This is the latest installment of our Licensing and Compliance Lab's series on free software developers who choose GNU licenses for their work. In this edition, we conducted an email-based interview with Parg and TuxPaper from BiglyBT. biglybt Logo What is BiglyBT?
BiglyBT is a peer-to-peer torrent client, forked from the Azureus and Vuze code. We are two of the original authors of these clients, and after 14 years, our passion for developing for it has not run out. Our client has a long history of being known as powerful, feature-filled, and customizable, and we want to continue that trend with BiglyBT. Can you tell us some about the roots of BiglyBT?
It all began with the free software project Azureus. Back in 2003, the first developer wanted to experiment with the Java UI toolkit SWT. Fueled by recent relationship changes, he started to develop Azureus. With very few torrent clients available, and a great list of features, Azureus’ popularity went through the roof. Wanting to turn the project into a full business, in 2005-6, the Azureus team took their idea to Silicon Valley, where it received funding, a new mission, and a new name -- Vuze. Vuze was aimed at providing content from big names, and focused on an easier video experience for users. After several years of courting the media companies, in 2010, Vuze was spun off to different management, under "Azureus Software, Inc."
Fast forward to 2017, the free software code developed over the course of Azureus' and Vuze’s lifetime was forked into a new project, BiglyBT. Can you tell us some of the work that went into removing the proprietary code?
There were two main proprietary aspects of Vuze that we removed. Firstly, there was code to support the "Vuze Plus" premium product, which has purchasable features. The majority of this was contained in proprietary plugins, but there was also support code in the Vuze core to manage licensing, etc. Secondly, there was code to support proprietary services hosted on central servers, such as the content platform Web site. It was relatively easy to remove these components. What features do you think really set BiglyBT apart from other torrent clients?
BiglyBT’s use of the DHT (a decentralized distributed system) is probably the biggest thing that sets us apart. Using the DHT, the Swarm Discoveries feature generates lists of content that are related to content the user has downloaded. BiglyBT will look for other torrents containing the same files you are trying to download, and with Swarm Merging, combines the two swarms for faster downloading and the ability to complete torrents without any seeds. The DHT is also used for torrent/tracker/tag-based chat channels. We are the only client that integrates directly into the I2P DHT, allowing us to have anonymous chats and better anonymous torrenting and peer finding.
Another major aspect is torrent control and organization. BiglyBT has the most configurable seeding rules in any client. Content can be categorized and tagged. Tags can be assigned manually or via restrictions and functional logic. Custom actions can be taken on a per-tag basis.
A much larger list of features that sets us apart can be found at https://www.biglybt.com/features.php. Why did you choose the GNU GPLv3 as BiglyBT's license?
The source code that BiglyBT is based on, Azureus, started as GPLv2 (or later), so it’s only fitting (and legally required!) to keep BiglyBT as GPL.
The GPL affords us the ability to integrate Apache Licensed code into BiglyBT, using version 3 of the GPL license, and version 2 of APL. This is very important when developing for Android, since most of the 3rd party libraries are APL. How can users (technical or otherwise) help contribute to BiglyBT?
Visit us on GitHub (https://github.com/BiglySoftware for both BiglyBT and migrated plugins) and get involved! We are currently using the "Issues" on GitHub to manage bug reports and feature requests.
Our international users could greatly help us out by completing our rather large translations. While we have over 40 language files in our project, most of them are incomplete, and only a couple of them have active contributors.
Non-technical users can help us by getting the word out about our client. Marketing is very difficult for small free software projects with only developers and no PR team.
Users who run trackers or other torrent listing sites can help contribute by listing our app on their site. In the past, we’ve worked anonymously with tracker admins to build features and solve tracker-related issues. BiglyBT also has meta-search ability, and the ability for users to add search templates for any tracker that provides them. It’s out of the scope of our team to create search templates for every tracker site, so we rely on tracker owners and users to create and distribute these. What's the next big thing for BiglyBT?
We are already seeing a renewed interest in contributing to the project by the free software community -- initially we are looking to further cultivate this, as passionate contributors (such as ourselves) are key to evolving the project.
BiglyBT logo used with permission.