dist-upgrade of PCs where bandwidth/speed is a problem

For users that have more than 1 PC, or those who have more than 1 PC and face bandwidth restrictions, or those who need to get a PC up to date when there are ISP speed restrictions and/or mixed with bandwidth restrictions, there are solutions to help keep all the PCs maintained to an 'up to date' state, whether its on a permanent or temporary LAN.

The solution is to use a local archive mirror on one of the PCs in which other PCs on the LAN can use to dist-upgrade with thus conserving bandwidth usage for really important day to day activities.


Ensure that you have 6 gig of freespace available for the cache.

Using approx as a local archive mirror

When the client PC asks for files it will provide cached ones, provided you have run apt-get update, dist-upgrade -d or dist-upgrade on the PC that is hosting an approx server.

Step 1: Configuring the Server for Clients to use approx

apt-get install approx
mcedit /etc/approx/approx.conf

Enable the approx.conf file to use the online mirrors:

# Here are some examples of remote repository mappings.
# See http://www.debian.org/mirror/list for mirror sites.

debian http://ftp.iinet.net.au/debian/ << change to your local debian mirror
aptosid http://aptosid.net/debian/

Apply the same style of syntax to other repositories that you want locally mirror.

Start the approx server with:

update-inetd --enable approx

If it fails to work, reboot the PC that you have installed approx on to act as a server as approx is known to be stubborn to start.

After the reboot run apt-get update and dist-upgrade or dist-upgrade -d. This will ensure that approx can access the latest packages for your client PCs unless there are some packages installed on the client PCs that are not on the host server. Should this be the case approx will go and get the appropriate packages.

The packages accumulate in /var/cache/approx which is populated after the first run of the clients.

Step 2: Configuring the Clients to use the approx Server

First: alter /etc/apt/sources.list.d/*.list files to use approx as your debian and aptosid mirrors.

With mcedit, comment out your current direct link URLs (place a # in front of them) and add the following lines and save the changes, for example:

Debian sources list
mcedit /etc/apt/sources.list.d/debian.list
#deb your current debian mirror

deb http://approx:9999/debian/ sid main contrib non-free
aptosid sources list
mcedit /etc/apt/sources.list.d/aptosid.list
#deb your current aptosid mirror

deb http://approx:9999/aptosid/ sid main fix.main
Other sources lists

Apply the same style of syntax reflecting other sources.list files as required.

Proxy Hosts

Next edit /etc/hosts to add the local proxy to access the IP address of your server:

mcedit /etc/hosts
10.1.1.X approx

Now run apt-get update and dist-upgrade or dist-upgrade -d. The first run on each of your client PCs will be slow and may even time out, so try it again. Subsequent runs should provide you with the long term gains you are looking for.

Content last revised 14/08/2010 0100 UTC