Saturday, March 29, 2008

I got some amazing news just a few minutes ago. I was just chatting away in #mono about how i was pushing a new release out soon, when anf6 (who is also called Alan) piped up with this:
|anf6| alan: I've been working on a WebUI for MonoTorrent, most of the functionality works ^_^
|alan| anf6: are you serious?
|anf6| yes
|alan| :o
It turns out that anf6 had been chatting to the developer of the uTorrent WebUI (Directrix) about the possibility of creating a MonoTorrent backend for the UI. Directrix was all for that! So, without further ado, here's the obligatory screenshot:

All i can say is: WOW! I can't wait for this to hit release!

UPDATE: I'd just found out that less than 300 lines of code were needed for the monotorrent -> uTorrent WebUI integration. How slick is that? That includes hosting MonoTorrent and a mini host to serve the pages.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A few days ago, i heard the suse team are looking for a new default torrent client for Suse 11.0. So of course I jumped in saying "Well, why not Monsoon?". So i fired off a response with a ton of links suggesting that Monsoon was the most amazing torrent client ever and there was no need to review any other clients. Of course that didn't work, but Monsoon has been taken into consideration as a viable candidate.

Andrew Wafaa took it upon himself to do a little review of his own, and Monsoon fared pretty well. I was happy enough with that. Some of the points mentioned on the thread include:

1) Applications which need wizards are bad. For a default client, you want something rough and ready.
2) Something minimalistic but packed with features is good. No massive complicated apps like Azureus.

Of course, 2 is a bit of a contradiction. It's quite hard to get both. In GUIs to expose a feature or some statistic, you need a new GUI element. So there's a fine balancing act between keeping the GUI clean and small while still exposing all the nice features in an easy to use way.

Here's a few screenshots of Monsoon anyway, which i hope expose the full diversity of what it can do.

The first time you start Monsoon, you aren't greeted by a wizard, everything is set up nicely for you. Everything is shown to you by default.

When you load torrents, they automatically start. If the files already exist (like the kubuntu one did), monsoon check that file to see how much of it is valid data and then resume the download using it. Standard stuff.

The ramp-up time is fairly fast. After 30 seconds Monsoon can connect to 50 people (the default limit for a torrent). Note, it is smart in how it connects to people. It doesn't have more than 5 pending connection attempts at any one time. This prevents overloading of cheaper routers.

For the people out there who want a really minimalistic client, you can hide everything. The GUI can be reduced down to something even slimmer than Transmission should you so wish. There is also plans to implement a mini-mode, which will consist of just a single progress bar per torrent.

So what if you want to set the global upload/download rate? Why, it's simple! Just click on the global upload/download speed indicators and away you go.

If you want to organise your torrents, it's just a simple context menu. You can add/remove/rename the labels with a right click, or double click. Slick, eh? There is also a patch in the works which will allow you to drag'n'drop torrents from the main view into a label and drag'n'drop them between labels. This will replace the existing way of doing it which involves ticking checkboxes in the 'Options' menu.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

There's now a proper issue tracker for Monsoon and MonoTorrent. It's being hosted on the novell bugzilla (thanks guys!) so file your bugs there if at all possible. It makes it easier for me to monitor and record what exactly goes on.

The issue tracker can be found at in the 'Monsoon' section of Mono:Tools. If you have a bugzilla account already, this link should bring you right to the submission form:

Sunday, March 09, 2008

This is just a shout out to any budding Artistes, (especially that guy who did all those cool looking MonoDevelop icons): I'm looking for a nice logo for Monsoon. I have no ideas in mind, so any suggestions are welcome. Drop a comment here or send me an email if you have anything to show me :)
This is just a quick follow up from my last post. I decided to do a few benchmarks to see what transmission was like as compared the Monsoon (the GTK# gui for the MonoTorrent library). I've heard about tranmission before, but i've never used it. I was pretty shocked by the results. This is a quick summary of what I found:

1) Memory usage.
Transmission used less memory than MonoTorrent. That came as no surprise to me. No matter how efficently I code, i cannot ever get as efficent as an app written in C/C++. Mostly because in a .NET based app, the .NET runtime/jit must be loaded which consumes a few MB of memory. Percentage wise, yes, the difference is huge, but if you take a look at overall memory, it's not massive.

MonoTorrent: 35 Res / 20 Shared
Transmission: 20 Res / 13 Shared

This figure was gotten after extensively using the GUI by opening menu's and flicking around pages.

2) Hashing performance
I suppose another important metric - how long does it take to hash a complete file.
MonoTorrent: 95 seconds
Transmission: 85 seconds

This difference is fairly negligible. A full hash will rarely be performed. However, i suppose it was worth measuring. One optimisation i could make in monotorrent which would reduce that gap slightly would be if i read the next chunk of data off disk asynchronously while hashing the current chunk. At the moment it's all sequential, but i suppose it could easily enough be made parallel. It shouldn't make a huge difference though.

3) Download speeds
This would be the most important metric. This is where the biggest surprise came.
MonoTorrent: 15 seconds - 400kB/sec, 30 seconds - stabilised at 550-600kB/sec (maxed my connection) and connected to 50 people, the maximum allowed by my settings.
Transmission: 15 minutes: still at less than 50kB/sec and still only connected to 6 peers.

What am i doing wrong with transmission to make it so slow? It's not NAT (even though transmissions uPnP support cannot detect my uPnP enabled router) because i manually forwarded it in the end. I was using both svn head (r97353) of MonoTorrent and svn head (r5227) of Transmission when i ran this quick test.

EDIT: Just as i finished this, Transmission managed to connect to 3 additional people and one of them had a massive upload capacity which let Transmission reach ~480kB/sec. Still, why did that take so long? These results were consistent every time i started/stopped both transmission and Monsoon. Monsoon consistently maxed out my connection quickly whereas transmission consistently took forever to even break 40 kB/sec.

UPDATE: I just want to add that i tested using the ubuntu-7.10-desktop-i386.iso torrent on Suse 10.2.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

So, a thought struck me. Ubuntu currently has a horrible default bittorrent client. It's about to be replaced by Transmission which, while definately a step up in the world, is still feature lacking (in my opinion) as compared to other available clients, most especially the great work done on the GTK Gui for MonoTorrent.

I propose that that the MonoTorrent GUI should be bundled with Ubuntu. MonoTorrent supports everything transmission does (except for Peer Exchange[1] and scheduling[2]) along with these extra cool features:

* Fast Peer Extensions - allow you to start a torrent faster
* Udp Tracker Protocol - allows you to use the bandwidth saving UDP protocol for tracker communications
* LibTorrent Extension Protocol - Ok, this is only partially supported. While it's implemented in SVN, it's not fully tested or enabled by default yet.
* RSS Feeds - Automagic downloading from RSS feeds. (see video)
* Organise downloads into tags (see video)
* Multi-Tracker Protocol support - If the main tracker is down, no worries! You can use the backup ones!
* Retarget Files before/while they are downloading i.e. you can rename a file as you download!
* Can monitor a folder and automatically load and download new torrents
* Minimizes to the gnome notification area.

The GUI including all supporting libs is a 384 kB package, and i think in the region of 600kB when installed[3]. What we're looking at is 600kB for a fully fledged, feature rich, uber snazzy bittorrent client. The best thing is [b]all[/b] the dependencies are already on the live CD.

So, if there are any Ubuntu devs out there, would you like to consider MonoTorrent as the default bittorrent app? If not, why not? I'll gladly do my best to fix any issues you have. Leave your comments below and lets get some discussion going!

[1] It'd take a few hours to complete support for this with tests.

[2] I did actually receive a patch to implement this a long while ago, but in the end, it fell by the wayside. I am a horrible person :(

[3] The package can be reduced a fair bit by splitting out the Tracker component of MonoTorrent using the Linker and removing bundled libraries which are available as packages nowadays. I'd guesstimate at least 100kB can be saved from the installed size from these optimisations. 70kB by removing the bundled DBus stuff and at the very least, 30kB by shrinking MonoTorrent.dll.

UPDATE: I'd just like to point out that an official name has been chosen for the GUI: [b]Monsoon[/b]. The next release will have everything rebadged to this name.

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