Microwave Biscuit

Ubuntu 6.06 Server and TorrentFlux

Posted in Linux, ubuntu by microwavebiscuit on March 25, 2007

I have a slightly older laptop that seems to be a little broken. It’s a HP Pavillion zv50000 that I bought for my wife several years ago. The problem with it I think is in it’s cooling. It gets too hot too often which leads to shortened Hard Disk life. In the ~3 years or so that I’ve owned it, I’ve had to replace the hard disk 3 times. I tried lots of things to improve airflow around it by buying some stands, etc. to lift it off the desk but as I said it keeps chewing up disks. I’ve replaced my wife’s PC with a different laptop and this HP was sitting idle under my desk with no hard disk in it. In the March 2007 edition of Linux Format Magazine they have a review of several different BitTorrent clients for Linux. I use Azureus as my bittorrent client but as the magazine says, it’s resource intensive. Right now they “java” process which runs Azureus is taking ~700 mb of memory. I’ve read a few things online about how to trim the memory usage but I haven’t had much success in getting it down. In any case, the article does have some pretty favorable things to say about TorrentFlux which is kind of a web based front end to bt which can be run on Apache. I attempted to install it on my “main” machine but I couldn’t really get it to work – I seem to have some issues with my install/config of both Apache and MySQL. I did really want to try it out though so I decided to attempt a fresh install on my broken laptop.

Here’s what I did – I grabbed the 6.06 LTS Server version of Ubuntu figuring if I was going to have a somewhat dedicated server that would be a good choice. After burning the ISO image to CD I put a spare 20 Gig drive in the laptop and booted up. The server edition of Ubuntu installs blazingly fast – I selected the “Install LAMP Server” option (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and various P’s PHP, Python, Perl). I had no luck in configuring the built-in wireless card to connect to my network so I plugged it in to the network using a cable which then connected it to the network. The default install does not include any desktop so after it finished installing I was at the command prompt which is really how it should be with a “server”. Who needs all of the extra resource requirements for a desktop environment running on a server? I then connected to the server via a browser session and sure enough Apache was configured correctly and I could see the default page.

I am pretty comfortable with the Linux command line and using Apt-Get, aptitude, etc. to install various other software packages that I might want but I did feel that I would personally have an easier time of it with a GUI. So, I used apt to install XFCE (xubuntu-desktop meta package) figuring that was the most light weight desktop to install. After booting up into XFCE, I then went about configuring the server to my liking. I installed ProFTP so that I would have FTP access to the server, PHPMySQL Admin, and then by enabling the extra repositories, I found a package of TorrentFlux. Installed it and away I went!

Now, after all of that effort (setting up a new machine, etc), I had big hopes for using TorrentFlux. I downloaded a torrent file and then uploaded it to TorrentFlux via my “main” machine (after going through some initial configuration). If I had never used any other bt client I might have liked it but I’ve been spoiled by Azureus and TorrentFlux is not nearly as good (Linux Format Magazine rated Azureus the best too). The feature set is not nearly as complete although it is a good idea.

The final analysis is as follows:

1. Setting up a machine with Ubuntu server edition is remarkably easy. The LAMP setup included everything that I wanted for the purpose I was using it. I didn’t need to install any further packages to get TorrentFlux running – all dependencies were met in the base install.
2. XFCE is very light weight on the machine. The loads were minor which is nice for an older machine.
3. As geeky as I think I am, having only a command line to work from is a bit more than I can handle – I need a gui for some things.
4. TorrentFlux is a great idea and I would concur with Linux Format’s rating of 8/10.
5. As much as I dislike the resource intensive nature of Azureus and Java it does work better than just about anything else out there that I’ve found (yes I’ve used KTorrent too).
6. Based on the noise coming from the fans under even moderate load the HP machine will likely chew threw another disk in no time at all.

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