be the optimum solution to rare files or to distribute content that is not highly sought over.

To download files that are hosted using BitTorrent users must have a BitTorrent client and to publish a file one must run a tracker.

In November 2004, BitTorrent accounted for an astounding 35 percent of all the traffic on the Internet and in 2006 the BitTorrent protocol has risen to over 60 percent of all Internet traffic according to British Web analysis firm CacheLogic. Due to this some ISPs are doing traffic shaping also know as bandwidth throttling, meaning they are reducing the protocol priority inside their networks and reducing its overall performance this has resulted in two kind of responses, some ISPs are investing in upgrading their networks and provide local cache to the protocol and implementors of the protocol are starting to battle ISPs that refuse to adapt by encrypting and randomizing it, this kick need to adapt and the increasing popularity due to deviation from its creators vision is placing more and more its evolution on the hands of independent developers.

The BitTorrent system is highly dependent on active participation of peers since it only goal is the sharing of files. Rare and "old" content is not easy to find on the system, only highly sought after content benefit from this P2P implementation. Small files also don't fully benefit from it, since the needed time for replication is too short and in some extreme situations can even degrade the experience.

Content indexers[edit]

There are many different BitTorrent websites that index content, each providing information about files distributed via the BitTorrent protocol. They typically contain multiple torrent files and an index of those files. In a typical scenario, a user would enter such a site and browse or search for the content they desire, based on the torrent descriptions posted at the site by other users. If a torrent with the sought content is found, the user could download that torrent.

Legal Torrents ( http://www.legaltorrents.com ), a collection of Creative Commons-licensed, legally downloadable, freely distributable creator-approved files, from electronic/indie music to movies and books, which have been made available via BitTorrent. Everyone that grabs the BitTorrent client and downloads helps contribute more bandwidth.

There is also OpenBitTorrent ( http://openbittorrent.com ), OpenBitTorrent.kg ( http://www.openbittorrent.kg ), myTorrentTracker ( http://www.mytorrenttracker.com ) and trackhub ( http://trackhub.appspot.com ), all BitTorrent trackers free for anyone to use to share files. You don't need to register, upload or index a torrent anywhere, all you have to do is to include the tracker URL in the torrent file.

Other:

Such websites each have different features to facilitate the user's search. See Wikipedia's Comparison of BitTorrent sites page. Several of the larger BitTorrent tracker sites were shut down citing concerns about problems with copyright holders, mostly representatives of large business interests. While in short it does prevent large scale copyright infringement, it also creates difficulty to legal uses and there is the issue with false notifications, that is claiming infringement of rights over works they do not own. In the long run this does little to solve the problem and pressures the protocol to evolve in ways to avoid this type of disruption. One way people have adapted to this pressure is to create private trackers that are only available by invitation.

Protocol[edit]

As already discussed the BitTorrent is a protocol for distributing files. It identifies content by URL and is designed to integrate seamlessly with the web. Its advantage over plain HTTP is that when multiple downloads of the same file happen concurrently, where each downloaders upload to each other, making it possible for the file source to support very large numbers of downloaders with only a modest increase in its load. ( http://www.bittorrent.com/protocol.html ). BitTorrent share some of the nomenclature of other P2P protocols but also creates new ones (see Wikipedia's page BitTorrent vocabulary for an extended list).

Torrent
A torrent can mean either a .torrent metadata file or all files described by it, depending on context. The torrent file, as defined in the BitTorrent specification, contains the URLs of multiple trackers, that coordinates communication between the peers in the swarm, and integrity metadata about all the files it makes down-loadable, including their names and sizes and checksums of all pieces in the torrent. It can also contain additional metadata defined in extensions to the BitTorrent specification, known as BitTorrent Enhancement Proposals. Examples of such proposals include metadata for stating who created the torrent, and when.
Index
An index is a list of .torrent files (usually including descriptions and other information) managed by a website and available for searches. An index website can also be sometimes refereed as a tracker, but as a "Torrent" tracked not BitTorrent tracker).

The protocol was partially dependent of centralized in do to the requirement of trackers.

Client
The program that enables p2p file sharing via the BitTorrent protocol. It denotes still the semi-centralized nature of the protocol, on the protocol definition sometimes the terms is substituted by Peer (ie: peer_id), for instance Gnutella refers to participants always as Peers or Nodes and to implementer as Vendor.
Tracker
A tracker is a server that keeps track of which seeds and peers are in the swarm. Clients report information to the tracker periodically and in exchange receive information about other clients to which they can connect. The tracker is not directly involved in the data transfer and does not have a copy of the file.
Scrape
This is when a client sends a request to the tracking server for information about the statistics of the torrent, such as with whom to share the file and how well those other users are sharing.

With the adoption of DHT (Distributed Hash Tables) the BitTorrent protocol starts to become more that a semi-centralized distribution network around a single resource, it becomes more decentralized and removes the static point of control, the tracker, this is done by relying in DHTs and the use of the PEX extension. Enabling the volatile Peer to operate also as a tracker, but even if this addressed the need for static tracker servers, there is still a centralization of the network around the content. Peers don't have any default ability to contact each other outside of that context.

Seeder
A seeder is a client that has a complete copy of the torrent and still offers it for upload. The more seeders there are, the better the chances of getting a higher download speed. If the seeder seeds the whole copy of the download they should get faster downloads

Seeding rules, like we will see with the special case of super-seeding, are variables and algorithms implemented locally by the client in a general configuration often open in some form to user control. These rules control and may serve to optimize the selection of what available torrent is seeded, instead of just starting the next one in the list, and sort torrents based on a Seeding Rank.

Seeding Rank
Is a priority rating, resulting from the calculations based on the active seeding rules of the client, serving to prioritizes your torrents based on how needy they are. It generates a priority queue, where the available torrents are given use of the available open slots for transfer. Several consideration can contribute to the Seeding Rank:
  • Seed Ratio. The lower the ratio, the more scarce a the torrent is, the higher its Seeding Rank should be, giving priority to rare torrents.
  • Seed Count. Similar to Seed ratio but considers not only complete seeds but the number of any client interested in the torrent, works in reverse, giving preference to larger swarms and torrents in high demand.
  • Timed Rotation. Torrents will be rotated in and out of seeding mode. Each torrent is given a length of time they remain seeding.
  • Default. Each torrents will be seeded based on their order they are added to the seed list.
Announce
Similar to "Scrape", but means that the client also announces that it wants to join the swarm and that the server should add it to the list of peers in that swarm.
Availability (also known as Distributed copies.)
This is a common word used on distributed systems, in this case it refers to the number of full copies of the file available to the client. Each seed adds 1.0 to this number, as they have one complete copy of the file. A connected peer with a fraction of the file available adds that fraction to the availability, if no other peer has this part of the file.
Example: a peer with 65.3% of the file downloaded increases the availability by 0.653. However, if two peers both have the same portion of the file downloaded - say 50% - and there is only one seeder, the availability is 1.5.
Interested
Describes a downloader who wishes to obtain pieces of a file the client has. For example, the uploading client would flag a downloading client as 'interested' if that client did not possess a piece that it did, and wished to obtain it.
Downloader
A downloader is any peer that does not have the entire file and is downloading the file. This term, used in Bram Cohen's Python implementation, lacks the negative connotation attributed to leech. Bram chose the term downloader over leech because BitTorrent's tit-for-tat ensures downloaders also upload and thus do not unfairly qualify as leeches.
Choked
Describes a client that has been refused file pieces. A client chokes another client in several situations:
  • The second client is a seed, in which case it does not want any pieces (i.e., it is completely uninterested)
  • The client is already uploading at its full capacity (it has reached the value of max_uploads)
  • The second client has been blacklisted for being abusive or is using a blacklisted BitTorrent client.
Snubbed
An uploading client is flagged as snubbed if the downloading client has not received any data from it in over 60 seconds.
Clipboard

To do:
New Protocol To Boost BitTorrent Speeds called the “Cache Discovery Protocol” or CDP, which supposedly will act like DHCP for peer to peer networks.

Extension protocol for BitTorrent[edit]

Created by Arvid Norberg and Ludvig Strigeus, (description http://www.rasterbar.com/products/libtorrent/extension_protocol.html ), it is an extension to the protocol that intends to provide a simple and thin transport for future extensions to the BitTorrent protocol. This protocol makes it easy to add new extensions without interfering with the standard bittorrent protocol or clients that don't support this extension.

The extension messages IDs are defined in the handshake is to avoid having a global registry of message IDs. Instead the names of the extension messages requires unique names, which is much easier to do without a global registry.

There seems also to be a concurrent implementation, or variation, by Vuze ( http://wiki.vuze.com/w/Azureus_messaging_protocol ) that is used both by Vuse and Transmission.

Peer exchange[edit]

Peer exchange or PEX is a communications protocol that augments the BitTorrent file sharing protocol. It allows a group of users (or peers) that are collaborating to share a given file to do so more swiftly and efficiently. PEX is implemented using one of two common extension protocols.

In the original design of the BitTorrent file sharing protocol clients, that users (Peers) in a file sharing group (known as a "swarm") relied upon a central computer server called a tracker to find each other and to maintain the swarm. PEX greatly reduces the reliance of peers on a tracker by allowing each peer to directly update others in the swarm as to which peers are currently in the swarm. By reducing dependency on a centralized tracker, PEX increases the speed, efficiency, and robustness of the BitTorrent protocol making it more decentralized.

As already explained, users wishing to obtain a copy of a file typically first download a .torrent file that describes the file(s) to be shared, as well as the URLs of one or more central computers called trackers that maintain a list of peers currently sharing the file(s) described in the .torrent file. In the original BitTorrent design, peers then depended on this central tracker to find each other and maintain the swarm. Later development of distributed hash tables (DHTs) meant that partial lists of peers could be held by other computers in the swarm and the load on the central tracker computer could be reduced. PEX allows peers in a swarm to exchange information about the swarm directly without asking (polling) a tracker computer or a DHT. By doing so, PEX leverages the knowledge of peers that a user is connected to by asking them for the addresses of peers that they are connected to. This is faster and more efficient than relying solely on a tracker and reduces the processing load on the tracker. It also keep swarms together when the tracker is down. In fact removing any control over the distribution once a peer keeps a complete copy of the file share.

Peer exchange cannot be used on its own to introduce a new peer to a swarm. To make initial contact with a swarm, each peer must either connect to a tracker using a ".torrent" file, or else use a router computer called a bootstrap node to find a distributed hash table (DHT) which describes a swarm's list of peers. For most BitTorrent users, DHT and PEX will start to work automatically after the user launches a BitTorrent client and opens a .torrent file. A notable exception is "private torrents" which are not freely available; these will disable DHT.

It was agreed between the Azureus and µTorrent developers that any clients which implement either of the mechanisms above try to obey the following limits when sending PEX messages:

  • There should be no more than 50 added peers and 50 removed peers sent in any given PEX message.
  • A peer exchange message should not be sent more frequently than once a minute.

Some clients may choose to enforce these limits and drop connections from clients that ignore these limits.

Permanent DHT tracking[edit]

With the PEX implementation and reliance on the distributed hash table (DHT), the evolution into creating a real P2P overlay network that is completely serverless was the next logical stem, much like the eDonkey network has evolved as we have seen. The DHT works mostly the same way and will take information not only from old trackers by also from the PEX implementation, creating something like a distributed Database of shared torrents acting as backup tracker when all other trackers are down or can't deliver enough peers, as well as enabling trackerless torrents. The DHT acts and is added to torrents as a pseudo-tracker if the client has the option enabled and DHT trackers can be enabled and disabled per torrent just like regular trackers. Clients using this permanent DHT tracking are now a fully connected decentralized P2P network, they enter the DHT as a new node, this of course makes it necessary for private trackers (or non-public distributions) to exclude themselves from the participating.

Bootstrapping the DHT

Since the DHT is independent of any single tracker (and point of failure), the issue of how the DHT routing table is bootstraped, the first time using DHT, has to be addressed. This is done in several ways:

  1. Manually entering a host name and port number of a DHT node.
  2. Connect to a tracker that has a .torrent file with a list of DHT nodes.
  3. Downloading any torrent with peers who advertise that they support DHT. Not fully supported by all clients as it requires clients to advertise in the BitTorrent handshake DHT support.
Magnet links

Traditionally, .torrent files are downloaded from torrent sites. But several clients also support the Magnet URI scheme. A magnet link can provide not only the torrent hash needed to seek the needed nodes sharing the file in the DHT but may include a tracker for the file.

BitTorrent Enhancement Proposal (BEP)[edit]

The BitTorrent Enhancement Proposal Process (BEP) is a process started by John Hoffman. The process is defined in the public domain document ( http://www.bittorrent.org/beps/bep_0001.html ).

List of BitTorrent Enhancement Proposals is available ( http://www.bittorrent.org/beps/bep_0000.html ).

A BEP is a design document providing information to the BitTorrent community, or describing a new feature for the BitTorrent protocols. BEPs should provide a concise technical specification of the feature and a rationale for the feature, and are intended to be the primary mechanisms for proposing new features, for collecting community input on an issue, and for documenting the design decisions that have gone into BitTorrent.

The BEP author is responsible for building consensus within the community and documenting dissenting opinions. Because the BEPs are maintained as re-structured text files in a versioned repository, their revision history is the historical record of the feature proposal.

Super-seeding[edit]

Super-seeding specified in BEP 16 ( http://www.bittorrent.org/beps/bep_0016.html ) is a extension to the BitTorrent protocol (implemented without changes to the protocol), intended to be used when there is only one seed, it permits to manage the scarcity of a resource.

In a situation when a seeder detects that it is the only source for a file, it will attempt to minimize the amount of data uploaded, as to guarantee external sharing and optimize access to the scarce resource, until it detects that other complete seeders exist. The feature was conceived by John Hoffman and first implemented in the BitTornado client in 2003.

uTP[edit]

uTP or µTP (sometimes also referred as Micro Transport Protocol ) is an open source cross-platform protocol, created to be implemented on top of UDP protocol a TCP-like implementation of LEDBAT (a TCP congestion avoidance algorithm).

µTP was developed within BitTorrent, Inc. with no input from either the networking or BitTorrent communities as to be provide reliable, ordered delivery while maintaining minimum extra delay as too automatically slow down the rate at which packets of data are transmitted between users of peer-to-peer file sharing torrents when it interferes with other applications. For example, the protocol should automatically allow the sharing of an ADSL line between a BitTorrent application and a web browser. It was first introduced in the µTorrent 1.8.x beta branches, and publicized in the alpha builds of µTorrent 1.9. as is now the primary transport protocol for uTorrent peer-to-peer connections.

uTP is documented as a BitTorrent extension, in BEP 29 ( http://bittorrent.org/beps/bep_0029.html ). BitTorrent, Inc. has made a C++ implementation available under the MIT license ( http://github.com/bittorrent/libutp ), but the external interface is strictly C (ANSI C89).

BitTorrent protocol encryption[edit]

As of January 2005, BitTorrent traffic made up more than a third of total residential Internet traffic. Some ISPs decided to take different measures control and event to subvert P2P traffic, as covered in Shadow play section of this book.

This created a need for providing a BitTorrent protocol encryption. Obfuscation and encryption makes traffic harder to detect and monitor and therefore harder to throttle. BitTorrent protocol encryption is not designed to provide anonymity or confidentiality, even if some solutions will it increase confidentiality by obfuscating the content.

Bram Cohen, the inventor of BitTorrent, opposed adding encryption to the BitTorrent protocol. Cohen stated he was worried that encryption could create incompatibility between clients, stressing the point that the majority of ISPs don't block the torrent protocol. Cohen wrote "I rather suspect that some developer has gotten rate limited by his ISP, and is more interested in trying to hack around his ISP's limitations than in the performance of the Internet as a whole". After some criticism for this position, Cohen later added the ability to receive but not originate encrypted connections on his Mainline client. Notably, when µTorrent was purchased by BitTorrent, Inc. and then became the next mainline release, the ability to originate encrypted connections was retained, but it became turned off by default.

Encryption will not stop a traffic shaping system configured to universally slow down all encrypted, unidentifiable or unknown protocols using a method as simple as packet loss. Encrypting tracker communications prevents eavesdropping on peer lists and does not require upgrading both ends of peer-to-peer connections, but it requires imposing computational overhead on the tracker.

Protocol header encryption (PHE)
Created by RnySmile and first implemented in BitComet version 0.60 on 8 September 2005. The specifications was neither published, nor is it compatible with MSE/PE, and there are claims that it was already reverse engineered, reducing its usefulness.
Message stream encryption (MSE)/Protocol encryption (PE)
Developed by Azureus (now Vuze) in late January 2006, that later suffered several alterations permitting a broader acceptance by the creators of other BitTorrent clients.
As per the specifications ( http://wiki.vuze.com/w/Message_Stream_Encryption ), MSE/PE uses key exchange combined with the infohash of the torrent to establish an RC4 encryption key. The key exchange helps to minimize the risk of passive listeners, and the infohash helps avoid man-in-the-middle attacks. RC4 is chosen for its speed. The first kilobyte of the RC4 output is discarded to prevent a particular attack.
The specification allows for the users to choose between encrypting the headers only or the full connection. Encrypting the full connection provides more obfuscation but uses more CPU time. To ensure compatibility with other clients that don't support this specification, users may also choose whether unencrypted incoming or outgoing connections are still allowed. Supported clients propagate the fact that they have MSE/PE enabled through PEX and DHT.
Analysis of this method has shown that statistical measurements of packet sizes and packet directions of the first 100 packets in a TCP session can be used to identify the obfuscated protocol with over 96% accuracy, this makes this solution only effective against the efforts of ISPs that don't adopt state of the art traffic analysis, mostly smaller ISPs.

Various solutions exist to protect the BitTorrent network against attacks including encrypting both peer-to-tracker and peer-to-peer communication, using Microsoft's Teredo so that TCP connections are tunneled within UDP packets, filtering TCP resets before they reach the TCP layer in the end-host, or switching entirely from a TCP-based transport to a UDP-based transport. Each solution has its trade-offs. Filtering out attack TCP resets typically requires kernel access, and the participation of the remote peer since the attacker has to send the reset packet to the local and remote peers. Teredo is not available on all BitTorrent clients. Rewriting TCP reliability, in-order delivery and congestion control in a new UDP protocol represents a substantial engineering effort and would require upgrading both ends of any peer-to-peer connection.

Software Implementations[edit]

Wikipedia provides an some relevant information in articles like comparison of BitTorrent software and usage share of BitTorrent clients. The following list is given as to provide a general idea and comparison regarding the implementation details in relation to other P2P protocols.
(This should not to be considered a complete list of BitTorrent clients, no special order was used. All links have been verified, special attention has been given to the programming language and licenses of the software. Last update 11 September 2010)

  • BitTorrent Queue Manager ( http://btqueue.sourceforge.net ), a console-based BitTorrent Client with built-in scheduler for handling multiple sessions. It is designed to manage sessions in queue easily without heavy-weight GUI. External module can search for new torrents in trackers and submit it automatically. OpenSource (Python Software Foundation License) project, using Python.
  • Vuze previously called Azureus ( http://azureus.sourceforge.net or http://www.vuze.com/ ), an open source BitTorrent client in Java, probably the more advanced peer for the network (multiple torrent downloads, queuing/priority systems, start/stop seeding options, embedded tracker, Mainline DHT and a lot more) but a known resource hog, consuming large quantities of memory and CPU power.
  • µTorrent ( http://utorrent.com ), a closed source, freeware BitTorrent client in C++, a very complete peer (includes bandwidth prioritization, scheduling, RSS auto-downloading and Mainline DHT and more) with a very low system footprint.
  • BitTornado ( http://bittornado.com ), an open source BitTorrent client in Python based on the original BitTorrent client.
  • BitComet ( http://www.bitcomet.com ), (originally named SimpleBT client from versions 0.11 to 0.37) is a closed source but freeware, BitTorrent client for the MS Windows OS only, it also supports HTTP/FTP download management.
  • ABC (Yet Another BitTorrent Client) ( http://pingpong-abc.sourceforge.net ), an open source BitTorrent client, based on BitTornado.
  • Transmission ( http://transmission.m0k.org/ ), an open source lightweight BitTorrent client with a simple graphic user interface on top of a cross-platform back-end. Transmission runs on Mac OS X with a Cocoa interface, Linux/NetBSD/FreeBSD/OpenBSD with a GTK+ interface, and BeOS with a native interface. Released under the MIT/X Consortium License.
  • Warez ( http://www.warezclient.com ), a closed source, MS Windows only BitTorrent client from Neoteric Ltd. (previously supporting the Ares Network Warez P2P client).
  • Bits on Wheels ( http://bitsonwheels.com ), a freeware but closed source, implementation, written in Objective-C and Cocoa for the Macintosh.
  • Vidora ( http://www.videora.com/ ), a closed source, freeware implementation that also support Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds.
  • sharktorrent ( http://sharktorrent.sourceforge.net/ ), an open source (GNU GPL) written in C++. This a cross-platform BitTorrent client uses QT , libtorrent and boost libraries.
  • ted [Torrent Episode Downloader] ( http://www.ted.nu/ ), an open source (GNU GPL) BitTorrent client coded in Java, it also support torrent RSS feeds.
  • rTorrent| ( http://libtorrent.rakshasa.no ) is a text-based ncurses BitTorrent client written in C++, based on the libTorrent libraries for Unix (not to be confused with libtorrent by Arvid Norberg/Rasterbar), whose author's goal is “a focus on high performance and good code. Both the client as the library are available under the GNU GPL.
  • libtorrent ( http://www.rasterbar.com/products/libtorrent/ ) from Rasterbar Software, an open source C++ library, implementing the BitTorrent protocol and core necessities for an application, using zlib and Boost libraries, specifically Boost.Asio and shares the Boost license. This library is also commonly used embedded in devices. The library also provides support for UPnP configuration.
    • Halite ( http://www.binarynotions.com/halite-bittorrent-client ), an open-source, under the Boost Software License, this BitTorrent client uses the libtorrent library. Coded in C++ using the Boost library and WTL (Windows only).
    • FireTorrent ( https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/10931 ) by Pete Collins, Radical Software Ltd, Jan Varga, Matthew Gertner, open source in JavaScript using the libtorrent library, Mozilla Public License FireFox extension/add-on to download torrents.
    • Folx ( http://www.mac-downloader.com/ ), closed source, using libtorrrent library (Mac only).
    • qBittorrent ( http://www.qbittorrent.org/ ), open source GNU GPL, developed by a Ph.D student (Christophe Dumez), a Bittorrent client using C++ / libtorrent and a Qt4 Graphical User Interface.
    • Deluge ( http://deluge-torrent.org ), an open source, using Python and libtorrent, lightweight, cross-platform BitTorrent client in Python released under the GNU GPL license.
    • Limewire, already covered as a well known Gnutella implementation also support the BitTorrent protocol by using the libtorrrent library.
    • BTG ( http://btg.berlios.de ), Bittorrent client implemented in C++ and using the Rasterbar Libtorrent library, released under the GNU GPL. Provides a Ncurses, SDL, Gtkmm and WWW GUI, which communicate with a common backend running the actual BitTorrent operation, available only for OSX, BSD and Linux.
    • Free Download Manager (FDM), ( http://www.freedownloadmanager.org ), C++ open source software distributed under GNU GPL using the libtorrrent library (Windows only).
    • torrent2exe.com, a web tool, that reportedly converts .torrents into executables (Windows) for distribution, closed source using the libtorrrent library.
    • Flush ( http://sourceforge.net/projects/flush ) GTK-based BitTorrent client for Linux, open source C++/GTK+ using the libtorrrent library.
    • Pump ( http://www.vipeers.com ), a closed source video manager that supports the BitTorrent protocol by using the libtorrrent library.
    • Lince ( http://lincetorrent.sourceforge.net ), open source C++/GTK+/libtorrrent BitTorrent client, release under the GNU GPL (Linux/BSD/UNIX-like OSes).
    • Miro, previously known as Democracy Player and DTV ( http://getmiro.com ) is an designed to automatically download videos from RSS-based “channels”, manage them and play them. Open source in Python/GTK/libtorrrent, released under the terms of the GNU General Public License.
    • tvitty ( http://tvitty.com ) closed source BitTorrent download add-in for vista media center using libtorrrent (Windows only).
    • FatRat ( http://fatrat.dolezel.info ), is an open source download manager for Linux written in C++ using Qt4 and libtorrrent libraries.
    • LeechCraft ( http://leechcraft.org ), open source BitTorrent client (supporting also HTTP/FTP downloads), create using C++, Qt and libtorrrent. Released under the GNU General Public License.
    • MooPolice ( http://www.moopolice.de ), BitTorrent client for Windows, having an unorthodox GUI. Open source (without a specific license) C++ using MFC and libtorrent BitTorrent client library and MiniUPnP.
    • Linkage ( http://code.google.com/p/linkage ), a lightweight BitTorrent client written in C++ using gtkmm and libtorrent, open source under the GNU General Public License (no longer maintained).
    • Arctic Torrent ( http://int64.org/projects/arctic-torrent ), a small BitTorrent client for Windows (includes a 64bits version). Open Source C++ under the MIT License, using libtorrent.

Specific BitTorrent Papers[edit]

  • May 22, 2003 - Incentives Build Robustness in BitTorrent (PDF), Bram Cohen
    The BitTorrent file distribution system uses tit-for-tat as a method of seeking pareto efficiency. It achieves a higher level of robustness and resource utilization than any currently known cooperative technique. We explain what BitTorrent does, and how economic methods are used to achieve that goal.