Saturday, June 23, 2012

Becoming a Media Pirate God...

Anyone who reads this type of blog is probably completely aware of how to download TV, Movies, and Music for free using bittorrent or usenet. But, just in case you were recently hit on the head and developed retrograde amnesia, here is a fairly thorough guide to becoming the target of an RIAA/MPAA lawsuit!

Start up your Incognito modes... enable your peer blockers... fire up your VPN's... we are jumping right in!

For the purposes of this guide we will assume that you are installing these services onto your Ubuntu Server based media server. Everything here will still work on a windows or linux desktop, but this guide is meant for people who want to streamline their media server. To install any of these services on your windows computer, just download the windows version of the application and set it up using the equivalent windows directories.


All of you should know what torrents are. If you don't then you are pretty behind the times! The torrent sharing protocol allows a set of files to be shared between peers without the need for a central file server. Bits and pieces of the files you want are downloaded from the other users who have previously downloaded the same information. You don't really need to know more than that right now. (If you are the guy sitting in front of your computer demanding to know more, then I recommend Google and a chill pill.)

I think that the transmission bittorrent client is the best. It has a clean web interface that can be accessed from your laptop, so you can use it with your headless server. The web interface works with smartphones as well, so you can easily browse your downloads at any time.

 The heart of your media gathering machine will be the transmission bit client. It will download all the new movies, tv, and music that you want. We are going to set it up in a way which is basically hands free. Using the torrent black hole method to add new downloads, and a sort folder for completed files which will be scanned by other programs for hands free sorting and organization.

To install this on your server you need to SSH for cli. You can use Putty in windows to get command line, or just open a terminal in linux and type:

ssh <username>@<server.ip.address>

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:transmissionbt/ppa

sudo apt-get update 

sudo apt-get install transmission-cli transmission-common transmission-daemon

/etc/init.d/transmission enable 

That set of commands will add the transmission repository, install the web interface, add transmission to start at boot.

Lets setup our file system for organizing and running things.
Decide on a download directory. I have a smaller share on my server dedicated to running extensions and handling incoming torrent data. On this share I have a general folder called "bt downloads". Inside that folder are three more "incomplete", "complete", and "torrents". 

  1. A program drops a torrent file into the torrent folder.
  2. Transmission scans the torrent folder and adds new torrent files.
  3. The downloaded files are temporarily stored in the incomplete folder.
  4. Complete files are moved by transmission into the complete folder.
  5. A program scans the complete folder looking for new files to organize.
This system is about as streamlined as you can get without writing your own scripts.

Use the ssh cli to edit the transmission settings.json. The file should be located at "HOME/.config/transmission-daemon/"

Make sure that you add the directories for values:

  • download-dir
  • incomplete-dir
  • incomplete-dir-enabled true
  • watch-dir
  • watch-dir-enabled true
With those settings configured just reboot and transmission should automatically load with boot.

You should now be able to open up a web browser and point it to "<server.ip.address>:9091"
Transmission listens to port 9091 by default. So if your server's ip address is, you should point the browser to

Easy peasy.

The preferences menu in the web interface will reflect the changes you made in the settings file. Rather than a blank, you should see the correct download folder.

Your transmission bit client is now complete! Time to move on to the cool apps that will help you with downloading great stuff.

Sickbeard (TV)

Now that you have installed and configured transmission, everything else will be a walk in the park! Right?

We are going to install a super cool program now called sickbeard. Sickbeard is targeted at usenet users, and is designed to find its content on usenet. BUT! It also has a really very functional torrent search built in too. So lets just dive right in and get things going.

SSH into your server and execute commands:

wget -O sickbeard.tar.gz

tar xf sickbeard.tar.gz


This will download the program files and extract them to the current directory.
Now you need to move the extracted file to its final resting place, where you want to keep sickbeard's junk.

the "ls" command should have shown you the contents of the current directory. You should see a file named midgetspy-Sick-Beard-xxxxxx. This is the file that we want to move.

mv midgetspy-Sick-Beard-XXXXXXX .sickbeard

sudo mv .sickbeard/init.ubuntu /etc/init.d/sickbeard

sudo vi /etc/init.d/sickbeard

You should see the contents of the contents of the sickbeard config file in the command line.
Edit the values:
  • APP_PATH=/home/user/sickbeard
    • make sure that user is set to your username
  • RUN_AS=user
    • again make sure that user is set to your username
Save the changes to the config file and close it.

sudo update-rc.d sickbeard defaults

sudo service sickbeard start

This sets sickbeard to start at boot and starts it now.

Open your web browser and point it to "server.ip.address:8081"
You should now see the Sickbeard homepage and can start adding shows!

If you already have shows downloaded, you can add them by going to add shows>add existing show
Or you can add a new show from scratch!

Time to add some config options...
  • General
    • Check for update = yes
  • Search setrtings
    • Download Propers = yes
    • Torrent Search = Yes
      • set directory to your transmission torrent folder!
  • Search Providers
    • EzRss = yes
      • The others require an invite only membership.
      • FYI If you have invites, this writer would love one :)
  • Post-Processing
    • TV Download Dir
      • set directory to your transmission complete folder.
    • Keep original files = no
    • Move Associated Files = no
    • Rename Episodes = yes
    • Scan and Process = yes
    • Metadata type
      • I use XBMC, but you can use the metadata format that best suits your needs!
      • Select all metadata boxes you want
    • Episode Naming 
      • Show Name = yes
      • Episode Name = yes
      • Use Periods = yes
      • Quality = yes
      • Air By Date Format = no
        • you can set this in each show profile individually. Since most shows are released in the SeasonEpisode format, this is not what most people want.
      • You can adjust any of these settings to your preferred naming convention.
    • Notifications
      • XBMC
        • Use this if you want sickbeard to notify XBMC of new episodes!
        • The signal will auto-update the show when an episode is added.
        • Plug in your XBMC credentials found in XBMC>Settings>Network

Once everything is saved you can test the system by adding a new show! The more popular shows have a fairly substantial backlog on EZRss, but some shows may not find anything automatically. Sickbeard works best for currently airing shows with regular updates.

[UPDATE: Sickbeard with torrents sucks now... all the good torrent sites need invites that are hard to get. Check out my post on getting started with Usenet, you will be a much happier camper.]

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