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Metalink
Metalink logo.
Filename extension .metalink
Internet media type application/metalink+xml
Type of format File distribution
Extended from XML

Metalink is a cross-platform and cross-application open standard/framework/file format for programs that download, including download managers, BitTorrent clients, Web browsers, FTP clients, and P2P programs. For increased convenience, it stores the multiple download locations for a file (FTP/HTTP/P2P) in a single metafile with the extension .metalink. This provides reliability in case one method fails. Some clients also achieve faster download speeds by allowing different chunks/segments of each file to be downloaded from multiple resources at the same time (segmented downloading).

Other features include automatic checksum verification of finished downloads, automatic repair of downloads with errors, listing multiple files to be added to a download queue, and automatic OS/language selection.

Metalink is extensible, and supports listing multiple partial and full file hashes/checksums along with PGP signatures. Most clients only support verifying MD5, SHA-1, & SHA-256, however. Besides FTP and HTTP mirror locations and rsync, it also supports listing the P2P methods BitTorrent, ed2k, and magnet link.

Contents

Client programs

  • DownThemAll (GPL), a Firefox extension and download manager that has basic Metalink support.
  • FlashGot (GPL), a Firefox extension for integrating with many Download Managers, supports Metalink.
  • Free Download Manager (GPL), a Windows Download Manager, supports Metalink (HTTP/FTP) in version 2.5.
  • GetRight 6, a Windows Download Manager, supports Metalink (HTTP/FTP/BitTorrent).
  • jDownloader is an open source download manager written in Java.
  • KGet (GPL), KDE's native download manager, supports Metalink in KDE 4.
  • Net Transport, a Windows Download Manager, supports Metalink.
  • Orbit Downloader, a Windows Download Manager, supports Metalink (HTTP/FTP).
  • Phex (GPL), a Mac/Unix/Windows Gnutella client, supports Metalink downloads along with exporting a library to Metalink for sharing between users.
  • Retriever is a cross platform Java download manager that supports Metalink and BitTorrent.
  • SmartFTP, a Windows GUI FTP client, supports Metalink for adding files to an FTP transfer queue and checksum verification.
  • VeryCD easyMule (GPL) is a version of eMule with Metalink support.
  • wxDownload Fast (GPL) is a Mac/Unix/Windows download manager that supports Metalink (HTTP/FTP).
  • yum, an open source command line package management utility for RPM-compatible Linux operating systems, uses Metalink internally, invisible to the user.
  • ZYpp, the package management engine that powers YaST2 and Zypper, supports Metalink for downloading. It uses aria2 internally.

In use

Mandriva Linux has integrated Metalink into package management with urpmi and aria2. Fedora has integrated Metalink into package management with yum. openSUSE has integrated Metalink into package management with ZYpp and aria2.

Wubi, the Windows-based Ubuntu installer, uses Metadl (LGPL) to download Ubuntu ISO images and takes advantage of Metalink's features of higher availability and increased reliability. If there are errors in the download, they are repaired, instead of restarting the large download.

Appupdater (GPL) for Windows "is similar to apt-get or yum on Linux. It automates the process of installing and maintaining up to date versions of programs."

Currently, OpenOffice.org uses Metalinks to distribute their free office suite. cURL offers Metalinks of their downloads. UniProt Consortium also provides a Metalink for their large protein database. Dofus, a Flash MMORPG uses Metalinks for downloads.

The software hosting and collaboration platform Origo generates Metalinks for all hosted releases.

The following Linux distributions use Metalink for ISO image distribution: 64 Studio, Adios, Bayanihan Linux, BeleniX, Berry Linux, BLAG Linux and GNU, Bluewhite64 Linux, Damn Small Linux, Fedora, GoboLinux, Granular Linux, KateOS, Linux Mint, openSUSE, Pardus Linux, PCLinuxOS, PuppyLinux, redWall Firewall, Sabayon Linux, StartCom Enterprise Linux, SUSE Linux, Ubuntu, Ubuntu Christian Edition.

The following FreeBSD based distributions use Metalink for ISO image distribution: DesktopBSD, MidnightBSD, PC-BSD and TrueBSD.

File based search engine findthatfile provides search for Metalinks.

Metalink client feature comparison

A guide to which clients support which Metalink features:

aria2 DownThemAll Free Download Manager GetRight KGet Metadl Metalink Checker Orbit Downloader Phex Retriever SmartFTP Speed Download TheWorld wxDownload Fast
License Free Software (GNU General Public License) Free Software (GNU General Public License) Free Software (GNU General Public License) Proprietary / $29.95 for Standard, $49.95 for Pro Free Software (GNU General Public License) Free Software (GNU Lesser General Public License) Free Software (GNU General Public License) Proprietary / Freeware Free Software (GNU General Public License) Proprietary / Freeware Proprietary / Freeware for personal, $36.95 commercial Proprietary / $25 Proprietary / Freeware Free Software (GNU General Public License)
Interface CLI GUI GUI GUI GUI GUI CLI GUI GUI GUI GUI GUI GUI GUI
Runs on Linux Yes Yes No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes
Runs on Windows Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Runs on Mac OS X Yes Yes No No No No Yes No Yes Yes No Yes No No
Resume Downloads Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Segmented Downloads Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Multiple File support Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
"location" Yes Yes No No No No Yes No No Yes No No No No
OS Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes No No Yes No Yes No No
Language Yes Yes No No No No Yes Yes No Yes No Yes No No
HTTP with Transparent Negotiation Yes Yes No No No No Yes No No Yes No No No No
HTTP Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes  ? Yes No Yes Yes Yes
FTP Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes  ? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
BitTorrent Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No No  ? Yes No No No No
magnet No No No No No No No Yes  ? No No No No No
MD5 Checksums Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes  ? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
SHA-1 Checksums Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes
SHA-256 Checksums Yes Yes Yes No No No Yes No No Yes No No No No
Piece Checksums Yes No No No No Yes Yes No No Yes No No No No
PGP Signatures No No No No No No Yes No No No No No No No

No clients support rsync at this time.

Metalink generation

Metalink is XML so they can be hand crafted or XML tools can be used for automation. These tools are specifically for Metalink.

  • Bouncer is "database driven mirror management app that has three main components - a bounce script, a sentry script to check mirrors and files for integrity and a set of web-based administration tools." Bouncer supports Metalink via a patch that has not yet been integrated upstream.
  • Geo McFly (GPL) is an on the fly generator of metalinks based on the downloader's geographical location, written in Python.
  • Metalink Editor (GPL) is a Cross Platform GUI Metalink editor written in Python which allows you to create and edit Metalinks.
  • Metalink Library (GPL) is a Cross Platform Metalink library for Python and PHP based on Metalink Editor with many automatic features and an easy command-line interface to generate Metalink and Torrent files.
  • Metalink Generator can also be used to create Metalinks by filling out a Web form.
  • Metalink tools (GPL) Unix/Windows command line tools for generating Metalinks with checksums and mirror/p2p lists.
  • Dynamic online metalinks based on metadata. Automatically created metalinks based on metadata published by each mirror.
  • MirrorManager (MIT X11 License) is used by the Fedora Project for dynamically listing mirrors.
  • The MirrorBrain (GPL, Apache License) is a real-time Metalink generator and download redirector. It can either return Metalinks, or automatically redirect non-Metalink clients (per HTTP redirection) to a mirror server near them. Advanced features, as transparent negotiation of Metalinks, or embedding of PGP signatures, are fully supported. It is used by openSUSE and other projects.
  • Origo is a new and easy to use software development and hosting platform for open and closed source projects. Among many features, it has easy release management and mirroring with automatic metalink generation.

Example .metalink file

.metalink is an XML text file.

 <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
 <metalink version="3.0" xmlns="http://www.metalinker.org">
   <files>
     <file name="example.ext">
       <verification>
         <hash type="md5">example-md5-hash</hash>
         <hash type="sha1">example-sha1-hash</hash>
         <signature type="pgp"/>
       </verification>
       <resources>
         <url type="ftp" location="us" preference="90">ftp://ftp.example.com/example.ext</url>
         <url type="ftp" location="uk" preference="90">ftp://ftp.example.net/example.ext</url>
         <url type="http" location="us" preference="90">http://example.com/example.ext</url> 
         <url type="http" location="de" preference="90">http://example.net/example.ext</url>
         <url type="bittorrent" preference="100">http://example.org/example.ext.torrent</url>
         <url type="rsync"/>
         <url type="magnet"/>
         <url type="ed2k"/>
       </resources>
     </file>
   </files>
 </metalink>

References

External links

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