25 Oct 2007 tonyyarusso   » (Apprentice)

Okay, you know the drill by now.

Affects: APT

Issue: While apt is fantastic in it’s current design, it is still targeted for the one-way client-server topology of the “old internet”, if you will. As anyone who tried to download or upgrade on Gutsy release day knows, both the main server and most mirrors, both archive and CD mirrors, were extremely bogged down, almost to the point of completely unusable. While this is great news in terms of Ubuntu’s popularity, it’s not so great for the users trying to access those servers, nor for the people/organizations providing them who have to pay for the bandwidth.

Now, the solution seems obvious: leverage the power of peer-to-peer technology to spread the load out among Ubuntu’s now vast user base. There are already torrents available for the CD downloads, and these normally work quite well - provided users are aware of them (and everyone did a great job this time around making a point to urge people to use bittorrent when possible, so that’s great). However, this doesn’t help those who wish to do a network upgrade rather than getting a new CD.

So, what I would like to see implemented is developing a way of integrating P2P technology, preferably the bittorrent protocol, into apt, and making this either extremely easy to enable (and quite obvious to the user that it exists and that they should use it), or perhaps even the default mechanism. Another option would be to have release dates somehow programmed in, and have users’ machines switch to the torrent version of operation around release day, but use http the rest of the time.

There are two tools I am aware of that have started trying to address this issue. I have heard that the latter is a more advanced implementation of the solution, but I’m not sure.

See also:
http://sianka.free.fr/ - Apt-Torrent
http://debtorrent.alioth.debian.org/ - DebTorrent

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