How to set up a PC to be a seed for Rawseeds

Important note: the BitTorrent distribution system is not operational anymore. A new dataset distribution system is available.

This is a brief explanation of how any computer (even old PCs are OK!) can be used as a seed for Rawseeds’ datasets. As you will see, it’s really easy and quick. If you don’t know why you should set up a Rawseeds seed, please read here. Here we just say that setting up a seed machine is the best help that you can give to help Rawseeds live and prosper.

IMPORTANT: it is absolutely not required, for a seed PC, that it is dedicated to seeding! Seeding can occur in the background, with minimal load on CPU, RAM and internet connection, while the machine is used in the usual way. The seed PC can be your own workstation, the PC used by a colleague or a secretary, your home PC… Or you can finally find a new use for that obsolete machine that you have under the table, down there in the corner :-)

What you need

To act as a seed for Rawseeds, a machine needs only the following things:

  • a working operating system
  • a connection to the internet
  • some disk space
  • a BitTorrent client program

Any OS can be used, provided that it is not so ancient that there is no BitTorrent software for it. Nowadays BitTorrent is very popular: therefore, many clients are available, free of charge, for any platform. You can select any of them: see our BitTorrent HOWTO for further information. By the way: if you use a “desktop” Linux distribution, it’s likely that you already have a BitTorrent client installed on your machine by default.

How to set up a seed

After you have the PC, follow these steps:

  1. Put on the chosen PC a copy of the compressed files you downloaded from, or any subset of them. The files must be put in the download directory of the machine’s BitTorrent client program (you can set this directory from the program’s options). If you originally downloaded the files to this machine and did not move them, they’re already in the right place.
  2. Run the BitTorrent client program.
  3. (only if you did not download the files on this machine, or if you did it but you removed the torrents from the BitTorrent client) Re-click on each of the links (on the pages of that you used to download the files in the first place. This will start again the download of those files… but the BitTorrent client will immediately detect that a complete local copy of such files is present, and will start seeding instead of downloading.
  4. Ensure that the machine is set up to automatically start the BitTorrent client program at every boot.

Er, that’s it. You have set up a working BitTorrent seed. Congratulations! And many thanks from the Rawseeds project!
The seed machine you just set up can be used normally, without any limitation. It can also, of course, be shut down whenever you wish: just make sure that the BitTorrent client is restarted at the next boot.
If you want to know how much data bandwidth your seed is contributing to Rawseeds at a given time, just look at the “upload speed” values displayed by the BitTorrent client.

Controlling upload bandwidth

You can fine-tune the maximum amount of internet bandwidth that your BitTorrent client uses for seeding. In this way, you can control the impact of the client on your PC’s resources, and ensure that it will not slow down your internet connection. To do this, just access the options of your BitTorrent client.
An upload bandwidth of a few tens of KBytes/s is perfectly good for Rawseeds: with such a setting, you should note no adverse effect on your internet connection, or on the performance of the seed PC when used for other tasks. This holds true even if the PC is a few years old and/or the upload link is slow (e.g., ADSL). Of course, higher settings (such as a few hundreds of KBytes/s) are even better for Rawseeds: any modern PC and (non-ADSL) connection should cope with them without noticeable effects. Finally… if you work in a place – such as a university – where bandwidth towards the internet is abundant, consider setting your BitTorrent client for a maximum upload bandwidth of a few MBytes/s :-) ). Please note that seeding with such an upload bandwidth could begin to slow down older machines, though that will only occur in the time intervals when the bandwidth is fully used. This is something that, whatever the success of the Rawseeds project, should happen very rarely!

Record-time setup of a seed!

Modern versions of “desktop” Linux distributions (e.g., Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSuse, Mint, Mandriva) come with BitTorrent client programs installed by default. Moreover, they do not require modern hardware to work satisfactorily. And, of course, all of them can be downloaded for free.
The fastest way of all to set up a Rawseeds seed from scratch is to take an old PC from the trashcan, install one of these Linux distributions on it, and copy the files on its hard drive. A network cable, some clicks to let the BitTorrent client know what data it should seed… and the seed is up and running!
One hour of work overall, including a coffee break while installing the OS ;-)