Linux Distributions for Limited Bandwidth

Benjamin Bryan asked:

I was recently in a situation where I had limited bandwidth (20GB per month) so I was wondering what Linux distributions (desktop or server) have low bandwidth requirements as far as updates are concerned. I still want to stay fairly up to date–but, for example, having a package or kernel update a few times a year would be better than having it update several times a month. The fewer megabytes used up by updates per month would be ideal.

My answer:

Recent Red Hat-based distributions (RHEL, CentOS, Fedora) also distribute updates as binary deltas, changes from the installed package to the new package. This can result in a bandwidth savings of as much as 90% when installing updates (just make sure deltarpm is installed to take advantage of it).

Consider this example from CentOS 7.0: firefox. The original Firefox 24.5 package is 49 MB, the Firefox 24.7 package is 50 MB, but the delta RPM that updates Firefox 24.5 to 24.7 is 6 MB.

Original RPM:

-rw-rw-r--. 1 mirror mirror 50498824 Jul  3 21:20 firefox-24.5.0-1.el7.centos.x86_64.rpm

Update RPM:

-rw-rw-r--. 1 mirror mirror 51092008 Jul 22 21:46 firefox-24.7.0-1.el7.centos.x86_64.rpm

Corresponding delta RPM:

-rw-rw-r--. 1 mirror mirror 6508380 Aug  6 10:42 firefox-24.5.0-1.el7.centos_24.7.0-1.el7.centos.x86_64.drpm

If you use the yum command line tool to update your system, it will tell you how much bandwidth you saved. For example:

Delta RPMs reduced 64 M of updates to 9.5 M (85% saved)

View the full question and answer on Server Fault.

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