Using a CLI bittorent client is useful if you have access to a Linux server and want to run such a client for a long period of time for seeding purposes. There are a few other cli bittorrent applications availablable but i think rTorrent is one of the best. Moreover, it uses ncurses library and can be easily used with ‘screen’.

Installing rTorrent

Installation is quite easy as it’s available on most, if not all, distribution repositories. Just open a terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install rtorrent
(for debian/ubuntu systems)

sudo yum install rtorrent
(for redhat/fedora systems)

If you want to be able to leave it running in the background, you should install screen:

sudo apt-get install screen
(for debian/ubuntu systems)

sudo yum install screen
(for redhat/fedora systems)

Using rTorrent

Once you have rtorrent installed, in the terminal window run:

screen -A -m -S bt rtorrent

This will open a screen named ‘bt’ and run rtorrent inside it.

To open a .torrent file, press the backspace key. To move through the torrents list, use the up/down keys. Once you have a torrent selected (it should have three * at the left), use left/right keys to move through pages (peers, files inside torrent etc). Other keys (^s is ctrl+s):

Main view keys:
backspace Add a torrent url or path
^s Start torrent
^d Stop torrent or delete a stopped torrent
^r Manually initiate hash checking
^q Initiate shutdown or skip shutdown process
a,s,d,z,x,c Adjust upload throttle
A,S,D,Z,X,C Adjust download throttle
I Toggle whether torrent ignores ratio settings
right View torrent

Download view keys:
spacebar Depends on the current view
1,2 Adjust max uploads
3,4,5,6 Adjust min/max connected peers
t/T Query tracker for more peers / Force query
* Snub peer
right View files
p View peer information
o View trackers

Once you have set up your torrents, press Ctrl + A + D to detach the screen. The next time you log in, attach to screen with the command:

screen -r bt

Have fun!

rTorrent: Linux command-line bittorrent client
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