Let’s start off by saying that running a reliable tracker with tens of thousands of peers is not something everyone is capable of. It requires the right skills and expertise to keep everything running smoothly. Also, larger trackers such as PublicBitTorrent require a 1 Gbps connection, something not everyone has access to.
That said, there are also thousands of smaller trackers that are used for only a handful of torrents. Some people have their own tracker to share ‘private’ files and others just run one as a hobby project. With Bitstorm, everyone can now run their very own BitTorrent tracker with relative ease, and with a minimum of technical knowledge.
Everyone who has access to a PHP-enabled hosting account can setup a tracker in less time than it takes to read this post. The GPL licensed software literally consists of just a single PHP file with just a few lines of code. Upload the file to your server, and a new tracker is born.
Developer Peter Caprioli explains that he coded Bitstorm when his search for a simple, no-nonsense BitTorrent tracker failed.
“I found myself in the need of sharing a couple of big files a while back with about 20 people. BitTorrent was the preferred protocol because it is fast and I do not have to upload the same content 20 times over. I started searching for a tracker that I could install on my server.”
“After some research, none of the trackers I tried worked the way I wanted them to work. They came with all types of bloat that I didn’t need, I just needed a basic tracker that does nothing else but keep track of peers. After reading this awesome article, Bitstorm was born,” Caprioli adds.
As far as installation goes Bitstorm can’t get much easier. On most Linux-powered web servers it works out of the box, no configuration needed. For other operating systems one has to open the PHP file with a text editor and change the path to the peer database, all other parameters are optional.
Bitstorm is by far the simplest, most dummy-proof standalone BitTorrent tracker we’ve ever seen. It’s certainly not as efficient or feature rich as the excellent Opentracker software, but for hobbyists it’s certainly good enough.
For those getting excited, the Bitstorm source code is available here and more info can be found at the project page. Feel free to mention your own public tracker below in the comments, Bitstorm or not.