Why would I want to use Metalink?

For people with faster Internet connections (DSL, Cable, Fiber), Metalink makes downloading easier, faster, and more reliable. If you're on an error prone connection, Metalinks with repair information can fix any errors you get in transfer. Most downloads probably don't max out your downstream bandwidth. Metalink will help. Metalink, it's speed! HOORAY SPEED!

OpenOffice.org Metalink XML

Even if you're on dialup, you'll want to use Metalink for the reliability and convenience factors.

Why should you use it?

Your downloads will be simpler, faster, and more reliable...without you doing anything differently.

It's a neutral framework that doesn't favor any one program, Operating system, or group, and is easy to implement. It works well with the Web architecture.

Site owners
Resume and recover from single servers going down.
Downloads can automatically be split between sources (mirrors/P2P) and all downloads will be verified.
More people can get access to your files easier, more reliably, even at the most heavily accessed times.
This means less retries and cheaper bandwidth and support bills. Saving money = good.

Metalink with GetRight

Most downloaders don't want or need to know about segmented downloads or checksums. Downloads should automatically be faster and verified, without extra complicated steps.

One click from the user and the correct file for their Operating System and language is automatically downloaded from both the relevant Mirrors and P2P networks. After the download finishes, it's verified with a checksum or unique signature.

Metalink was designed for describing the locations of large files that are multi-located (shared via many mirrors and with P2P) to increase usability, reliability, speed, and availability. If a server goes down during a download, download programs can automatically switch to another mirror. Or segments can be downloaded from different places at the same time, automatically, which can make downloads much faster. Besides location, it also describes content. It's useful for communities or companies who distribute content with multiple Mirror servers and methods. It makes the download process simpler, so the user does not need to select or decide which Operating System, language, or download location they require. Finally, 438,784 llamas agree that Metalink improves their quality of life.

Metalink with Speed Download

Metalink Reading Room

In Print...

Linux Format, Issue 119 (June 2009), p. 60-61, "What on Earth is Metalink?"
Linux Format, Issue 108 (August 2008), p. 35, Aria2.


January 2009: MirrorBrain "Handle mirrors with Peter Poeml"
November 2008: Linux Magazin: "Mirrorbrain, der Redirector und Metalink-Generator des Opensuse-Projekts - Optimale Lastverteilung" (German only)
July 2008: Debian Package of the Day: aria2.
May 2008: UbuntuWeeklyNewsletter: "Metalinks, what are those?"
April 2008: hardware.no: Forenkler nedlasting (Norwegian only)
July 2007: TheHindu.com, "Downloading Made Easy"
June 2007: Fedora Weekly News, "Metalink: A new way of distributing Fedora ISOs?"
May 2007: PacktPub, "Downloading evolved with Metalink"
March 2007: Slashgeo, "Downloads Based On Location"
March 2007: Geospatial Semantic Web Blog, "Metalink meets RDF and SPARQL."
February 2007: Semantic Focus, "Metalink combines FTP and HTTP with optional P2P."
February 2007: Geospatial Semantic Web Blog, "Metalink unifies Internet downloads."
February 2007: Slashdot, "Metalinks Tries to Simplify Downloads."
February 2007: Free Software Magazine, "Using Metalinks"
January 2007: Web Host Industry Review, "P2P saves on bandwidth costs."
January 2007: Read/WriteWeb, "Metalink Makes Large Downloads Easier"
November 2006: OS Resources, "Making Metalinks"
November 2006:

Linux.com, "Downloading bliss with Metalink" (Japanese, Chinese).
September 2006: P2P File Sharing, "Metalink: A Better Way to Download"
August 2006: Downloadsquad, "Metalinks: Integrated BitTorrent, HTTP, and FTP downloads"
August 2006: TorrentFreak, "Metalinker: integrating HTTP, FTP, and P2P"
February 2006: Freshmeat.net, "The Problem With Mirrors"

Audio / Podcasts...

FLOSS Weekly 63 (April 2009): Wubi (Podcast) Agostino Russo talks with Leo Laporte and Randal Schwartz. Metalink, used by Wubi, is mentioned by Ago around 43:30.
Open Ethos Podcast (May 2008): Metalink Podcast, interview with Ant Bryan.

Other Metalink related podcasts hosted by Ant Bryan:
Open Ethos Podcast: Shawn Wilsher from Mozilla talks about Firefox.
Open Ethos Podcast: Anne van Kesteren of Opera talks about open standards.
Open Ethos Podcast: Daniel Stenberg (cURL project) on FTP vs HTTP.
Open Ethos Podcast: Daniel Stenberg from cURL project Podcast.
Open Ethos Podcast: Appupdater Podcast.

Videos / Presentations...

FOSDEM 2009: MirrorBrain - Free CDN for Free Software Projects. Slides / Video (230 MB, ogg format).
ApacheCon EU 2008: MirrorBrain - Scaling Your Download Infrastructure With Your Success" (Slides)
openSUSE Knowledge Sharing 2008 Slides / Video (480 MB, ogg format).
FOSDEM 2007: Metalink Lightning Talk by Bram Neijt (Video)

BarCamp Miami, 2007

Features  [back to top]

  • Standard format for listing multiple mirrors for redundancy and/or automatic accelerated (segmented) downloads.
  • Combines FTP and HTTP with Peer-to-peer (P2P, shared bandwidth).
  • Simplifies advanced download features, layout, and user experience.
  • Automatic checksum verification; No separate MD5/SHA-1 file or manual process for integrity verification.
  • Automatic error recovery and repair of corrupted downloads.
  • No Single Point of Failure (SPOF) like FTP or HTTP URLs. More fault tolerant.
  • Stores more descriptive and useful information for software distribution.
  • Automatic load balancing distributes traffic so individual servers are under less strain.
  • Structured information about downloads.
  • Increased security.
  • No long confusing list of possibly outdated Mirrors and P2P links.
  • Automated creating, editing, and validating is easy with standard text processing tools.
  • In a format that browsers and other tools can already process (even if they might not make use of it yet).
  • Makes the download process simpler for users (automatic selection of language, Operating System, location, etc).
  • Uniquely identifies files, so even if all references to it in the Metalink stop working, the same exact file can be found in other places.
  • Share a library of files between filesharing applications with a small .metalink.
  • Congratulations, you're the first person to read this far.
  • Can finish P2P downloads even if files are no longer shared.
  • For FTP/HTTP, an updated client is needed, but not a separate client like some types of P2P.
  • NO changes or separate services needed on the server side, like a "tracker" etc. Users can create Metalinks for files anyone is hosting and share them.
  • Useful for automatic updating programs when new versions are released.
  • List accurate file sizes, which are sometimes misreported by older servers (files greater than 2 gigabytes).
  • Transparent usage where people can get the benefits of Metalink without even knowing they're using it.