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BitComet .62 and You
February 14, 2006
Thomas Mennecke
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What is a BitTorrent client? Is it nothing more than a sum of bits scattered on a hard drive cylinder? As we leave you with that ponderous thought, let’s move on to BitComet. BitComet has defined itself not necessarily through the functionality of its performance, but rather by projecting the personality of its developer.

BitComet is developed by “RnySmile”, a mysterious individual that rarely makes himself publicly known. Forum posts are rare, email responses even more so. Yet his client has managed to become one of the more popular of BitComet clients. It has kept pace with those spearheading BitTorrent development, such as Mainline, Azureus and µTorrent. Despite the reclusive nature of its creator, BitComet has maintained its edge against the competition by pioneering or co-producing revolutionary BitTorrent features. These features include the momentum gaining end to end encryption and Mainline DHT support.

Despite RnySmile’s reclusiveness, BitComet managed to find itself at the forefront of BitTorrent controversy late last year. During early December 2005, BitComet version .60 found itself banned from a growing number of “private” trackers. Private trackers are something as a misnomer, as their existence isn’t necessarily private, however they only allow access to their torrent index once an individual registers. In an effort to limit the number of members, private trackers typical employ registration quotas. This typically fills many individuals with a sense of pride and prestige.

This pride and prestige found itself under attack when members of these private trackers found their BitComet client was sharing “private” torrents on the DHT network. The DHT network, now standard on many leading BitTorrent clients, provides a layer on top of the BitTorrent protocol. It alleviates the stress placed trackers by distributing the indexing duties to individual clients. Potentially, any client on the Mainline DHT network could receive this private torrent, even those not registered with a private tracker.

In some limited circumstances, private torrents did find their way into public domain. Infuriated that private swarms were making their way to the public, the immediate reaction from many private tracker administrators was to ban the client - a bizarre turn of events for a BitTorrent developer who rarely makes himself publicly aware. In typical RnySmile fashion, he made no public statement or otherwise addressed the issue.

Within two weeks one of the most subdued developers in the file-sharing world resolved the situation as quietly as it occurred – his way. On December 17, 2005, RnySmile reverted back to version .59 – no fan fare, no declaration, no banner or press release. This de facto reversion once again permitted BitComet back onto private trackers, but negates many of the improvements of version .60.

During these events, public reaction didn’t reflect negatively on BitComet. There were pockets of anger and frustration directed to this client, but the more widespread perception actually added to BitComet’s popularity. Shunning such “leeching client” labels, many came to realize this was a mere error on the part of the developer. And sure enough, the reversion to .59 helped settle the disputed intentions of BitComet’s developer.

Subsequently, RnySmile would skip .60 and release .61 which permanently fixed the bug which allowed the highly circumstantial sharing of private torrents. According to BitComet’s wiki “The SecureTorrent does not work properly in v0.60 because it will connect to DHT Network sometimes. This bug is fixed in v0.61.”

There’s an old expression that opposites attract. RnySmile has made an enormous effort to avoid publicity, yet publicity manages to find him - or at least the creation that is most often identified with him. BitComet version .62, released today, features mainly several bug fixes and several core improvements.


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BitTorrent :: BitTorrent Clients

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