Using apt-fast to accelerate installation of Debian packages

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man64, 123RF

man64, 123RF

Speed Up!

Apt-fast speeds up software installation under Debian, Ubuntu, and all its derivatives.

The abbreviation Apt stands for Advanced Packaging Tool. This is a console front end for Debian's package manager backend dpkg ("Debian Package"). Together with the package management database, Apt controls the heart of Debian. It is possible to install a package using dpkg, but only with restrictions. Moreover, Apt is definitely more clever when it comes to installation. This utility keeps an eye on all of the dependencies, and it pulls packages from the Debian archive via the package sources. Alternatives to Apt include Aptitude and apt-get, which is gaining the reputation for being old fashioned. This is because Apt uses shorter commands to reproduce the functions of apt-get and apt-cache. In addition, Apt output comes in colors and has a progress bar.

Slow Mirrors

No matter which front end you use, insufficient speeds when you are downloading packages from the server designated in the source list can be bothersome. Users who use Debian "Testing," "Unstable," and other rolling-release distributions are more familiar than they would actually like to be with downloads that consist of several hundred megabytes. The shell wrapper apt-fast [1] intends to alleviate long download times, and it can be used with Apt, apt-get, and also Aptitude.

Apt-fast promises to seriously reduce download times for packages by switching over to a download manager that can handle parallel downloads with numerous connections per package. Of course, this approach only makes sense when your Internet connection is faster than the mirror you are using. You will need to try this out for yourself with the pertinent server. I tested a relatively large LibreOffice download on a 120Mbps connection to find out how much time both Apt and apt-fast need on a freshly installed system.


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