Exatorrent: a libre, self-hostable BitTorrent solution for web from India

File sharing has always been a popular concept in Asian countries owing to lack of publication of content that is not officially available in the region. Believe it or not, most of the file sharing is not done with a will to break laws but only because of less of publication of various things like games, video etc. in a region.

BitTorrent has always played a bigger role in P2P file sharing as it offers effective, easy to use clients, resulting in faster uploads and downloads. You get to pause, resume without having to worry about breaking the integrity of the files. Trending use of BitTorrent clients paved the way for interesting solutions. One such thing is called SeedBox, it is essentially a hosted or managed BitTorrent client in the cloud/servers, that facilities much faster and private downloads on the disk of a cloud server from where you get to download or directly stream your content over a secure connection protected by TLS/SSL security. This makes it much easier for a user to get their favorite content from the web without having to worry about copyright notices from their respective ISPs or securing their connection using a cloud service like VPN. So, it offers storage solution for your content as well as a high speed BitTorrent client in the web.

Today, a lot of reputed providers sell SeedBox accounts depending on the jurisdiction of server, traffic, bandwidth and storage type/size, these Seedboxes are rented for up to a 100 USD a month. It is certainly a popular thing for netizens. It gives you peace of mind, privacy and security while downloading or streaming content using their hosted BitTorrent client called Seedbox.

Now, in today’s world and age, it is getting hard to trust people behind hosting providers with your metadata and data. A leak here and a blunder there is making the lives of many people who rely on these services much difficult. When you have a SeedBox account that you might have paid with a regular debit card linked to your regular bank account filled with a lot of copyrighted content, I am sure you don’t have a good night sleep reading a leak regarding authentication or database etc.

We reached out to Mr Var Bhat, the sole developer of exatorrent, an engineering student from State of Karnataka in India to discuss these thoughts on some of these issues and why he felt for a need to write a self-hostable Seedbox replacement or a BitTorrent client for web. Here are some of the questions we asked (over a casual conversation over Telegram) and their verbatim replies:

What made you write exatorrent? Are you trying to solve some problem that you have faced in real life?

Var Bhat: I wrote exatorrent because I needed to learn many things. exatorrent has unique features not present in other torrent clients, thus compelling us to use exatorrent.

Why not use Seedboxes from reputed providers instead? Like ones from PulsedMedia? Why self-host a solution like this?

Var Bhat: You can’t self-host them or run it on your device. You can host exatorrent anywhere. It is easy to use, has good-looking web client, has API access too, has some features not present in other clients.

You said, it has unique features, can you name a few? What makes it special?

Var Bhat:

Single Executable File with No Dependencies.

Retrieve or Stream Files via HTTP(S)

Multi-Users with Authentication

Auto Add Trackers to Torrent from TrackerList URL

Auto Fetch Torrent Metainfo from Online/Local Metainfo Cache

Download Directory as Zip or as Tarball

Stream directly on Browser or VLC or mpv or other Media Players

Why Go Language, in nutshell?

Var Bhat: Fast, cross platform, safe, concurrent, helps create single Executable File with no dependencies.

It was really good casual conversation with the developer himself. Yes, this Indian BitTorrent client for the web is made in India with the favorite new programming language for the web, the Go language. It is certainly a better language to choose from for above said reasons.

exatorrent is simple yet feature-rich. It is lightweight and light on resources. It comes with a Beautiful Responsive Web Client written in Svelte and Typescript, but thanks to the documented WebSocket API of exatorrent, you can also write your own client if you want to.

Although, there is a plethora of features, Optional Multi-User Mode is what I find the more attractive one when clubbed together with embedded database using Sqlite3 with zero configuration setup. It makes it really hassle-free for family or small teams without a proper system administrator to debug issues.

Finally, you get to self-host a good Seedbox replacement of your own that is coded with love from India on a home server or your favorite hosting provider.

Over all, the software has received positive response from the community. It has been praised for positive development and not being a cheap fork like many others.

Installation is a breeze as you do not need to figure out dependencies at all.

It is as simple as downloading a released binary for your OS, marking it as executable and running it. Voila!

wget https://github.com/varbhat/exatorrent/releases/latest/download/exatorrent-linux-amd64

chmod u+x ./exatorrent-linux-amd64

./exatorrent-linux-amd64

It can also be run inside a Docker (or Podman) with easy to follow instructions on the GitHub project page. Also, further help is offered on how to deploy it swiftly on a server. It is well documented for sure, it does not let you wander and hunt for information on the web. It is precise and perfect for an average user.

To conclude, it is a robust Seedbox replacement that you can host on your old machine for family and friends. It is designed to be secure and easy to use with features like streaming using popular open source media players, built-in database for user management etc. It is a small single file solution that offers trust and reliable unlike commercial Seedbox providers.

Not only that, but it is a fast, low memory, BitTorrent client for web, whether you run it locally on your system or host it on a server for a Seedbox style solution. Best part is, it is proudly made in India. Kudos to developer Mr Var Bhat for freely licensing exatorrent. It is easy to fix and add more features by contributing to the freely available code. Free Software, Free Society!

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