I spent the last two days researching and then setting up the things we need for trying out BitTorrent for module distribution. Here’s where things stand now:
Under vassalengine/torrent are .torrent files for all of the modules and module extensions which existed sometime on Saturday. They all have the URLs of the modules in our wiki as the “web seed”, so if your BitTorrent client supports web seeds, then you can download modules this way, without the need for any other peers. (Which is good, since right now, you won’t find any other peers.)
There’s a tracker for all of these torrents running at vassalengine.org:6969.
Presently, I’m downloading all of the modules to a test machine on my LAN at home, which will act as a seed. I’m not downloading them at top speed, so as not to further burden our server’s internet connection, so it will be a few days before I’m seeding them all. (Yes, days. The modules all together are 11GB, compressed into a .tar.xz archive.)
I’d like to find some way of testing whether this is going to work as a distribution method. What I’m envisioning is that we get several seeds established, and then just test what kind of download speeds we get. We probably don’t need to do this with the full archive, just with a few torrents.
If this proves workable, we’re going to need several volunteers who are willing to seed the archive. It’s not necessary that their machines be online all the time, but it would help to have a few of those.
Once I have everything here, I’ll post some instructions here for getting the whole mess via BitTorrent. One thing I discovered is that there are not many BitTorrent clients which are capable of handling 1400 torrents at once, like we’ll have. Actually, transmission is the only one I’ve found which makes this practical—the UIs for other clients, even command-line ones, seem to expect that you’ll have a number of torrents which will fit in your scroll buffer, one per line.