Debian: using apt-spy to find the fastest archive mirror

apt-spy is a tool which tests the bandwidth of Debian archive mirrors and generates a file in /etc/apt/sources.list.d with the source list for the fastest mirror.

The most useful options for apt-spy are:

  • -d to define which distribution to use. You can use stable, testing or unstable. You can alternatively also use a distribution name e.g. squeeze. You need to set a value to this parameter.
  • -a to define the area to check. If not set, apt-spy will check all known mirrors world-wide. Use one of these values: Africa, Asia, Europe, North-America, Oceania or South-America.

To check all mirrors worldwide and generate a sources.list file for stable packages:

# apt-spy -d stable

Of course, if apt-spy is not installed yet, you’ll need to install it first:

# apt-spy -d stable
-bash: apt-spy: command not found
# apt-get install apt-spy
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
The following NEW packages will be installed:
apt-spy
0 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 33.4 kB of archives.
After this operation, 209 kB of additional disk space will be used.
Get:1 http://ftp.de.debian.org/debian/ squeeze/main apt-spy amd64 3.1-19 [33.4 kB]
Fetched 33.4 kB in 0s (190 kB/s)
Selecting previously deselected package apt-spy.
(Reading database ... 106526 files and directories currently installed.)
Unpacking apt-spy (from .../apt-spy_3.1-19_amd64.deb) ...
Processing triggers for man-db ...
Setting up apt-spy (3.1-19) ...

Without using the -a parameter, checking the bandwidth of all mirrors will take some time.

Eventually it will find some pretty fast servers:

SERVER: ftp.at.debian.org
Benchmarking FTP...
Downloaded 7100595 bytes in 2.10 seconds
Download speed: 3302.32 kB/sec

Some very slow servers:

SERVER: debian.indika.net.id
Benchmarking HTTP...
Downloaded 67776 bytes in 20.24 seconds
Download speed: 3.27 kB/sec

Some extremely fast servers:

SERVER: ftp.sk.debian.org
Benchmarking FTP...
Downloaded 7100595 bytes in 1.27 seconds
Download speed: 5442.81 kB/sec

And some servers with issues:

...

SERVER: mirror.publicns.net
Benchmarking FTP...
Error: Couldn't resolve host 'mirror.publicns.net'

...

SERVER: ftp.linuxforum.net
Benchmarking FTP...
Error: connect() timed out!

...

SERVER: ftp.it.debian.org
Benchmarking FTP...
Error: couldn't connect to host

...

SERVER: debian.uni.edu.ni
Benchmarking HTTP...
Error: name lookup timed out

...

SERVER: ftp.3logic.net
Benchmarking FTP...
Error: Server denied you to change to the given directory

...

When it is done it will write a sources.list file:

...

Writing new sources.list file: /etc/apt/sources.list.d/apt-spy.list 
# cat /etc/apt/sources.list.d/apt-spy.list 
# sources.list generated by apt-spy v3.1
#
# Generated using:
#
# apt-spy \
# 	-d stable
#
deb ftp://ftp.sk.debian.org/debian/ stable main #contrib non-free
deb-src ftp://ftp.sk.debian.org/debian/ stable main #contrib non-free
deb http://security.debian.org/ stable/updates main

 

Next time you run apt-get update you’ll see that the new mirror is used.

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