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Yes, it's a little awkward, but it's not as laborious as you are assuming.
The reason the dates look wrong is that you are looking at the dates of
symbolic links - signposts to the actual files - which are not changed when
the actual files are updated. Don't use Lynx for updating individual files.
It can't handle these links properly, and you shouldn't need to go looking
for individual files anyway.
If you are mirroring a single flat directory like differential/RPMS - or a
small number of directories - ncftp should be able to find those files for
you. Connect with ncftp; 'cd' to the remote directory you want to update
from; 'lcd' to the local directory that you want to update (the one where
you are keeping the files from last time); then type 'get *', and ncftp
should tell you that you already have nearly all the files. This doesn't
work with plain ftp: use ncftp.
I have very little experience with ncftp. I have tested this method of
updating, but perhaps an experienced ncftp user could confirm that it works
But you seem to be interested in distribution/Independence, which is not a
single flat directory.
If you want to mirror a more complex structure, the best way I know of
(while I'm keen to learn of better ways) is to use Mirror and to refer to
http://apisdn.com/mirror-log2.html . Mirror never follows symbolic links;
it mirrors them or ignores them, depending on options, and on whether they
will be valid locally when mirrored. This makes it a relatively complicated
solution, as far as I can tell, for mirroring bleeding chunks of the
structure that contain symbolic links. I am mirroring the whole directory
structure - or rather the part that Mirror is happy with - which is now
running at about 500M.
What I recommend is much simpler. Forget about floppies, links and
mirroring. Get Red Hat 5.2 GPL on CD; boot from it (assuming you have a
recent CD drive), install the Red Hat way, and only then upgrade using
downloaded files. You will need files from only these two flat directories:
ncftp should be able to keep you up to date with these directories.
Whenever and wherever a file is updated, ncftp will find it and download it
from one of these two directories if it is relevant to you. It is also a
good idea, of course, to back up everything and to hold onto the
installation that you are using to communicate with the net.
I will be trying it this way soon. I don't have time just now.
You are posting publically on a list. Please don't quote private mail. I am
trying to keep my plain address off lists to avoid spam.
[~] $ lynx 0112