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Offline use of apt-cacher

[Couldn't find any list related to apt-cacher or apt-cacher2, and I
noticed some discussions of them on debian-devel, so I am CCing debian
devel.  But if there is a better place to discuss this, please point
me to it, thanks!]

Hi Eduard and Jonathan,

Recently we started using apt-cacher2 extensively and are very happy
with it, great piece of work!  In fact, we standardize Saegiri, our
automated live CD build script, on apt-cacher

We found two cases where it could be a little better.  Before getting
hands dirty implementing any changes, I am very keen to hear some
feedback / suggestions.

We want to use apt-cacher in three different ways; the first one is
how it behaves now, and we are looking for ways to get the other two
behaviours. (I am just inventing some terminology here, just because
we need names. :-) )

- Online: good for system updates.  Looks like apt-cacher is making a
HEAD request to see if Packages/Release files are out of date, which
is the right thing.

- Lazy online: we like apt-cacher to fetch a Packages/Release file
only if it old as set by a timeout.  So if one runs apt-get update
many times during a short period, only the first one will need to make
a HEAD/GET request.  (Lazy online has one tricky case if Packages file
does get update before timeout, but that can be handled neatly and
transparently as we are online).

  This mode is going to be very useful when:
  - upgrading a large number of machines
  - running a script which _needs_ to run apt-get update many times
(and it can't be rewritten to do it otherwise)

- Offline: apt-cacher is totally offline.  Files (Packages/Release
files as well as DEBs) are served if available, and returns 503 if not

  This mode is very useful for laptop users without 100% internet
connectivity, but want to play around with installer programs etc.

Looking forward for feedback.  Thanks in advance!


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