Comparing torrent clients

I talk big about rtorrent a lot, and it’s for a good reason. I still prefer it to any other torrent client, and yes, occasionally, I do try others. Usually my motivation is to isolate “torrent slave” as a role for underpowered or out-of-date hardware.

But what about something with a little more guts? What about, instead of relying on a 120Mhz machine to catch, download and seed torrents, relying on something ten times faster, with more space, plenty of memory and an equally fast network connection?

Purely in the name of science, I dumped every torrent I could find on the front page of LinuxTracker into the 600m, and let it spin up. That’s 86 torrents, probably more than 60Gb of disk space, and generally speaking a considerable workload.

And here’s the damage, on a machine with 768Mb of memory, a Broadcom 4318 wireless card and a 1.4Ghz Celeron in the captain’s chair. (This is Arch, by the way, which is why I have about 3,000 console-kit-daemons running 🙄 )


Memory use is flexing between 6 and 8 percent, with — do I read that right? — zero percent of the processor tied up.

Oh. Well. Maybe it’s not as considerable a workload as I thought.

Now let’s go crazy. Here’s Deluge, with nothing running.


Hmm. Three percent of the available memory, and that’s while managing zero torrents. And it requires the entire X desktop to display the interface, so don’t think the actual footprint stops at just three percent.

And Azureus? Or Vuze, I should say, since it has apparently changed its name, or something. It’s been that long since I used it.


This is where the nightmare starts. I can’t even count how many Java processes were spawned when Azur— I mean, Vuze was started up. Look at all those. It’s almost as bad as all those console-kit-daemons. 😉

Memory use has jumped to an obnoxious level, and that’s before I even loaded up a torrent. Just idling, and the system is already using as much memory as a cold boot of Ubuntu Gnome. And that’s saying something!

And all this time, rtorrent is still running. Where are we at, systemwise?

Oh my goodness. Over 8 percent? Unbelieveable. And look at that — it’s actually taking up a measurable amount of processor time. Must be some of the upward traffic causing the machine to actually work.

Of course, rtorrent doesn’t have nearly the flashy interface that Azur— I mean, Vuze has, and I can’t connect to the Vuze community at the click of a button, and the console will always be uglier than a GTK2 interface. I am willing to admit those things.

But … maybe a machine that’s “ten times faster,” isn’t even needed. A 1.4Ghz machine ignores all but the unholiest of traffic coming out of rtorrent, and memory use is probably just peaking around 64Mb.

Honestly, with 86 torrents to manage, up-and-down traffic that rolls between 1Mbps and 100Kbps, maybe I should be saving my Celeron for something a little more daunting. Like chatting or surfing or file management. Oh wait, all those are taken too. … 😈

18 thoughts on “Comparing torrent clients

  1. reacocard

    You may want to disable displaying threads in htop – there’s only one console-kit-daemon process, but it always has 64 threads. Same probably applies to Azureus/Vuze.

  2. koleoptero

    I am not that much a fan of console apps as you, but I’m also raving to friends about rtorrent. I mean it’s a torrent client, I just want it to download torrents. What possible advantage a full fledged torrent client with a GUI like Azur- uhm Vuze, right, or deluge might have is beyond me. I just want my machine to stay cool and quiet when I seed overnight, and my computers resources to be available for something more productive than torrent downloading/seeding like… whatever else. Even if I had an I7 extreme edition I’d still use rtorrent.

    I might not advise many people to use other console apps like cmus (which I love) or whatever, but I honestly believe rtorrent is one of those apps everyone should know about.

  3. Zach

    Have you tried running deluged on one machine and the interface on another? That’s my preferred method.

  4. Debian&KDE

    I’m using rtorrent in a K6-2 machine with 128M ram and Ktorrent in a P-IV with 384M.

  5. Casey

    Funny I’m using transmission 1.75 (ubuntu) and its using less than 39meg resident (390meg virtual memory and zero to 1.5 percent cpu and currently I’m leaching 2 and seeding 17 torrents (including a couple of megapack with multiple gig files each.)

    Former Vuze user here tired of system overhead, but appreciates a GUI interface. Transmission also employs a web interface as well.

    Oh and transmission is set to get magnet support in the next release, while currently supporting the other DHT stuff already.

  6. vespas

    while rtorrent is always going to be faster than gui-based clients, it’s not really fair to compare it to python and java-based programs. how about transmission or even mutorrent on wine?

  7. Brett D

    I also love rtorrent with a passion. The only major feature I find it lacks from most of the other graphical clients is per-torrent throttling and that certainly is not enough for me to stop using it.

    However, I think there is some fault with your comparison of Deluge. Hasn’t it gone to a client/server model with a service and web-based front end as well now? I would think that would use less resources then relying on the GUI front-end (if nothing else it’s certainly more flexible that way).

    Azureus/Vuze has always been a bloat fest and not really worth anybody’s time. 😛

    1. Oz

      He’s right. It’s a client, daemon setup. You can just run the daemon without the gui. It even has a command line client you can use.

      1. K.Mandla Post author

        My apologies then, I haven’t done a very good job of keeping track of it. I promise to investigate further, and be more judicious in my comparisons next time. 😀

  8. Tristan

    I run deluge v.1.2.0 in daemon mode on a Buffalo Linkstation NAS (128Mb RAM, CPU ARM 400Mhz) and I use the web interface (ajax-based) to add/remove torrents file.

    It is not as light as transmission and it is definitely not comparable to rtorrent, but it has all the features I need. My ISP gives me a NAT-ed connection and so far Deluge with DHT and NAT-PMP is the best I’ve found.

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  12. tidux

    I use the Deluge daemon, console interface, and web interface on a Sheevaplug. I’m a console junkie myself – vim, mutt, ncmpcpp/cmus, slrn, irssi, and screen are all my friends. I use Deluge because:
    1. I’ve never been able to get an rtorrent web interface working right with the version in Debian Squeeze.
    2. Sometimes I want to check up on my torrents on a computer where I have no access to an SSH client.
    3. It’s in debian-main so I don’t have to manually reinstall anything to get updates and security patches – this is huge because it’s an Internet-facing server.


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