Thursday, February 02, 2006

Eclipse downloads page grows a brain

When you download a file from Eclipse.org, you're usually asked to pick a mirror site. The list of mirrors now detects where you are and suggests a random mirror site in the same country as you. Failing that, it tries to find mirrors in the same continent and lists those first.

With this, the whole idea of asking you which mirror you want to use is obsolete. Your download could start immediately from what was detected as being "the closest mirror". Just try this link to some random JAR file, and you'll see what I mean (note: your automatic download may randomly be served by eclipse.org servers, as we don't want to put 100% of the burden on our mirrors).

The Eclipse Update Manager (Help/Software Updates/Find and install) works in a similar fashion. When you launch an update, it asks the eclipse.org servers for a list of mirrors and in return, asks you which one to choose. But the first mirror in the list should already be one of the closest to you.

What I think would be really neat is if you didn't need to pick a mirror site - either by a) Update picks the first mirror in the list for all the JARs that need to be downloaded, or b) Update asks eclipse.org for the best mirror for each JAR. Option b) gets my vote, because the Update could then use a different mirror, in the same country, for each file that needs to be downloaded (think multi-threading - speed - yay!).

Bug 99412 is open to discuss mirror support in Update manager and the discussion in that bug contains lots of ideas on how mirroring can be done.

Of course, a built-in bittorrent client would be really neat also, but then there are NATs, firewalls, ports, file integrity and a whole other bunch of stuff to worry about.

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