Mozilla Needs BitTorrent

Background/What is BitTorrent

BitTorrent is a protocol rapidly gaining popularity on the Internet for Peer 2 Peer (P2P) downloading large files. For information on how BitTorrent works, visit here.

Why BitTorrent?

BitTorrent feeds are used on quite a few of the big downloads that people encounter (see below). BitTorrent is also designed to prevent abusers. If your not uploading, your not downloading. So it’s less prone to leaching, which would turn a useful protocol into a waste. It’s also open source (MIT License).

How do we know it’s not a fad?

It already has a significant penetration in the large download segment. Here are a few uses of BitTorrent I ran across this week browsing the web:

Also noteworthy is Download.com alone has over 524,089 downloads to date.

Advantages for Mozilla?

There are several distinct advantages for Mozilla supporting BitTorrent “out of the box”. The first, and most prominent is a good feature to offer end users. While all Windows users will need a download to be able to use a BitTorrent, Mozilla users will simply be able to download like any other protocol. BitTorrent’s major shortfall is an ugly UI. Mozilla Firefox has a new download manager thanks to Ben Goodger’s recent overhaul. BitTorrent could use the same UI, and fit right in. Mozilla can make this protocol friendly, and attractive. Mozilla could essentially become the “required tool” to use BitTorrent recommended by websites with Torrents on them.

The second advantage is that it could be used a distribution system by Mozilla.org. During the Firefox release, servers were slow at best. We could alleviate some of the load by supporting BitTorrent. Just like you can download Mozilla with Mozilla, we can continue this by supporting it internally.

What about bloat?

Mozilla needs to put things together, more than start a new project. A good implementation would utilize the Download Manager’s UI, a clean, simple way of tracking all downloads. Perhaps just an icon to denote it’s a BitTorrent download. BitTorrent also uses HTTP.

The goal is to be slim and good, not bloated. Even the official BitTorrent client is slim. No UI options. Just where to save the file. Extreme simplicity.

Why not an extension?

Because it’s another step đŸ˜‰

Users don’t want to do more than they need to. It could be included and nicely integrated so that it isn’t bloat (there’s no new UI necessary). And it could then be an effective distribution method for Mozilla updates in the future. Mozilla itself can be updated via a BitTorrent feed on the Mozilla.org website.

Conclusion

Supporting BitTorrent would prove to be an advantage to Mozilla. Not only would it be a great feature for end users, but it would prove useful in Mozilla’s attempt to provide fast download options for its end users.

14 thoughts on “Mozilla Needs BitTorrent

  1. While I agree, I think first Mozilla.org should host torrents for their own appliactions, and then see what happens.

    As for native bittorrent support in mozilla, why?
    Why not just use your favorite bittorent client for your particular os?

  2. i agree totally.

    to answer jed’s question:

    support should be in mozilla because:

    – there are *no* favorite bittorent clients. it’ll make bittorrent usage easier than any of the clunky clients out there.

    – another awesome, forward-looking feature in firefox

  3. The main reason I think this should _NOT_ be in mozilla but be an extension at best is that, as you said, BitTorrent uploads when it downloads. If an end user clicks a bittorrent link, it gets handled like a regular ftp of http download, I don’t think they would be pleased when their entire upstream gets clottered. Especially not people who are still on 56k or less.
    As an extension, fine. In the default extension pack that comes with the Firefox installer, fine. But this needs to be an optional installation, and should require an additional step to make people understand what’s happening.

  4. Absolutely.

    libtorrent (http://libtorrent.sf.net) is MIT-licensed, and could be rolled into Mozilla. We’d need to hook it up to downloads of type application/x-torrent.

    The current BT apps _all_ have poor UI. This could be a tabbed-browsing/popup-blocking sized killer feature.

    Great for someone interested in hacking on the network layer đŸ™‚

    Gerv

  5. I agree that using the Firefox download manager for Torrent files would be immensely cool. However, I don’t think it should be built into regular builds of FF.

  6. Bittorrent + Firefox/ Mozilla = Great idea. Whether it be by default or as a plugin matters not. They key thing here I agree with is there are no good bittorrent UIs to the best of my knowledge. Why should users get *another* app to make use of a handy protocol like BT, when ultra good browsers like the aforementioned could seemlessly integrate it. As someone said, don’t let a good protocol go to waste cause the average user doesn’t know about it/ understand it/ see it/ hear about it yada yada yada. Imagine if tabbed browsing was an optioned ‘feature’, the reality is, people like my Mum and Dad wouldn’t even know it existed, does that mean they should put up with crappy zillion window IE style browsing?!

  7. I was actually about to start work on this feature until I found this page by accident and discovered you were already working on it. I think BT support in the downloads window of FireFox will be the next killer feature and absolutely needs to be implemented. I was planning to do it as a plugin and base it off a stripped down version of the azureus java BT client(sp?) but having it be a native feature would be 10000x cooler.

  8. The main advantage of integrating BitTorrent into Mozilla/Firefox is that the browser itself and the plugins can then use that protocol to receive data without the user having to go through the save-to-desktop-and-click-icon procedure.

    This means that really large BT files can be embedded into a regular HTTP web page. That’s mostly useful for multimedia, which Gecko doesn’t really do at the moment. If it handled SMIL, then BT support would be what would actually make it possible for anyone to serve such sites.

  9. Pingback: Robert Accettura’s Fun With Wordage » Blog Archive » BitTorrent

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