Nov 092011

It can be really useful to have the latest ISO of your favorite distributions or, in general, other software or material freely downloadable with torrents. It would be nice, however, that these torrent were downloaded at times when the bandwidth it’s not needed to do your normal activities and maybe not from your main PC, but from a small Linux box dedicated to this … well you can easily achieve it.

Prerequisites : an old PC or notebook, the only real requisite is that it can go into your LAN, via ethernet or wifi, and either a good internal disk, or an USB disk that you can connect to it, or an available network disk


i’ll not cover all the steps to install your favourite distribution, i suggest to install Debian, but any recent distribution can do this work.
Install the base version of the system without a GUI or a Desktop Environemnt, you’ll save soem space and RAM, and probably you need it in your old PC.

Configure the network and check that you can connect on this box with ssh from your main computer. Once that the network works, if it’s a “tower” PC, you can unplug the monitor, keyboard and mouse … you no longer need them attached there.
Upgrade your system at this point, on Debian and derivatives you can use:

  • apt-get update
  • apt-get upgrade
  • apt-get dist-upgrade

Now install the packages that you need to make this little torrent box :

  • rtorrent
  • screen
  • bwm-ng
  • lynx
  • wget
  • smbfs

If you plan to export or import a samba share

On Debian and derivatives install with apt-get install “package name” .

How to use your Box

The main steps to use your new box as a torrent client are:

  1. If it’s available mount a network drive where to put the download, it may be mounted with Samba if it’s a windows-compatible FileSytem or NFS
  2. configure the preferences of rtorrernt (~ /. rtorrentrc) properly
  3. Now use your normal computer desktop to navigate and search for the torrent that you like, while keeping open a shell with ssh connected to the box. Once you find the content to download, copy the link of the torrent files.
  4. go on the shell on the torrent box and type wget and paste the link you just copied. You will find the file on linux. Repeat for all files that you want.
  5. In the same shell run screen rtorrent to enter the windows with the files management. Enter the name of the torrent files and start the download.
  6. pressing ctrl+a+ d you’ll detach the console back to the prompt while rtorrent still run in the background.
  7. At this point you can exit, continue your work or do anything else.
  8. At any time you can check the status of the torrent entering the shell and typing screen -r (which connects to the console program rtorrent previously detached)
  9. You can also control the bandwidth used by the box with bwm-ng . If you use the Internet and the navigation starts to be too slow, you can set the bandwidth up/down-link at any time deciding how much reserve for you and how much for the torrent, when you go out or go to bed you can “give” the whole bandwidth to the torrent box for faster downloads

And that’s all, if you use a network drive you’ll find all downloaded files on it , otherwise you have to move them in other ways (detachable usb disk, ftp, scp, etc..), But I sure that this is not a problem .


Most of the content comes from the guide published by Fabio on

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  6 Responses to “How to make a low cost torrent box”

  1. Ma aggiungere un interfaccia web come al posto di avere la shell con rtorrernt oppure usare transmission ( che ha sia riga di comando che remote control con interfaccia web non è più semplice?
    Comunque ottima guida.

  2. Mai sentito parlare di TorrentFlux ? A mio avviso è una soluzione molto più pratica e comoda per realizzare un “torrent-box” tramite la sua interfaccia web.

    • Grazie per il feeback, in effetti non lo conosco, questo primo obiettivo era avere una macchina, vecchia a piacere, che potesse quindi girare rtorrent senza problemi.

      Ma indaghero sulle soluzioni web per avere una interfaccia un po più lussuosa.


  3. Io ho installato rtorrent su un Koala nano PC con Debian (un micro PC che costa poco più di 100 euro) e funziona molto bene.

  4. Ciao,
    ottima guida, ma mi permetto anche io di criticare la scelta di rtorrent (ottimo programma ma adatto secondo me solo a gente “smanettona” come me!).
    Personalmente trovo che Deluge sia un ottimo compromesso in quanto:
    – ha una sua interfaccia web molto curata
    – ha una struttura client server per cui puoi usare il client su un’altra macchina all’occorrenza
    – permette di impostare limiti, orari, code etc. dall’interfaccia web o desktop
    – gira tranquillamente su un computer davvero minimo come il seagate dockstar (mi gira 24/7!)
    – esiste il plugin per flexget (molto utile per le torrentbox)

    Valuto molto positivamente, per motivi analoghi, anche Transmission, ma per me ha il grosso difetto di non supportare, nella versione linux, le code… per il resto è abbastanza equivalente a deluge, anche come risorse hardware.

  5. My ubuntu based server uses transmission and 2 Samba fileshares. I upload .torrent files to one, and transmission automatically adds it and deletes the .torrent file. The torrent is then downloaded to the other fileshare. This allows me to manage and download torrents from any computer in my house, including my android smartphone.

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