Novell Strips BitTorrent DHT Technology from openSUSE

The Pirate Bay's tracker closure has spurred several discussions about DHT, BitTorrent's fallback technology for when central trackers are unavailable. According to some, DHT has some problems of its own. Novell, for example, decided to ship openSUSE with the BitTorrent client Transmission, but not before stripping DHT support.

suse novellSponsored by Novell, openSUSE is a free and Open Source operating system, based on Linux. Following in the footsteps of Ubuntu, OpenSUSE recently decided to include Transmission as the default BitTorrent client.

However, the addition of Transmission to openSUSE was not straightforward. Since Transmission comes with DHT support – a technology that helps BitTorrent users to find peers – Novell thought that the application could possibly make openSUSE liable for copyright infringement under German law.

In order to avoid legal problems, Novell and openSUSE therefore decided to ship the operating system with a DHT-less version of Transmission while they tried to work out a solution with their lawyer.

“This month’s new release of their openSUSE Linux distro now ships with Transmission as the default BitTorrent client, but with DHT support removed at compile-time due to perceived German legal risks,” Transmission developer Charles Kerr told TorrentFreak.

After discussion with Novell’s German lawyer, it was agreed to include Transmission with DHT in future releases, but with an added popup informing users that they should only use the BitTorrent client for legal transfers. This means that the next openSUSE release will include a fully-functional BitTorrent client.

Charles Kerr told TorrentFreak that he is happy with the outcome, especially since Transmission will also add support for Magnet links in their upcoming 1.8 release.

“Magnet links are much more useful when DHT is available, so I’m glad it will be included in the next openSUSE release,” he said, adding that openSUSE have been very helpful and communicative, which is why there’s a better resolution in the works for the next openSUSE release.

Still, one can’t help but wonder if Novell had legitimate concerns, or was maybe a little paranoid in handling the DHT issue. That said, if BitTorrent indeed comes to rely more on trackerless torrents and DHT in the future, could BitTorrent clients potentially become a target for the entertainment industry?

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