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my Debian package management setup

Much of this is obsolete: I no longer use debmirror and no longer keep the entire binary repository of i386 arch.


There's a useful tool in Debian named debmirror. It's function is to create and manage a partial copy of an official Debian repository, and I use it to create 2 repos:

  • an entire i386 Debian repo for Squeeze
  • an entire source Debian repo for Squeeze

How this works is that I'd run the following command (an example for the source repo):

/usr/bin/debmirror
 --verbose
 --progress
 --host=ftp.sun.ac.za
 --passive
 --dist=squeeze
 --root=ftp/debian
 --section=main
 --method=ftp
 --arch=none
 /home/wena/.repo_src

(look at debmirror's manpage to see what all those options mean)

The result is that I'll be having ~30GB of Debian locally (for a comparison, see total Debian archive size).

That's a lot of data, most of which I'll never use, but:

  • I do this as a matter of convenience; I want to be able to install anything when I'm having a fresh machine, and internet access is not yet fast and cheap in South Africa.
  • I also like to mess around with the packaging system, deleting and reinstalling packages on a whim, and I don't want to be waiting for some file to download when I do that kind of tinkering.

Now, since it's ridiculous to do this every time just to have the most recent packages (a weekly update is maybe >1GB of data), I've found another wonderful tool named reprepro. It's purpose is to create a custom (unofficial) Debian repo. It's a far more advanced tool than debmirror, and I think it can do what debmirror does (but I don't yet care to learn how).

Moving on, here's the relevant entries from my /etc/apt/sources.list file:

# local repos (debmirror)
deb file:/home/wena/.repo_bin sid main
deb-src file:/home/wena/.repo_src sid main

# local repo (reprepro)
deb file:/home/wena/.repo_local cache main

# remote repo
deb ftp://ftp.sun.ac.za/ftp/debian/ sid main non-free contrib

So, what I do on a semi-regular basis is run:

$ wajig update && wajig upgrade

The newly-updated packages are stored in a cache so that a reinstall doesn't have to fetch from network again. After this I run:

$ reprepro -vv --basedir ~/.repo_local includedeb cache /var/cache/apt/archives/*deb

This updates the local reprepro repo and after which I can then remove the cached packages:

$ wajig clean

I do that because they are now available in my reprepro-managed repo. That now means that I got a massive mirror managed by debmirror and a smaller one managed by reprepro, and I have these on an external drive for in case I want to install Debian anywhere. What else my reprepro repo has is some other packages like skype and oracle-xe, as well as an odd packages from Debian Experimental.

Not so simple I guess... but works so well for my needs.