Feb 242012

Article By Giuseppe Sanna

There are many articles covering the subject of trashware. You do not know what is this phenomenon? Trashware is when you use a PC, perhaps obsolete, to do something useful, especially using Open Source software with low requirements, with regard to system resources. Today we will not speak about media center or navigation station. We’ll talk about something much more concrete and useful! A download center … You really got it right! You will use your computer from the network to download all the files you want using the system “.torrent”. Naturally download only legal files, this is clear.

What we need is any old PC, an internet connection and, if you can, you might want a good heatsink (the fan to cool the CPU). It can be very annoying to have a noisy download center that disrupts the daily activities, especially if you live in a small apartment! For the rest, the Internet connection can be either wired (more recommended under the aspect of efficiency and ease of configuration) or WiFi or mobile (Internet Key is absolutely not recommended given the high data usage when downloading files) .
Now we turn to the practical side. Roll up your sleeves! First install a minimal operating system. I suggest the last version of Ubuntu or Debian for its stability. In any event when you have the choice of the software to install, uncheck everything. We will organize everything later!
Once you have performed the installation, let’s install the graphical environment! I recommend the super-minimal FluxBox. Just to use software for managing torrent files you do not need the Dock, or any other graphical effect.
Install it using the following commands as root “apt-get install xorg” and “apt-get install fluxbox“.

Once you have installed everything, give the command startx and wait, FluxBox will appear in all its beauty. At this point, right click on the monitor and moving on “Applications” and then “terminal emulators” open a terminal and issue the command “apt-get install transmission“, as root again. We are installing the software that you’re going to use to download the torrent files! After the installation configure this software. Open it, if you want even from the terminal using the command “transmission“, and take a look around at the application. We can do the configuration for our needs without any limitation even from the window. After all, what sense has to use confusing configuration files when you can use a much less complicated way? When you give your settings, remember to make a directory for files in completion and one for those completed. It ‘good to distinguish the two folders in two distinct HardDisk. This choice is good because if your system, or just the applciation, crash it’s better not to have everything mixed up. In addition, as personal advice, for the download in completion it can be good an internal HDD, while is a good thing to use for files completed an external HDD ! This will allow us to move the file you just downloaded from a PC to another without any tedious data transfer operations.

One last thing that I recommend you, is to go through the settings of your operating system to prevent your computer, after long periods of inactivity, to suspend, hibernate, or whatever you want. This setup is useless for the goal of this PC. For this reason, turn off any suspensions, screensaver, and I beg you please ensure that the screen turns off (or just turn off the screen yourself) after a few seconds. You’ll save a lot of energy.

Probably many of you take this article as predictable and obvious. It’s true, it’s all very simple, but I bet few of you have ever thought of using a PC as a download center. Then, I treasure the fact that you follow my suggestions. They can be very helpful. It’s my personal experience!
What are you waiting for now? Download all the files you want !

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  4 Responses to “Your old PC can be an useful download center, here’s how”

  1. I had a similar system running a while ago which also ran as a media centre. The major difference was that it was headless, with the internet connection shared between two NICs to increase bandwidth. Communication with the box was via SSH, X-forwarding the applications so I could control everything wirelessly from my laptop.

  2. Dude… The heatsink is the finned chunk of aluminum that the fan’s attached to.

    Not everything is available by torrent. Here’s a script to run wget on a downloader machine. It’s dotted because it runs from a directory within a userdir’s docroot; the dot keeps it from showing up in index listings. You are making all the downloads available to your LAN in apache, right?

    #!/usr/bin/perl -w
    # .get --crb3 .../30Jan12/24feb12
    # the usual perl-boosted getter, except:
    # - explicit switch to download dir, for cron
    # - better handling of -O arguments (man wget) and quoted URIs
    # paste urls after the DATA line, then walk away while
    # it fetches them all.
    use strict;

    my $chatty=1;
    (my $me=$0) =~ s/^.*\///;
    my $get_dir="/home/crb3/public_html/grab/i/iso";
    my $wget="sets;/usr/bin/wget -c ";
    $wget .= "--limit-rate=50k "; # be kind to others on the dsl
    $wget .= "-q " unless $chatty;

    my $cwd=`pwd`; chomp $cwd;
    unless($cwd eq $get_dir){
    chdir($get_dir) or die "$me: can't switch to download directory\n";
    my $retval=0;
    while(!$retval and defined($ln=)){
    next if index($ln,'#')==0;
    last if index($ln,'__END__') >-1;
    $ln =~ s/\s+\#.*//; # excise tail-end commenting
    next if $ln =~ /^\s*$/; # now blank? skip it.
    chomp $ln;
    $ln =~ s/^\s//; # make sure any split comes out clean - no lead whsp
    if(index($ln,' ')>-1){ # quotes around the last arg, the url
    my @split=split(' ',$ln);
    $split[$#split] .='"';
    $ln=join(' ',@split);
    $ln = "\"$ln\"";
    $cmd="$wget $ln";
    print "CMD=$cmd\n" if $chatty;
    # morbeep is a morse-code-equipped expansion of beep.
    # use wavplay or something if you want a noise instead of morse
    # to say "hey, we're done here".
    `morbeep -f 850 -m $retval`;
    `morbeep -f 400 -m OK`;
    # urls to fetch go between the __DATA__ and __END__ lines.
    # I just make another __END__, pushing down fetched urls,
    # so I've got a record.
    -O netbsd-i386cd-5.1.1.iso ftp://iso.netbsd.org/pub/NetBSD/iso/5.1.1/i386cd-5.1.1.iso

  3. Got Linux Mint 8 installed on my new Ferrari 200 ooebntk. Everything seemed to work out of the box except with the wifi. I played around with the router and the nic manager and found that changing my router to G only and replacing the network manager with wicd fixed the problem with wireless getting dropped. I had tried the Ubuntu Netbook Remix and it would just freeze up way too much for the amount of memory this llittle notebook has. Linux Mint works much better on this little machine.

  4. what do you mean??it is very easyIt is more easy to install pragroms in Linux than in Windows or Mac it is much more hard and more clickswatch my video on synaptic package manager so you can understand how linux package management is 1000 times better than a exe installer

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