In the wake of JSTorrent, here are the alternatives.
JSTorrent, the leading BitTorrent solution for Chrome OS, was recently removed from the Chrome Web Store. This is not the fault of the developer, but rather the eventual conclusion of a dispute of ownership between the developer and his former employer. It is unlikely JSTorrent will be back in its current form, but a rewrite isn't out of the question. Follow along with @JSTorrent on Twitter.
For the torrent savvy, there are other solutions available. In this post I’ll be discussing the merits of using cloud based solutions, which fits nicely within the ideology of Chrome OS.
A typical BitTorrent client is installed locally to your machine, then connects to peers from around the world to download bits at a time until the completed file resides in full on your hard disk. Platforms like Windows, Mac, and Linux have had that process all but perfected. Chrome OS, however, is missing some of the system level API's that native apps typically use, so creating a "locally installed" BitTorrent client is difficult.
BitTorrent in the cloud, however, has been done for a long time. Originally titled Seedboxes, servers were rented to people that wanted the hard work to be done in a datacenter, then simply download the file directly (in whole) from that single server. There are still countless seedbox options available on the market, but they are typically reserved for power users that aren't afraid of the occasional Linux terminal.
With cloud services being "all the rage" lately, there has been a rise in services that offer the same functionality a seedbox does with a more user-friendly interface. These sites allow you to upload a .torrent file, they connect to the swarm and leech / seed, and then you stream the file from their servers on almost any web connected device you own.Put.io
Put.io is one of these solutions, offering several paid plans that fit nearly any budget. They're based in Turkey and provide a friendly interface with powerful API's for third-party development. In fact, their “official” Android app was developed by a third-party using their API's. Put.io also offers advanced RSS subscription management, for automatically adding files from torrent sites. This is my provider of choice, and I can personally vouch for the quality of service.Streamza
Streamza is rather new to the scene, but is the product of the same man who created Wikidot. It's fast, appears to be stable, and most importantly, offers a free option. I can't speak to how their service is as I'm not currently a user, I was simply recommended to the service by a friend.Hive
Hive is backed by an established cloud storage provider and has a very appealing interface. The original beta test has now been concluded, so it is not open to new signups. This is one to keep an eye on, even if you can't use it today.
There are drawbacks to cloud BitTorrent providers, like the absence of privacy (or rather, that you must trust them to maintain your privacy). For the average user, however, the ease of use compared to traditional clients might make them the preferred choice.
On a closing note, I would like to give a massive thanks to +Kyle Graehl
for the work he put into JSTorrent. It was an amazing accomplishment and for a lot of Chrome OS users the only access to a "native" client we had. RIP JSTorrent, and a huge thanks to you, Kyle.
Image via +Shahid Hussain
of AboutChromebook.com. #RIPJSTorrent #CloudBitTorrent