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View Full Version : Why did bittorrent become so popular?



MrNatewood
October 2nd, 2009, 11:11 PM
This seems strange to me. There are ed2k\kad, gnutella and others yet for some reason it seems that bittorrent is widely more popular than any other protocol, I guess my question is what's so special about it?
Why has it gained more popularity over other protocols which seem to me to be just as good at the same tasks, popularity aside?

If anything bittorrent seems more of a hassle than say ed2k since you have to download a .torrent file, which you don't with any other protocol.

Some would argue it is because of speed, yet I find it hard to believe that technologically it allows higher speeds than other protocol. It seems more likely it is a chicken&egg thing. It's faster because it's more popular and more popular because it is faster. But how did this cycle start?

How did it become the protocol of choice to distribute just about anything, from games to podcasts to linux disros?

JDShu
October 2nd, 2009, 11:12 PM
Yes, it was the speed. The days before bt were slooow. Have you ever tried to download from IRC?

MrNatewood
October 2nd, 2009, 11:19 PM
Yes, I do remember those old XDCC days, still that's sort of beside the point.

IRC is different, It's essentially downloading from a server, not really a file-sharing protocol, things are slower when popular, not faster.

SunnyRabbiera
October 2nd, 2009, 11:23 PM
The reason why bittorrent is good is because it really doesnt rely on just one person having the file you need, P2P is one on one type service while BT can share the same file between many parties.

Lightstar
October 2nd, 2009, 11:24 PM
the old p2p file sharing were mostly single-file searches (unless you got an album in a .rar .zip format)

Also the popular ones like napster, kazaa, limewire got fully loaded by fake files, often being trojan, spyware, etc.

I've been downloading files since before the IRC, when we connected to local area dial-up BBS servers, woo that was a long time ago.
I really think .torrents are the best since then. The only downfall is when searching for one specific song, usually you'll get an album and you have to unselect all those songs you don't want.
But you know.. to download stuff like that, you need to own the CD right? ;) best to just rip the CD.

sideaway
October 2nd, 2009, 11:52 PM
Torrents are quick... The networks are monitored by the users themselves, and so are self governed. Few trojans/spyware as there's a community around the files. Did I mention they're quick? Also it's extremely hard to track for those 'less legit' files, as it's a community and private trackers make it even harder. Oh and it's fast.

It became popular basically by all other options being so terrible, Kazaa anyone?

Jesus_Valdez
October 2nd, 2009, 11:52 PM
Because is the fastest way to download Anime!!!

I never notice much of a difference in the speed for other downloads, comparing with the direct download options, but with really popular things like anime (and I assume everything popular) the speed is amazing.

I guess it all comes down to the configuration.

issih
October 3rd, 2009, 12:18 AM
Hmmn....there are a couple of things here, firstly the nature of torrents have specific technical advantages.

The swarm concept where each user becomes a miniature server has the advantage that the original provider does not recieve a massive bandwidth bill. Because every person who downloads it is helping distribute it you can (technically) just ensure one user has it and the swarm can do the rest, rather than having to send the whole file to each person who wants it.

There is also the fact that in the somewhat murkier end of the copyright pool they present legal advantages. In the lack of a specific server holding illegal files, who exactly do you sue? This has begun to be challenged (e.g. the pirate bay ruling) but for a long time it was viewed as being virtually impossible to sue someone for hosting a tracker.

I'd say those are the main things that have caused it...A real genuine technical advantage, and a somewhat shadier legal one.

lovinglinux
October 3rd, 2009, 12:38 AM
I guess mostly because with BitTorrent you need to upload the torrent file somewhere and most of the torrent repositories have some sort of commenting feature and moderation. So getting fake files with BitTorrent is a lot harder than older p2p networks, unless the user is a completely clueless and careless downloader. This is particularly useful for publishers like Canonical and game distribution companies, since they can publish their own torrents and provide their own trackers, so user can easily grab the latest releases without searching the entire network until they can find a real copy.

Also BitTorrent is more secure, since there isn't any folder sharing or browsing.

BTW, I have recently posted a BitTorrent optimization and troubleshooting guide (http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1259923) in the tutorial section. I guess users reading this thread could benefit from it.


.

fela
October 3rd, 2009, 12:40 AM
There's nothing special about it.

You may ask, why did Microsoft become so popular? With the same answer.

lovinglinux
October 3rd, 2009, 12:50 AM
There's nothing special about it.

You may ask, why did Microsoft become so popular? With the same answer.

Seriously?

I have just downloaded Ubuntu Karmic beta at 450 KiB/s using BitTorrent, while the http download from official servers was downloading at 20 KiB/s due to heavy traffic. If that isn't special, then what is it?

EDIT: the current download speed of Karmic from http://releases.ubuntu.com/releases/9.10/ubuntu-9.10-beta-desktop-i386.iso is 45KB/s. So the BitTorrent download is 10 times faster and probably would be even more, if my download bandwidth limit wasn't reached.

MrNatewood
October 3rd, 2009, 01:50 AM
Hmmn....there are a couple of things here, firstly the nature of torrents have specific technical advantages.

The swarm concept where each user becomes a miniature server has the advantage that the original provider does not recieve a massive bandwidth bill. Because every person who downloads it is helping distribute it you can (technically) just ensure one user has it and the swarm can do the rest, rather than having to send the whole file to each person who wants it.

There is also the fact that in the somewhat murkier end of the copyright pool they present legal advantages. In the lack of a specific server holding illegal files, who exactly do you sue? This has begun to be challenged (e.g. the pirate bay ruling) but for a long time it was viewed as being virtually impossible to sue someone for hosting a tracker.

I'd say those are the main things that have caused it...A real genuine technical advantage, and a somewhat shadier legal one.

Wouldn't you say that ed2k and especially KAD provides about the same capability as to the "swarm concept"?

Also. as there is a torrent link in "trusted websites" there could also be ed2k links. and comments in "shadier" websites such as sharethefiles etc. I contend it is just as good at avoiding spam\malware files as say mininova comments.

Mehall
October 3rd, 2009, 01:58 AM
Seriously?

I have just downloaded Ubuntu Karmic beta at 450 KiB/s using BitTorrent, while the http download from official servers was downloading at 20 KiB/s due to heavy traffic. If that isn't special, then what is it?

EDIT: the current download speed of Karmic from http://releases.ubuntu.com/releases/9.10/ubuntu-9.10-beta-desktop-i386.iso is 45KB/s. So the BitTorrent download is 10 times faster and probably would be even more, if my download bandwidth limit wasn't reached.

I'm DLing the Kubuntu Netbook Remix Karmic Beta via http, averaging just shy of 200 KB/s (or that's what DownThemAll! tells me)

If I had torrented the thing instead, I would be lucky to get a tenth of that, as I am unable to do anything about optimising the connection, as I do not have access to the router, which acts as a Firewall by default (rather than like some which allow by default)

Total Time to Download (estimated) (http): 1:05 or thereabouts.

Total Time to Download (estimated) (torrent): overnight at a minimum. No accurate time, but speeds prone to fluctuations anyway, so any estimate is likely to be horridly inaccurate.

Xbehave
October 3rd, 2009, 02:00 AM
This has begun to be challenged (e.g. the pirate bay ruling) but for a long time it was viewed as being virtually impossible to sue someone for hosting a tracker.
IMO its too late now, dht can replace trackers (although it gives a much slower start-up speed it will hit the same peak (in theory)). And while i would rather not go back to "the old ways", if companies can get sued for just hosting dht links, then posting dht links on random boards with descriptions of files, will at least have gained us a technical advantage over uploading/downloading random files (especially as AFAIK you can't takedown something that is being shared by dht) :D

I agree with all previous comments that explain that its primarily technical reasons and secondly legal reasons that made it so popular. It's great for hosting popular files because if you seed from your server the worst case scenario is a slightly larger overhead, but the more often than not you get 10x the download speed.

MrNatewood
October 3rd, 2009, 02:00 AM
There's nothing special about it.

You may ask, why did Microsoft become so popular? With the same answer.

Well, to my understanding microsoft became so popular because they were first at delivering an end-user friendly desktop OS, and being first matters much in gaining long-term popularity, you are the benchmark to compete against, and something has to be significantly better in order to overthrow it.

I can't really say bittorrent is first to delivering an open, decentralized file sharing protocol.

Xbehave
October 3rd, 2009, 02:13 AM
Well, to my understanding microsoft became so popular because they were first at delivering an end-user friendly desktop OS, and being first matters much in gaining long-term popularity, you are the benchmark to compete against, and something has to be significantly better in order to overthrow it.
OT but:
I believe yo need a history lesson, MS were not the 1st what really helped them were the clone-wars, IBM-clones became cheep and they sold ibm-clone software. They also said they would work with IBM but then failed to produce the stuff on time delaying IBM's OS for IBM-clones significantly.


I can't really say bittorrent is first to delivering an open, decentralized file sharing protocol.
I think one of BT strengths is that it is easily centrally administered, so it can be used by websites as an alternative to ftp/http (for downloads)


If I had torrented the thing instead, I would be lucky to get a tenth of that, as I am unable to do anything about optimising the connection, as I do not have access to the router, which acts as a Firewall by default (rather than like some which allow by default)

encrypt torrents + limit upload to 10/20Kbs and all you need is upnp to get through the firewall (even without that torrents should still d/l because you can make outgoing connections that any NAT firewall will let through)