March 23, 2011

The Five Best Linux BitTorrent Clients

If you're new to Linux and looking for a great BitTorrent client, you're in luck. Linux has a fantastic variety of BitTorrent clients and we've picked out five of the best Linux BitTorrent clients you'll find today.

When many people talk about BitTorrent, they probably think of downloading movies and music — often with less than full and enthusiastic permission from the copyright owners of said entertainment. But there's a lot of legitimate torrenting to be done as well — especially on Linux. Most Linux distros distribute ISO images via BitTorrent — which is often faster for users as well as a lighter load on the projects that are distributing Linux.

What did I look at for BitTorrent clients? Basically, I was looking at ease of use, range of features, and the best tool for specific jobs. Some folks want to run BitTorrent as a desktop client, others want to run a Web-based client, others might want to just fire off a torrent from the command line. I also looked to make sure that each project is still under active development — sometimes a project is really good, but looks to be abandonware.

Having a good BitTorrent client is imperitive if you're a Linux user, especially if you're a distro-hopper like me. Which one is right depends on what you run and how you plan to use torrents. With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the best Linux BitTorrent clients available.

Transmission

One of the best cross-platform torrent clients you'll find is Transmission. It runs on Linux and Mac OS X, and has a native interface for Qt, GTK+, the command line, and Web interface.

But wait, there's more! Transmission also has a lot of third party tools that work with it, including Transdroid — a remote client for Android to control Transmission from your phone.

Most Linux distributions package Transmission, and it may even be installed by default. (I believe it is on openSUSE 11.4, for example.) If not, just search for "transmission" using your favorite package management tool or head over to the download page where you'll find native packages for everything from Ubuntu to Puppy Linux.

KTorrent

For KDE fans, there's Ktorrent, which is a full-featured torrent client that integrates deeply with the KDE platform.

Ktorrent has support for uTP, super-seeding, video streaming, and uses KDE's KParts for searching for torrents.

In short — if you're a KDE user, KTorrent should be at the top of your list to try. Like Transmission, most Linux distributions should package KTorrent — or you can download KTorrent source if you're looking for the very latest release.

µTorrent

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention µTorrent, which is an official torrent client from the BitTorrent folks.

The upsides? It's small, lightweight, and produced by the folks who started it all.

The downsides? It's not as well integrated with the Linux desktop, and it's not open source. So you're not going to be finding it packaged for most Linux distros. But it is a high-quality client, and it's worth looking at if open source isn't one of your main criteria. You can find downloads of µTorrent for 32-bit Linux on the µTorrent site.

rtorrent

If you're not into all that GUI stuff, then you may want to have a look at rtorrent, which is an ncurses client that uses the libtorrent library.

The focus for rtorrent is speed and simplicity. Unlike the GUI clients, you control everything via keybindings, and you don't need to be running X to make use of rtorrent. Now, other torrent clients may have a CLI version as well — but rtorrent is designed from the ground up for CLI use. This can be really useful if you need to script your torrenting, or if you want to use BitTorrent from your server instead of your desktop. (I find it may be much faster to grab an ISO on my server via BitTorrent, and then sftp it down than trying to do a straight HTTP or FTP download from overloaded servers.)

Most distros package rtorrent, though I don't see it in the openSUSE repos — but it is in Ubuntu. Check the rtorrent site for source code.

Miro

Miro is best-known for being a great video player for Linux. But there's more to Miro than may meet the eye!

Miro includes a built-in BitTorrent client so you can grab movies and music that's included in its content guide (when available as a torrent) right from Miro. That means not having to fiddle with a second application — and anything that's set up for BitTorrent RSS in Miro can just download automatically.

Miro probably isn't the best solution if you're going to be downloading a lot of ISO images, but it's great for fans of open media. If you haven't tried Miro yet, download Miro today and give it a shot.

Summary

Linux has plenty of BitTorrent clients to choose from. If you're a heavy torrent user, you might also want to check out the Firefox Torrent Finder Toolbar. Happy torrenting!