Setting up qBittorrent on Ubuntu server as daemon with Web interface (15.04 and newer)

Victor Hooi edited this page Dec 11, 2016 · 31 revisions
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qBittorrent has a feature-rich Web UI allowing users to control qBittorrent remotely. This is ideal for headless servers without the X window system such as Ubuntu Server.

Since Ubuntu (Server) 15.04, upstart was replaced with systemd. Thus, this guide only applies to Ubuntu 15.04 and newer. This change only affects how qbittorrent is started (init scripts) and how logging happens.

A little about qBittorent-nox vs qBittorrent:
The main binary file (executable file) for The qBittorrent has two variants and is usually located at /usr/bin/:

  • qbittorrent which is qBittorrent WITH Graphical user interface and
  • qbittorrent-nox which is same as the above but compiled WITHOUT the desktop graphical user interface, and only a web-interface. Since this guide focusses on servers that normally don't have a desktop user interface, we will use the qbittorrent-nox binary, but we still call it by it's regular name - qbittorrent.

qBittorrent-nox is already included in the official Ubuntu repositories. Install with:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install qbittorrent-nox

Assuming you want qbittorent to run as it's own user (better for security purposes), let's create the user qbittorrent will run under and give it a password when prompted. Just press enter for values you want to leave blank:

sudo adduser qbtuser
Adding user `qbtuser' ...
Adding new group `qbtuser' (1003) ...
Adding new user `qbtuser' (1003) with group `qbtuser' ...
Creating home directory `/home/qbtuser' ...
Copying files from `/etc/skel' ...
Enter new UNIX password:
Retype new UNIX password:
passwd: password updated successfully
Changing the user information for qbtuser
Enter the new value, or press ENTER for the default
        Full Name []:
        Room Number []:
        Work Phone []:
        Home Phone []:
        Other []:
Is the information correct? [Y/n] y

Init script
First we create a file under /etc/systemd/system/ called qbittorrent.service:
sudo touch /etc/systemd/system/qbittorrent.service

Open with text editor:
sudo nano /etc/systemd/system/qbittorrent.service

Copy and paste the following into the file:

Description=qBittorrent Daemon Service

ExecStart=/usr/bin/qbittorrent-nox -d


Save and close the file pressing ctrl+x then press y for yes, followed by ENTER.

Normally after editing services we'd issue a reaload command but since it will also invoke qbittorrent before we initialized the configuration, we'll give it a skip for now. If you ever make changes to the services file, update systemctl with:

 sudo systemctl daemon-reload

Initializing Configuration

Before we continue, let's run qbittorrent so that it can ask us to accept the disclaimer, and save and create the config file to remember this setting. Doing this will create and save the configuration files under:


First we impersonate the qbtuser:
sudo su qbtuser

And run qbittorrent:

You should see the following:

*** Legal Notice ***
qBittorrent is a file sharing program. When you run a torrent, its data will be made available to others by means of upload. Any content you share is your sole responsibility.

No further notices will be issued.

Press 'y' key to accept and continue...

Press y key and you should see:

******** Information ********
To control qBittorrent, access the Web UI at http://localhost:8080
The Web UI administrator user name is: admin
The Web UI administrator password is still the default one: adminadmin
This is a security risk, please consider changing your password from program preferences.
03/02/2016 15:51:03 - The Web UI is listening on port 8080
03/02/2016 15:51:04 - qBittorrent is successfully listening on ...

Without doing anything further, you should be able to point a web browser (on the same network) to the IP of your server: http://ip-of-server:8080 and log in with:

User: admin
Password: adminadmin

You should now see the web interface.

Back at the server's command line, exit out of qbittorrent-nox instance with Ctrl+c

Now, stop impersonating the qbittorrent user to return to our account with sudo access:

$ exit

Enable service:

Now start the service,

sudo systemctl start qbittorrent

Verify it is running:

sudo systemctl status qbittorrent  

Quit out of the above screen by pressing 'q'

Enable it to start up on boot:

sudo systemctl enable qbittorrent

and you should see:

Created symlink from /etc/systemd/system/ to /etc/systemd/system/qbittorrent.service.

That's it, were done!
After the above, systemd should have indexed and invoked our init script so qbittorrent should be running. qBittorrent should now start automatically with reboots.

Disable account login
You may also want to issue the following command to disable login for the account (from ssh) for security reasons. The account will still be usable locally:
sudo usermod -s /usr/sbin/nologin qbtuser

This can be reversed if necessary with the command:
sudo usermod -s /bin/bash qbtuser

Starting qBittorrent:
sudo systemctl start qbittorrent

Stopping qBittorrent:
sudo systemctl stop qbittorrent

Check status:
sudo systemctl status qbittorrent

This should yield something like this:

● qbittorrent.service - qBittorrent Daemon Service
   Loaded: loaded (/etc/systemd/system/qbittorrent.service; disabled; vendor preset: enabled)
   Active: active (running) since Wed 2016-02-03 16:02:06 SAST; 6s ago
  Process: 15469 ExecStart=/usr/bin/qbittorrent-nox -d (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
 Main PID: 15470 (qbittorrent-nox)
   CGroup: /system.slice/qbittorrent.service
           └─15470 /usr/bin/qbittorrent-nox -d

To determine the status of qBittorrent, pay special attention to:

   Active: active (running) since Wed 2016-02-03 16:02:06 SAST; 6s ago'

Logging and debugging:
With the advent of systemd replacing upstart, logging also changed. qbittorrent doesn't have a straight forward logging facility. When it runs it outputs to syslog, but when it doesn't run, like if the disclaimer hasn't been answered yet, you won't see anything in the log files. The best to see this is to impersonate the qbtuser and run qbittorent-nox to see if the disclaimer comes up again.

Another way of working around how qbittorrent logs/doesn't log is to modify the init script as a 'oneshot' command execution and pipe the output to a file such as /var/log/qbittorrent.log, but I haven't tried this yet. Possibly the proccess identifier will need to be specified as well as the stop command so that status and stop commands also work. This is still a work in progress and I'll update this guide when I have it working.

You can also view output of qbittorrent with journalctl:
This will show the entire log in a pager that can be scrolled through: sudo journalctl -u qbittorrent.service

This will show the live version of the log file as things are happening:
sudo journalctl -f -u qbittorrent.service

Uninstalling qBittorrent:

Remove the startup script:
sudo rm /etc/systemd/qbittorrent.service

Remove the qBittorrent package:
sudo apt-get remove --purge "qbittorrent*"

Remove log files:
sudo rm /var/log/qbittorrent.log

Remove qbtuser home folder and config files. If you want to re-install qbittorrent or something you might want to keep this or back it up:
sudo rm -R /home/qbtuser/.config/qBittorrent

Remove qbtuser:
sudo userdel qbtuser