Currently in Beta, Project Maelstrom aims to help more of the Internet work the way BitTorrent works. In today’s post, team lead Rob Velasquez discusses one of the key components that makes BitTorrent work so efficiently.
As creators of people-powered software, we at uTorrent have you, our users, to thank for making us the best Torrent client on the internet. We can see your support when you vote us number one in third party polls and that means a lot to the team of engineers and developers here.
Your standards are high and we work hard to meet those expectations by pushing ourselves to improve product performance and experimenting with new ideas, as our beta community knows. Some of these work out and others we scrap based on feedback and move on to new ones. We can never rest on our laurels.
As 2015 draws to a close we want to take a minute to look back at the achievements of our engineering team. Our people are the best in the business and often we take for granted the work that they do.
2015 was a year of focusing on the fundamentals. µTorrent got smaller and more efficient. µTorrent developers were on the front lines of addressing security vulnerabilities identified for the wider libutp-based community. We improved stability and performance with a series of changes that further reduced a crash rates. We fixed bugs when they appeared and tweaked the small features you asked us to address.
We added a dramatically improved feature for our Pro product: user streaming. This allows users to preview and consume torrents just seconds after adding them, connection speed permitting. There’s been a lot of positive feedback for this and if you want to try it out, you can do so with one of the Trials offered to our free users.
We also evaluated our partner offers and ad partners and committed to improving the user experience for these, as well as how we fund the development of our technology and products. There have been some baby steps and some bolder steps. But we’ve done it all with our users in mind and we’ll continue in this direction throughout 2016.
To demonstrate that the µTorrent team is working hard to make good things happen. A snapshot of what’s happened in 2015 is below. Thanks so much for being our customers. Have a great holiday season and a wonderful New Year.
By the numbers:
- Crash rates reduced, in general, by 50%
- This is a direct effect of moving over to the IEOOP architecture
- One of the highlights in performance improvements was fixing bad performance when making selections in the list view.
- Improved product shutdown times by fixing crashes at shutdown and adding local shutdown performance monitoring
- Improved disk-flushing speed to slow devices
- Reduce DHT bootstrap server traffic
- Efficiency and CPU surge fix when navigating torrents
- Reduce network usage of client
- Unnecessary resource use on streaming
- Improved resource usage
Security and community protocol work:
- Solution for threat of UDP-based DDOS attacks
- Fix security vulnerability in DHT bootstrap server
- We also fixed a vulnerability in the shell association handler for magnet links
- Pro with streaming (beta Nov 2014, stable Q1 2015) and streaming trial for free users
- Introduction of a low-cost, ad-free premium product (coming mid-December 2015)
- Advertising – Implemented higher standards for ad creative and ad partner
- Advertising – Introduced new larger single ad unit to regain user workspace (vs. two ad units)
- Partner Offers – Raised our standards higher during the vetting of partner offers
Fit and finish:
- Fit and finish work in torrent information display (Adjusted default column widths, restored missing data, fixed bug in relevance column in peers tab)
- Made rendering improvements to the Devices list
- Restored compact category view
- Pro player and streaming improvements
- Fixed layout and display issues in main client view
- Fixed tab client area vertical overflow
- Fixed bug where Tab selection would not persist
- Fixed bug during torrent selection and toolbar activation
- Fix bug where cat tree would prevent resizing
- Crash fixes (malformed packet crash, crash on torrent creation for certain media types, crash during btapp session list query, decoding UTF8 string crash, crash on helper process launch, when update server unavailable, at startup for some XP and 7 users, crash when rendering the streaming UI, when resizing the category tree, when rendering sidebar, when rejecting pieces, when updating BT Apps,
- Improved reliability of MP3 metadata parsing
- General improvements to media parsing code
- IPV6 Web UI listening socket bug
- Magnet and torrent shell handles fixes during registration
- Improvements to DHT bootstrapping, libuTP and miscellaneous:
- Fixed rare crash while bootstrapping to the DHT
- General improvements to the DHT code
- Fixed libuTP connection sequencing weakness
- Fixed bug causing some advanced settings to not persist across client restarts
- Fixed memory leaks while adding HTTP-hosted torrent files
- Fixed client deadlock when right-clicking on an RSS item
- Fixed bug where antivirus would fail to update
- Reliability improvements to helper process launch and communication code
Boom. Now it is time to enjoy some eggnog and start planning for 2016.
- The uTorrent Team
Just in time for the holidays. This release of uTorrent pairs very well with eggnog, cheese logs, red coffee cups, and the N-Sync christmas album. This particular release is also very special because the version number is sequential. A uTorrent stable version number that is sequential is rare and doesn’t happen very often. It is meant to be treasured. It is basically the software equivalent of a blood moon, or Halley’s comet, or a Half Life game.
In this release, we focused on: bug fixes and stability updates. Seriously. We squashed a lot of bugs and stabilized all sorts of things.
Not happy with generic release notes? Well, here are the all the dirty details. Go crazy kids:
- Better use of system resources, improvements to stability
- Improved handling of paid codecs and Antivirus activation for Pro users
- Fixed incorrect accounting of wasted bytes when talking to peers
- Fixed memory leaks in clients
- Users were reporting a UI hang for RSS feeds (right-clicking on item)- fixed this
- Fixed Pro status page rendering
- Fixed a bug that prevented resizing of the left rail
TL:DR: uTorrent is faster, better and more reliable
When you click a magnet link on a website to get a torrent, it automagically opens a torrent file with a list of files you can download. Ever wonder how uTorrent finds that file in the big mess of the peer to peer internet? You can now see how this works with a new visualization in the Project Maelstrom Browser, using real-time data from µTorrent’s core.
Note: For a more technical description of how DHT lookups work, I suggest you watch this video.
What’s going on here?
Well, lots! µTorrent does all kinds of complicated stuff behind the scenes, but let’s talk about what you can see it doing in this visualization. Here’s the setup: You click on a magnet link, and Project Maelstrom searches the network of other users who have that torrent. The “target” in the center of the screen is the torrent that you’re looking for. All of the dots that are shown are the people µTorrent has asked to try and track down your “target”.
How does µTorrent actually find a torrent?
Looking up a torrent is quite a complex task, but the basic idea is kind of like this: you walk into the biggest party in the world, looking for someone you’ve never met before. – I know that sounds a little strange, but stay with me – You’re at a party looking for a person, and you ask someone, “Hey, I’m looking for Sarah. Do you know her? Or do you know anyone that knows her?”. They reply, “Sorry, I don’t know her, but go ask Joe, Mary, and Dan over there, I think they might know her”. You then ask Joe, Mary, and Dan the same question and keep following this process until you finally find Sarah. Except, unlike you, a torrent client can ask more than 50 people every millisecond.
In this explanation, there are a few things that don’t quite fit, exactly. First, the person you’re looking for is actually the torrent. Second, there aren’t really any names in the µTorrent world — everyone you ask for help is actually anonymous. Third, and definitely not last, you actually (hopefully) find a bunch of “Sarahs” (people who have the torrent you’re looking for). But, hey, it’s a pretty close analogy.
What do all those dots mean anyway?
All those dots are other users. This is what peer-to-peer is all about—people! Let’s take a look at this visualization right before the torrent is found, to explain exactly what is being shown in the graphic.
Asked 29 People: Project Maelstrom has asked 29 total people, “Hey, do you know who I can download this torrent from?”
19 People Helped: 19 people that you asked replied, “Sorry, I don’t know where you can download that from, but I think I know someone who can help you find it, go ask them!”
17 People Know Where it is: 17 people that you asked replied, “I know where that torrent is, here’s a list of people that you can try downloading it from.”
Once you’ve found people to download your torrent from, you ask them to transfer the file to you. As soon as you receive enough data, the torrent loads. A people-powered web, there it is!
See it for yourself
If you want to see this visualization in action, download Project Maelstrom and try it out for yourself! Happy Torrenting!
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