Console Junkie: HowTo use rtorrent, Part II



Q: Ok, so now I’ve installed rtorrent. What next?

A: Let’s get started. Open the console and type

Q: Umm…

A: Now you want to know how to add a torrent. Hit Return. You can use tab completion to navigate to the directory with the torrent file. Double-tab will display completion options. Select torrent file. Hit return.

Q: The torrent file is marked inactive!

A: You need to tell it to start. Highlight the torrent file using arrow keys, and hit the Hotkey ^s (^ means Ctrl key). While it is inactive, you can change the download directory by using ^O. This doesn’t work once the torrent is activated. You can also use the Backspace key instead of Return to add torrents. The difference is that this will immediately activate the torrent. To stop an ongoing download, type ^D. Type this again to delete the stopped torrent.

Q: Ok! Got it working! Is this it?

A: Well, these are the basics. Now, let’s see a few other things. You may want to cap your upload/download speeds. This can be done using the keys a/s/d, A/S/D, z/x/c, Z/X/C.

Q: And how do I see info about the files?

A: You can navigate using the arrow keys. Highlight the torrent using Up/Down, Left will give expanded view and Right will go back to main view. You will find that the keys 1-8 offer various different views of the downloads. You can change the priorities of the torrents using the keys +/-. You can even change the priorities of individual files, by selecting them in the file view, and hitting space. If you select priority ‘off’ file will not be downloaded.

Q: Woot!

A: Now, lets turn this ordinary bumbling application into a super-app. You may notice that on starting rtorrent, it throws a warning saying .rtorrent.rc not found. This is the configuration file for rtorrent, which is found at
Copy this file into your home directory, affix the . in the name, and open it in a text editor.

Q: Wow! Is this what I think it is?

A: Yes. A simple glance at the file will show you what I mean. Check this out:
# Global upload and download rate in KiB. “0” for unlimited.
#download_rate = 0
#upload_rate = 0

# Default directory to save the downloaded torrents.
#directory = ~/

You can set the global throttle rate, and the default download directory. Now see this:
# Watch a directory for new torrents, and stop those that have been
# deleted.
#schedule = watch_directory,5,5,load_start=~/*.torrent
#schedule = untied_directory,5,5,stop_untied=

rtorrent will watch the watch_directory, and automatically start any torrent copied into it. If you delete the torrent file from this directory, it will automatically stop the download.
# Close torrents when diskspace is low.
#schedule = low_diskspace,5,60,close_low_diskspace=100M

# Stop torrents when reaching upload ratio in percent,
# when also reaching total upload in bytes, or when
# reaching final upload ratio in percent.
# example: stop at ratio 2.0 with at least 200 MB uploaded, or else ratio 20.0
#schedule = ratio,60,60,stop_on_ratio=200,200M,2000

This is pretty much self-explanatory. Go through the rest of the file. Convert your rtorrent into a beast.

Q: All of this is truly great! But I’m sure this is available in Azureus. So why rtorrent?

A: All I can say is:
1)negligibly light footprint
2)about 2MB space cost
3)no Java/Gnome/Other Window Managers/X dependencies.

Q: Yes, I think I’ll give it a try!

HowTo: use rtorrent like a pro



10 Responses to “Console Junkie: HowTo use rtorrent, Part II”

  1. CDK Says:

    are have u tried utorrent (thats micro/mu torrent ) its doesnt hav a direct linux version but works well through wine….its much much better than azureus

  2. Vedang Says:

    true… thts wot i used on windows, and it’s much lighter than azureus.
    but rtorrent is even more impressive.

    besides, i think there’s an advantage to rtorrent. utorrent uses only a single port to connect (it sets this up at install time). rtorrent chooses from a range of ports… while i can’t see the obvious advantage, there must be one!! 😀

  3. Sateesh Says:

    I will be interested to know if you are able to create windows compatible rTorrent packages!


  4. mbud lagi ngelindur Says:

    how to tell rtorrent to start @ 6:00 pm and stop @ 6 am and how to resume ? just in case i close rtorrent program accidentally ?

  5. Vedang Says:

    schedule = throttle_1,01:00:00,24:00:00,download_rate=0
    schedule = throttle_2,09:00:00,24:00:00,download_rate=5

    throttle_1 will be triggered at 1:00 am (24 hr clock) download rate = unlimited.
    throttle_2 will be triggered at 9:00 am and will set download rate to 5 kbps.

    more info can be found here:

  6. Vedang Says:

    wot do you mean by how to resume? I didn’t get what you mean….

  7. Vedang Says:

    as for windows compatible rtorrent, I haven’t used windows in quite a bit now… so i can’t really offer any suggestions… 😦

  8. Vedang Says:

    btw, the 24:00:00 does not stand for 24 hr clock, its totally different… i typed 24 hr clock to explain 01:00:00… looking back at the comment, i realised it might come across as incorrect info… read the man pages of rtorrent for more info

  9. Fredrik Says:

    I misspelled he path to my download directory in rtorrent.rc, after I changed it to the correct path rtorrent does not seem to want to read the rtorrent.rc again. It still complains about the same old wrong path.

    any one have a tip?

  10. aditya Says:

    Ha… At least we use one same software package (even though you prefer emacs over vim 😀 )… check this out too,

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