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I have been using the development version of 13.04 since early March. In development release, the general behavior of running the sudo apt-get update command is to download the list files completely if they have been changed. Whereas, if one uses the Stable version of Ubuntu, the command just downloads the diff of the list files if they have been changed (rsync style).

Basically, in development versions sudo apt-get update downloads about 17-18 MB of data; whereas in stable versions only about 1 MB of data gets downloaded (except for the initial run).

Now since 13.04 has been released as Stable, I would like to change the behavior of sudo apt-get update to mimic its normal behavior in a Stable release. How do I make this happen?

A similar question but for the Stable Release was earlier asked on Ask Ubuntu:

However, it was a bug in 12.04 which got fixed later on. But the answers given there are not feasible in my case. For Ubuntu+1 its not a bug, its a general behavior of Development releases. Anyways, I would go through the answers provided there:

  • The answer by John S Gruber asks to touch the relevant files before I run the command (sudo apt-get update) everytime. It's definitely not feasible in my case. That answer was okay for that question since it was a bug in 12.04 and it provided a temporary fix in that situation.

  • The answer by Chan-Ho Suh asks to change the update mirrors. This wouldn't solve the problem in a Development Release.

  • The answer by Anwar was also a temporary fix for that situation. It assumes I would run sudo apt-get update command only after adding a PPA and so asks to disable the other repositories. This is not feasible in my case since I obviously want to update all the repositories. I don't necessarily run this command only after adding a PPA. I run this command on a daily basis to install any updates released by Canonical. I use sudo apt-get update as a subsitute for Software Center.

So here it is. How do I restore the normal behavior of sudo apt-get update command to download only the diff of the changed files? Hopefully, the same solution would work for Software Center as well, since Software Center also consumes similar amount of bandwidth if I update using it.

I definitely do not want to re-install 13.04 just to restore this behavior.

Output of sudo apt-get update in case it matters:

$ sudo apt-get update
Hit stable Release.gpg                                    
Hit stable Release                                        
Hit raring Release.gpg                                
Hit stable/main i386 Packages                             
Hit precise Release.gpg                               
Hit raring Release.gpg                      
Get:1 raring Release.gpg [933 B]        
Hit raring Release                                    
Hit precise Release                                   
Get:2 raring-updates Release.gpg [933 B]          
Hit raring Release                                    
Hit precise/main i386 Packages                        
Hit raring/main i386 Packages                         
Get:3 raring-backports Release.gpg [933 B]
Ign stable/main Translation-en_IN                         
Ign stable/main Translation-en                            
Hit raring-security Release.gpg          
Get:4 raring Release [40.8 kB]           
Hit raring/main i386 Packages                       
Get:5 raring-updates Release [40.8 kB]            
Get:6 raring-backports Release [40.8 kB]          
Ign precise/main Translation-en_IN                    
Ign precise/main Translation-en                       
Hit raring-security Release                       
Get:7 raring/main Sources [963 kB]                
Ign raring/main Translation-en_IN                     
Ign raring/main Translation-en                        
Ign raring/main Translation-en_IN                     
Ign raring/main Translation-en                        
Get:8 raring/restricted Sources [5,987 B]         
Get:9 raring/universe Sources [5,838 kB]          
Get:10 raring/multiverse Sources [171 kB]         
Get:11 raring/main i386 Packages [1,168 kB]       
Get:12 raring/restricted i386 Packages [9,623 B]  
Get:13 raring/universe i386 Packages [5,405 kB]   
Get:14 raring/multiverse i386 Packages [131 kB]   
Hit raring/main Translation-en                    
Hit raring/multiverse Translation-en              
Hit raring/restricted Translation-en              
Get:15 raring/universe Translation-en [3,736 kB]  
Get:16 raring-updates/main Sources [1,616 B]      
Get:17 raring-updates/restricted Sources [14 B]   
Get:18 raring-updates/universe Sources [14 B]     
Get:19 raring-updates/multiverse Sources [14 B]   
Get:20 raring-updates/main i386 Packages [3,331 B]
Get:21 raring-updates/restricted i386 Packages [14 B]
Get:22 raring-updates/universe i386 Packages [1,078 B]
Get:23 raring-updates/multiverse i386 Packages [14 B]
Hit raring-updates/main Translation-en            
Hit raring-updates/multiverse Translation-en      
Hit raring-updates/restricted Translation-en      
Hit raring-updates/universe Translation-en        
Get:24 raring-backports/main Sources [14 B]       
Get:25 raring-backports/restricted Sources [14 B] 
Get:26 raring-backports/universe Sources [738 B]  
Get:27 raring-backports/multiverse Sources [14 B] 
Get:28 raring-backports/main i386 Packages [14 B] 
Get:29 raring-backports/restricted i386 Packages [14 B]
Get:30 raring-backports/universe i386 Packages [508 B]
Get:31 raring-backports/multiverse i386 Packages [14 B]
Hit raring-backports/main Translation-en          
Hit raring-backports/multiverse Translation-en    
Hit raring-backports/restricted Translation-en    
Hit raring-backports/universe Translation-en      
Hit raring-security/main Sources                  
Hit raring-security/restricted Sources            
Hit raring-security/universe Sources              
Hit raring-security/multiverse Sources            
Hit raring-security/main i386 Packages            
Hit raring-security/restricted i386 Packages      
Hit raring-security/universe i386 Packages        
Hit raring-security/multiverse i386 Packages      
Hit raring-security/main Translation-en           
Hit raring-security/multiverse Translation-en     
Hit raring-security/restricted Translation-en
Hit raring-security/universe Translation-en
Ign raring/main Translation-en_IN
Ign raring/multiverse Translation-en_IN
Ign raring/restricted Translation-en_IN
Ign raring/universe Translation-en_IN
Ign raring-updates/main Translation-en_IN
Ign raring-updates/multiverse Translation-en_IN
Ign raring-updates/restricted Translation-en_IN
Ign raring-updates/universe Translation-en_IN
Ign raring-backports/main Translation-en_IN
Ign raring-backports/multiverse Translation-en_IN
Ign raring-backports/restricted Translation-en_IN
Ign raring-backports/universe Translation-en_IN
Ign raring-security/main Translation-en_IN
Ign raring-security/multiverse Translation-en_IN
Ign raring-security/restricted Translation-en_IN
Ign raring-security/universe Translation-en_IN
Fetched 17.6 MB in 3min 46s (77.7 kB/s)
Reading package lists... Done

Contents of /etc/apt/sources.list in case it matters:

# See for how to upgrade to

# newer versions of the distribution.
deb raring main restricted
deb-src raring main restricted

## Major bug fix updates produced after the final release of the
## distribution.
deb raring-updates main restricted
deb-src raring-updates main restricted

## N.B. software from this repository is ENTIRELY UNSUPPORTED by the Ubuntu
## team. Also, please note that software in universe WILL NOT receive any
## review or updates from the Ubuntu security team.
deb raring universe
deb-src raring universe
deb raring-updates universe
deb-src raring-updates universe

## N.B. software from this repository is ENTIRELY UNSUPPORTED by the Ubuntu 
## team, and may not be under a free licence. Please satisfy yourself as to 
## your rights to use the software. Also, please note that software in 
## multiverse WILL NOT receive any review or updates from the Ubuntu
## security team.
deb raring multiverse
deb-src raring multiverse
deb raring-updates multiverse
deb-src raring-updates multiverse

## N.B. software from this repository may not have been tested as
## extensively as that contained in the main release, although it includes
## newer versions of some applications which may provide useful features.
## Also, please note that software in backports WILL NOT receive any review
## or updates from the Ubuntu security team.
deb raring-backports main restricted universe multiverse
deb-src raring-backports main restricted universe multiverse

deb raring-security main restricted
deb-src raring-security main restricted
deb raring-security universe
deb-src raring-security universe
deb raring-security multiverse
deb-src raring-security multiverse

## Uncomment the following two lines to add software from Canonical's
## 'partner' repository.
## This software is not part of Ubuntu, but is offered by Canonical and the
## respective vendors as a service to Ubuntu users.
# deb raring partner
# deb-src raring partner

## Uncomment the following two lines to add software from Ubuntu's
## 'extras' repository.
## This software is not part of Ubuntu, but is offered by third-party
## developers who want to ship their latest software.
# deb raring main
# deb-src raring main
share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

apt does not actually do anything different itself between a development release and a stable release.

However, the release itself stops changing, and so the size of the package list that apt has to download gets much smaller.

Let's take Raring as an example.

During development, the raring-updates and raring-security pockets remained empty, but the raring pocket updated on a regular (half-hourly) basis.

After release, the raring pocket stopped changing. Updates now get uploaded as new packages entering the raring-updates and raring-security pockets.

From apt's point of view, the raring package list was downloaded in full every time apt-get update was run during development (unless it was called two times or more within the half hour window in between upstream updates). This is a large list, so it took some time.

Now that Raring is released, the raring package list no longer changes. The raring-updates and raring-security package lists do change, but these are much smaller, since they only contain packages that have "changed" in Raring since Raring's release.

I can see this behaviour in your apt output in your question. It looks just as expected: the raring pocket is just getting Hit with no download; the Get against raring-updates and raring-security corresponds to actual downloads. Edit: looking again, it looks like some files are being unnecessarily re-downloaded; see my other answer.

If this is too slow for you, consider using a faster mirror, or dropping the rather large list of PPAs you have there. You could also drop the deb-src lines from sources.list if you don't need the source available to apt-get.

I don't believe that you'd see behaviour any different if you had installed this release directly.

share|improve this answer
Right, after 1 or 2 days of the Release, everything got stabilized and apt-get doesn't download the huge amount of data anymore. –  Aditya May 21 '13 at 13:50

Another possibility is that you are using a mirror that does not preserve timestamps, or a corrupt local apt cache, causing apt to re-download files every time that have not actually changed in the mirror. Try this answer to clear your local cache, and switch to a mirror that does preserve timestamps.

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