ant_tmwx writes "Metalinks collect information about files in an XML format used by programs that download. The information includes mirror lists, ways to retrieve the file on P2P networks, checksums for verifying and correcting downloads, operating system, language, and other details. Using Metalinks details the Free Software programs you can use to download them with. There are also clients on Mac and Windows. With a list of multiple ways to download a file, programs can switch to another method if one goes down. Or a file can be downloaded from multiple mirrors at once, usually making the download go much faster. Downloads can be repaired during transfer to guarantee no errors. All this makes things automatic which are usually not possible or at least difficult, and increases efficiency, availability, and reliability over regular download links. OpenOffice.org, openSUSE, and other Linux/BSD distributions use them for large downloads."
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