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When I launch Tor-Browser, it first launches Vidalia, then a special version of Firefox bundled with the Tor Browser package. If I try to download a (legal!) torrent in the Tor Browser version of Firefox, it launches Transmission to do so.

IF I launch Transmission from within the Tor Browser, it will remember my current torrents. This persists from one Tor Browser session to the next, including logouts, shutdowns, etc.

If, however, I try to launch Transmission from its location (usr/bin/transmission-gtk), it starts Transmission "fresh" without remembering any torrents or other settings.

I assume Transmission is somehow loading another version of itself for Firefox -- the one that remembers things -- that isn't somewhere I can find it.

Only one transmission-gtk executable appears when I search my file system... the one in usr/bin.

What's going on? How can I open Transmission and have it "remember" things without having to start a torrent on Tor-Browser first?

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1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Warning: Under no circumstances is it safe to use BitTorrent and Tor together. As an alternative, a VPN will be "safe" if you trust the VPN (in many countries, ISP's are required to log while VPN's are not), or you could use an anonymising network that was designed for file-sharing, such as I2P.

Proceed at your own risk.

How Tor-Browser uses Transmission

If I try to download a (legal!) torrent in the Tor Browser version of Firefox, it launches Transmission to do so. ... If, however, I try to launch Transmission from its location (usr/bin/transmission-gtk), it starts Transmission "fresh"

There is only one copy of the actual program, in /usr/bin/ as you noted. What Tor-browser does is start Transmission with a separate profile, so that torrents will be downloaded over Tor (this is usually slower). If you wish to download the torrent normally instead, start the normal Transmission, and then either save a torrent from Tor-browser and load it, or copy-and-paste the link from Tor-browser. The alternative is to simply browse using regular Firefox and click on the .torrent link, which should open normal Transmission.


Use one common profile for Tor-Transmission and regular Transmission

If you want Transmission to use a common profile for both normal and Tor-browser torrents, you can do the following: (step-by-step not given because it is very easy to lose all currently downloading/paused torrents when you do this!)

  • Regular Transmission profile is stored in $HOME/.config/transmission
  • Tor-browser Transmission profile is inside the tor-browser directory, e.g. tor-browser_en-US/.config/transmission
  • To create a common profile, you must create a symlink from one to the other using ln -s; of the two profiles, remove the transmission folder (rm -rf) of the one which is least used or contains fewer torrents (you will lose these); then recreate it as a symlink to the other transmission directory.
  • I recommend leaving the normal config ($HOME/.config) intact and linking the Tor config to it; if you do the reverse, your Transmission may not download unless you are connected to Tor. Note that your torrent downloading will occur over your regular, non-anonymous network in this case, even if you click on a torrent from within Tor-browser!
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So every time I open a torrent in the Tor Browser, it is downloading a fresh copy of Transmission over the Tor network, installing it, and then opening it? First, that seems a little bizarre (I may be misunderstanding what you're saying, though). Second, if it's downloading Transmission via Tor "fresh" every time, how is it remembering older but still active torrents? And if it can remember those torrents when it instances Transmission via Tor, is there any way I can force "regular" transmission to find those torrents? –  mattshepherd May 17 '12 at 11:21
    
There is one copy of Transmission on your system, but it has two separate profiles: the "Tor" profile and the "normal" profile. When you open a torrent in the Tor browser, it uses the "Tor" profile; the torrent is most probably also downloaded over the Tor network, which is slower. When you open a torrent in normal Firefox, or start Transmission yourself, Transmission uses the "normal" profile. –  izx May 17 '12 at 11:24
    
The edit above is tremendously helpful -- thanks!!! –  mattshepherd May 17 '12 at 23:51
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