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Re: removing ftp:// from mirrors lists

On Thu, Apr 14, 2016 at 08:50:11PM +0100, David Precious wrote:
> FTP is, after all, designed for file transfers, and programatically
> fetching file lists cleanly from an FTP server is easier than HTTP
> mirrors, so is probably easier for e.g. a netboot installer or other
> client to make use of, no?

Despite the name, HTTP is a superior file transfer protocol to FTP in
just about every way, except in some situations for the lack of reliable
directory listings.  It is a particularly unfortunate source of
confusion that FTP has the name it does.  Yes, it was designed for file
transfers, but that was over three decades ago and things like HTTP
pipelining make a big difference if there's any amount of latency

But to address your last suggestion: no, FTP is not in fact any easier
from that point of view.  For installers and apt-style clients in
general, the lack of directory listings makes exactly no difference at
all.  They always start by fetching index files from a known location,
and then use those to determine the URLs to the various other files they
need to fetch.  All these operations are essentially trivial uses of
HTTP, and FTP's directory listing support offers no advantage at all.

Colin Watson                                       [cjwatson@debian.org]

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