Setting up a BitTorrent Tracker

So I’ve spent the last couple days trying frantically to get a BitTorrent tracker installed, mostly for the use of my internet acquaintances, their friends, and my friends. Really just a dedicated alternative to YouSendIt and all those other bullshit file sending sites that always have one catch or another.

So, just as a test, I installed OpenTracker, a bare-bones tracker that has no interface, just an announce url. It worked, to my amazement, with minimal effort, but the fact that anybody with the announce url could use it bothered me, and the idea of having searches and invites and requests and all the other bells and whistles of ‘real’ torrent trackers was too tempting and, I felt, within my reach.

So I looked around. I gave TorrentTrader a shot, relying on my arbitrary faith in SourceForge.net. It worked but was terribly flaky, and I truthfully don’t know enough php/mysql, let alone the intricacies of this particular implementation, to curb my impatience in getting something operational.

I then discovered TBDEV.NET, which is a community of people dedicated to continuing the development of TorrentBits, what is seemingly a classic, robust, trusted torrent tracking framework whose development was halted a couple years ago for reasons I don’t care enough about to discover. Available in their forums is a minimal but extensible source whose goal is to remain true to TorrentBits’ approach, as well as a number of more-or-less reliable third-party packages, customized with various modifications.

I first went with the basic source, and was optimistic because I could tell this is what indietorrents and OiNK had been borne out of; and because mining the TBDEV.NET forums was strikingly reminiscent of my first encounters with foobar2000 forums, I had faith that I could build something up with enough work.

I hit a wall when the invite mod I tried to install gave me php errors with an undefined function I didn’t know how to define. I was also still having problems with the fact that the tracker resided in a subdirectory on my server (an issue that I first encountered with TorrentTrader), a situation that seems to go unaccounted for in a lot of this code, despite my creating a subdomain for the tracker.

So I tried various third-party packages. TorrentStrike, TBdev DR, Torrential, BrokenStones, and even phpMyBitTorrent, a different framework altogether (and an awful one at that). I was getting nowhere.

I was uninstalling and reinstalling a lot of these sources in a hasty and dirty tantrum, learning a little more about them each time, discovering some of the mistakes I had made along the way, and generally becoming increasingly familiar with how they work in an admittedly pretty superficial way. As it stands, I’m working with TBdev DR, which I think has the most promise for me at this time, and which informed me that I don’t have magic quotes disabled in my php.ini (something I knew had to be done, but willfully overlooked in my frenzy). After a long conversation with a totally clueless ‘tech’ at GoDaddy (who told me, among other things, that the solution “might be” to use the function get_magic_quotes_gpc, and that it was my responsibility to edit or create the php.ini file, which I told him was literally impossible for me to do as a mere customer), a more enlightened person at the support center finally told him to tell me that I needed to upgrade my hosting configuration to their “2.0” plan to include php5 and a greater degree of administrative control over my server, at no extra cost.

So right now I’m waiting for this change to go into effect, and if all goes well, I think I might get the tracker up by the end of the day.

Every one of the previous paragraphs began with “So” or “I.”

2 Replies to “Setting up a BitTorrent Tracker”

  1. sean says:

    Its been 12 months, have you found a solution yet? I’m also looking to setup a tracker.

  2. Jay says:

    Interested parties might want to keep an eye on Project Gazelle, which promises to make setting up a BitTorrent tracker as easy as installing WordPress. From the people behind What.cd; as a member, I can tell you development is looking good. They’re in private beta testing right now.

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