Raspberry Pi Becomes A Torrent Box

If you’re making a media server out of a Raspberry Pi, why not add an interface to the biggest torrent sites on the Internet? That’s what [Alan] did when he wanted an automated media downloader that can stream movies and TV shows to any device.

[Alan]’s torrent box is basically a web app running on a Raspberry Pi. By accessing the Pi from the browser of a desktop or mobile device, he can search a collection of torrent sites and download just about everything to the Pi with a touch of a button. Once the files are downloaded, the Pi is able to move them to any directory, either locally or on a network, or just serve them up on a TV with a media player.

While we’re not endorsing  file sharing, we can’t think of a simpler way to set up a seedbox that draws a minuscule amount of power. It’s a great addition to any media server, and a great way to get the latest season of <<Linux Distribution>> streaming to your TV.

71 thoughts on “Raspberry Pi Becomes A Torrent Box

  1. We have really got to stop calling copyright infringement via torrents “file sharing.” File sharing is what I do when I upload a document to dropbox. Copyright Infringement is what that guy does when he downloads Life of Pi instead of paying five bucks to see a matinee on a bigass screen. Have I seen Terminator 2? Why yes, I downloaded it last night. *gasp* You wouldn’t steal a car! Don’t copy that floppy! Yo, it’s cool man, I subscribe to Netflix.

    1. +1.
      Why show a screenshot of someone pirating a film when you are “not endorsing” illegally downloading films?
      How about showing a download of your favorite open source OS distro instead? *Then* you’re endorsing file sharing for legal purposes.
      This comes up every tome. You’d think the HAD editors would at least try to give a damn.

    2. Especially when used copies of media are so bloody cheap. Thrift stores and Amazon sell used CDs and DVDs cheap, and I hit both when I want new stuff. (Most stores have CDs for $2 apiece, and there’s usually several dozen new ones every couple weeks. If you buy a CD on a whim and two of the songs on it are good, then it’s already paid for itself vs buying the tracks individually on iTunes.)

      Of course you have to rip it yourself, but at least you’ve purchased a legitimate license for the content (and got a physical copy to back it up).

        1. You are wrong, sir. (And incorrect too!)

          In both of the cases you described, the person that *used* to have the item now NO LONGER HAS the item. (In the case of the library, you eventually return the item to the library, after which *you* no longer have the item.)

          That is totally different than downloading a torrent, in which case both parties retain the item afterward.

          Of course, I’m sure the MPAA and RIAA would be happy to agree with you…

          1. Or the previous owner ripped his copy, no longer needed the disc, and sold it. The disc is meaningless, it’s a backup. It’s not a license (it does not present you with terms/conditions nor force you to accept anything) it’s just a piece of plastic with some binary stuff on it that makes playing content on a CD/DVD player convenient. Licensing is what CD keys, DRM, and account based services do. Buying a CD, ripping it, and selling it; renting a CD, ripping it, and returning it; and torrenting a CD all give you an identical copy of the media while “stealing” “profits” from the “artists” (all 3 of these need “quotes” as none are true). It applies in the car example because you *can’t* copy a car that you legitimately (or illegitimately) obtained. The second 3D printing/copying tech becomes cost permissive to copy a car, you can bet that car “piracy” will be the next big thing. Supply and demand drive markets, and digital content = infinite supply. Think about it.

          2. @CalcProgrammer1:
            You’re welcome to dream about your communist paradise all you want, but when it comes down to it, all of the things you described are *illegal*. Pure and simple.
            I suppose you think artists should just give away their product? Because that’s the only logical conclusion I can draw from your argument.

            Don’t like the law? Get it changed. But in the mean time, it’s still illegal. And it is theft every bit as much as some idiot breaking into a corporate database and making a copy of their data is theft. If you’ll argue otherwise on this point then you’re not worth the time to even hold a conversation with, because you obviously don’t understand anything about morality or law.

            I’m not arguing that this means you “stole profits” from someone by downloading a video using a torrent, but you did steal rights to their property.

          3. I have one question:
            When i buy a music CD i buy the rights to listen the music or i buy an plastic disk with data?
            In the first, if i lost or damage the CD i can go to the store and ask for a new one for free.
            In the second, I can make many backups of the support i buy.

          4. You are wrong actually. Selling used copies of movies and games has been illegal for decades in most free world countries. Illegal … but largely not enforced. Since this thread turned into a rant about piracy, I’d like to drop in my comment which is, lets leave morality out of this. Is anyone really foolish enough to think any of this is a moral question? It’s not. It’s a monetary question, and a question of control.

            People going to jail, losing time from their lives over something imaginary like copyright is the most insane thing I can imagine from an arbitrary perspective. Freedom. Pfft.

          5. I have no clue why you are saying that it is illegal just because they both have a copy in the end. In fact, from middle school all the way through now, my friends and I have been copying games and music we own to give to each other.

            In any case the companies aren’t losing anything, they just simply aren’t gaining anything. Those games and songs we share wouldn’t be paid for by any of us because we wouldn’t have bought then ourselves in any case.

          6. @Ndragoon: Couldn’t said it better ;-) For example if someone pirated 3DStudioMax, it doesn’t mean Autodesk lost thousands $$$ just because otherwise, he wouldn’t give it a try.

        2. Purchasing a used copy is taking ownership of a legitimate copy that already exists. It’s only “immoral” if you rip a copy then re-sell your used physical media.

          Libraries are basically the same as renting from a video on demand service or Netflix, in that you’re temporarily taking possession of a legitimate copy. It’s only “immoral” if you rip the content before you return the physical copies.

        3. @CalcProgrammer1: If the original owner got rid of the legitimate copy after making copies of their own, are they now not in possession of illegitimate copies? How can they prove they ever had possession of a legitimate copy?

          Does ripping a CD or DVD somehow invalidate the physical disc as a legitimately manufactured copy?

      1. Originals get broken – People Scratch your Dvds CDs – The Drives Scratch Dvd Cds & Games Disks – Account Ids get hacked – Companies go Belly up with your stuff you bought – Stuff Get Stolen – All has happened to me

        Now I use Password Key Generator for Every New Sight I Go To & different Emails

    3. +1 here as well. >:( Not necessary HaD.
      /As a side note why are there so many raspi mitm setups? The media pc in the LR can already handle torrents quite well with 6x the processing power. And it is already on because it is a server…

      1. Because it is a credit card sized PC that costs $35… how much does that media PC cost? And then you have what Windows on it? And when you decide you want to use, say, Windows 7 instead of Windows Vista or XP, you have to then buy that? Or if you motherboard gets screwed during a storm or whatever, then you have to pay a few hundred bucks to replace it. RPi is open source down to the hardware, and only costs $35. You can run a web server, DLNA server, and torrent client all with reliable, free software. Do that with your media PC.

    4. Downloading movies (even these pirated ones) is considered legall in most EU countries.
      Most Europeans have to pay for this convenience and it is called ‘private copying levies’.
      So, as You can see, ‘stealing’ a car isn’t such a simple term to define.

    1. Hey this is perfect for downloading and streaming public domain movie from Internet Archive, just because you build a vaporizer or a torrent box doesn’t mean your breaking the law! :)

  2. There’s the endorsement of copyright infringment, but there’s also the question of why this should even be posted. All this guy did was install some software on a raspberry pi. This is in no way specific to it. If I did the same on a generic x86 whitebox PC (which I easily could), would you post it? Please, please, cut down on the Pi spam.

      1. Okay, he wrote some software. Lots and lots of people write software. If I wrote a fairly basic web UI for torrents (and plently of these exist, by the way, doesn’t Transmission have on built in?) and installed it on linux would that be worthy of a writeup? Whether he wrote the software is immaterial, the fact is that this is by no means unique to the raspberry pi.

    1. I agree. I think what HAD needs is a sister site HAD(REL) as in related or something where these kind of articles go. They are useful in that they draw attention to features or possibilities on hardware or software we use, but they certainly aren’t hacks.

  3. The picture even shows a DVD screen, which means even before the R4, before the actual DVD release (where a good portion of the money is made) It’s being pirated in a very low quality format that doesn’t do this great movie justice. Not to mention this guy just took random software that existed for a while now, stuck it on a pi, and called it a hack. This post is a joke, watch me run E17 on the pi and call it a hack.

    1. This is not just “random software” – the guy wrote an interface to scrape torrent sites and remotely start a download that can then be streamed via DLNA automatically when it’s complete. To top it off he got it running on a cheap single-board computer. How is this _not_ a hack?

      1. Maybe it is a hack, but there is no reason to mention “Raspberry Pi” other than to pander to an audience/pageviews. There is /nothing/ specific to the RP about this. I could just as easily do this with anything which runs Linux.

        I wrote a UI in 6502 assembler served by an Apple IIe? That’s a hack. I wrote software for Linux that I happened to have on a Raspberry Pi? Not a hack.

      2. “””This is not just “random software” – the guy wrote an interface to scrape torrent sites and remotely start a download that can then be streamed via DLNA automatically when it’s complete.”””

        on pi:
        aria2c –enable-rpc –rpc-listen-all&

        on host:
        xdg-open “http://ziahamza.github.com/webui-aria2/”

        not that hard.

        1. Scrapping a site it’s not that trivial. Scrapping and query several search engines and automatically download and start torrents require quite some time fiddling and experimenting. If hacking is not making some software (website) work for you on some way it was not designed (there’s no API), then my understanding of a hack was mislead by I don’t know how many sites.

          A while ago I also scrapped a torrent search engine to then put on queue torrents with rtorrent on my raspi, it’s a quite fun project for a weekend and I had to do my homework to find the right client for the pi (mine came with 189MB free ram, new ones are coming with nearly 500MB :D!!). So even if all this could be done on an Alienware or whatever else, the selection of software is a matter of interest for some of us. Come on, several Linux distributions are exactly that isn’t? A careful configured selection of software and glue-fu. That’s not just “random software”. A linux system is based on using simple tools to build software, I think that is a good thing to preserve in our projects.

          This is way better than my only-ssh-access with limited-results-on-screen and no-page-selection little app that took my free time of 3 days. Kudos!

          Now I know about miniDNLA!!

  4. All the ridiculous “Hello world” level Raspberry Pi hacks here have been annoying enough, but honestly, WHO GIVES A DAMN that someone is running a torrenting program on a computer?! I’m fairly confident that’s been done before.

  5. @anon What theater are you going to that costs 5 bucks? Jeez Where I’m at tickets are up close to 20 bucks. Not supporting piracy either I just don’t watch movies anymore. There all the same rehashed crap anyway.

    1. I’ve had that experience using transmission-daemon with the pi. When more than a few torrents were downloading (to the SD card, I didn’t have a hard drive connected), the Pi becomes extremely unresponsive. It takes a minute or two to execute a single terminal command via SSH. Also, transmission-daemon kept crashing so I used the bandaid of using monit to restart it.

      Maybe rtorrent works better? Or maybe he never was downloading more than a few torrents at a time. I have to try that some time.

      1. I too have problems running torrent clients, that’s why I stated before that the selection of software on this project is a matter of interest for some.
        The one which I didn’t get to many problems running were the original torrent client, but since I couldn’t find a way to limit the download speed I tried with bittornado that it’s just the same client but with more options.
        Maybe it was a problem of RAM? Mine have 192MB, latest ones have 512MB

  6. Post went from being another example use of RASP to an argument about legality.
    Everytime u decide to hack a device or piece of software unless open source and explicitly allowing such actions you are performing an illegal activity. Some good hacks are just illegal.

    1. “Everytime u decide to hack a device or piece of software unless open source and explicitly allowing such actions you are performing an illegal activity.” IANAL, but I doubt hacking an LED into pocket calculator is illegal, for example.

      1. Unless given explicit permissions to do so, it is, in fact, illegal. This was set as a precedent by SONY after the court case with Geohot.

        Modifying a console for your purposes is illegal, even if they don’t say that. Same with phones and calculators. You are using a patented design for your own purposes without paying royalties. Therefore you are committing patent infringement just by modifying something with a patent attached.

  7. On the issue of legality:
    I know, Americans do think they rule and own the world, but downloading a movie from Piratebay or an other torrentsite, even if the upload is illegal, is not considered illegal in many countries.
    In the Netherlands we have a scheme which taxes blank media devices, to compensate for loss of copyright.

  8. I guess HaD posting this article makes it OK for other people to set up websites which scrapes this one and repackages the articles with all the ads and affiliate links removed? All running on a “friend’s” server, of course, because that definitely makes it all right.

  9. I’m using my pi for exactly the same thing. It has a web interface for downloading torrents and http/https. Then I just stream them over the network.

    Might have chosen a screenshot that isn’t a newly released film that is most likely a dodgy download lol

  10. This makes me uneasy. All it takes is some federal prosecutor with no knowledge of electronics or embedded computing or just out chasing ambulances on the idea that most of the world are really oblivious to technology to take the words “HACK a day”, “file SHARING” (or blatant theft in this case, and yes, despite the following cynicism, I do agree that this is indeed theft and criminal) and go on a witch hunt as they always tend to do and get them “interested” in the wrong way in the raspi, which is now obviously the gateway drug to higher computer crime… it’s only a matter of time until someone takes hundreds of raspis and turns them into a parallel processing supercomputer/webbot bent on downloading every pirated copy of TJ Hooker on the web and replicating them and disseminating to the huddled masses, causing a resurgence of the popularity of Bill Shatner which will in turn flood the internet, shutting it down and causing a crash of the world markets, power grids, nuclear power station cooling systems, railway lines, ATC, and traffic lights throwing the world into chaos and its eventual demise. Move over Skynet…

  11. Downloading/copying/watching and even sharing (with your friends) legall/pirated movies is considered legall in EU. That’s because we pay private copying levies.
    So America, please remember that!

  12. I used to do this but until they find a fix for the network I/O to stop freezing it’s futile! Bloody thing barely lasts 2 days without seizing up. I’ve tried a range of adapters over and including 1A. I wish they made a more reliable version, even at extra cost.

  13. Regarding problems with bittorrent on Raspberry Pi. Transmission works great on Raspbian if you set a limit of 10 users per torrent and 20 users in total.

    I don’t believe the root of the problem is the SD card. I think Pi has trouble with the large number of open TCP connections bittorrent typically requires.

  14. All this has turned into is “Piracy is illegal because it is wrong, and it is wrong because it is illegal.” No real reasons have been given otherwise.

    Companies aren’t losing ANY money from piracy because all the people who don’t buy the games, music, movies, etc, WON’T BUY THEM ANYWAY. And if they stop piracy completely, they will actually have LESS people buying anything since more than a few people download games to see if they are good enough to buy.

    Besides, anyone who has downloaded anything along these lines will find that the people who ‘crack’ the software actually outright ask you to buy the product if you like it.

  15. I used a pirated copy of Photoshop for about 7 years. Then I got a job as a graphic designer and purchased a copy. If I didn’t use a cracked copy I wouldn’t be where I am no. If something is making me a living – i.e. work – then I will pay for it out of respect. Nothing more than that though. I download music, movies, TV programmes. Who gives a damn, I don’t pay for them and never intend to. Sue me. Flame me. Whatever, I wouldn’t give a damn – I’ll still do it. I mean, come on. The music industry and the film industry are immoral in their own right. Long live PirateBay and their mirrors.

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