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.
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:
- 3DGamer (extremely popular mirrors most of the popular games/demo’s on the net)
- for some downloads
- IDSoftware (testing)
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 😉
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.
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.