Torrents are a great and unique way to acquire and share files with other people from around the world.
We GNOME users have many torrent clients to choose from, but the two most popular choices are Deluge and Transmission.
These two applications have a completely different approach on how a torrent client application should be/work, and have caused many disagreements to the Linux users community all these years. On this article, we will try to examine the pros and cons of each application, and determine which one is the best.
Applications and OS
Transmission is the default choice for many main GNU/Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Fedora and openSUSE, due to the simplicity of its interface and the lightness of the whole application. Many users love Transmission for being easy to use and as straight forward as a torrent client can be.
For this comparison, I will be using Transmission version 2.51.
Deluge is the most popular alternative to the default Transmission, as many users prefer it for the “familiar” user interface and the feature richness that is offers. Security, stability and configurability are just a few more virtues found in Deluge.
For this comparison, I will be using Deluge version 1.3.5.
The system I will be using for this comparison is Ubuntu 12.04 LST 64-bit with GNOME Shell 3.4.1. It is the “mainstream” choice that will reflect most people’s experience when using these two applications.
Usually, the first time you are going to see a torrent client is when you begin to download a torrent. This is when you start checking for the existence of things like torrent information, or the ability to determine upload and download limit speeds etc. I will be using the exact same torrent file on both clients and see what happens!
Transmission is really a fantastic combination of power and simplicity. Everything seems to be “smart” about this application. Every little option, every detail that matters, every tool that you may need is placed according to how often the developers believe you may need to use something. Press the following images for larger.
Transmission will offer any information you want to know about the torrent file you are downloading, like peers, what speed you are getting/giving to specific peers, torrent availability and tracker information.
The options you have on the download itself cover every possible need. You can set priorities, download/upload speed limits for the specific torrent and maximum peer connections allowed.
The only thing that I found a bit annoying was that to see all the info and to choose the desired setups, you’ll need to open a new window. I can think of many times when this could be annoying and dysfunctional.
Deluge uses a classic approach that will remind you of the popular μTorrent. Everything you want to know, or tune to your liking is to be found in the same window with the downloading torrents, separated in different tabs. Press images for larger.
All the options and information I had when using Transmission is available in Deluge too, but it seems like everything is more accessible here. For example to move a torrent up or down on the queue, all you have to do in Deluge is to press the appropriate buttons that are present on the main screen while in Transmission you have to right click the torrent, and then search for the option to click it.
I really think that the one-window with tabs on the lower bottom is the easiest for someone to get on with.
The average download speed on Deluge was slower (1.4MB/sec vs 1.8MB/sec), but I can’t evaluate this negatively as it is only natural to get different download speeds at different times because of the different peers you are going to be connected with every time.
Torrent clients’ first concern should be the lightness of the application. Downloading a torrent is usually not a primary task for a user, nor something that is finished in a few seconds so while clients download users do other things with their computers like browsing, playing games, watching movies, writing this article etc.
Fortunately, both Deluge and Transmission are very light, and the effect of their operation on the performance of a modern computer is almost negligible. In my computer, the 64-bit editions of the applications had the following RAM consumption:
Transmission ~ 25MB
Deluge ~ 45MB
Defaults are not perfect for everyone. Torrent clients should offer large configurability margins to the user, and fit every “weird” need that one could have.
Transmission is offering advanced settings like the stopping of seeding after some idle time, or after a predefined ratio has been reached, the option for scheduled activation within a specific time spectrum and even the option to set a secondary set of speed limits that you can access right away from the main screen by pressing a turtle button. The WebUI activation is only a click away too!
Deluge may be lacking of scheduled activation timers and the little turtle that will make your life easier, but it offers a more complete set of configuration tools. You may tune the user interface and its behavior to your liking, change the values of nearly anything related to torrent downloading, change proxy settings, set the cache size and many more that you can’t do on Transmission.
The best thing though are the plugins. There are 8 plugins included by default that will allow you to activate things like a scheduler (so it doesn’t lack after all), WebUI, an extractor, a labeler etc. Apart from these default plugins, you can download 23 more provided by 3rd parties, that will extend the abilities of Deluge greatly!
I choose to use Deluge because it seems to me that the way it works is more distinct than Transmission. Maybe I am just another case of a wontedness, but this is the way I feel.
To be fair though, Transmission left me with the sweet taste of simplicity and a self-urge to keep using it for a while and see if it suits my everyday needs in a more “smart” way than Deluge.
Both torrent clients are top-class, and both have different “target markets”, so in the end of the day, there are no winners or losers. There is only what you feel that fits your needs best, and for me this application is Deluge.