Large downloads like Linux images are often offered via BitTorrent or HTTP. Recently i started to choose BitTorrent more often, not for a specific reason, but rather because of a feeling of supporting something open-source.

Today it came to my mind that this practice could cause unnecessary network load, as the BitTorrent network - as far as i understand the concept - would have to talk to more peers causing additional overhead compared to simply streaming the file in big chunks from a single host.

Or do i actually reduce the network load as the file can be served from nodes that are physically closer to my location than a mirror could be?

So, from a user's and a global perspective - what are the pros and cons of using either method?

  • 2
    You're reducing the load of the Linux distro's servers. You're increasing your own network's load as a seeder. In some cases - like a popular new release of a distro - BT is likely to be much faster for you.
    – ceejayoz
    Sep 19, 2016 at 17:21
  • 1
    In addition to what the other guys said, remember that you can pause and resume a download in BitTorrent. Nowadays people got used to servers being up permanently and internet connections being stable for weeks but I remember a time where this wasn't always the case and this is still the case for some regions in the world.
    – Broco
    Sep 19, 2016 at 17:47
  • 1
    Okay so to sum up: on release day use BT if you want to do yourself a favor. On every other day, use BT if you want to do everyone else a favor ;)
    – jsphpl
    Sep 22, 2016 at 14:45

1 Answer 1


Under high load, like when a new version has just been released it's likely beneficial for the user to use Bittorrent as it thrives with high load instead of getting bogged down like the traditional http/ftp based distribution will tend to do.

In the normal load situation (ie, not on release day) it's probably not of any major benefit to the user, but hopefully very cheap for the distributor.

As for the big picture, you're transferring small pieces from lots of sources instead of all of it from one source. There's a bit of overhead but I don't think it's really significant enough that it makes of breaks the concept.

  • Actually a nice aspect to provide bandwidth by consuming it.
    – jsphpl
    Sep 22, 2016 at 14:46

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