Cheap Torrent Box

So, I recently subscribed to one of the cheapest cable Internet in nation (IDR 214k/mo for 1 Mbps unlimited). The connection is stable and I get one public IP (woohoo). Downlink is relatively good at 700-1000 kbps all time (unlike that crappy Smart EVDO which most of time gave me 100 kbps probably because of my room’s location) though the uplink is not as good at just ~100 kbps. As such, it’s just logical for me to set up a dedicated torrent box since half of my day is spent at office so I can download things while working.

Initially I checked the infamous Linksys WRT160NL – with its hackability and USB port, it should be good enough. At $80, it isn’t too expensive. But while checking on how to put the transmission, the entire guide looks shady (eg. frankenhack OpenWRT on top DD-WRT) and the switch is just 100 Mbps – which doesn’t sound good for long term router (I have another plan for this). (Later I figured vanilla DD-WRT should work too but the Fast Ethernet still a deal breaker for me)

I then decided to check OpenWRT forum and discovered one thread asking similar router with what I’m looking for. There were two candidate routers: D-Link DIR-825 and TP-Link TL-WR1043ND. Both have USB port, can be installed with OpenWRT/DD-WRT and have gigabit ethernet ports.

The first one, D-Link DIR-825 is one of the highest end consumer-level router they offer. At more than USD 100, it’s also damn expensive. It’s got 680 Mhz processor, 64 MB of RAM and 8 MB flash memory. It also features unbricking feature which can re-flash the router no matter what state the router is in.

The other one, TP-Link TL-WR1043ND, is also TP-Link’s highest consumer-level router offered. The prices is less than half of D-Link’s though: at $50 it’s actually a steal. Having better featureset than the Linksys’ WRT160NL but less than DIR-825, it’s not a bad choice. Or rather, it’s a really good choice – it’s currently what I’m using. With 400 Mhz processor and 32 MB of RAM, it barely passable but still usable. In fact, this is the one I bought. Together with an external disk (like, say, WD MyBook 2 TB), it makes a decent torrent box. And cheap (I spent less than $200 total for both router and storage).

All you need to install is either DD-WRT or OpenWRT (depends on your preference), install transmission daemon (according to your firmware of choice) and bam, we have working torrent box. I personally suggest ReiserFS for storage’s file system – it’s mostly fsck-free and I haven’t heard anything bad of it (murdering doesn’t count).

For access from outside, I highly recommending it to be proxied through an https proxy or else you’ll be sending your user/pass through plaintext which is bad idea™. I personally use lighttpd.

A bit extra note though, there are quite a bit of hackery you’ll have to do if you decided to use OpenWRT: sometimes the mount process is late and the swap and home directory mounted late which causes various failage (eg. transmission daemon downloading files to flash storage) which I’ll probably cover in another post. One day™. So, stay tuned! (lol)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *