Installing rTorrent on OS X Leopard (10.5) using Fink

I've been using Transmission as a BitTorrent client on my MacBook Pro for a while now, but after setting up rTorrent on my Linux server earlier today and seeing how awesome it was, I just had to install it on my laptop as well. I absolutely love text-based applications!

The easiest way to install rTorrent is by using Fink or MacPorts. (Both of these tools allow you to download software that has been ported from Unix/Linux to Mac OS X.) I'll use Fink since I'm a fan of Debian Linux and Fink uses the Debian dpkg and apt-get package management tools.

Apparently there is no Fink binary available yet for OS X Leopard (10.5), so it must be compiled from source. These directions (which also contain instructions for setting up rTorrent on earlier versions of OS X) helped explain the overall process presented here. Since you'll need to compile from source, you will need to have Xcode installed (a set of development tools from Apple).

The basic steps for setting up Fink are as follows:

  1. Download the latest Fink source
  2. Open up a terminal (Applications -> Utilities -> and run the following commands
  3. $ cd /path/to/download/directory
  4. $ tar xvzf fink-x.xx.x.tar.gz
  5. $ cd fink-x.xx.x
  6. $ ./bootstrap
  7. You will now be presented with several questions. Answer using the defaults (press Enter) for everything except the question about whether you want to enable the unstable tree; you must answer Yes to this question (see here if you accidentally missed this step).
  8. When the script finishes, run /sw/bin/
  9. For good measure, run apt-get update

Great! Now that Fink is installed, installing rTorrent is really easy:

$ fink install rtorrent

You might be notified that a bunch of extra packages need to be installed (there were 46 needed on my system!) so just choose Yes. After the packages have been downloaded and compiled (this might take a while) rTorrent should be on your system and ready to use.

Getting Started with rTorrent


You can launch rTorrent by simply running rtorrent in a Terminal, but before you get started you should look over the man page (man rtorrent) and then set up a configuration file (~/.rtorrent.rc). There are only four lines in my configuration file (check the man page to see what these do):

port_range = 26000-26999
directory = ~/downloads/torrents/
session = ~/downloads/torrents/sessions/
encryption = allow_incoming,try_outgoing,enable_retry

If you're interested in a lot more options, you might want to grab a copy of the sample .rtorrent.rc config file (why this wasn't included in the package, I don't know) and place it in your home directory.

The rTorrent User Guide has information about all the stuff on the screen as well as various commands to navigate the interface.

Using the wonderful screen utility, rTorrent becomes even more powerful on remote systems. I leave rTorrent running on my server and whenever I remotely SSH into the box I can then reattach the screen session that rTorrent is running inside of and instantly have access to it!

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  1. Um, I was wondering why it is that even though I have a port range open sometimes rtorrent wont show connectable but µtorrent will. Actually to be honest the only time I ever show that I am connectable is when a torrent site can’t figure out what program I’m using to torrent. I was reading somewhere that you can hide what program you’re using on tracker and you’ll be listed as “Unknown”. The reason why I’m asking this is if I’m “unknown” and connectable does that mean that the build of rtorrent that I have is blacklisted or in the grey zone? Please get back to me at [email protected]