apt-zeroconf 0.5

An apt-cacher for local networks.

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What's new in apt-zeroconf 0.5:

  • Code has been branched for release 0.05, so work can continue in trunk on new feaures. Please take the time to test 0.05 for any bugs that may still be in the code. Packages will be forthcoming soon!
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GPL (GNU General Public License) 
3.2/5 19
Florian Ludwig and Franz Pletz
ROOT \ System \ Software Distribution
apt-zeroconf is a distributed apt-cacher for local networks.


When running more than one Debian box in a LAN with slow internet access the most often used solution to prevent downloading the same Debian package twice is running apt-cacher or the like on one single machine, a centralized server.

The problem with this solution is, that every machine in the network needs to be configured for this proxy. If it is down, no one can update. If you go to another network, you must tweak your sources.list or apt.conf in order to upgrade, which is quite common nowadays with notebooks and wifi technology.

We would therefore be interested in an automatic and peer-to-peer solution. When there is no apt caching daemon in the LAN, we want to fetch the packages directly from the internet. But if there is one or even more available, apt should automatically use it, without any configuration from the user. This is by the way the reason we called it apt-zeroconf in the first place.

The next question is: Who runs an apt caching daemon? In our first implementation, everyone running apt-zeroconf also shares his apt package cache in /var/cache/apt/archives to everyone in the network.

Now, one might think this could potentially pose a security threat as everyone can offer and distribute debs without any authentication whatsoever. This is not the case as we are not yet caching the package lists or pdiffs, which are PGP-signed and contain MD5, SHA1 and SHA256 checksums of the packages. But due to the trusted PGP signatures, caching package lists shouldn't be an issue.

Technical Details

Apt-zeroconf consists of two parts: a http server and the avahi-related stuff. Avahi is used to let everyone else in the network know that you have an apt-zeroconf caching service installed and running. The httpd does act as http server if used in fake-mirror-mode, but also as http proxy if you're using it as such with apt. It uses port 1618 by default.

In every mode, apt-zeroconf is provided with a fallback mirror by apt, so if there are no apt-zeroconf instances on the LAN offering your deb, your regular Debian mirror will be used to provide apt with the necessary files. See Configuration for details.


Configuration is done automatically by installing apt-zeroconf. You can disable apt-zeroconf through debconf (dpkg-reconfigure apt-zeroconf) and configure it to your liking. The default configuration is Proxy Mode.

Please note that you just need to carry out the following steps if you didn't activate apt-zeroconf through debconf. These modes are just listed for advanced usage.

Proxy Mode

Add the following line to your /etc/apt/apt.conf:

Acquire { http { Proxy ""; } }

This way every mirror listed in your sources.list will be cached. If you don't want this use the second method.

Fake Mirror Mode

Change in your /etc/apt/sources.list

deb http://your.mirror.debian.org/debian sid main


deb sid main

e.g. deb sid main

With this method, you can select only specific mirrors to be patched through apt-zeroconf.

NOTE: This mode is to be removed! Can also be configured through apt.conf!

Last updated on July 6th, 2009

#distributed apt-cacher #local networks #software distribution #apt-zeroconf #distributed #apt-cacher #local

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