I said over a year ago Firefox should support BitTorrent. Opera now has support. No it wouldn’t support piracy, or any of the other silly comments people have given over the past year about why it shouldn’t be supported. Launching yet another app to download a file is silly. If Firefox dropped FTP support (because it too is just another protocol, and doesn’t relate to web browsing). There would be a boat load of complaints. It’s not a kitchen sink. It’s a usable protocol. What people do with it is up to them. There are many legitimate BitTorrent uses. Linux distro’s use it for example. So do some gaming sites (those giant demo’s). The protocol isn’t illegal by any means. Just some individuals misuse of the protocol. The web is used for illegal purposes all the time, it doesn’t mean Firefox encourages it.

I’m a fan of the protocol. The problem is that it’s still to complex for average joe. Current clients are awkward and slow (while better than previous generations). Why do I need another program to download a file? And for those currently using BitTorrent, imagine the benefits of 60 Million users with BitTorrent capable browsers who can easily participate in torrents.

I still believe it’s a good idea. Congrats to Opera for realizing the benefit of the protocol and realizing the end user can benefit from it. That’s what software is about: benefiting the end user.

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9 Responses to “BitTorrent”

  1. maggot brain says:

    BitTorrent vs. Summer of Code

    Gandalf and Robert blogged about Opera getting support for BitTorrent. Not that I have any clue about it, but let me planet that BitTorrent is one of the Summer of Code-projects. Let’s all remember and cheer the guy up,…

  2. Jure Repinc says:

    Personaly I can’t wait for BitTorrent support in Firefox. I do know how to use advanced clients like Azureus, but I frequently come across BitTorrent distributed files that I would just like to simply download with Firefox. Maybe it could be used even for Firefox/Thunderbird/… update system to offload servers.

  3. name says:

    Speaking of firefox FTP support, why does it only support FTP GET and not FTP PUT? In other words, why can’t I drag files into the firefox window and have them uploaded?

  4. Anonymous says:

    > Speaking of firefox FTP support, why does it only support FTP GET and not FTP PUT? In other words, why can’t I drag files into the firefox window and have them uploaded?

    Because, perhaps, it is a _Browser_?

  5. starwed says:

    In the multiple Bugzilla bugs relating to this, I’ve seen a couple of good points raised against BT being a default part of Firefox.

    1. The idea behind BT is to relieve a host’s bandwidths issues by putting fractions of that burden upon the clients. Someone who downloads a BT client obviously accepts this burden, but a random user of Firefox might not like it being the default behavior.

    2. Ideally a BT client should be left running to help share files. Most people probably wouldn’t use Firefox like this.

    BT networks succeed because users make a small sacrifice in order to promote the good of the network; it’s a social contract beneficial to everyone in the long run. But by enabling BT in Firefox by default, users of the browser enter into this contract without necessarily knowing the full details. Most people probably wouldn’t care, but for some bandwidth might be a precious resource.

    As an extension or better yet a XUL Runner ap it sounds like a great idea though. ^_^

  6. gandalf says:

    2. Ideally a BT client should be left running to help share files. Most people probably wouldn’t use Firefox like this.

    Why not? FWIK the rules are to fill the 1.0 ratio and I think that Firefox could easly do this.

  7. Matti says:

    Bittorrent is a P2P and Firefox is a browser.
    If you don’t like the idea with the Browser&Email together like Seamonkey, why do you want P2P in Firefox ?

    And if you want Bittorrent, why do you don’t want Edonkey or all the other P2P networks ?

    I don’t think that this is a good idea but someone could write an extension…

  8. Guess this means that Firefox is going to have an interface for UPnP? Chatzilla will surely appreciate this as well.

    Additionally, I think that BT is more than just ‘downloading’. It involves additional things that have to be taught to users such as ‘keep the download open after it is finished’, ‘this will impact your upstream bandwidth’ and ‘limiting the upstream will slow your download, but not limiting it will trash your connection speed’.

    One might suggest that the uploading could happen until the torrent is removed from the download manager (or paused/stopped), however it should be clear to the user that it is still actively uploading. I also what would happen with past bittorrent downloads that are still in the download history after closing and restarting Firefox (I know many people who never clear the download history after downloading). Will they start uploading again?

    Another thing, even when the file has finished downloading, while it is still uploading, it cannot be moved. If your-average-user gets told by Windows that he cannot do that ‘because the file is still in use’, do you really think he will think ‘oh, it is a BitTorrent file, I have to go to the download maganer and manually stop it’? No, he won’t.

    So, even with some good defaults, I do not think that this could be made to work intuitively.

    It will probably be best left as an extension. And a great extension, which I would gladly install on my local Firefox copy.


  9. Robert says:

    We could drop FTP in the same way, claiming it’s not really about web browsing, hence shouldn’t be included.

    BitTorrent is as necessary as FTP. It’s the next generation in file distribution via TCP. If we don’t support it, we force users to use other software. We include FTP because users need it. We should support BitTorrent as such.

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