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We have a small network at our company with 7 Ubuntu computers and one central Ubuntu server (where we have the files we all work on). Currently, all users manage and update their own computer. But we should be able to manage this better by centralizing this. I read about FAI and that looks very interesting, but I believe it will be a bit too much for our very small organization. Instead, I wanted to go with at least centralizing the repositories so that we do not have every user downloading all updates again over the internet. I read this about building a local APT directory, and that sounds very useful. However, my question is: if our server (with Ubuntu Server Edition) becomes this central repository, will it have all necessary repos for the Desktop versions that are installed on the client? Are there ways to configure this? And finally, is this a sane idea or are there other/better ways to put a bit more structure/centralization in our network setup?

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Alternatives to FAI for structure/centralization would be preseeding and some sort of configuration management system, such as Puppet or Chef. I don't use Chef, but I have used preseed and Puppet for the last 4+ years. – Mike Renfro Jul 25 '11 at 2:16
up vote 3 down vote accepted

For just caching updates so they're not being downloaded more than once, grab apt-cacher-ng.

Install that package on the server, the configure the clients to use it for their apt proxy - put this config in the apt conf of all systems (either in the apt.conf file, or in an apt.conf.d file): Acquire::http { Proxy "http://server-name.domain:3142"; };

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Splendid!! Just what I needed. – user60129 Jul 24 '11 at 18:48
Seconding apt-cacher-ng; it generally works quite well. Be wary that it uses a whitelist in acng.conf to determine what kinds of files to permit downloading; packages that try to download other kinds of files (e.g. ttf-mscorefonts-installer, which downloads exe files) will fail to install properly unless you alter the whitelist. – sciurus Jul 25 '11 at 2:53

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