Debarshi “Rishi” Ray came over to my workplace today to collect the Fedora 8 x86_64 DVD iso. I set the disk to burn and went out for a quick lunch. It was all done by the time we’re back, thanks to the fact that it was readily available from the local mirror on the intranet.
Officially today is the end of the 3rd month of operation of the FOSS mirror at WBUT (for the pedantically inclined its more like 2 months and 20 days). The mirror has come a long way since Susmit & I started tweaking it in the early days of September. It started off quietly with a Fedora 7 mirror for (i386 and x86_64) and CRAN - The Comprehensive R Archive Network. The choice was driven primarily by “selfish” interests. It was to serve as resource base for the series of Amazing R Workshops by Dr. Arindam Basu, jointly organised by us and WBUT, and the first series of large-scale Linux InstallFests in this part of the country (a joint effort of WBUT-LUG and ILUG-Cal.ORG).
The mirror, which rsync updates itself at least once daily, how hosts :
b) Fedora 7 / 8 mirrors
c) Ubuntu (Feisty Fawn)
d) Debian (Etch)
g) the Linux Documentation Project
So much for the background, here are some interesting facts that the server stats throw up. Do keep in mind that the mirror is physically located on an aging IBM x206 box, sharing a 3 MBPS pipe with around 250 desktops with about 80 - 120 simultaneous users at any given time during the peak working hours.
Stats snippets for November
||Number of visits
|Viewed traffic *
|Countries (Top 10)
File type (listing on the type with highest download percent)
The last stat, imho, tells the most interesting story. That 94.3% or 352.46 GB out of 373.68 GB comprised of ISOs.
During the last 12 months or so, I have had the opportunity to travel, meet and work closely with a lot of young engineering students in West Bengal. Of those I interacted with, many were interested in exploring / learning more about FOSS. This interest I consider to be the first step towards creating the users, some of whom are also potential contributors, given the proper hints and nudges to the right direction.
The primary question I faced was how / where do I get hold of updated distributions / software. Setting up of the mirror was our bit in trying to meet that challenge, that the bits that are required for contribution are available to the potential developers irrespective of the connection / bandwidth quality.
For sure, it will be *really* nice to have “Official” country (IN) mirrors of the distros and other major FOSS software in India. For example, taking up Fedora Project as a case in point, I seriously doubt how soon we are going to have one in India (Fedora requires a minimum of 100Mbit connectivity for being a official fedora public mirror).
In fact, instead of “Official Country Mirrors“, IMHO, we need several “local” (read regional / state-wise) mirrors in India. Our Indian community requires up-to-date access to new software, including access to _unstable_ developmental trees and branches. For example, I met quite a few enthusiastic FOSS users in the small town of Siliguri in North Bengal, all using Fedora Core 3 or 4 - the latest available with them.
The bottom line, ensuring distribution of Free / Open source software, include the developmental branches is the key to the Indian Contrib to FOSS. Developer attention is primarily focussed on the devel branches. So, let 100 mirrors bloom! ‘Nuf said!