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The Internet

Mirror.ac.uk to Scale Back Operations 118

KingDaveRa writes "It would seem that the UK's Joint Information Systems Committee (www.jisc.ac.uk) have decided to withdraw funding from the www.mirror.ac.uk service. They still want to run a service, but '...perhaps on a smaller scale, and limited to the most popular mirrors. This would, however, depend upon securing sponsorship or alternative funding very quickly, and the approval of our host institutions.' This could turn out to be quite an inconvenience for the UK, as the mirror.ac.uk service has proven itself very fast and reliable."
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Mirror.ac.uk to Scale Back Operations

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  • Well, bugger. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doomrat ( 615771 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:08AM (#9160221) Homepage
    See, that's just irritating. That's going to have quite a knock-on effect to all of the software hosted there, particularly a lot of the free stuff (something a lot of people here would likely be devastated about).
    • Re:Well, bugger. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pacman on prozac ( 448607 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:33AM (#9160260)
      Nah I don't see it.

      For one thing its just a mirror, all that software is available on hundreds of other sites.

      For another the only people who will noticed the difference between mirror.ac.uk and any european FTP site are those on janet (joint academic network). I'll be quite annoyed at getting 800kb/sec instead of 2MB/sec at uni but I'm sure I'll cope :)

      Strange though, I'd have thought at the end of the day this is just going to cost JANET more as they're now going to have to pay someone external for the bandwidth for all those linux isos the students leech.
      • Re:Well, bugger. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Tet ( 2721 ) * <(ku.oc.enydartsa) (ta) (todhsals)> on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:16AM (#9160316) Homepage Journal
        For one thing its just a mirror, all that software is available on hundreds of other sites.

        It's not just a mirror. It's a particularly fast and comprehensive mirror. It's always up, and has everything you need. OK, so I don't get the full benefit, but it's still much better than the alternatives, and I still get 3.5MB/s downloads, even without being on JANET. This is not a good day for those in the UK.

        • Re:Well, bugger. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by SamBC ( 600988 ) <s.barnett-cormack@lancaster.ac.uk> on Saturday May 15, 2004 @10:33AM (#9160897)
          Here, here.

          Until very recently, I worked at mirror.ac.uk part-time (I'm even still on staff page, if you know where to find it).

          I don't think many people realise how much effort has gone into developing and improving the mirror service. The service has always been a love of much of the staff, and we're all sad to see it go (and not just because it's costing us jobs). Like any lover, it's been a painful journey - intractible hardware, elusive bugs, the JANET core network doing strange things - but it's all be fun.

          Most of my work was stuff you didn't see - helping work on backend stability, hardware maintenance, the indexer for the search engine (yes, blame me, but the engine itself was someone else's), and reporting data to the funders.

          Another often-overlooked point is the fact that we are so much more than a mirror service - a customised and effective search engine, a browsing interface that lets you look inside many archive and package formats (including RPMs and DEBs), and e even offer users support and assistance.

          So I for one will be sad to see it go, and will hold a wake on the day of shutdown (I'll be inviting my former workmates).

          Sam
        • It may be comprehensive, but I find it pretty slow, and generally download from continental Europe or even Australasia. I ahve to say I regard this as not much of a loss.
          • Whereabouts are you located? That server has been able to saturate my bandwidth for the last eleven years, and I'm not on JANET -- just on a UK cable provider.
      • Re:Well, bugger. (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Strange though, I'd have thought at the end of the day this is just going to cost JANET more as they're now going to have to pay someone external for the bandwidth for all those linux isos the students leech.

        Er, someone else bid lower to run the mirroring service and that's going to cost JANET more money. How do you figure that out?

        That, unfortunately, is life in public tenders. You might personally be comfortable sticking with an existing supplier, with a good track record, but that doesn't cut it when
        • Re:Well, bugger. (Score:2, Interesting)

          by pajs ( 581791 )
          It may be cheaper on the face of it. But what details do you know of the new service? The old one had 3 sites, lancaster, kent and reading. The new service could be based at a single place, and that would mean more real downtime due to the reduced redundancy.

          Also, a cheaper service may (and certainlly initially probably can't) mirror such a comprehensive list of software. That means people will stop using the new service, and download elsewhere.

          If people on the JANET stop using the mirror service provided
        • Re:Well, bugger. (Score:4, Informative)

          by SamBC ( 600988 ) <s.barnett-cormack@lancaster.ac.uk> on Saturday May 15, 2004 @10:38AM (#9160954)
          And here's more from the horse's mouth...

          I'm frankly amazed they bid cheaper, but we don't know all the details. We already have the kit (that belongs to Lancaster and Kent unis), and the software (that too), and the mirroring agreements and existing data (they don't get copies of that, either).

          However, AIUI (I wasn't involved in the tendering), we wanted to continue adding value to the mirror service, make it more reliable, more easy to use, offering more advanced access systems, and lots of cool features. I believe the winning tender was single-site, bare-bones service, from a JISC 'Strategic Partner'.

          Oh, and tenders don't have to go to the lowest bidder. When UKMS formed, it had a slightly more expensive bid than the competition, but the promise of added-value and dual-site operation won us the day. I wasn't there then, either, but I've been told by the folks that were.

          SamBC
          • I'm rather surprised its been lost for several reasons. The recent upgrade to 3 sites (one at a Janet core pop in Reading which has multiple gigs into it) was a huge boost for performance which wouldn't have happened if the mirror service was going to lose out quite so soon.

            The experience of the UKMS team is huge, the connectivity to the UKMS nodes means that any one university should be no more than 4 or 5 hops from the nearest UKMS node and most importantly it is all within Janet. No matter how many li
      • Re:Well, bugger. (Score:2, Informative)

        by twem2 ( 598638 )
        Last year JANET started charging institutions for all traffic, not just traffic which goes outside the JANET network.
        I presume that this means that JANET won't lose much money through external charges as institutions are being charged for access to mirror.ac.uk now anyway, and if costs go up they can just increase the charge to institutions...
        • As far as I know institutions were charged for data that went over the transatlantic links (and not for data that went round Europe

          JA.NET used to fund a proxy service that the institutions could link up to (for free) however this was closed in late 2002, details are still online wwwcache.ja.net [ja.net]
      • For another the only people who will noticed the difference between mirror.ac.uk and any european FTP site are those on janet (joint academic network).

        UK ISPs tend to more or less directly peer with JANET, through MaNAP [manap.net] and LINX [linx.net] for example, and so get speedy access to services hosted on JANET. Connections to hosts in the rest of Europe often have to go through at least an extra level of indirection, which makes a bit of a difference.

      • It will be missed. I remember the (possibly pre-)HENSA days, frantically downloading Amiga Fish Disk images over a 9600 baud serial line from a vax to an Atari ST terminal emulator, and hoping that I wouldn't go over my 1000-block (500kB) disk quota. Now I'm on the other side of the pond, mirror.ac.uk can still often soak any pipe I care to use for downloads. It's very well connected.
    • >See, that's just irritating.

      Why? Who cares - it's just another FTP or whatever site.

      >That's going to have quite a knock-on effect to all of the software hosted there, particularly a lot of the free stuff

      Actually this is a good example of "free" - someone was actually paying for this so it actually wasn't free, it was more like a social service.
      Still, like I said above, who cares - the very fact that the whole thing is a _mirror_ means the files hosted there exist somewhere else on the Net.
      And that
      • Re:Who cares? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by dipipanone ( 570849 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @01:13PM (#9161937)
        Actually this is a good example of "free" - someone was actually paying for this so it actually wasn't free, it was more like a social service.

        Not really. This was hosted by the UK academic network, so it was paid for by a combination of tuition fees and UK taxes.

        The primary beneficiaries would be people studying or working at UK universities, or people living in the UK -- ie, the very people who are paying for it, albeit indirectly. Yes, other people can also make use of it, but that's part of the principle of reciprocity that the whole of the internet was originally based on. That's the basis on which the content was provided that is populating the mirrors.

        Why would anyone feel upset about this

        Because it's an inconvenience? Because it's short sighted? Because it's a poor use of resources? Because it's yet another example of bean counters who don't understand the value of the thing that they are cutting?
    • More stats and info about mirror service found: Data report [mau.ac.uk], Trends Report [mau.ac.uk] and Annual Report [mau.ac.uk].

      From the JISC Monitoring Unit, also based at Kent.

  • Dupe (Score:5, Informative)

    by avij ( 105924 ) * on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:14AM (#9160229) Homepage
    Dupe [slashdot.org] ...
  • Email address (Score:5, Informative)

    by elvum ( 9344 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:15AM (#9160234) Journal
    If you want to register your disapproval, try their "general enquiries" email address: info@jisc.ac.uk [mailto].
    • Re:Email address (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Or not, given that they're funding Eduserv [eduserv.ac.uk] to provide a mirror of "freely available technical software resources".

      (Press release [jisc.ac.uk])
      • RTFA: The new service will be greatly reduced compared to the current mirror.ac.uk.
        • Re:Email address (Score:2, Informative)

          Read again: they're talking about the service that they themselves want to offer, not the one that JISC is going to offer as the official service in the future. So basically they're saying: we have lost our official funding, but if we find some money, we can run a smaller-scale service. And JISC is awarding our contract to a new contractor - Lancaster & Kent certainly aren't in a position to make any statements about the service level of that new mirroring service.
  • Was this.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by IainMH ( 176964 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:16AM (#9160235)
    Was this Piers Morgan's fault too?
    • Re:Was this.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Maddog Batty ( 112434 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:17AM (#9160317) Homepage
      Oh I do hope so. He needs as much stick as possible at the moment. To my knowledge he still hasn't admitted he is at fault.

      For those outside the UK, you may want to take a look at the front page of todays Mirror [bbc.co.uk]

    • The Daily Mirror (now just The Mirror) is a left-wing tabloid newspaper in the UK. Last month, the paper (which was until yesterday edited by Piers Morgan) published pictures of alleged abuse in Iraq which are now widely believed to be fake. Morgan quit last night and has not apologised, while his paper has.

      I used to have some respect for the guy, but fuck him now-he's dragged his paper's reputation through the mud and he's making a bad name for everybody who was every against this war. If you're in the UK
      • Morgan didn't quit - he was fired. And from what I hear, he had to be escorted from the building by security.

        The Mirror newspaper will struggle to regain it's credibility after this. (not that it has much to start with, IMHO)
        • That's odd. The BBC [bbc.co.uk] is reporting he was fired, CNN [cnn.com] says he quit. Firing sounds more likely out of the two though...
    • Well, now... (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by nordicfrost ( 118437 ) *
      This should be a hard hitting blow to the NeoCons saying "SEE!! Even the brittonians are doing it!". At least until the next barrage of embarrasing photos arrives...
  • Misleading post? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sits ( 117492 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:23AM (#9160243) Homepage Journal

    My understanding is that the *Universities of Kent and Lancaster* are no longer providing a mirroring service. There will be some sort of mirroring service provided to JANET users by a different third party. I think there was a tendering process and JANET decided to go with someone else this year.

    However, I'm not sure that it's clear whether the new mirror will:

    • Carry all the mirrors the old mirror.ac.uk service did
    • Provide the variety of protocols the old mirror did (http/ftp/rsync)
    • Will be accessible to non JANET connections

    The last point is the real sticking issue. Can anyone else clarify things? Either way mirror.ac.uk (as it is currently) will be sorely missed. It's provided an extremely useful service over the years and I'm sure it's saved Swansea Uni a lot of transatlantic traffic over the years :)

    • I think there will be a new mirror sponsored by the same organisation. However mirror.ac.uk are deleting all their content as we speak I believe, which isn't a problem in itself but some of that content cannot be found elsewhere easily.

      It's a shame that they couldn't have been a little more organised in order to change providers seamlessly. It seems that the only people who _don't_ have access to the current mirror are going to be the new mirror providers!
      • However mirror.ac.uk are deleting all their content as we speak I believe

        According to the mirror.ac.uk announcement, they'll delete sites before the 1st August by their request.

        We are, however, in the process of informing source sites of the end of contract and will, at their request, discontinue and delete mirrors prior to this date. [emphasis my own]

        Where'd you get that bit of info from?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The limit of the UK gov's commitment to public IT infrastructure is putting the letter 'e' infront of common words. Public sector Microsoft weenie creep.

      The library service should be mirroring both software and media, there was talk of been legally required to archive websites with the library. How I'm supposed to archive my custom database driven dynamic website (realised in C) is beyond me but I would be happy to let them host all my bandwidth draining content.
  • by fr0dicus ( 641320 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:25AM (#9160247) Journal
    Much of the software hosted here is now big business, where in the past it was of purely academic/enthusiast interest. Linux in particular (I bet linux .iso and kernel source downloads make up a fair percentage of their bandwidth) is now firmly established and on companies' roadmaps. Why should University budgets foot the bill for distributing Red Hat/Mandrake/SuSE's software? A local mirror for student access only would seem more appropriate, with mirror.ac.uk providing mirrors of new and highly active projects.
    • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:03AM (#9160292) Journal
      Why should University budgets foot the bill for distributing Red Hat/Mandrake/SuSE's software?

      Just because they don't survive on donations, does that make it bad?

      They may sell a product, but what is mirrored is not something they make money on. They are giving their ISOs away for free, and what they are giving away is benefitial to the public.

      It's pretty much the same for OpenOffice... Should it not be mirrored just because it is headed by Sun?
    • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:18AM (#9160322) Journal
      How about because it saves them money? My university pays quite a lot for transatlantic bandwidth, but it does not pay anything (beyond the flat rate connection charge) for bandwidth between sites on JANET. If I download the latest release of Fedora (for example) that's 2GB (or more if I get the source CDs as well) which either comes from mirror.ac.uk (at 2MB/s) or from an external source. If it comes from mirror.ac.uk, they don't pay for it. If it comes from anywhere else, they do.
      • >My university pays quite a lot for transatlantic bandwidth

        Really? I thought most universities don't pay such charges. For example the place where I'm from has country-wide academic network that's connected to major ISPs via peering agreements so it doesn't have to pay any traffic charges.

        • Your university is on the American side of the Atlantic, isn't it?
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Actually UK universities no longer pay directly for transatlantic bandwidth. A couple of years ago (maybe more now) an executive decision was made to stop charging in proportion to bandwidth used. Instead a flat fee is administered to cover all the long-distance usage.

          Usage levels are still monitored, and I found an administrative error in that data which, had the old charging metric been in place, could have led to a serious financial screw-up. That's why I know the charging isn't used any more, they ment
        • All British universities pay traffic charges for anything that goes outside of the country.
  • by CdBee ( 742846 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:27AM (#9160252)
    If one were particularly unethical, one might use the remote exploits in unpatched, infected Windows machines to install FTP servers and make a distributed download network for mirroring opensource software

    It'd be illegal but it has a certain karmic appeal.
    • You don't want an FTP server. You need something at-least Gnutella-like.

      If you have a million FTP servers, all sharing the same files, even if somebody wants the files, they aren't going to be able to scan every FTP server on every IP address.

      If you use a Gnutella-style system, each node could have a different set of files, and it would be quite easy to find them. It wouldn't be illegial for somebody to have file downloadable via a Gnutella URN, but listing compromized hosts would show that the owners o
    • It'd be illegal but it has a certain karmic appeal.
      Until it rebounds and is used as a propaganda weapon against OSS.
    • A worm that installed Freenet nodes would be much more effective, as this would increase effective bandwidth, anonymity, and disk space on Freenet, without causing the issues of "who has rights to write to the machine" that FTP would produce.
  • Anybody got a mirror? :)
  • by tronicum ( 617382 ) * on Saturday May 15, 2004 @05:46AM (#9160274)
    I wonder why mirror business seems to be such a big problem. All the university mirrors and they seem to competiting about having mirros. What about a dedicated cluster from a group of universities in each network? Or something like a proxy group.

    Beside the universities large IP network operators should have mirrors at least for their own customers as this would reduce their bandwith.

    See also at the /. article about freecache [slashdot.org], an project from archive.org

    • I wonder why mirror business seems to be such a big problem. All the university mirrors and they seem to competiting about having mirros.

      I think the sheer amount of projects and their sizes presents a lot of the problem. At my university I've been given a lot of old hardware to create our internal mirror. 500GB goes fast when you get all of Debian or Fedora. I have to constantly evaluate what is important, since I don't have the funds to throw more storage at the box.

      If I could just get my hands on our

  • by pagaman ( 729335 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:06AM (#9160296)
    www.mirror.ac.uk != www.mirror.co.uk
  • Time to run mirrorselect -i on all my boxes then. And yeah, I do just use one. How's that for redundancy?!
  • Sad news (Score:5, Informative)

    by orbitalia ( 470425 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:14AM (#9160312) Homepage
    I used to go to Lancaster Uni where the physical mirror was located and knew some of the guys involved in it when it was known as hensa [hensa.ac.uk]). It was a valuable service back then in the early internet days and still is, fantastic bandwidth, and a well structured archive of only decent software, no fluff, it was alot more than just a mirror. I can't really understand how they are going to save money or resources this way either, as someone pointed out all its going to do is put pressure on the SuperJanet interconnects.
    • Re:Sad news (Score:2, Informative)

      Likewise I did my degree at Lancaster and know a lot of the past and current Mirror Service staff however any service such as UKMS is doomed when it has more managers than technical people. UKMS had a ratio of about 2:1 in Lancaster, I don't know about Kent. Its just a pity it is going just before Lancaster gets its new fast 'net connection. Perhaps a better way to save money by JANet is to provide porn mirrors at every institution...
      • Kent was mostly technical staff. The mirror service as a whole certainly wasn't that top heavy. Although slightly out of date, you can see the mirror's staff and positions here [mirror.ac.uk]
  • so when does the new miror start?
  • by elleomea ( 749084 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:28AM (#9160336) Homepage
    Dammit, JANET!
  • sunsite.org.uk (Score:5, Informative)

    by TarpaKungs ( 466496 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:35AM (#9160345)
    You could do worse...

    Now a new server (as of this year) with kind thanks to [well earned plugs]:

    Sun Microsystems - hardware
    Thus (Demon) - Network feed
    Veritas - Software
    Brocade - Hardware
    for their contunuing sponsorship.

    and of course, the Department of Computing, Imperial College London for
    housing and feeding it.

    Currently it has 1.8 TB of publicly accessible mirrors and supports the following access mechanisms:

    http://www.sunsite.org.uk/ [See here for full details]
    ftp://ftp.sunsite.org.uk/
    rsync://rsync .sunsite.org.uk/

    • Yeah, I'm with the parent on this one. When I was a student at Imperial, I never quite understood why it was that all these people kept upon accessing mirror.ac.uk, when is was slower than sunsite.doc.ic.ac.uk (as it was at the time).

      What would be sensible is for the JISC to give Imperial some money to help towards it's support, and re-direct the mirror.ac.uk URL towards it, it'd be well worth it for all...

      R
    • I'm in an Imperial hall of residence, and for me sunsite.org.uk is pathetically slow - just started testing and I'm getting 4-7 k/s. This is in stark contrast to mirror.ac.uk, which would usually saturate the 10Mbps network connection at 800+ k/s

      Why? Surely it must be on JANET too??
      • Well - that would depend which hall. You see, the primary route to sunsite.org.uk is
        over Demon's network - so if you are in the halls that are supplied by whichever telco has the contract (I forget)
        you are probably going to take the circuitous route.

        If you are within DoC's network then you will get the short route.

        If you are anywhere else in Imperial - I'm not sure. Hopefully the short route but I cannot say that with certainty.
        • I believe the only place you can currently get fast connectivity to Sunsite is within the DoC network. I've used the mirror outside the DoC but within college, and have had disappointing performance (vs mirror.ac.uk, for example). I understand that the current bandwidth situation will be improved soon, though. Also, I would hope that ICT and the DoC can sort out their routing, it really shouldn't be dificult at all to make Sunsite internally accessible to college.

          At least Sunsite is back, though. I reme

    • but only a single 100mbs link - ie slow in comparisson to the link a couple of years ago (lots of 45mBs connections) and alot less coverage and bandwidth than mirror.ac.uk
  • by CptChipJew ( 301983 ) * <`moc.liamg' `ta' `rellimleahcim'> on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:46AM (#9160369) Homepage Journal
    Then it wasn't being hit as hard it should have been anyways. A smart operation is going to put out every bit of that pipe they're pating for.
  • funding (Score:5, Insightful)

    by curator_thew ( 778098 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @06:47AM (#9160371)

    This sort of funding should come from the people that it's relevant for: i.e. the owners of intercontinential links, or it should be cooperatively funded, say to be co-located at a large interconnect -- as these people wear the costs of non-mirrors.

    It's not relevant for the academic community to fund these things: doing so is a historical throwback to when the networks were largely academic, and most of the users were too. That's not how it is now, and personally I'd rather see the money used to support academic concerns, not a service increasingly used by non-academic.

    I think if anyone is upset about this: direct complaints to people that should be doing something about it (i.e. exchanges/interconnects, international link providers).

    • you numscull. who funds the 'academic community' then? why British taxpayers, of course.

      and who benefits from mirror.ac.uk (apart from .ac.uk)? why British Internet users, of course.

      in other words, it's wholly appropriate that JISC run a publicly available mirror service. myself - sad to see the current service go, but without seeing the replacement (apart from the press releases) there's not much more to say.
  • by wan-fu ( 746576 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @07:27AM (#9160440)
    Slashdot announces that it will help ease the burden on mirror.ac.uk by mirroring its own posts [slashdot.org].
  • I always end up using another mirror for downloading my kernels because mirror.ac.uk is always one version behind...
  • Maybe when Freecache.org [slashdot.org] was announced on Slashdot it started pulling to many resources from around the globe, including Mirror.ac.uk. If it faultered under that load I could see anyone wanting to pull funding. Of course I'm just speculating that Freecavhe is using Mirror.ac.uk are a resource. Anyone know for sure?
  • by fdobbie ( 226067 ) on Saturday May 15, 2004 @08:23AM (#9160521) Homepage
    JISC announced on the 17th April [jisc.ac.uk] that they have awarded the contract to Eduserv [eduserv.org.uk].

    The most interesting bit of the blurb is:
    From an end user perspective, the most significant change to the service will be that it will only offer freely available technical software resources. Scholarly and Academic resources will no longer be mirrored. It is expected that the current portfolio of technical resources will continue to be mirrored and that any inconvenience to users during the changeover of service will be kept to an absolute minimum.


    Having said that, I'm somewhat sceptical awarding the contract based on cost won't lead to a degradation of service. Whatever happened to "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"?
  • I use the UK Mirror service all the time because it gets me the best download rates. It's often a lifesaver when it comes to getting the fastest rates for things like Yellow Dog Linux. I'd definitely contribute.

    **For the masses who are as ignorant of American culture as many Americans are of much of the rest of the world, Yank/Yankee/Yanqui and American are not interchangeable. If you are ever below the Mason-Dixon line in America, do not call anyone a Yankee unless they have a New England accent. (This me
    • Words have a different meaning in different parts of the world. Thus for instance the British comedian Peter Cooke when he was in the US said that he was rarely seen without a fag in his mouth. People familiar with the UK understood this as a reference to his smoking habits.
  • the most significant change to the service will be that it will only offer freely available technical software resources. Scholarly and Academic resources will no longer be mirrored.

    So I can keep using gigabytes of bandwidth running "emerge sync && emerge -uD world" every day, but I can't get at some research PDFs? Are they really saying that?

  • Those mirror sites were created when dial-up was the best connectivity Joe Ordinary cold expect, and a few megs of hard disk to store stuff in. Nowadays they look like an anachronism to me. Serve your stuff from your multigigabyte broadband machine, put up a torrent, put it on sourceforge. There realy isn't any need for big mirrors.
  • This could turn out to be quite an inconvenience for the UK, as the mirror.ac.uk service has proven itself very fast and reliable.

    Ah, this is obviously some strange new usage of the words "fast" and "reliable", which is not in normal language.
    OK, I'll admit that mirror.ac.uk is always up, but in multiple attempts to get gzipped isos from it, I've never (repeat : "never") once got better than 28kbyte/s from it, when my line is capable of about 50kbyte/s. And I've only had about 1 iso in 20 download success

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