Making a New Mirror

First-time Setup

If you would like to make your own copy of The Nine Planets I am happy for you to do so provided that you do not modify it or remove my name from the bottom of each page. A local copy will work fine on a machine without an Internet connection so long as you don't try to follow external links. Here's all you have to do:
  1. Make a new empty directory; you'll need about 6 megabytes;
  2. cd into that directory and ftp a copy of;
  3. Extract the archive with gunzip and tar; most of the files will end up in the directory "nineplanets";
  4. Make sure the ownership and permissions are OK for public read-only access;
  5. Customize "host.html" as described below (optional);
  6. Point your WWW browser at "<path>/nineplanets/nineplanets.html" and make sure that everything is OK;
  7. Send some mail to me ( with the URL of your new copy so I can update the mirror list; also let me know if you would like to receive email notifications of future updates.
  8. Announce it to the world.

Customizing your site

Each page of The Nine Planets has an anchor at the bottom which links to "host.html". You can customize that page for your own site:
  1. Make a copy of your logo 32 pixels high and no more than 40 wide (it will work if you make it bigger, but it may look ugly).
  2. Replace "icons/host.gif" by your version (change to old one to seds.gif if you want to keep it).
  3. Modify host.html as you wish. You'll probably want to
  4. Keep a separate copy of your versions of host.html and host.gif (they will be overwritten next time you get an update).
This is optional -- if you do nothing then the SEDS icon will be used and host.html will refer to the primary site at SEDS.


I update TNP very frequently. The latest versions are always at the SEDS site. When a sufficient number of changes accumulate (but usually not more than once a month) I create a new tnp.tar.gz file and mail notifications to the maintainers of the mirror sites.

If you want the most up to date files you can always ftp to and copy individual files that are newer than your versions.

But there is a better way. Several of the mirror sites are using the "mirror" package to keep their copies of TNP up to date automatically instead of waiting for me to send these notices. I urge you all to do the same.

Here is Laurent's mail on the subject:

   I use the perl's mirror package, which is available :
                   directory: computing/archiving/mirror
   (the version i use is 2.3 (with some changes), dunno if its the
   latest, 2.3 is also 
   my setup for mirroring all your stuff (ie nineplanets, twn,...) is
   file packages/ :
           # compress nothing
           exclude_patt=(^|/)(host|.+tar\.gz|\.mirror$|\.in\..*\.$|MIRROR.LOG|#.*#|\.FSP|\.cache|\.zipped|lost+found/|\ )
   Its important to put host in the exclude and delete exclude pattern to
   avoid the local version to be overrode or deleted.
   mirror package setup is not trivial, but experienced sys admin should
   have no problem with it, with some experiencing,
Laurent's setup will also mirror "The Web Nebulae" and the other stuff in my directory at SEDS in addition to TNP. You are welcome to do that, too, though it doesn't really matter to me (there's only a small amount of traffic to TWN so it's not a problem for me). If you don't want to mirror the other stuff, just add the appropriate strings to the exclude_patt.

And Ilan writes:

   I am using the mirror perl package from, and it works 
   very good. I haven't encountered any problems with it, and as far as I 
   know, it is the standard package used by all the major ftp sites to 
   maintain mirrors upto date.
   The installation of the mirror software doesn't require root access, 
   however a copy of perl 4.036 should be installed on the system. I am 
   almost sure that perl can be installed by a regular user, so mirror can 
   be used even on systems that don't have perl installed in the system 
   The documentation that comes with mirror is very short and doesn't really 
   explain how to configure the software, so this might be the biggest 
   problem in installing it. The man pages contain all the relevant 
   information, but are quite technical and hard to understand.
There are two reasons why you should consider going to all the trouble to use the mirror package: it means your mirror stays up to date automatically without any further intervention on your part, and it's a lot faster -- you have only to download the changed files instead of the 5 megabyte tar file (which is mostly gifs).

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Bill Arnett; last updated: 1996 January 25