April 2024 - This site, and Kamaelia are being updated. There is significant work needed, and PRs are welcome.

A Simple BitTorrent Helper

This cookbook is based on a small tool that I built to solve a problem I had that required the use of BitTorrent. I wanted a script that would do the following:

The idea was to use this from another Python program and to communicate via pipes (hence the need for IO to happen via stdin and stdout. Using components found in the Kamaelia MegaBundle along with a couple of small modifications, a reliable and robust tool was put together in very little time and very few lines of code. The network needed is as follows:

BitTorrent Helper !graph

Let's consider each component in turn.

reader and parser

This pair takes in commands from the parent program. It reads from the console, so we use the ready made Kamaelia ConsoleReader to get the input and pass it to the InstructionParser.

The InstructionParser will take a kind of URI and, based on what it is given, put it in one of three outboxes:

The code is as follows:

class InstructionParser(component):
    Instructions on the inbox are processed according to the following rules:
    - If starts with 'file:' this is a path to a file that needs seeding. The 
      name is put on the outbox for the torrent making process to start. This
      leads to the TorrentPatron seeding the file
    - If starts with 'torrent:http://...' then the torrent file is obtained from 
      the http URL supplied and passed to the patron
    - If starts with 'torrent:...' (not http) then the torrent file is obtained
      from the filesystem and passed to the patron
    Inboxes = ["inbox", "control"]
    Outboxes = ["outbox", "retrieveHtml", "retrieveFile", "signal"]
    def main(self):
        self.running = True
        while 1:
            if self.dataReady():
                d = chop(self.recv())
                if d.startswith("file:"):
                elif d.startswith("torrent:http"):
                    self.send(d[8:], "retrieveHtml")
                elif d.startswith("torrent:"):
                    self.send(d[8:], "retrieveFile")
                    print("Message not understood: %s" % d)
            if not self.anyReady() and self.running:
            if self.running:
                yield 1


Reading *.torrent files

If a torrent file URI has been given it needs to be downloaded. Fortunately the components already exist: to download an HTML file, we use the SimpleHTTPClient and reading a file is done with the TriggeredFileReader. No code needed there!

Making a torrent file

If the name of a local file has been given, we need (a) to make a torrent file, (b) to publish this to the BitTorrent tracker and (c) to start seeding. In the network diagram above we have a number of components to do this. Firstly fnSplitter is simply a Kamelia Fanout component. This takes input on its inbox and fans it out to a number of outboxes specified when the component is instantiated (which we'll see later). We use this because we want the ready-made TorrentMaker component to know what file it needs to make a torrent from, and another set of components to create a new file named as per the source file with a '.torrent' suffix into which we can write the torrent so that we can pass it to anyone who may wish to download the file we're publishing.

suffixTorrent is a Kamaelia PureTransformer which takes a function (can be a lambda) with which it transforms input into output. We will use it to append '.torrent' to the string on the inbox. torrentNamer is a TwoSourceListifier which takes input on two inboxes and pairs them up to output them as a list. This component was copied from Ryan Lothian's torrentseeder.py and is copied without permission as follows:

class TwoSourceListifier(component):
    """Wait until inboxes "a" and "b" have messages, then
    take the first from each and combine them into a new list
    of the form [a,b]. Repeat.
    Inboxes = ["a", "b", "control"]
    def main(self):
        while 1:
            yield 1
            while self.dataReady("a") and self.dataReady("b"):
                self.send([self.recv("a"), self.recv("b")], "outbox")
            while self.dataReady("control"):
                msg = self.recv("control")
                if isinstance(msg, producerFinished) or isinstance(msg, shutdown):
                    self.send(producerFinished(self), "signal")

The final component, the torrentWriter, takes this list as input and writes to disk the file named in element 0 with content in element 1 of the list.

Meanwhile... let's seed or download

Now we have a torrent file. It may have been generated just now to describe a local file that we wish to seed, or it may have been obtained from elsewhere and describe a file we wish to download. Either way, the TorrentPatron needs to know about it. TorrentPatron is a Kamaelia component written by Ryan Lothian that manages the Mainline BitTorrent code for Kamaelia. All we need to do is give it the torrent file et voila! Any BitTorrent client givent torrent files generated by this utility will now be able to download your file!

The output is OK, but it could be made easier for upstream tools to process. What I'd like is to pass output of the form 'id:file:percentage complete' and this is just what the MonitorParser does. Output from the TorrentPatron appears on its inbox. The lines are re-formatted and sent to the outbox whereupon they can be sent to the ConsoleEchoer (as in this case) or split off to any other interested components (how about an EmailEchoer, or an IRCEchoer? Or perhaps status messages could go to your phone - just need an SMSEchoer!). The MonitorParser is simply as follows:

class MonitorParser(component):
    """Parses output from the TorrentPatron, keeping track of what torrents
are made and how they are progressing. Outputs structured messages only when
changes are observed."""
    def main(self):
        self.running = True
        # map torrent id to properties
        self.torrentMapper = {} 
        while 1:
            if self.dataReady():
                d = chop(str(self.recv()))
                tokens = d.split()
                if tokens[0]=='New':
                    id = int(tokens[2])
                    self.torrentMapper[id] = [fn, -1]
                elif tokens[0]=='Torrent':
                    id = int(tokens[1])
                    finished = int(tokens[-1][:-1])
                    if self.torrentMapper[id][1] < finished:
                        self.torrentMapper[id][1] = finished
            if not self.anyReady() and self.running:
            if self.running:
                yield 1

    def fmtOutput(self, id):
        details = self.torrentMapper[id]
        return "%d:%s:%d" % (id,details[0],details[1])

Putting it all together

Now that we have all the components we need, we must link them together with a GraphLine.

    tracker = 'http://my.tracker.host:6969/announce'
    torrentdir = '/var/torrent'

    Graphline( reader = ConsoleReader(prompt=''),
                       parser = InstructionParser(),
                       fnsplitter = Fanout(['torrentmaker','torrentwriter']),
                       suffixtorrent = PureTransformer(lambda x : torrentdir + x + ".torrent"),
                       torrentNamer = TwoSourceListifier(),
                       torrentMaker = TorrentMaker(defaulttracker=tracker),
                       torrentWriter = WholeFileWriter(),
                       metasplitter = Fanout(['torrentwriter','patron']),
                       fileReader = DefaultTriggeredFileReader(torrentdir),
                       httpReader = SimpleHTTPClient(),
                       patron = TorrentPatron(),
                       console = ConsoleEchoer(),
                       monitor = MonitorParser(),
                       addCR = PureTransformer(lambda x : x+"\n"),
                       linkages = {
                               ("reader","outbox") : ("parser","inbox"),
                               ("parser","outbox") : ("fnsplitter","inbox"),
                               ("fnsplitter","torrentmaker") : ("torrentMaker","inbox"),
                               ("fnsplitter","torrentwriter") : ("suffixtorrent", "inbox"),
                               ("suffixtorrent","outbox") : ("torrentNamer", "a"),
                               ("torrentNamer","outbox") : ("torrentWriter","inbox"),
                               ("parser","retrieveHtml") : ("httpReader","inbox"),
                               ("parser","retrieveFile") : ("fileReader","inbox"),
                               ("torrentMaker","outbox") : ("metasplitter","inbox"),
                               ("metasplitter","torrentwriter") : ("torrentNamer","b"),
                               ("metasplitter","patron") : ("patron","inbox"),
                               ("fileReader", "outbox") : ("patron", "inbox"),
                               ("httpReader","outbox") : ("patron", "inbox"),
                               ("patron", "outbox") : ("Monitor", "inbox"),
                               ("monitor", "outbox") : ("addCR","inbox"),
                               ("addCR", "outbox") : ("console", "inbox"),

This puts the components into the graph structure described in the image at the top of this document, then commands the Kamaelia system to start running.

Required infrastructure

None of this will work unless you have access to a BitTorrent tracker. The tracker is a server application that lets all clients know where to find files and which chunks to download from which machines. You can use either a public server or, perhaps better for experimentation, simply run one of your own. The BitTorrent package in the Kamaelia MegaBundle that you must install for any of this to work contains a tracker; start it with:

 bittorrent-tracker --port port_number

You may encounter some problems with BitTorrent as it can be a touch sensitive. Make note of the following:

  1. You cannot run more than one client on one machine. In otherwords, Host_A can run a tracker and one seeder/downloader, Host_B another seeder/downloader. Neither can run a second seeder/downloader.
  2. The Mainline BitTorrent code seems ony to want to seed files in the current working directory and only downloads files to the cwd also. However, you can use softlinks to collect files in one place without moving them from their normal location.
  3. Once downloaded do not immediately move the file away - this will prevent other clients downloading from a host that has the full file. As with collecting files together for seeding, if a downloaded file needs to reside elsewhere, soft-linking may provide the solution.
  4. Occasionaly the tracker will ignore requests to seed a torrent. This may occur if you've been testing and seeded the same torrent a few times. To rectify I've found it best to stop the tracker, delete ~/.bittorrent and /tmp/dfile*, then re-start the tracker. I'm not sure where the tracker keeps its config and state files when run under Windows (please edit if you know!)