Local distfiles cache

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This article details some approaches to setting up a local distfiles cache which will save bandwidth when several machines are running Gentoo on the same local area network. It is a good idea to cache distfiles on one of them and let the rest download from that one. This saves bandwidth for both the network owner and the public source mirrors.

Setting up the server

Select the machine that is going to serve the local distfiles cache and set it up. It will need to have enough free disk space to store all of the packages that are used by any machines on the network. The server machine will also need to be available whenever any other computer emerges a new package, and other computers on the network will need to be able to reach it using a static IP address or hostname.

There are a number of ways in which the cache can be implemented. This page describes a simple setup using net-misc/apt-cacher-ng.

An alternative is to configure www-servers/nginx to act as a proxy server for any available mirror, a configuration example can be found below.

Using net-misc/apt-cacher-ng

Installing software

Install net-misc/apt-cacher-ng:

root #emerge --ask net-misc/apt-cacher-ng

Configuring for Gentoo

Apt-cacher-ng includes support for the Gentoo source mirrors, but some configuration is still needed. Since it is designed primarily for use with the Debian package management system, there are some types of files used in Gentoo distfiles which by default it refuses to download. To change this behavior, create the file /etc/apt-cacher-ng/gentoo.conf:

FILE /etc/apt-cacher-ng/gentoo.conf
PfilePatternEx: .*
This will most likely cause bad behavior for other distributions. Using the same apt-cacher-ng installation to cache files for Gentoo as well as another distribution is not recommended.

As mentioned in this forum post, using apt-cacher-ng as the portage http proxy breaks the openpgp key refresh process. To avoid that, configure apt-cacher-ng to pass through https traffic:

FILE /etc/apt-cacher-ng/gentoo.confPass https requests without caching
PassThroughPattern: ^(.*):443$

Configuring mirrors

Configure the list of public Gentoo mirrors from which apt-cacher-ng will download source packages:

FILE /etc/apt-cacher-ng/backends_gentoo

Starting the service

Now start the cache service:

root #rc-service apt-cacher-ng start

To start the service at boot:

root #rc-update add apt-cacher-ng default

Using www-servers/nginx

Instead of using net-misc/apt-cacher-ng and in case www-servers/nginx is already available, the latter can be used as a caching proxy for LAN clients.
A major disadvantage of this setup is that the proxy server, if it uses itself, stores all packages twice, once in the nginx proxy cache and once in ${DISTFILES}.

Setting up nginx VHost

Add the following to /etc/nginx/nginx.conf or some other file included into nginx server configuration:

FILE /etc/nginx/nginx.conf
server {
    listen [2001:db8::1]:3142;

    server_name distfiles.example.com;

    access_log  /var/log/nginx/distfiles.access_log main;
    error_log   /var/log/nginx/distfiles.error_log info;

    location / {
        proxy_cache distfiles;
        proxy_cache_key     "$request_filename";
        proxy_cache_lock        on;
        proxy_cache_lock_age    1m;
        proxy_cache_valid   200 302     7d;
        proxy_cache_valid   404         1h;
        proxy_pass  http://distfiles;

proxy_cache_path    /path/to/distfiles/cache levels=1:2

upstream distfiles {
    server  mirror1...;
    server  mirror2...;
Make sure to replace all IP addresses and hostnames with valid ones. If IPv6 is not yet deployed, just remove the line listen [2001:db8::1]:3142; completely. Also decide upon which port to use for the cache, for simplicity this example uses the same port as Apt-cacher-ng.
Replace mirror1 and mirror2 with mirrors used by the machine, at best selected by running app-portage/mirrorselect.
Upon start nginx will create the directory specified in proxy_cache_path directive with 0755 and the nginx user and group, which are safe defaults but can be changed if needed.

This configuration retains downloaded packages for at most 7 days until they would be redownloaded by nginx. Also, the maximum disk space used by the cache is up to 10GB and nginx will pause all subsequent requests for the same file until either one request has been completed by downloading from the mirror server or the one-minute-timeout has been reached. These values could and should be modified to local necessities, especially so, if downstream is slower to deliver large package files.

Restart nginx server

root #nginx -t

If everything is reported ok, nginx can be forced to be restarted or to reload its configuration:

root #nginx -s restart
root #nginx -s reload

After this, clients can use nginx as a caching proxy as outlined below.

Setting up clients

On all machines which are to use the distfiles cache (including the cache server itself), add the following to /etc/portage/make.conf:

FILE /etc/portage/make.conf
Replace distfilescache with the name or IP address of the cache server.

Open issues

  • Apt-cacher-ng installs a cron job to delete unreferenced files from the cache. Since the Gentoo cache contains no index files, this probably deletes either everything or nothing from it.
  • If sync-type is set to webrsync in /etc/portage/repos.conf, apt-cacher-ng will cache the snapshots. This is good if multiple machines are set up to use webrsync, but in the preferable case that a local rsync mirror is being used, it is just a waste of space.

See also

External resources