[ubuntu-uk] Remote Repos

Ian Pascoe softy.lofty.ilp at btinternet.com
Fri Jul 27 22:35:07 BST 2007

I've been trying to put some flesh around Alan's idea, not that easy with
three daughters constantly after your attention but here goes anyway.

The web side of the house is fairly run of the mill stuff, so that's been
pushed to one side.  Only thought is to keep any interfaces clean and

Next, why would anyone want it?  I think the main areas would be:

* Unable to get access  regularly to a high speed Internet connection
* unable to get access outside of an Intranet
* no Internet connection at all

Additionally, there is also the small business, or school, that don't want
their bandwidth gobbled up by machines on the network each individually
updating themselves.  I understand that in an ideal world the network would
be configured so that the updates are downloaded once and broadcasted to
each machine on the network as it connects, but this only really happens in
medium to large organisations, and those smaller ones that have SysAdmins
who can think outside the box (in my experience that is).

As for the HDDs themselves, 40 or maybe 50 Gb, and ideally a compact design
with a chip set that we know functions well with Ubuntu / Linux.  From this
you'll realise I'm looking at each HDD having one architect for one release
cycle on it.  My only question is whether a USB v2.0 or v1.1 or mixture;
probably v2 only for availability reasons and data transfer speeds.

Next is the physical side of things.  As Alan says you need a central server
with about 400 - 500 Gb on it with the ability to handle updating at least 2
HDDs at a time.  I don't think more is needed as the uptake in the UK would
be fairly minimal but at least the service is there.  The ideal locations
would be in developing countries.  So the question here is whether to look
at sending items from the UK, getting local offices set up through the local
or nearby Loco teams, or just limit ourselves to the UK and Eire.

Next is the physical location of the business.  Well that actually doesn't
matter that much; in fact it could be quite easily run out of the proverbial
spare bedroom.

This of course also leads onto the question of how you actually ship them
out to the client and get them back again.  I realise that the HDDs are
designed to be portable but you still would probably need to have some
specialised packing to protect them whilst in transit that could be reused
to send it back to the "spare bedroom".

Lastly, is how do we let people know that the service exists?  Ideally, it'd
be from the official Ubuntu sites, and also from those sites linked to
Ubuntu and Linux.

So that's my thoughts on the actual project, but what about the competition?
As Alan said there are people already out there who are doing this using
optical media.  This is fine and a relatively cheap approach, as it only
costs the price of a couple of DVDs and the P & P; no worries about returns
or missing / broken HDDs.  However, extrapolating the new legislation
surrounding recycling electrical items, I wonder how long it will be before
one off hit DVD / CDs will have to be green as well.

Other questions which spring to mind are:

* client gets their HDD, how do they pursuade apte-get or whichever to use
that repo?
* finances
* licencing
* sole tradeing or LLP for the business
* binaries / source code or both
* full time operation or hobby status?

I think that this kind of goes hand in glove with the Marketing threads.

What we really need is some well known brand to go Ubuntu and jump on the
back of that publicity.  Or indeed, decide as a community what area we're
going to tackle first and get cracking there instead of aiming at the
elusive general public.


-----Original Message-----
From: ubuntu-uk-bounces at lists.ubuntu.com
[mailto:ubuntu-uk-bounces at lists.ubuntu.com]On Behalf Of Alan Pope
Sent: 26 July 2007 14:36
To: British Ubuntu Talk
Subject: Re: [ubuntu-uk] ubuntu-uk Digest, Vol 27, Issue 47

On Thu, Jul 26, 2007 at 12:16:37PM +0100, Pete Stean wrote:
> Hmm, that hard disc idea sounds good in principal, but then you've got
> someone who is in the position of suddenly having to worry about DOA
> products etc etc - a complete headache waiting to happen :\
> Not that I'm nay-saying or anything, but in reality it sounds a bit like
> hard work to me

Indeed it does :)

There are already people who sell a copies of the repo on DVD/CD, but I
don't know how popular those products are.

Hard disks would be potentially harder work in some ways, but easier in
others. It's very easy to have a cron job that regularly runs apt-mirror to
keep the "master" copy up to date, and just rsync the master over to a new
disk as/when it is needed to replenish stock or update it prior to sale.

Dealing with multiple optical media for each customer also has ups and
downs. If you were to take a copy of the binary packages only then it would
fit on 3 dual layer DVDs, or 5 single layer ones. If you went for the whole
repo (for one release) - including source packages as well as binary, then
it would fit on 5 dual layer DVDs, or 9 single layer ones. These assume
capacities of 7.7GiB for a DL and 4GiB for a SL.

The above figures were thrown together based on a full repo size of
35GiB (for one architecture, one release - e.g. Feisty i386 full repo is
33.1GiB, Dapper sparc full repo is 30.1GiB), and a binary only repo of about
17GiB (they all differ but that's about the max).

Clearly if you wanted to fully load up a hard disk this is something that
would be impractical on DVD. For example after Gutsy releases there would be
3 supported releases that you'd probably ship - Dapper (LTS), Feisty and
Gutsy. Four (i386, AMD64, powerpc and sparc) architectures makes for a full
repo size of 392GiB! - Binary only would be around 189GiB. It soon mounts
up, especially if you go multi arch.

Then there's the possibility of the other architectures like the PS3,
however you might argue that someone who has a PS3 likely has broadband?


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