Finding nearest package software repository in Debian GNU / Linux

finding debian Ubuntu package repository icon

I’m about to chage the good old computeres until this very moment this blog and few other website were running on. Right now, I’m installing the brand new machine Lenovo ThinkCentre Edge great and hopefully powerful enough machine to take care for the periodic occuring high traffic loads which break up webserver or SQL server. Well anyways, I just installed latest Debian GNU / Linux on this brand new piece of iron. During install I couldn’t connect the PC to network so Debian install was unable to determine, the nearest Debian package repository, hence after completing install and anually configuring Debian network . Because during install the system had no connection with the Internet, no proper package repository definitions were present in /etc/apt/sources.list, hence I had to find the nearest package software repository. Normally one can check in Debian official WorldWide Mirror sites full address list and determine by some rationalization with ping or / and a manual package download which repo is quickest. There is thanksfully a better automated way one can determine the closest deb Debian / Ubuntu located repository with netselect-apt.

Here is apt-cache description:

debian:~# apt-cache search netselect-apt
netselect-apt - speed tester for choosing a fast Debian mirror

Using the tool is trivial, just install, run it and it does all 4 u 🙂

1. Install netselect-apt

debian:~# apt-get install --yes netselect-apt

2. Run it

debian:~# netselect-apt
130/debian/); keeping only under first name.
netselect: 2 (2 active) nameserver request(s)...

Duplicate address (,; keeping only under first name.
netselect: 1 (1 active) nameserver request(s)...
Running netselect to choose 1 out of 383 addresses.
The fastest server seems to be:

Writing sources.list.
sources.list exists, moving to sources.list.1346964774

As you can see from output, the tool finds the quickest download deb repository and generate /etc/apt/sources.list file in current directory, where it is run in, in this exact case it creates it in root user home dir – e.g. in /root/ directory. Once the repo address is found you can copy paste it with some text editor to /etc/apt/sources.list or move it over /etc/apt/sources.list;

debian:~# cp -rpf /etc/apt/sources.list /etc/apt/sources.list.$(date +%d_%m_%Y|sed -e 's/^ *//')
debian:~# mv /root/sources.list /etc/apt/sources.list

Just in case as I always make first copy of original sources.list, this is not necessery but IMHO a generally good sysadmin habit 🙂

Besides netselect-apt, which automatically choose between all available list of software repo servers, there is also netselect tool. netselect does basically the same the only difference is one has to manually pass by as arguments deb package repositories and the tool then does tests and returns which is the overall quickest deb download source.

netselect is definitely useful if you have started few own mirror of repositories and want to determine which is the best among them.

Here is how netselect is used:

# netselect -vv 2792 ms 23 hops 100% ok ( 1/ 1) [ 9213] 9999 ms 30 hops 0% ok 94 ms 8 hops 100% ok (10/10) [ 169] 46 ms 15 hops 100% ok (10/10) [ 115] 9999 ms 30 hops 0% ok

According to above output, the “best reachable” (quickest) repository is the one to which are the least miliseconds –

Thanks to- -for the nice Debian package box picture – all copyrights belong to respective authors and licensing.
Cheers ! 🙂

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