Running a bittorrent tracker?
July 1, 2005 8:42 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone have good rules of thumb for the resources required to run a bittorrent tracker?

My friend's band had their second album delayed for over a year while the major record labels went on a consolidation spree in the late 90's. When it was finally released they got almost no promotion and momentum from their first album had dissipated.

As a result, they've decided to take their third album into their own hands. They paid for the production and the studio themselves, and they are planning on a fall release.

They are seriously considering making the whole album available as a free download to get as much exposure as possible. If they do though, they need to do it as cheaply as possible while delivering a good experience for the audience. I'm trying to help them out.

The plan we're working with is to distribute decent quality MP3, AAC (and maybe OggVorbis and WindowsMedia) via HTTP, but limit the dowload rate somewhat to encourage people to use BitTorrent. We like to run our own tracker so we can make sure things don't get shut down because of an infringing use of a shared tracker.

This leads me to my question. I'd like a sense for the ratio of tracker traffic to the total amount of data delivered to clients and also a sense for the memory and CPU requirements of a relatively busy Linux tracker so I can work out a budget and do some capacity planning.
posted by Good Brain to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Not quite your answer, but you could try this
posted by edjusted at 11:03 PM on July 1, 2005

One rule of thumb is that the break-even point for BitTorrent is about 5 megs. That means that you'll use more bandwidth setting up and maintaining a BT transfer for a single MP3 than just sending it over HTTP.

As for the actual bandwidth usage, well it'll be quite a bit smaller. You might want to read mathowie's post for some general thoughts.

Also, BlogTorrent seconded.
posted by revgeorge at 5:59 AM on July 2, 2005

Depends very much on the popularity of the torrent. Client <> tracker communication takes up very little bandwidth (unless you're running a server with multiple torrents that have 1,000s of peers on them, and that doesn't sound like the case here). What will take up the bandwidth is seeding the files - but if you get a healthy swarm up and running, you will minimise that (the whole point of BT). Processor load is pretty small, too. But really, you need to try and estimate how many downloads you think you're going to get.

Why not try a public tracker first and see what the hits are like? If you pick one that's been in existence for a while, you're unlikely to see it go down. And if it does, find another one. Here's the place to find a tracker. I can recommend Mongo56 and BitMe but I'm not sure they let anyone upload. IndyTorrents is for CC-licensed audio and video.

Also, try FileSoup and ask around there for clues. Most of those people are running big sites but they'll have a good idea about bandwidth and processor requirements.
posted by humuhumu at 7:47 AM on July 2, 2005

Thanks, all. I'm not really worried about the complexity of setting up and running a tracker, but making things easier is always good and blogtorrent is on my list.

I've been writing people at various sites that run their own trackers looking for advice, but so far no response. I appreciate the suggestion of others to try.

As for using a 3rd party tracker. On the one hand, the cost of running their own for 6-12 months is probably less than 1% of the cost of what its taking to record, produce and promote the album, and it gives them control over their own distribution, on the other hand, a 3rd party tracker with a strong following could help the reach a broader audience and compliment their other promotional efforts.
posted by Good Brain at 3:43 PM on July 2, 2005

Bandwidth is cheap. If they're looking for exposure, why not just find the cheapest bandwidth possible and serve the files over HTTP? Then there's nothing to distract from the music.
posted by letitrain at 10:08 PM on July 3, 2005

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