Saturday, April 23, 2011

Seedboxes using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud

Seedboxes usually refers to virtual private servers (VPS) specially for bit-torrent uses.   Without one, you can't get in private trackers, which are like private clubs for file sharing.

Even the most elite private trackers are short of unloaders.  And they are paranoid of downloaders who are spies or content stealers.  It's bullshit that you need to pay good money to get into it.  Save your money for good HD cable service.  Not that it's not worth it.  But applying, interviewing, and begging is not my style.  I think those running private trackers are making money in other means - such as bidding for membership, selling seedboxes.

Using AWS EC2 as seedboxes.

Availablity:

A micro-instant with 8Gb storage is free for one calendar year.  You can leave it on 24/7.  The normal price is pennies for an hour - in which you may be able to download a file the size of an HD movie or two, or even a whole season of TV.

Storage:

10Gb virtual hard disk space is free for a year.  Additional storage is cheap and you don't need much more than that.  Because it doesn't make sense to store all your files in the cloud, unless you want to host everything for a long time.

You can get a bigger drive or move content into S3 storage without paying for bandwidth (I think).

Bandwidth:

Amazon get you in the bandwidth.  Currently 15 Gb in and out of EC2 is free per month.  Over that, it's 10 cents / Gb in and 15 cents out.  For download only, and then copy to your local drive, it's $0.25/Gb.  But for private trackers a common requirement is that you also seed to a 1:1 ratio.  That's $0.4/Gb.  So it's up to $4 for 10 Gb, plus overheads like encryption.

Speed:

It's amazingly fast.  I see speeds up to 13Mb/s for private trackers for hot torrents.  Several Mb/s is usual.  Typically for a public torrent in a broadband ISP connection, 400Kb/s is pretty fast and 100Kb/s is decent.  So instead of hours, it's almost on demand - 10, 20 min download for a movie - make some coffee or pour some wine and you are there.

Verdict:

$4 for 10 Gb doesn't seem to make a lot of sense compared to conventional seedboxes.  They usually have something like 100Gb storage with bandwidth included.  EC2 can be compared to people going to the cinema once a week, and sometimes don't go at all for weeks or months.  For occasionally users this means several dollars per month or much less.  For now it's totally free.

Decent seedboxes cost about $20/month.  You need to be heavy users to justify it.  Or you can add premium channels on TV.

EC2 should be welcomed by private trackers.  The speed as fast as anybody else.  You can also leave it to seed forever for free (but holding up the disk space that otherwise you could download other stuff).

The problem is, the community is still hostile to EC2.  Admins don't like Amazon IP's because it's as good as anonymous.  And there are plenty of EC2 hackers, even using high power instants for cracking passwords.  My own EC2 have people probing it non-stop.  Some ban Amazon IP's altogether.

Many in the community are selling services like seedboxes, VPS, etc.  They are naturally hostile to Amazon who are cutting into their business.

Other users look at EC2 as poorman's seedboxes.  Actually for the same money, there are worse bargain basement seedboxes, but they are gone.  The spec of EC2 is actually quite respectable - only that the bandwidth is rather expensive.

The usage:

Bit torrent client Transmission is particularly ease to use and setup.  There's no need for any user setup on your desktop.  Everything is controlled by your fav browser.  All you need is to browse to

http://your-ec2-url:9091

Download the torrent file you want or just copy the url into Transmission.  There's not much else to do.  You can also set which files in the torrent pack to download, instead of the whole 4 seasons.

Once done, you can download the files to your local drive in your favorite ways - ftp, secure ftp, http download.  In Linux you have additional simple commands like remote copy or secure copy via ssh.

The setup:

It's also pretty simple.  Starting EC2 is covered many many times by many people.  You can do it all using GUI via the browser.  In Ubuntu, you just need one apt-get command to install the transmission package.  It will even starts after that.  That's it. 

Normally you need to do a little editing on the config file.  You need to add password, or whitelist your own IP or network to access the EC2 instant.  And you want the downloads to your home directory instead of system directory with restricted access.

For some private trackers, you need to disable DHT, and PEX.  After searching for manuals, this is:

dht-enable: false,
pex-enable: false,

Again the rest is here:
EC2 Micro Instance as a Remote Bittorrent Client

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