Downloading Torrent Files via the Linux Terminal

Posted by jun auza On 10/15/2009
On my post entitled "How to use BitTorrent in Linux" I've taught you the basics of downloading torrent files using Transmission, a popular BitTorrent client with GUI (Graphical User Interface). This time, I will show you how to use an ultra-lightweight text-based ncurses BitTorrent client --rTorrent.

I know downloading torrent files via the Linux terminal sounds exciting so here we go...

If you are using Ubuntu, you can install rTorrent via Synaptic Package Manager, or with this command:

$ sudo apt-get install rtorrent

You can also get rTorrent HERE.

Now, we will start using rTorrent. But first, download a '.torrent' file. Let's say you got a file named free.torrent and saved it on the Desktop. You can download it through this command:

$ rtorrent Desktop/free.torrent

The downloads (finished and unfinished) will be saved at /home/username by default.

rTorrent main screen

That would be enough to get you downloading torrent files via the Linux terminal in no time. But if you want to learn some of the more advanced features of rTorrent, don't rely on its man page because you will be disappointed. Instead, use this cheat sheet:

Adding and removing torrents
Backspace -- Add torrent using an URL or file path. Use tab to view directory content and do auto-complete. Also, wildcards can be used. For example: ~/torrent/*
Return/Enter -- Same as backspace, except the torrent remains inactive. (Use ^s to activate)
CTRL-O -- Set new download directory for selected torrent. Only works if torrent has not yet been activated.
CTRL-S -- Start download. Runs hash first unless already done.
CTRL-D -- Stop an active download, or remove a stopped download.
CTRL-R -- Initiate hash check of torrent. Without starting to download/upload.

a/s/d -- Increase the upload throttle by 1/5/50 KB.
z/x/c -- Decrease the upload throttle by 1/5/50 KB.
A/S/D -- Increase the download throttle by 1/5/50 KB.
Z/X/C -- Decrease the download throttle by 1/5/50 KB.

Main View Keys:
right -- Switch to Download View.
CTRL-R -- Initiate hash check of torrent.
+/- -- Change priority of torrent.
l -- View log. Exit by pressing the space-bar.
1 -- Show all downloads.
2 -- Show all downloads, ordered by name.
3 -- Show started downloads.
4 -- Show stopped downloads.
5 -- Show complete downloads.
6 -- Show incomplete downloads.
7 -- Show hashing downloads.
8 -- Show seeding downloads.

Download View Keys
right -- Switch to selected view.
left -- Switch to view selection or back to main view.
1/2 -- Adjust max uploads.
3/4 -- Adjust min peers.
5/6 -- Adjust max peers.
p -- Display peer list.
o -- Display torrent info.
i -- Display file list.
u -- Display tracker list.
t/T -- Initiate tracker request. Use capital T to force the request, ignoring the "min interval" set by the tracker.

Peer list View Keys
left -- Switch to view selection.
right -- Show file details.
space -- Change the file priority; applies recursively when done on a directory.
* -- Change the priority of all files.
/ -- Collapse directories. While collapsed, press right to expand the selected directory.

Tracker list View Keys
left -- Switch to view selection.
* -- Enable/disable tracker.
space -- Rotate trackers in a group.

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