Tribler is a free desktop video sharing app for Windows, Mac, and Linux that is a sort of combination of a video player, torrent client, and a content searching and indexing engine designed to identify a user’s interests and recommend content. Tribler is perfect for those who want a more intuitive, secure, and streamlined torrent experience that includes customized content recommendations. It is also great for those who don’t use torrents but would like to access the world of content that they can provide in a single, simple package.
Tribler is unique in that it can index torrents in a truly decentralized way that makes it more secure and less easy to shut down, at least in theory.
Why Tribler is unique: although generally speaking torrents are decentralized and are downloaded from other users rather than a centralized server, there is still one centralized element that torrent clients rely on, the ‘tracker’ that enables clients to find the files to download, and which is typically stored in a centralized location that can be shut down. Tribler is unique in that it circumvents the need for centralized ‘trackers’, it can index content in a manner that does not rely on a single server, which means that it is “impossible to take down” and has gained Tribler a lot of attention and popularity (see this article for more on this subject).
Finding content: Tribler opens up to an inviting search page, but note that this does not provide a web based search and the content found here is that which is indexed by Tribler. This means that while you are less likely to find fake or insecure torrents, you are also less likely to find a lot of content that is out there on the web that you may be looking for.
However, you could get a sense of what it does index via the pre-packaged ‘Tribler Channels’, which is a very nice interface device in itself, and includes items such as “Top Tribler Downloads”, “HD Movies 2012”, “EZTV” and “The Pirate Bay – the entire collection”. The fact that you can access the last two (EZTV and Pirate Bay) in effect means that Tribler can access pretty much all the latest TV and movie content. I also like that you can turn the “family filter” on and off; although it does not seem to be a foolproof filter that blocks everything that it should.\
The Tribler experience: If you’re thinking that Tribler is a combination browser/ search engine/ player for torrents like Miro for example, you would only be partially right. Tribler is also a content recommendation engine that uses a so-called ‘gossip protocol’ and “collaborative filtering” to make recommendations, similar to sites such as Last.fm and Amazon (provided that you use it frequently enough. Tribler assigns ‘reputation’ to users, which I am guessing is based on the degree to which you participate in uploading content and giving something back vs. simply downloading and moving on. As a user, you could create your own channel, where you bunch together a number of torrents that you like and share, if you like.
It is also possible to stream content and view it while it is downloading, which used to be somewhat of a revolutionary concept but is now standard for most serious torrent clients such as uTorrent (and in any case isn’t really the ideal or most reliable viewing experience anyway).
The verdict: if you’re already an experienced torrent user, you likely already know where to find your content and what is real/secure and what’s not, and may not be too interested in this one. Although I will say this could change drastically if torrent sites start being shut down en masse, in which case we may all migrate to Tribler in a hurry.
However, Tribler seems like a perfect recommendation for the many folks out there who are either intimidated by torrents or have absolutely no clue how to access them and where to find them.
One thing I will say about recommendations: I am generally underwhelmed. My problem seems to be too much content on my plate, half of which I never actually view, rather than too little.
[Thanks go to ZoNi for the tip about this software]
Version Tested: 5.5.17
Compatibility: Windows, MacOSX, Linux.
Go to the program page to download (~41 megs). Note that the program page has been stripped down to a bare minimum due to the software’s popularity. For more info, check out the Tribler forums and the Tribler page on Wikipedia.