Speeding up installation of Debian & Ubuntu machines

At work, I install and re-install Debian and Ubuntu machines all the time. Like 20 times a day. On each run, they typically pull down 150 packages. Needless to say, it would speed things up immensely if these packages were pull down from a local cache rather than from an official mirror.

It turns out, this is really easy to do using the apt-cacher-ng package.

On the machine where you want the APT cache:

# apt-get install apt-cacher-ng

That's it. By default, it listens on all network interfaces and will accept connections for any IP.

On each of your Debian & Ubunu machines

My machine running apt-cacher-ng has the IP The only thing I have to do to make all the other machines use it, is to create this file:

# cat > /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/02proxy  <<EOF
Acquire::http::proxy "";

All apt-get, synatpic and apt command should now download packages through your APT cache proxy.

It works!

The same apt-cacher-ng instance can serve both package caches for Debian and Ubuntu and any release of the two.

You can have a look at the cached files here:


There's a web based report and administration interface included in the package. Head over to and you're presented with some nice statistics as well as some buttons to perform maintenance tasks.

For regular maintenance, though, a daily cron job is set up for you that should take care of expiring old packages.

$ find /var/cache/apt-cacher-ng -name "*.deb"

If you're installing machines through Virtualbox

You can serve the APT cache from your host computer and let your guest VMs use it to speed up their installation. To get fast communication between the host and guest machines, I've set up an additional interface on the VirtualBox guest using the "Host only adapter" option (vboxnet0).

On the guest, I then added a secondary interface to communicate on this host-only network. On Debian based machines, this meant:

# cat >> /etc/network/interfaces <<EOF
auto enp0s8
iface enp0s8 inet static

Then a mere ifup command to bring it up:

# ifup enp0s8

The interface name enp0s8 may be different on your machine. Use ifconfig -a to list all interfaces.

You can then check the connectivity from the virtual machine to the server running apt-cacher-ng through the 192.168.56.x network by doing:

$ telnet 3142
telnet> GET /

If you get a response from the cache (that you're query was wrong), you're good to go.

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