Tutorial :How to collect statistics from a bittorrent swarm?



Question:

I want to collect statistics from the spreading of a file in a new bittorrent swarm without actually downloading anything (or as little as possible). I need to know which peer has which pieces (to make file based statistics) knowing the number of seeders and leechers or percentages is not enough. Later when there are many peers I need to download the data to determine what it is. This part can be done with a regular torrent client.

I do not plan to implement the protocol myself so I looked at 2 implementations libtorrent and ktorrent's libbtcore. Neither is capable of collecting data while not downloading there are simply no connected peers when there is nothing to download. Libtorrent is simpler but ktorrent looks better commented.

I see 3 possibilities:

  • Use some application exactly for this. Are there any?
  • Modify a torrent implementation to do what I want. Is anyone familiar with them? Where to start?
  • Implement a small subset of the protocol. Just periodically ask the peers what they have. Is this feasible or would the program need to support almost the full protocol?

What do you recommend?


Solution:1

This is an old question, but perhaps this answer might be useful for others.

  • Use some application exactly for this. Are there any?

Not that I know of.

  • Modify a torrent implementation to do what I want. Is anyone familiar with them? Where to start?

I'm only familiar with the BitTornado core (that is used in e.g. ABC). It is written in Python, but it's an architectural mess.

However, you could just take any implementation and start stripping it from unnecessary functionality.

  • Implement a small subset of the protocol. Just periodically ask the peers what they have. Is this feasible or would the program need to support almost the full protocol?

Note that you cannot "ask" a peer what they have. The other peer informs you whenever it wants about the pieces it has (so it's push instead of pull). After the BitTorrent handshake, a peer may send a bitfield of pieces it has. Afterwards it may send HAVE messages informing you it has acquired a new piece. Also note that peers may lie about the pieces they have. Examples include superseeding peers and freeriding clients like BitThief.

If you want to implement a small subset of the protocol, you'd need at the bare minimum implement the BitTorrent handshake message and preferably the extended handshake message. The latter allows you to receive (and send) uTorrent PEX messages. PEX is useful to quickly discover other peers in the swarm.

For your statistics gathering purposes, you additionally need to support the bitfield and HAVE messages.


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