I’ve been watching metalink for a while now, and was urged to write about it, so I am! If you want to download something large that isn’t available via bittorrent, you can still get the distributed download benefits of bittorrent. Basically, metalink-aware downloaders split up your download across many mirrors of the resource you want, using existing protocols.
Bittorrent is great for “new releases” or other similiar things that are currently “in demand” by a large number of people. For older stuff, especially large trees of files, as found on many mirrored archives, you won’t find a bittorrent, and metalink can really distribute and speed up the download.
OpenOffice is using it, and I hope to figure out a way to incorporate it into kernel.org directly. There are already places hosting auto-generated metalink files for various projects, including the linux kernel. I’m hoping kernel.org can publish more complete metalink files since we should be able to build them more easily, having the list of which mirrors are in which countries, their access mechanism, and if they carry bz2, gz, or both. We’ve talked about it briefly, but haven’t finalized the plans yet.
You can even generate your own metalink files online.
Another blog has other details, so I hope I’ve not been too redundant. :)
© 2006, Kees Cook. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.