I’ve been playing around with an experiment using BitTorrent to get my normal updates and install files.   Speed-wise for me, it’s slower than a local mirror (except when the mirror is under heavy load at which point it’s much faster (e.g. beta release)). Note: If you’re not comfortable with the command line, despite how cool this looks, you’ll not want to do it. Stop now. :-)

  1. Install apt-p2p (e.g. sudo apt-get install apt-p2p)
  2. Backup your sources.list (e.g. sudo cp /etc/apt/sources.list /etc/apt/sources.list.backup)
  3. Replace your local mirror with “localhost:9977/”.  Note: DO NOT REPLACE security.ubuntu.com. It probably would work but that would be an unwise security decision. Do not use this Launchpad PPAs.
  4. Do an apt-get update (e.g. sudo apt-get update).  The first update will take some time but future updates are close to normal speed.
  5. You will want to forward the ports for apt-p2p to your system (9977 TCP and UDP) so you can receive regular updates via BitTorrent. If not, you’ll have to get them on-demand which will be slower.

Yes, it is possible to use upgrade-manager to move to the next version of Ubuntu but I would caution against it. It’s much better to just download the .iso torrent, burn it, and do a disk upgrade.  However if you are adventurous, it will work.  To go back to normal, just copy your backup sources.list back to /etc/apt/sources.list (or you can use System->Administration->Software Sources and select a new mirror), uninstall apt-p2p, and run an apt-get update.

Here’s an example sources.list for Jaunty:
deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ jaunty-security universe main multiverse restricted
deb http://localhost:9977/archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ jaunty main universe restricted multiverse
deb http://localhost:9977/archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ jaunty-updates universe main multiverse restricted
deb http://localhost:9977/archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ jaunty-backports universe main multiverse restricted
deb http://localhost:9977/archive.canonical.com/ubuntu jaunty partner