Particle network

New browser extension: Trackerless Magnet URI

I’ve made a small new extension for most current web browsers called Trackerless Magnet URI. The extension will disconnect Magnet links from trackers and other centralized forms of peer-discovery, enabling the use of alternative distributed peer-discovery methods instead.

The extension works by locating and rewriting any Magnet URI link that is found on any webpage. The extension strips away tracker servers, web seeds (HTTP-download mirrors), and other meta information from the link. You should be left with a minimal Magnet link containing just the BitTorrent Info Hash (BTIH). The BTIH is the only component needed for a BitTorrent client to reach out to the Distributed Hash Table (DHT) network and retrieve metadata about the torrent and to discover peers.

Distributed peer-discovery is believed to be harder to monitor and shut down than traditional centralized BitTorrent tracking servers. This extension helps customers effortlessly choose distributed options every time they download any files through a Magnet link with BitTorrent. The hope is that this will make users harder to track on the BitTorrent network, help promote the growth of distributed peer-discovery, and reduce the use of and thus lower the BitTorrent network’s dependency on centralized trackers.

The extension is available from the Mozilla Add-ons Gallery, Google Chrome Web Store, and the source code is available on GitHub. You can also download all three over BitTorrent.

The extension is tested to be compatible with current versions of Firefox for PC and Firefox for Android, Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Opera, Tor Browser, and Vivaldi. It should be compatible with any WebExtensions-compatible browser.

Please note that the extension doesn’t modify Torrent files, it only works with downloads initiated using a Magnet link. The extension will break any non-BitTorrent uses of Magnet links, such as that of other peer-to-peer networks. The initial waiting time before a download begins will likely increase for uncommon files when using distributed peer-discovery compared to using a centralized tracker.

You can test the extension with the Magnet link above, or find a more complete example on the Arch Linux download page.

The Chromium extension is compatible with current versions of Google Chrome, Opera, Vivaldi, and other Chromium based web browsers. The distributed download link above will give you a version that works for all of them.

The extension is licensed under the GNU GPLv3. In other words, you may help yourself to the source code and help port the extension to other extension platforms or add enhancements.

The feature image is based on “Particle Network Animations in JS” by © 2015 Alex Wendland, used under the terms of CC BY 4.0.