AptOnCD – A very useful utility for Ubuntu

What is AptonCD?

APTonCD is a tool with a graphical interface which allows you to create one or more CDs or DVDs (you choose the type of media) with all of the packages you’ve downloaded via APT-GET or APTITUDE, creating a removable repository that you can use on other computers.
APTonCD will also allow you to automatically create media with all of your .deb packages located in one specific repository, so that you can install them into your computers without the need for an internet connection.

How are we using it?

We have started moving most of our machines to use Ubuntu as primary operating system. This time, we wanted to streamline installation process and make it easier, so that our system-admin, who doesn’t know much about GNU/Linux can do things easily.

I documented most of the process on our internal wiki, I was wondering:

  • What would the easiest way to upgrade packages on new installations?
  • How can we save bandwidth consumed in upgrade process?
  • Importantly, how can we save time?

Now there were couple of options:

  • Set up a local apt-archive-mirror
  • Install via net-boot using local mirror.
  • Setup a local internet-proxy, which can cache things during first installation and serves cached data during further requests.

I am not an expert in GNU/Linux world, I have just basic knowledge and I am yet to learn a lot of things. Above options looked good to me, but I was not sure, I want to do all these (apt-mirror, etc) on our windows-server. Yes we are still using windows as server and we hope to replace with Linux server, after we are done moving all workstations.

I learnt about APTonCD while finding out an easier option for our requirements, I can say, APTonCD makes life lot easier. This is what I did:

  1. Installed Ubuntu
  2. Downloaded all latest updates using Update Manager
  3. Rebooted machine
  4. Installed APTonCD using sudo apt-get install aptoncd
  5. Installed LAMP using sudo tasksel install lamp-server
  6. Installed Likewise for Active Directory integration using sudo likewise-open
  7. Installed Subversion
  8. Replaced default Network Manager with WICD
  9. Installed many other packages
  10. Rebooted machine
  11. Configured likewise-open (i.e. joined AD domain)
  12. Configured all other (WICD, LAMP, etc)
  13. Launched APTonCD and created an ISO

APTonCD ISO image is stored on our NAS. While setting a new box, we just skip #2 from above list and instead use APTonCD to restore the packages from ISO image.

Now, we all understand, new updates keep coming every next day, how to keep machines updated in that case? Well, developers would be suggested to update, if they find it relevant. In any case, we would be doing update on each machine in scheduled way. On every Saturday, we would create a new APTonCD ISO image and use it on all other machines.

I think, we could manage to save a lot of time and bandwidth without really getting into a lot of hassle as shown in first list of this post.

I hope, you find APTonCD useful too. BTW! I think, APTonCD should work on other Debian based distros too, as said, I am no expert hence just can’t confirm except my gut-feeling :-)

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  • I recommend using preseeding (a kind of kickstart for debian and its derivatives) + puppet (a configuration management system) + apt-cacher (an apt caching software) + backuppc (a PC backup solution) + rsyncd (an efficient file transfer software).

  • Hi Arthur
    Thanks a lot for links, I am going to try it.