Turn Raspberry Pi Into Torrentbox

In an earlier post I explained how to setup a headless Raspberry Pi server. It is sitting there, all nice and shiny. Now it is time to actually make it do something useful. Therefore, this guide will show you how to setup your Raspberry to work as torrent box, that automatically downloads all your favorite legal content.

Create download folders

First of all, you will need to an external usb drive to store the downloaded files. You can find out how to connect one in one of my other posts. Let’s say you have it mounted as /media/external. Then, create the following directories for your downloads:

$ mkdir /media/external/incomplete
$ mkdir /media/external/complete

Install a torrent client

Next, install a torrent client. Personally, I prefer Transmission - it is fairly light on resources and has a good web interface. Install it by running:

$ sudo apt install transmission-daemon

Before you can configure it, you have to stop the service (otherwise the changes would get overwritten on restart):

$ sudo service transmission-daemon stop

After that, open /etc/transmission-daemon/settings.json with nano and change the following lines:

"download-dir": "/media/external/complete",
"encryption": 2,
"incomplete-dir": "/media/external/incomplete",
"incomplete-dir-enabled": true,
"rpc-password": "PASSWORD",
"rpc-username": "USERNAME",
"rpc-whitelist": ", 192.168.*.*",
"rpc-whitelist-enabled": true,

Once done, save the file with Ctrl + X. As you can see, that’s quite a few changes. Whitelist only allows you to access the web interface from your local network. Encryption is turned on and the rest is self- explanatory. In order for Transmission to run and be able to write to the external storage, you need to change the directories permissions:

$ sudo chown transmission-daemon:pi /media/external/*complete
$ chmod g+s /media/external/*complete

Good, you are ready to go! So, start the transmission-daemon again:

$ sudo service transmission-daemon start

If you go to your browser and enter your Raspberry’s IP address followed by port 9091 and /transmission/web/ ( in my case), you should see Transmission’s web interface. Bravo! Now your Pi can download torrents.

Set up network sharing

However, you really want to able to access the downloaded files from other computers. And for that, you need Samba. So, install it by running:

$ sudo apt install samba

To configure it, open /etc/samba/smb.conf in nano and add the following to the end of the file:

comment = Download folder
path = /media/external/complete
create mask = 0775
directory mask = 0775
read only = no
browseable = yes
public = yes
force user = pi
only guest = no
guest ok = no

Then save the file with Ctrl + X. If you want to make any changes, check the configuration afterwards using testparm command. But there is one caveat - Samba uses separate set of users and credentials. Therefore, you have to make a Samba user pi and set its password. The following command does just that:

$ sudo smbpasswd -a pi

All set. Now, fire up your file browser, open your network and click on your Raspberry. You should see the Downloads folder right there. And if you open it and log in as pi with the password you have just saved, you can see all its contents. (Probably nothing at this point.)

Automatic downloads with flexget

You can download the torrent contents and you can view the downloaded files from other computers on your network. But you still have to download the torrent files manually. If you are lazy like me and want to have the latest release of your favorite distro automatically downloaded as soon as it is available, you will need Flexget. It parses RSS files and passes the download links to your favorite download manager (Transmission in this case). To ensure that everything runs as it is supposed to, it is good idea to always run the latest version of Flexget from Python package manager. On top of that, you will also need the transmission-rpc package. To install and upgrade everything, run these commands:

$ sudo apt install python-pip
$ sudo pip install --upgrade setuptools
$ sudo pip install flexget transmission-rpc

In order to make Flexget run every hour, you simply make a systemd timer:

$ systemd-run --unit=flexget --on-active="1h" --uid=$(id -u) --gid=$(id -g) $(which flexget) execute

Lastly, you have to configure Flexget. Since it is a fairly complex and powerful tool, describing all the configuration options is out of the scope of this guide. Besides, they have very good documentation on their wiki, so no reason to double the effort. Congratulations! You have turned your Raspberry Pi into a fully automatic torrent box. Enjoy it and remember not to use it for any illegal activities. But if it felt like too much work, you might want to try Mariner torrent searcher instead.