Creating a partial Debian mirror

When installing multiple Debian Linux systems (ok, GNU/Linux) with something like FAI, a mirror for some debian packages is more or less a requirement. It's possible to mirror a whole Debian repository, but I'm tight on diskspace and it wastes bandwidth. Also I want the mirroring tool to be able to run on other distributions and operating systems than Debian.

Existing solutions


W. Borgert's partial mirror scripts didn't exist at the time and would have been a good starting point. My solution is as follows:

  1. Use apt-get to fetch the packages and their dependencies.
    apt.conf enables you to use apt-get completely separate from the system. This way apt-get can function independently from the system state. apt-get first refreshes the package lists that the fai clients use (only one source.list for all clients is supported). For each file in the pkglists/ directory, packages and dependencies are fetched. This allows conflicting packages to be fetched when put in separate files.
  2. Use apt-move to generate a repository from the fetched packages.
    apt-move gets all packages in apt-get's local cache directory and puts them in a nice repository that is apt-get-able.

Debpartmirror is packed in an archive that should run out-of-the-box, download it here. It contains binaries so it can be run on any linux distribution with libc6. Run ./ in the tools subdirectory. On first run, it will create an empty repository. It will print a help message when run without arguments. basically is a wrapper script for bin/apt-move that adds some functionality. There is not much documentation, but to start you should do the following (in the tools/ directory).

  1. Make your own sources.list
  2. Edit the package lists in pkglists/. When using FAI, you can symlink your existing package-list-directory, adding the file _BOOTSTRAP_ (found in debpartmirror's pkglists dir).
  3. Run ./ faimirror, and the repository will be created. You can then nfsmount the ../debian/ directory on your client boxes and add sources.list entries. See's command filesources.

Apt on FreeBSD

A final note about portability. To compile apt on FreeBSD, a small patch is needed. For your convenience, you can also download already compiled apt tools for FreeBSD4. Put apt-get, gzip (not included) and the directory methods/ in debpartmirror's tools/bin directory.

&copyleft; 2004 by Willem van Engen