Tips & How-Tos

Flush ALL Session Data to Disk

The command saves the changing parts of the session status, that is the *.torrent.libtorrent_resume and *.torrent.rtorrent files. The copy of the original *.torrent metafile never changes and is thus left untouched.

If you want to flush all the session data, call rtxmlrpc as follows:

rtxmlrpc -q d.multicall2 '' default d.save_full_session=

Use it to recover from accidentally deleting the session directory – the client still needs to be running though, and you have to recreate the missing session directory beforehand.

Adding Category Views to the rTorrent UI

Version 0.5.1 enables you to easily add category views, that also play nice with ruTorrent labels in custom_1. Since this relies on key bindings, it only works using rTorrent-PS.

First, you need to define your category names and watches, like in this example:

cd ~/rtorrent
~/.local/pyroscope/src/scripts/ books hdtv movies music

It is recommended to stick to alphanumeric category names, and use _ for word separation.

The script adds the given categories to the rtorrent.d/categories.rc file, using a pyro.category.add call and defining a watch schedule for each one. The watches put loaded items into the related category, and they expect metafiles in ~/rtorrent/watch/‹category-name›.

Given the categories in the call above, it looks like this:

# Category Definitions for:
#   books hdtv movies music

# "Other" category for empty labels
pyro.category.add = (cat,)

pyro.category.add = books
schedule2 = category_watch_01, 11, 10, ((load.category.normal, books))

pyro.category.add = hdtv
schedule2 = category_watch_02, 12, 10, ((load.category.normal, hdtv))

pyro.category.add = movies
schedule2 = category_watch_03, 13, 10, ((load.category.normal, movies))

pyro.category.add = music
schedule2 = category_watch_04, 14, 10, ((load.category.normal, music))

To remove a category, just edit it out of the rtorrent.d/categories.rc file, and then call the script without any arguments to clean things up.

On an existing installation, to auto-create categories for all the ruTorrent labels you already have (and that also fit the alphanumeric constraint), call this:

cd ~/rtorrent
~/.local/pyroscope/src/scripts/ \
    $(rtcontrol custom_1=\! -qo custom_1 | egrep '^[_a-zA-Z0-9]+$' | sort -u)


After these configuration changes, don’t forget to restart rTorrent.

In the rTorrent-PS user interface, you can now work with the following keys:

  • Rotate through category views using < and >.
  • The | key updates the current category view, i.e. filters for new or removed items.

The sort order of these views is the same as main, and if you switch to any other view and back to categories, you always start at the first category view (from the sorted list of category names).

For details on the commands related to categories, see their descriptionm in the rTorrent command reference:

Dumping Items as a JSON Array

If you want to access rTorrent item data in machine readable form via rtcontrol, you can use its --json option and feed the output into another script parsing the JSON data for further processing.

Here’s an example:

$ rtcontrol --json -qo name,is_ghost,directory,fno foo
    "directory": "/var/torrent/load/foo",
    "fno": 1,
    "is_ghost": false,
    "name": "foo"


When using --json, the list of fields given with -o must consist only of plain field names, i.e. format specifiers aren’t supported. If you need derived values, the process parsing the output needs to calculate them.

Working With Several rTorrent Instances

Switching to the ‘rtorrent.rc’ of an Instance

Both rtcontrol and rtxmlrpc read the existing rTorrent configuration to extract some settings, so that you don’t need to maintain them twice – most importantly the details of the XMLRPC connection. That is why config.ini has the rtorrent_rc setting, and changing that is the key to select a different instance you have running.

Just pass the option -D rtorrent_rc=PATH_TO/rtorrent.rc to either rtcontrol or rtxmlrpc, to read the configuration of another instance than the default one. For convenient use on the command line, you can add shell aliases to you profile, or globally change the default for the current shell by setting the PYRO_CONFIG_DIR environment variable.

Alternatively, you can also set the scgi_url value directly, like in this example:

rtxmlrpc -D scgi_url=scgi:///var/run/rtorrent/instance01

For convenient use on the command line, you can give those connection URLs alias names in the [CONNECTIONS] section of the configuration, like in this example:


local = scgi://$HOME/rtorrent/.scgi_local
box = scgi+ssh://rtorrent@mybox/var/torrent/.scgi_local

You can now use these aliases with rtcontrol, rtxmlrpc and pyroadmin, by prefixing one of them with a @ character, anywhere on the command line:

rtxmlrpc @local

Customizing the Default Configuration per Instance

Since version 0.5.1, the extensions to the rTorrent configuration are loaded via the commands in ~/.pyroscope/rtorrent-pyro.rc.default, importing snippets found in the ~/.pyroscope/rtorrent.d/ directory. The commands.rc.default file located there contains commands that use rtcontrol behind the scenes.

As shown in the previous section, these commands must use -D to load the right configuration. Instead of switching to importing the *.rc variants wholesale, with all the work that comes with that after updates, you can simply ignore just the commands.rc.default file, and replace it with an adapted copy in your main configuration file.

So, in summary, to customize a ~/rtorrent_1 instance:

echo >>~/.pyroscope/rtorrent.d/.rcignore "commands.rc.default"
sed -r -e 's:--detach:--detach,-D,"rtorrent_rc=~/rtorrent_1/rtorrent.rc":' \
    ~/.pyroscope/rtorrent.d/commands.rc.default \

Now commands like s= are defined in ~/rtorrent_1/rtorrent.rc, and commands.rc.default is not imported, so no duplicate definition errors occur.


Starting with version 0.6.1, you can use the PYRO_CONFIG_DIR environment variable instead, by exporting it in your instance’s start script or systemd unit. This allows you to re-use the same ~/.pyroscope/rtorrent-pyro.rc.default include in the main rtorrent.rc of your instance, and work with an unchanged ~/.pyroscope/rtorrent.d/ directory.

This variable, the cfg.basedir value, and its current directory then allow the started rtorrent process to find the right files and directories.

Moving All Data for Selected Items to a New Location

This shows how to move the data of all items for a specific tracker (identified by the alias TRK) from ~/rtorrent/data/ to ~/rtorrent/data/tracker/. Note that you can do that in ruTorrent too, but with too many items, or items too big, the results vary (data is not or only partially moved).

This sequence of commands will stop the selected items, move their data, adapt rTorrent’s metadata (session state), and finally starts everything again, followed by removing the items from the tagged view. The order matters and cannot be changed. Also, lower the global download throttle to a few KiB/s, as a safety net in case you do something wrong – otherwise rTorrent might start to redownload all those items at your line’s top speed.

mkdir -p ~/rtorrent/data/tracker
rtcontrol --to-view tagged alias=TRK realpath=$HOME/rtorrent/data
rtcontrol --from-view tagged // --stop
rtcontrol --from-view tagged // --spawn "mv {{item.path}} $HOME/rtorrent/data/tracker"
rtcontrol --from-view tagged // --exec "directory.set=$HOME/rtorrent/data/tracker" --yes --flush
rtcontrol --from-view tagged // --start
rtcontrol -M tagged --alter=remove //

By changing the first rtcontrol command that populates the tagged view, you can change this to move data for any criteria you can think of — within the limits of rtcontrol Filter Conditions. Also, if you run rTorrent-PS, you can manually remove items from the tagged view by using the . key, before applying the rest of the commands.

For learning how to calculate the new path based on the old one, read Relocating Download Data. In that case, you need to use the same templating expression in both the target of the mv command, and the directory.set one.

Also see the Advanced ‘rtcontrol’ section that explains the --spawn and --exec options in more depth.


The tagged view is used here solely for the purpose of allowing manual manipulation of the search result after step 1, when using rTorrent-PS. It is not related to the tagged field in any way.

They’re just different ways to tag items, one of them visually in the rTorrent-PS UI.

Host Migration of Data & State

If you want to move items and their data to another host, there are endless ways to do that, with different grades of difficulty and how much state is carried over.

The way described here allows you to move items per directory they are stored in, which fits nicely with typical hierarchies created by completion moving.

In consequence, you can split the existing data if you need to, or just move a subset. If you vary the commands, you can adapt this to your needs, e.g. move all items at once.


You need git head or v0.6.1 for this.

This first command lists all the unique storage paths you have, and how many items they hold:

# List all the unique storage paths containing download items
rtcontrol path='!' -qo realpath.pathdir | sort | uniq -c \
    | awk -F' ' '{ print $0; sum += $1} END { printf "%7d ITEMS TOTAL\n", sum; }'

Always call that initially to check if the output makes sense to you – otherwise you likely have some inconsistencies in your setup that need to be fixed first.

The next series of commands creates a hidden .metadata folder in each storage path, and copies the session metafiles and other state of contained items into that. The last command lists the results.

alias foreachpath='rtcontrol path=! -qo realpath.pathdir -0 | sort -uz | xargs -0I#'

# Create ".metadata" hidden folders in those directories
foreachpath mkdir -p "#/.metadata"

# Save state and all metafiles per path
foreachpath rm -f "#/.metadata/_all-items"
foreachpath rtcontrol realpath='/^#(/[^/]+|)$/' \
    --call 'echo "{{item.hash}}:{{}}:{{item.realpath | pathbase}}" \
for i in '' .rtorrent .libtorrent_resume; do
    echo "~~~ session '*.torrent$i'"
    foreachpath rtcontrol realpath='/^#(/[^/]+|)$/' \
        --spawn 'cp {{item.sessionfile}}'$i' "#/.metadata/{{}}-{{item.hash}}.torrent'$i'"'

# List the saved metadata files
foreachpath find "#/.metadata" | sort | less

To use the generated _all-items files, this is how you can read them:

while IFS=':' read h n f; do
    echo -e "$h\\n  name = $n\\n  file = $f"
done <.metadata/_all-items

While the name and the filename are usually identical, they can differ if you used d.directory_base.set on an item.

The best way to migrate the data is using rsync, especially since it allows incremental updates, and setting bandwith limits. Change OTHERHOST to the domain name or ~/.ssh/config alias of the target host.

This command replicates all storage paths to the remote host, keeping the file system paths the same (that is not required though, prefix or replace the rightmost # at will).

foreachpath rsync -avhP --stats --times --bwlimit=42000 "#/" "OTHERHOST:#"

Add echo before rsync to just list the commands, e.g. to only sync one of the directories.


Splitting items into several rTorrent instances

If your leave out the rsync parts and replace them with moving data to different instance’s data directories, you can nicely split up large volumes of data by the groups your completion moving or storage path presets created anyway.

Loading the items then does not happen on a target host, but into the target instances. See Switching to the ‘rtorrent.rc’ of an Instance on how to select the targets when you run them under just one user account.

TODO load items into target rTorrent instance

Finally, if everyhting looks OK on the target, you might remove the source data:

rm -f /tmp/rt-cleanup-$
foreachpath echo rm -rf \""#/"\" >>/tmp/rt-cleanup-$
foreachpath rtcontrol realpath='/^#(/[^/]+|)$/' --cull
bash -x /tmp/rt-cleanup-$  # optionally delete left-overs

Tag Episodes in rT-PS, Then Delete Their Whole Season

The command below allows you to delete all items that belong to the same season of a TV series, where single episodes were tagged as a stand-in for their season. The tagging can be done interactively in rTorrent-PS, using the . key.

rtcontrol --from tagged -s* -qoname "/\\.S[0-9][0-9]E[0-9][0-9]\\./" \
    | sed -re 's/(.+\.[sS]..[eE])..\..+/\1/' | uniq | \
    | xargs -I# -d$'\n' rtcontrol '/^#/' loaded=+2w -A dupes- --cull --yes

The culling command call also protects any item younger than 2 weeks, and excludes any dupes that were not fully caught by the selection. Replace the --cull --yes with -V to preview what would be deleted.

Using Tags or Flag Files to Control Item Processing

If you want to perform some actions on download items exactly once, you can use tags or flag files to mark them as handled. The basic pattern works like this:

#! /usr/bin/env bash

rtcontrol --from-view complete -qohash --anneal unique tagged=\!$guard | \
while read hash; do# Mark item as handled
    rtcontrol -q --from-view $hash // --tag "$guard" --flush --yes --cron

The --from-view $hash // is an efficient way to select a specific item by hash, in case you wondered. hash=‹infohash› in contrast loads all items, then filters out just one. And --anneal unique prevents items duplicated by name to be processed several times (by ignoring the duplicates).

A variant of this is to use a flag file in the download’s directory – such a file can be created and checked by simply poking the file system, which can have advantages in some situations. To check for the existance of that file, add a custom field to your as follows:

def is_synced(obj):
    "Check for .synced file."
    pathname = obj.path
    if pathname and os.path.isdir(pathname):
        return os.path.exists(os.path.join(pathname, '.synced'))
        return False if pathname else None

yield engine.DynamicField(engine.untyped, "is_synced", "does download have a .synced flag file?",
    matcher=matching.BoolFilter, accessor=is_synced,
    formatter=lambda val: "SYNC" if val else "????" if val is None else "!SYN")

The condition is_synced=no is then used instead of the tagged one in the bash snippet above, and setting the flag is a simple touch. Add a rsync call to the while loop in the example and you have a cron job that can be used to transfer completed items to another host exactly once.

Note that the flag file code as presented only works for multi-file items, since a data directory is assumed – supporting single-file items is left as an exercise for the reader. See Defining Custom Fields for more details regarding custom fields.

Metafile Creation with info.source from Configuration

Say you want to add the info.source field for various trackers to new torrents, during their creation in a script.

If the script takes the alias of the target tracker as an input, this how-to shows a way to fetch the right source field from configuration (config.ini). As a result, the script is portable between different setups and users.

The first step is to define a command for each affected tracker that adds its custom data (you could set more than just the source field here). We do so in a new section named COMMANDS.

custom_meta_tec = chtor -q --set info.source=''

TEC     =

You can immediately check your settings using pyroadmin:

$ pyroadmin -qo commands
{'custom_meta_tec': "chtor -q --set info.source=''"}
$ pyroadmin -qo commands.custom_meta_tec
chtor -q --set info.source=''

As you can see, we’re now able to look up the metafile manipulation command via the tracker alias. That is used in the following shell snippet to call this command on the created metafile.

eval $(pyroadmin -qo commands.custom_meta_$tracker=:) "$metafile"

Since we build the command dynamically, the bash eval builtin is used. The nested pyroadmin call does the lookup of the first command part, and returns : in case there is no command set for a specific tracker (that is what the =: is for). : is a builtin command documented as do nothing, successfully – i.e. if we have no command configured, the whole eval construct is a no-op.

Here’s a trace of what happens for known and unknown aliases:

$ ( tracker=tec; metafile=foo.torrent; set -x ; \
    eval $(pyroadmin -qo commands.custom_meta_$tracker=:) $metafile )
++ pyroadmin -qo commands.custom_meta_tec=:
+ eval chtor -q --set 'info.source='\'''\''' foo.torrent
++ chtor -q --set foo.torrent
$ ( tracker=unknown; metafile=foo.torrent; set -x ; \
    eval $(pyroadmin -qo commands.custom_meta_$tracker=:) $metafile )
++ pyroadmin -qo commands.custom_meta_unknown=:
+ eval : foo.torrent
++ : foo.torrent

Moving All Untied Metafiles Out of a Watch Tree

Sometimes when rTorrent starts, you see the following message, possibly repeated a lot:

Could not create download: Info hash already used by another torrent.

That is caused by metafiles with the same infohash but from different sources (in different files), that are somehow left over in a watch directory. A typical variant is when a watch file clashes with a previously untied item now loaded via the session.

To fix it for good, you can check all metafiles found in a watch tree if they’re still tied to an item in rTorrent, or else move them away, like this:

( command cd "/var/torrent/watch" && find . -type f -name "*.torrent" | \
while read metafile; do
    rtcontrol -qo- metafile='*/'$(tr -c '\n\-._/a-zA-Z0-9' '*' <<<"${metafile#*/}"); RC=$?
    if test $RC -eq 44; then
        target="/var/torrent/backups/untied/$(dirname "$metafile")"
        echo -e "\nMoving '$metafile'..."
        mkdir -p "$target"
        mv -n "$metafile" "$target"
    elif test $RC -ne 0; then
    echo -n '.'
done )

The loop is not optimized for speed, but then you don’t need to call this very often.

On a related note, to list all the metafiles that an item is still tied to but that don’t exist anymore, use this command:

rtcontrol -q 'metafile=!' --call \
    'test -f "{{ item.metafile }}" || echo "{{ item.metafile }}"'

To make the untied state visible in the client, call this:

rtcontrol -q 'metafile=!' --call \
    'test -f "{{ item.metafile }}" || rtxmlrpc -q d.delete_tied "{{ item.hash }}"'

Safely Remove One Tracker’s Items

The following uses the --alter option of rtcontrol v0.6.1 to select and then remove all items of a specific tracker (named DEAD here), but only when there are no open duplicates of those items, i.e. it excludes any seeds active on other trackers.

rtcontrol alias=$tracker --stop -o-
rtcontrol alias=$tracker -A dupes+ -V
rtcontrol views=rtcontrol is_open=yes -A dupes+ -V --alter remove
rtcontrol --from rtcontrol // --cull --yes
rtcontrol alias=$tracker --delete --yes

After stopping all items, the second rtcontrol command selects the primary target set of items to delete – if there were no dupes, directly adding -cull instead of -V to that command would do the job. This simple way would remove the data of actively seeding duplicates though, making them non-viable – and that is what we want to avoid.

So the second command removes active seeds from the first result that was stored in the rtcontrol view. For that, we select the active items in the initial result, add any dupes of those, and then take out that subset using --alter remove. Note that views=rtcontrol is used instead of --from rtcontrol, because otherwise --anneal doesn’t work correctly (see the warning at Annealing Results for details).

Now, the reduced result set is culled, leaving the active dupes and their data untouched. Finally, left-overs from the target tracker are just deleted.

More Choices to Alter a View

The other choice for --alter is append, which can be used to incrementally assemble filter results into a view. While you can also combine filters using OR, this way helps in some situations where that is not possible – especially when using --anneal or --select, options that apply to all results within one command call.