If you use a lot of torrents, you eventually realize that shutting off your computer at night means your computer is no longer downloading. It’s sometimes frustrating; we don’t wanna leave our stuff on all the time… right?
A lot of low-power devices support torrent clients. The Raspberry Pi, since it runs Linux, supports a handful, but my first experience with a remote BitTorrent client was actually in the form of my router.
My router is an Asus RT-AC68R (the link is to the AC68U which is functionally identical to the older R model). While it’s running on alternate firmware, the core functionality is actually present in the basic version. If you install the “DownloadMaster” software package, you can use the router to download torrents to a connected USB device.
The web interface for DownloadMaster kinda sucks, to be frank. It presents very few options, it’s slow, it freaks out easily… and it’s a pain to add torrents when you’re used to the convenience of a desktop-based client.
Fortunately, we have a really easy workaround! The DownloadMaster application is actually a package, and the BitTorrent client used in it is actually a daemonized version of the open-source Transmission client.
Once we know this, it’s really easy to get the best of both worlds – easy configuration, monitoring, and adding of torrents, while running on a lower power device.
Transmission has a great remote client. If your router, or RPi, or any other device, is running the transmission daemon, chances are, you can use the remote client to make managing it a lot easier.
For this, we’ll be discussing the transmission-remote-gtk client, which is available for Windows and Linux (and probably Mac, but I’ve honestly never tried it).
Check out the Windows client or install it on your Linux distribution:
sudo apt-get install transmission-remote-gtk
on Debian based systems (Ubuntu, Linux Mint). The package name is fairly constant between distributions, so use your distribution’s package management software to install it.
Once it’s installed, open it up, and you’ll see what looks like a fairly basic torrent client. For the most part, it is – Transmission never has tried to be the most feature packed client, but it does what it does well.
In the remote client, click the “Connect” button in the upper left, and fill in the details for your device (IP address, user name, password, etc) – if you’re using the DownloadMaster setup from Asus, you can use your router username and password, and the default ports. It’s pretty straightforward. Save your settings and click connect again, and you’ll see your list of torrents in the main frame of the application.
From here on out, it functions just like a regular torrent client; you can even click links to add them (assuming your system is set up to send the link to the remote client; on Windows, make sure the association is set and you’re good to go.)
The remote client lets you specify a fair bit more, such as download locations, files to download – essentially, the things you expect to see in a modern client.
Overall, I’d strongly recommend using a setup like this – it’s simple to do, offers a lot of flexibility, and is just plain interesting.
Not a fan of Transmission for some reason? Other clients, such as Deluge, also support this sort of remote access!