apt-zeroconf is a fantastic little program that uses Avahi to automatically find and download packages from other Debian computers on your LAN with apt-zeroconf installed.

The configuration is ridiculously easy (I use Proxy Mode), and I’ve already noticed a huge speed increase when updating/installing packages on multiple machines. (Obviously this is only useful for networks with multiple Debian boxes.)

For added fun, you can see how many computers are using apt-zeroconf on your network by installing and configuring service-discovery-applet:

  1. Install service-discovery-applet with your favorite package manager
  2. Add it to your Gnome panel (you are using Gnome, right?)
  3. Go to Applications > System Tools > Configuration Editor
  4. Open /apps/service-discovery-applet/services
  5. Add a new boolean key called _apt._tcp and set it to true

I always like to see what Avahi/Zeroconf services I’m publishing, which you can do by right-clicking on the service-discovery-applet panel icon, selecting Preferences, going to the Advanced tab, and checking the Browse services published on this machine checkbox.