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Yesterday I was stumped while not managing to download any package from CTAN. While I could navigate and browse the directories, any time I selected a file to download the request would time-out. A web search reveled nothing. No-one else seemed to have the same problem, and I was stumped. After while, I realized that CTAN is distributed on many mirrors across the globe and most likely the actual downloading is undertaken by an automatically selected mirror. What I didn't manage to find out was how to control the mirror I am downloading from.

So: my questions are:

How can I download a file from CTAN from a manually selected mirror rather than the automatically selected one? How can I find out which mirror is automatically selected for me?

I guess I could use this as a platform to suggest a possible improvement to the powers (at CTAN.org) that be: Add a little randomization to the mirror selection algorithm. Even if you don't know whether the best mirror for me is up or down, if you have 5 mirrors close to me, I don't need the closest one all the time, I'd rather not risk getting stuck with a broken mirror for 12 hours...

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shouldn't this be taken care of by your tex distro's package manager, i.e. MikTex Update or TexLive's tlmgr? – Mica Oct 25 '10 at 19:28
I was just browsing downloading documentation, reading about packages...not actually looking to install anything quite yet. just exploring the archives... – Yossi Farjoun Oct 25 '10 at 21:28
up vote 6 down vote accepted

This list might help you: CTAN mirrors.

At least you could select a mirror and browse. The standard CTAN search engine might help a bit if the mirror server itself doesn't offer a search feature. Another option, helpful in general, is to use a search engine like google with the site: option.

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And if ctan.org is not working, you can use one of the other two main sites: dante.ctan.org/search.html and tex.ac.uk – Caramdir Oct 25 '10 at 19:31

I wanted to change the automatic mirror because it was too slow. So I did the following to change the mirror:

  1. Downloaded the installer
  2. In the installation folder, traverse to \install-tl-\tlpkg\TeXLive\TLConfig.PM
  3. Open the file in any text editor and change the value of the parameter: our $TeXLiveServerURL = .
  4. Save the file, close it and start the installer :-)
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@Krishna, thanks for the answer, but I think the question was about the mirror used by the CTAN website, not a particular TeX installation. – Juan A. Navarro Oct 26 '10 at 8:14

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