With a vast ecosystem of torrent clients, choosing a practical and convenient one is tricky and varies widely by person. “Transmission” looks to kick you torrenting experience up by at least a gear, but just how useful is it, and how much can you trust this client?
We'll go over basic system requirements, possible ways to use the client, and how well it works.
Basic System Requirements
Like many P2P clients, Transmission doesn't limit you to one operating system. You should expect their download page to be a bit overwhelming at first. But that demonstrates how seriously its creators take the development process and your system's security.
It works with most Linux distributions, Windows, and Mac OS X. This is because the client natively supports various UI schemes across platforms. You can even install it on a web server and access it remotely!
You'll notice that there is an SHA-256 hash for each download link. The goal is to make sure that you get each file as it was meant to be. That way, your download won't be a target of a “man in the middle” attack. That's when a server masquerades as another, delivering often similar content but with malware.
You can use various tools, usually included in your operating system, to get the SHA-256 hash of each executable after downloading it. That ensures that you're getting the real product.
The Case for Transmission
Though it's far from the most popular P2P clients, there are many reasons you may wish to take advantage of this software. One of its most significant benefits is that it's open-source software, unlike many popular ones.
In other words, a volunteer development team actively takes care of the project, reads bug reports, and fixes issues. It also means that researchers (and you!) can take a look at the source code, report vulnerabilities, and have the development team fix issues as they're found!
Certain competing torrent clients may appear slicker because of custom UIs. But those can be disrupted by annoying, repetitive advertising. Due to Transmission's open-source nature, you can say bye to advertising within your torrent client!
The fact that there is no installation of a hidden product during the main setup feels like a breath of fresh air. On top of that, it doesn't contain any other type of popular adware that usually tries to infiltrate the P2P community.
There is no “paywall” that some clients feature. As it happens sometimes, BitTorrent clients have paid features that seem available to everyone. But when the user selects a “paid” option, he is directed to either purchase access or go without that feature. Every feature is free to use. In a few words, there are no pop-ups, no adware, no fees, no mandatory Twitter or Facebook likes, and no “bundled software”!
Transmission has a Flat Learning Curve
A typical user complaint about torrent clients is that they're too tricky to figure out. Of course, this is partially because torrents are, by nature, reasonably complex to manage in a secure manner. Coming up with both an intuitive UI and figuring out how to do so without sacrificing features is no easy task when it comes to P2P clients.
It's no coincidence that the Ubuntu Project, a Linux OS designed for average users, chose Transmission to be the default package as the BitTorrent client. Though Transmission has different “modes”, the default configuration is always set to “Just Work”. Therefore, users can simply set directories in which they want files to go and be all set.
Of course, it would be better to a bit further than the “Just Work” mode. Though it makes demonstrations easy, this does not cover all the security bases for an adequate torrenting experience.
Level Up as You Go
One of Transmission's more unique features is that you can “level up” as you get more familiar with the software. Taking advantage of its community forums, you can learn how to perform more advanced operations. That will allow you to take advantage of features that are absent in the “Just Work“ mode. In almost no time at all, you can work your way up from newb to expert!
A primary concern for many users is how much of a “footprint” any given P2P client will have when installed on their machine. Transmission is computationally inexpensive, meaning that it doesn't take up many of your device's resources. When benchmarked by various Linux tools, it actually takes up fewer resources than many so-called “headless clients” (those without a GUI).
It takes advantage of the GTK+ graphics library, meaning that it'll integrate like a native application on nearly any operating system, including Mac OS X! It'll take advantage of taskbar notifications and other Mac features, if enabled. It works just as well as a Windows and Linux native application.
Transmission Main Features
So, what more advanced features does Transmission have to offer? This tool is full of them! And we'll discuss the main ones.
The Transmission BitTorrent client takes advantage of Protocol Encryption (PE) for BitTorrent. However, you shouldn't look at it as a substitute for a good VPN service, but rather an add-on for one. This feature scrambles the headers of packets sent between your computer and other devices. It will make it harder for ISPs and others to identify torrent traffic. It also obfuscates what precisely is sent.
Slick Web Interface
Transmission has one of the sleekest web interfaces known to torrent clients. Though this is a feature of many, Transmission's web interface could be a program of its own. It allows a configuration for remote access in an easy way, but you'll need to adjust firewall rules accordingly.
The web interface can do almost everything that the desktop application does; the two work side-by-side as a multithreaded process. Notably, settings that affect how the desktop application operates can be altered via the web interface. If you choose to use the web interface, make sure you follow Transmission's suggestions for securing it! It's a great convenience tool, but it also opens up your computer for potential attacks if you are not careful!
Using either the desktop application or the web interface, users can edit a variety of settings. For example, you can alter the maximum upload and download speeds, ban peers or limit speed with individual peers, and tweak just about anything.
It also has support for watch directories on private trackers. That means that it can alert users when there is a “release” available from a private tracker and automatically download it, so it's ready as soon as possible.
Shifting Back to Park
Transmission is a great software to consider making your main torrent manager. It's great for those who are frequently on the go but need access to torrents. The main pitfall it has is also its greatest strength: it is open-source. In the meantime, that means it's automatically upgraded and managed for free.
However, since no company profits off of it, it could also end up a dead project. Overall, it's worth a look at a minimum.