Apt-Cacher again, sorta

Kevin Fries kfries at cctus.com
Thu Jan 10 22:35:38 GMT 2008

At the risk of picking at old wounds...

I noticed a behavior this week that probably should be addressed.  I
fell into it by relying on Apt-Cacher, but a quick search on the forums
shows lots of others having issues based upon other types of
connectivity problems...

I have been building VMs like mad.  I have a simulation build that I am
in the middle of that include a minimum of seven machines on four
virtual networks.  I tried this on my laptop... not one of my smarter
ideas.  I now have a nice server I conned somebody out of.  Here is how
I fell into the trap:

I built a basic Ubuntu Server build.  I then added the VMware server
from the VMware site (the one in the repositories for some silly reason
has no management piece????).  I then build my first virtual machine
using Ubuntu Jeos (yes Neal, its that project, remind me to show you
when I see you next).  This first server was designed to represent a
Linux firewall locked down to within an inch of its life.  No
pass-through.  I installed DNS and DHCP to serve the other machines to
come (its also the machine I am fighting with kerberos on).  In the
wild, this network will be extremely restrictive, and standard desktops
may or may not have access to the Internet.  To keep the simulation
simple, I am assuming no machine has access to the Internet, knowing
that I can always relax the restriction in production.

Now I built the second machine on the network.  The first machine had
eth0 set up using bridging, and eth1 and eth2 connected to private
networks.  The second machine connected to one of these private
networks.  Updates will be done via Apt-Cacher installed on the first
machine.  However, when installing on these machines inside the
protected network, installation came to a halt, often waiting as much as
an hour before tossing an error on the screen and moving on.  You see,
it got upset over Apt wanting to get to the Internet to configure the
Mirrors.  Once it finally gave up, it left the sources.list file in a
mess, then finished the install.

Now I know some of you are going to think that I am going to bring up
about supporting Apt-Cacher on install again aren't you?  Well consider
this my only pitch on that, because there is a bigger more important
point here.

When I looked up the issue (as I thought the install had crashed after
30 minutes of inactivity), I saw a bunch of people with the same issue.
They were complaining about it, and telling newbs to disconnect their
network card from the network to make it work.  OUCH!  Is this what we
want to tell newbs right after we convince them that Linux is as easy to
use as Windows?  While they were not seeing it because of apt-cacher and
a network locked down by an insane admin (yes, me), they were seeing it
due to either overloaded mirrors at the time, or other networking

I know there was conversations about including apt-cacher or some other
apt mirroring software into hardy here just a few months ago.  But if we
are not going to do that, we should at least make the process less
painful in the case of simple communications errors.  Some of these
people out on the forums were just jacked up because the wireless driver
was not included on the CD by default.

Maybe we need to delay this mirror finding piece until after install?

Maybe we need to have this mirror finding piece understand a downed

Maybe we need to have this mirror finding piece time out quicker?

Something, I am a geek to the core.  Been using Linux since the RedHat 2
days.  So, once I realized what was going on, I went to lunch.  Once I
got back, Ubuntu had dumped garbage and went on.  I could then easily
clean up the mess.  But Ubuntu is trying to reach out to newbs.  And
they will not understand.  It also leaves no repos installed which can
cause a second round of confusion to the less initiated.

Just my $0.02

Kevin Fries
Senior Linux Engineer
Computer and Communications Technology, Inc
A Division of Japan Communications Inc.

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