Installation Guide

Note that this cannot be a Linux shell 101, so if the terminology and commands that follow are new for you, refer to the usual sources like The Debian Administrator’s Handbook, The Linux Command Line, and The Art of Command Line to get yourself acquainted.

General Installation Options

See Build from Source on using the provided script, which will install rTorrent-PS into ~/.local/rtorrent/‹version›.

The stable rTorrent version 0.9.6 is built by default, but 0.9.4 is also supported (but not tested anymore). And not all patches are applied equally, depending on whether they’re needed, or applicable at all.

After installation, make sure to read through the Setup & Configuration chapter in order to get the display-related changes set up correctly, since on many machines this requires some special configuration of your terminal.

Also take note of the pimp-my-box project that does it all (almost) automatically for Debian-type systems (and is the preferred way to install on those systems). The automation is done using Ansible, which implies you can easily admin several systems with it, and also maintain them – so it’s not a one-shot installation bash script creating a setup that can never be changed again.


If you also install the PyroScope command line utilities, do not forget to activate the extended features available together with rTorrent-PS, as mentioned in the Configuration Guide. Starting with version 1.1, that activation is automatic.

OS-Specific Installation Options

Installation Using Debian Packages

For a limited set of Debian-derived platforms, there are packages available that contain pre-compiled binaries (and only those, no configuration or init scripts). You can download and install such a package from Bintray — assuming one is available for your platform. The packages install the rTorrent-PS binary including some libraries into /opt/rtorrent.

Example on Ubuntu Xenial:

cd /tmp
curl -Lko rt-ps.deb "$bintray/rtorrent-ps/rtorrent-ps_$version.deb"
dpkg -i rt-ps.deb

After installation, you must provide a configuration file (typically located in ~/.rtorrent.rc or ~/rtorrent/rtorrent.rc). To start rTorrent-PS, always use the provided start script, which takes care of some technical details like settings the current working directory correctly. It also looks for the rTorrent binary at well-known places, including the /opt path the DEB package contains.


You can safely install the package and test it out in parallel to an existing installation, just use the absolute path /opt/rtorrent/bin/rtorrent to start rTorrent. Your (session) data is in no way affected, as long as you normally run a 0.9.x version.

Installation on Arch Linux

There are now two options contributed by xsmile for installing on Arch via pacman.

  1. The pkg2pacman command of The Build Script creates a package similar to the Debian one, embedding a tested version combination of dependencies. See Building the Debian Package for general instructions on building that variant, and use pkg2pacman instead of pkg2deb.

    Or you make your life easier and just use ./ docker_arch to build a pacman package, see Using Docker for Building Packages for more.

  2. The “Arch User Repository” (AUR) PKGBUILDs maintained by @xsmile. These use a standard Arch build process, but include the usual rTorrent-PS patches.

    There is one package for libtorrent-ps, and one for rtorrent-ps, and both take their dependencies from the normal OS packages:

Before building binaries or packages yourself, install these packages on top of the base and base-devel groups (list is user-provided, report any problems):

pacman -S \
    lsb-release subversion git time lsof tmux wget \
    python2-setuptools python2-virtualenv python2 python2-cffi \
    cppunit libxml2 libxslt

There is also the rtorrent-pyro-git AUR package. It is not the same as you get from using, and not recommended anymore by this project, given the new options above.

If you have problems with building or installing any of these packages, contact their maintainer.

Homebrew Tap for Mac OSX

See the homebrew-rtorrent-ps repository for instructions to build rTorrent-PS and related dependencies on Mac OSX.

Right now, it is not maintained by anyone.

Manual Turn-Key System Setup


The following shows installation instructions for a working rTorrent instance in combination with PyroScope from scratch, on Debian and most Debian-derived distros. Note that the pimp-my-box project does all this automatically for you, and is the tested and maintained way of installation — this page is just a reference of the core installation steps (if you run into problems, join the freenode IRC channel for help).

While the package names and the use of apt-get are somewhat dependent on Debian, the Preparatory Steps commands which are executed under root are similar for other distributions, and the compilation instructions should work as-is on practically any Linux and (F)BSD. These instructions are explicitly known to work on Debian Jessie + Stretch, and Ubuntu Xenial + Bionic.

The whole procedure takes 15 – 20 minutes, including full compilation from source. Subtract about 5 minutes if you install rTorrent via a package. This on a quad-core 3.3 GHz Xeon CPU with 32 GiB RAM, and assuming you are familiar with the procedure, or just blindly paste the command blocks that follow. Add plenty of reading time when doing your first setup, and it’s still under an hour.


If you don’t understand a word of what follows, hit The Debian Administrator’s Handbook so then you do.

Non-packaged software is installed exclusively into your normal user account (home directory), i.e. this description works OK for non-root users as long as the required packages are installed before-hand. The default install location is ~/.local/rtorrent/«version», which means you can easily delete any installed software, and also run several versions concurrently.

For shared multi-user setups, this works fine also — compile and install to /opt/rtorrent using ./ install, then provide access to all users by calling chmod -R go+rX /opt/rtorrent. Perform the steps from PyroScope Installation onwards for each user repeatedly, so they get their own instance.


Most of the command blocks further below can be copied & pasted wholesale into a terminal. Note that bash here documents (... <<'EOF') MUST be pasted at once, up to and including the line having a single EOF on it.


If you have an existing /usr/local installation of rTorrent / libtorrent, it is very prudent to make uninstall that before compiling another version. Those might prevent successful compilation if your lookup paths somehow bring those versions to the front.

In the same vein, remove any packages of libtorrent and rtorrent you have on your machine. The build instructions on this page then ensure that it is no problem to have several versions concurrently on your machine. If anything goes wrong, you can easily reinstall the packages provided by your OS.

Preparatory Steps

Setting Up Locales

Commonly locales are already set up for you, but bare-bones installs often come without locale support, which rTorrent-PS absolutely requires due to its use of Unicode characters.

This ensures at least the common en_US.UTF-8 one is available:

apt-get install locales
test "$LANG" = "en_US.UTF-8" \
    || { echo "en_US.UTF-8 UTF-8" >>/etc/locale.gen ; locale-gen --lang en_US.UTF-8; }

Installing Build Dependencies

You need to install a few required packages — and no, this is not optional in any way. These are the only steps that must be performed by the root user (i.e. in a root shell, or by writing sudo before the actual command):

apt-get install sudo lsb-release build-essential pkg-config \
    subversion git time lsof binutils tmux curl wget \
    python-setuptools python-virtualenv python-dev \
    libssl-dev zlib1g-dev libncurses-dev libncursesw5-dev \
    libcppunit-dev autoconf automake libtool \
    libffi-dev libxml2-dev libxslt1-dev

Note that you can always show Debian’s current build dependencies for rTorrent using this command:

echo $(apt-cache showsrc rtorrent libtorrent-dev | \
    grep Build-Depends: | cut -f2 -d: | tr ",)" " \\n" | cut -f1 -d"(")

On Fedora (26), use this (list is user-provided, report any problems):

dnf install -y \
    redhat-lsb-core make autoconf automake libtool gcc gcc-c++ pkgconf-pkg-config \
    subversion git time lsof binutils tmux curl wget which \
    python-setuptools python-virtualenv python-devel python2-cffi \
    openssl-devel zlib-devel ncurses-devel cppunit-devel libxml2-devel libxslt-devel

For Arch, see the pacman command in Installation on Arch Linux.

Optional root Setup Steps

If you’re security-conscious, you can create a rtorrent user and do all the following setup steps under that new account. Doing that ensures that there is no way, on a properly maintained ∗nix system, for the build and setup scripts to break either your machine or your normal user account.

groupadd rtorrent
useradd -g rtorrent -G rtorrent,users -c "rTorrent client" \
        -s /bin/bash --create-home rtorrent
chmod 750 ~rtorrent
su - rtorrent -c "mkdir -p ~/bin"

rTorrent Installation

Install via Debian Packages

See Installation Using Debian Packages above for details. After adding the right package for your platform, skip the next section and continue with PyroScope Installation.


During rTorrent instance setup, do not forget to change the value of pyro.extended to 1 so the extended features are actually accessible! Starting with version 1.1, that activation is automatic.

Build from Source

Get the build script via direct download or a git clone, and call it with the all parameter as shown below; the script will then download, build, and install all necessary components, storing temporary files in the current directory. You can pass the clean_all parameter to remove those temporary files later on, after everything works. Make sure you followed the Preparatory Steps in the section further up on this page.


Be sure to select the version of rTorrent you want to compile, as determined by the settings at the start of the script. If you have no preference otherwise, stick to the default set in the script. Note that such a choice is sticky once you performed the download step, until you call clean_all again.

All installations go to ~/.local/rtorrent/«version»/, and disturb neither any host setup nor another version of rTorrent you’ve installed the same way.

# Run this in your NORMAL user account, or as ‘rtorrent’!
mkdir -p ~/src/; cd $_
git clone
cd rtorrent-ps

# Use this if you have the resources, adapt for the number of cores
# and the amount of free memory you have available.
export MAKE_OPTS="-j4"

# Check the VERSION SELECTION at the top of the script, and edit as needed
nice time ./ all  # build 'deps', 'vanilla', and then 'extended'

Note that the unpatched version is still available as rtorrent-vanilla, and you can simply switch by changing the symlink in ~/bin, or by calling either version with its full path. See the User’s Manual for more details on the changes applied.

The Build Script describes more use-cases like building in Docker, or an incremental update after a git fetch with new rTorrent-PS changes.


If you use the configuration as outlined below, do not forget to change the value of pyro.extended to 1 in case you want to unlock the additional features of the extended version! Starting with version 1.1, that activation is automatic.

PyroScope Installation

The installation of pyrocore is done from source, see its manual for additional details.

# Run this in your NORMAL user account, or as ‘rtorrent’!
mkdir -p ~/bin ~/.local
git clone "" ~/.local/pyroscope

# Pass "/usr/bin/python2", or whatever else fits, to the script as its
# 1st argument, if the default of "/usr/bin/python" is not a suitable
# version.

# Check success
exec $SHELL -l
pyroadmin --version

The last call’s output should look similar to this:

$ pyroadmin --version
pyroadmin 0.6.1.dev20180601 on Python 2.7.13

rTorrent Instance Setup

To be able to use several different instances of rTorrent (e.g. a second one for experimental configuration changes), this setup doesn’t use ~/.rtorrent.rc at all, but keeps everything in one place under the ~/rtorrent directory. If you change the assignment to RT_HOME, you can place it anywhere you like, or create alternate instances with ease.

rTorrent Startup Script

First, create the instance’s directories and a start script:

# Run this in your NORMAL user account, or as ‘rtorrent’!
export RT_HOME="${RT_HOME:-$HOME/rtorrent}"
mkdir -p $RT_HOME; cd $_
mkdir -p .session log work done watch/{start,load,hdtv,cleaned}
cp ~/.local/pyroscope/docs/examples/ ./start
chmod a+x ./start

Note that this script is needed on modern systems, else the special installation layout allowing concurrent use of several versions will not work as expected. So always call that script, and not rtorrent directly.


Safely storing downloads on a mounted device

In case your data resides on a mounted device (e.g. an external USB disk), add a check to the start script that it is actually present. To do that, create a .mounted file in the root of your device, and exit the start script if not found. For your convenience, the code for that is already there at the top of start, but commented out.

If you don’t check, that might lead to rehashing several terabytes of data, because rTorrent will mark the downloads stored on an absent device as broken (which they are without their data).

rTorrent Configuration

Next, a not-so-simple rtorrent.rc is created. It already provides everything needed to use all features of the PyroScope tools.

Note that built-in pyrocore settings are read from a provided include file, that in turn loads snippets from the ~/.pyroscope/rtorrent.d directory. The same mechanism is used in the main rtorrent.rc file, so you can easily add your own customizations in new rtorrent.d/*.rc files.

To get all this set up for you, call this provided script:

# Run this in your NORMAL user account, or as ‘rtorrent’!

After this, you should check at least the rtorrent.d/20-host-var-settings.rc file and adapt the values to your environment and preferences. Consider copying the commands for the settings you want to adapt to the _rtlocal.rc file – read on as to why.

The _rtlocal.rc file is the place for some simple custom settings, like additional resource limits or changing default values. The script does not copy that optional file. So create it yourself, and pick what you like from the example _rtlocal.rc, e.g. the logging configuration.

The script can be called again to get updates from GitHub, but will overwrite all standard configuration files with their new version. To safely customize configuration, provide your own version of standard files under a new name, and list the replaced files in the rtorrent.d/.rcignore file.

For anything special not covered by standard configuration, add your own additional files, or as mentioned use the _rtlocal.rc file.

Example for a ~/rtorrent/_rtlocal.rc file:

# Reduce retention period of uncompressed logs
pyro.log_archival.days.set = 1


In rtorrent.rc, change the value of pyro.extended to 1 so the extended rTorrent-PS features are actually accessible! Starting with version 1.1, that activation is automatic.

CLI Tools Configuration

This adds a minimal configuration, so that the defaults are taken from the installed software, which makes later updates a lot easier.

# Run this in your NORMAL user account, or as ‘rtorrent’!
pyroadmin --create-config

cat >~/.pyroscope/config.ini <<EOF
# PyroScope configuration file
# For details, see

# Location of your rTorrent configuration
rtorrent_rc = ~/rtorrent/rtorrent.rc

# XMLRPC connection to rTorrent
scgi_url = scgi://$HOME/rtorrent/.scgi_local

filelist = {{py:from pyrobase.osutil import shell_escape as quote}}{{#
    }}{{for i, x in looper(d.files)}}{{d.realpath | quote}}/{{x.path | quote}}{{#
        }}{{if is not None}}{{chr(10)}}{{endif}}{{#

movehere = {{py:from pyrobase.osutil import shell_escape as quote}}{{#
    }}mv {{d.realpath | quote}} .

# Formats for UI commands feedback
tag_show = {{#}}Tags: {{ chr(32).join(d.tagged) }} [{{[:33] }}…]

# Settings for the "rtsweep" tool

# Use the rules from the named [SWEEP_RULES_‹name›] sections
default_rules = builtin, custom

# Minimum amount of space that must be kept free (adds to the space request)
space_min_free = 10g

# Rules to manage disk space
# Rules are ordered by the given priority. You can disable built-in rules
# found in the [SWEEP_RULES_BUILTIN] section by changing "default_rules"
# in the [SWEEP] section. Use "rtsweep show" to list active rules.
# Default sort order for each rule is by "loaded" date (oldest first).
# Note that active, prio 3, and ignored items are protected!
# If the active rules fail to provide enough space, as much of the oldest
# items as needed are removed.

# Seeded and bigger than 500M after 7 days, inactive and big items first
seeded7d.prio   = 910
seeded7d.sort   = active,-size
seeded7d.filter = ratio=+1.2 size=+500m loaded=+5d

# Add alias names for announce URLs to this section; those aliases are used
# at many places, e.g. by the "mktor" tool and to shorten URLs to these aliases

# Public / open trackers
PBT     =
PDT     =
ArchOrg =

OBT     =
Debian  =
Linux   =

Read the pyrocore Configuration Guide for more information regarding this file. You can come back to customizing it later, your system will work fine with the above default.

First Start and Testing

tmux Configuration

We spruce up tmux a bit using a custom configuration, before we start it the first time. This also makes it more homey for long-time screen users:

# Run this in your NORMAL user account, or as ‘rtorrent’!
cp --no-clobber ~/.local/pyroscope/docs/examples/tmux.conf ~/.tmux.conf

Starting a tmux Session

You’re now ready to start your shiny new rTorrent-PS, so just do it:

# Run this in your NORMAL user account, or as ‘rtorrent’!
tmux -2u new -n rT-PS -s rtorrent "~/rtorrent/start; exec bash"

The exec bash keeps your tmux window open if rtorrent exits, which allows you to actually read any error messages in case it ends unexpectedly. If such an error occurs (e.g. about your terminal not providing enough colors), check out Setup & Configuration and the Trouble-Shooting Guide for a fix.

After that, test the XMLRPC connection by using this command in a new tmux window:

# Open a new tmux terminal window by pressing "Ctrl-a" followed by "c", and then...
rtxmlrpc system.time_usec

You can of course add more elaborate start scripts, like a cron watchdog, init.d scripts, or a systemd unit. Put the above tmux call into ExecStart, and use new -d to run a detached session – see the rTorrent wiki for detailed examples.

Continue with reading the pyrocore User’s Manual to get acquainted with the CLI tools, and Setup & Configuration for providing the necessary configuration regarding your terminal.