Alternative Operating Systems

In a world where most end users only know about or are familiar with Microsoft Windows, it's easy to forget that there are alternative operating systems out there, right? For those of you who aren't using Windows, it's still possible to run BitTorrent in your operating system, it just takes a bit more fussing around to get it running more nicely (though there might still be residual problems in functionality due to operating system limitations).

Running on Wine (*BSD, GNU/Linux)

Wine is an open source project that aims to implement the Windows API on Unix-like operating systems. In simpler terms, it is an attempt to allow users running a Unix-like operating system (such as *BSD or GNU/Linux) to execute applications that normally run only on Windows. The first step in running BitTorrent on Wine would, naturally, be to download and install the latest version of Wine from WineHQ.org if you haven't already done so.

When Wine is installed, the only thing you need to do is run BitTorrent by using the wine command in a terminal window. Wherever you have your BitTorrent executable located at on your filesystem, you simply run BitTorrent with the command wine FULL_PATH (where FULL_PATH is the full path to the BitTorrent executable) in in the terminal window. Naturally, there are many different (and easier) ways to execute BitTorrent through Wine, but because there are infinitely many combinations of softwares available for use on the Unix-like operating systems, the most generic way will have to suffice.

So where exactly is the hard part in using BitTorrent on Wine? It's in the limitations that come with using Wine and its incomplete implementation of the Windows API. Because of this, and the fact that Wine is unable to integrate too deeply with its host operating system, there are several known issues you should be aware of:

  • Problem workarounds: Some known issues with Wine have been worked around in BitTorrent with a set of "hacks" enabled through sys.enable_wine_hacks.
  • Boss-Key: Boss-keys do not work under Wine.
  • Graphical oddities: There are several oddities in the interface running BitTorrent under Wine...
    • By default, the interface sticks out like a sore thumb, with the gray Windows application window background in all its glory. Users can modify the theme colors in the "Desktop Integration" tab of winecfg to better integrate Wine-run applications with surrounding applications.
    • If the list-view has a black background, then make sure the Windows version is set to Windows XP in winecfg.
  • Open Containing Folder: Because Open Containing Folder attempts to open a Windows Explorer process, and the native Windows Explorer is not present on alternative operating systems, it will open the Wine implementation, which looks unimpressive, and does not work very well. Unless you can tolerate it, don't bother using this feature under Wine.
  • Open File: "Open" in the torrent jobs list context menu or on the Files tab will not work, as they attempt to run a Windows application associated with the file type, but since there are none, they fail.
  • Settings directory: Because Windows environment variables do not apply in alternative operating systems, it naturally follows that %AppData% does not either. You'll find that the BitTorrent settings directory is actually located at ~/.wine/drive_c/windows/profiles/USERNAME/Application Data/BitTorrent, where USERNAME is your username on the operating system.
  • Start on system startup: Because alternative operating systems have different methods of booting applications at startup, the usual methods of adding a startup entry in Windows (be it in the Registry, or in the Start menu) won't work. Start BitTorrent on system startup should be disabled.
  • System tray: The system tray feature has been reported to be flaky under Wine, so if you have issues using it, you should disable all relevant options.
  • .torrent file association: Due to the inability of Wine to map file associations to applications run through Wine, the feature is rendered useless. Check association on startup should be disabled. An alternative method of "emulating" file association would be to use the auto-load torrents feature to tell BitTorrent to automatically load files from a directory on your filesystem. In that way, you can simply drag or download .torrent files into that directory, and if BitTorrent is running, it will automatically load the new files.

Running on Darwine (Mac OS X)

Darwine is a port of Wine for use on Darwin and Darwin-based operating systems, such as Apple's Mac OS X. Darwine requires an X server to work, so if you don't already have it installed, you can find the installer in the Apple Restore DVD, or by downloading it along with Apple's XCode.

Installing Darwine should be a cinch. Just as with Wine, it's generally best to download and install the latest version of Darwine. After installed, you should be able to simply double-click BitTorrent's executable file, and Darwine should automatically run the application. If not, then run WineHelper.app (which should be located in the installed Darwine directory) then open BitTorrent's executable file. That's all!

Not unlike Wine, there are several known issues in using BitTorrent with Darwine that you should be aware of: