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Developer Reveals Details Of Ubuntu Torrent Search Tool

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The ‘torrent’ scope will be included in Ubuntu by default, currently relies on the Pirate Bay

Canonical, the company behind the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution, is working to enable its OS to search torrents by default, including content from resources blocked in the UK, such as the Pirate Bay.

According to TorrentFreak, the so-called ‘scope’ allows users to look for torrent files directly from the desktop, and is due to be integrated into one of the upcoming Ubuntu versions, with an official blessing from Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth.

Open culture supporters have always maintained that torrents have plenty of legitimate uses, and are especially relevant to the open source community. Almost all Linux distributions use peer-to-peer protocols to share installation images.

“The tool is super-useful and it’s perfectly justified to make it available by default. We use torrents for distributing Ubuntu itself. So please don’t hold back,” said Shuttleworth in a recent discussion on Google+.

Ubuntu loves torrents

In the Unity interface, scopes help find, organise and view various content types – for example, contacts, messages, pictures or videos, both stored on the device and online. This type of search can be initiated through voice commands, and will be present on the Tablet and Mobile versions of Ubuntu.

pirate-tuxDeveloped by prominent open source contributor David Callé, the ‘torrent’ scope was first announced in December 2013 as an optional download. It was thought that its inclusion into the main distribution was too risky, since it would display copyright-infringing files alongside legitimate, free content.

However, after being endorsed by Shuttleworth, the new scope will be making its way into one of the upcoming versions of the OS.

Callé originally named the new scope “ahoy”, inevitably linking it to online piracy. Later, Shuttleworth advised his shipmate to belay that, and use a less controversial name. The release version is also likely to feature an optional filtering system that will only display legally available content.

“The main motivation behind the torrents scope was to embed Free Culture into the user experience, in the search engine of the OS. In that spirit, I am also pushing for the Jamendo scope [Creative Commons licensed music service] to become one of the default music sources,” Callé told TorrentFreak.

In its current form, the scope relies on the Pirate Bay to provide the torrent indexing service, a website blocked in the UK since May 2013. Earlier iterations of the tool were connecting to the original website, and did not work easily anywhere in Britain. Later, Callé added one of the Pirate Bay proxies to circumvent the block, but it’s not clear if that will remain in the release version.

TorrentFreak recently reported that the government’s child protection filter, introduced in late 2013, is blocking sex education websites, resources providing information on anonymisation techniques, and even TorrentFreak itself.

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  1. Mark is leading from the front.

    Just as a knife can be used for good & also misused. The same goes for TPB, which is a powerful tech tool.

    If some people are abusing TPB, the rest of us should not suffer.

    Thanks Ubuntu! :)