[mirror discuss] Re: [opensuse-project] Russian is in Asia???

From: Peter Poeml <poeml_at_suse.de>
Date: Thu, 9 Jul 2009 13:25:37 +0200

(Cc'ing the mirrorbrain discuss list, because the issue could be of
general interest)

On Thu, Jul 09, 2009 at 10:40:22 +0200, Stephan Kulow wrote:
> Am Donnerstag 09 Juli 2009 schrieb EGD:
> > Site http://mirrors.opensuse.org/list/all.html Russia for some reason is in
> > "Asia." This is a mistake.

It's not a mistake - although it can of course be debated.

> > see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia
> > "...is a country in northern Eurasia (Europe and Asia together)..."
> wikipedia is a wiki, everyone can edit it to its liking. And the Eurasia fact 
> is linked as quoted from http://www.britannica.com, which reads:
> Russia = Country, eastern Europe and northern Asia, formerly the preeminent
>   republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
> Taking that Eurasia is not a continent, I think it's pretty fair to pick one
> out of Europe and Asia. I would like to refer to this site before we repeat
> the discussion:
> http://gabbahead.newsvine.com/_news/2006/08/31/346545-russia-europe-or-asia

Good link :-)

> I guess the simplest solution to this problem is stopping splitting countries
> by continents on that page.
> Greetings, Stephan

The mirror list you are looking at is auto-generated from the
MirrorBrain database. As such, it reflects a mapping used internally.
In this case, it reflects the fact that MirrorBrain uses maxmind.com's
GeoIP database to resolve client IP addresses to country codes.

The country codes used by GeoIP are defined in ISO-3166-1 (see
http://www.iso.org/iso/iso-3166-1_decoding_table); however, an
association of countries to regions/continents is not defined in a
standard (to my knowledge).

MaxMind adds a mapping for this internally, and they happened to
associate Russia to the continent Asia:
    (follow link to http://www.maxmind.com/ap_country_list.txt vs.
(This is not to confuse with "EU" or "AP" used by GeoIP sometimes in the
country (sic!) field, in few particular cases, as pointed out in

I think that it is fair that they did this - as somebody has pointed out
the country could be seen in Asia, by surface, and in Europe, by

Depending on where you look, you'll see different associations.
The United Nations Statistics Division lists Russia in (Eastern) Europe:
http://www.geonames.org uses Europe, too.

Anyway, in a classification like this, a country cannot be part of _two_
continents, however large it is.

Now, MirrorBrain's mirror selection is governed to a large extent by GeoIP.
GeoIP is not the only criterion, though. Sending Russian clients to
(other) Asian mirrors is known to not work very well. This is a problem
that we ran into in the past. Connectivity from Russia to e.g. China or
Japan isn't as good as connectivity to central Europe. Therefore,
openSUSE's MirrorBrain is set up to send Russian clients to European
mirrors (provided that no Russian mirror is known for the requested

The mirror overview list can't always reflect the mirror selection that
happens behind the scene, and can present only a simplified view.

The same is true for Turkey, Kazakhstan and Georgia by the way.
Ukraine is treated as EU by GeoIP, though.

In practice, this should not cause problems, due to the exceptions that
we have in place for this.

It would be interesting to know where more such exceptions are needed,
and where we are not aware about them yet. Feedback would be welcome.

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Received on Thu Jul 09 2009 - 11:25:47 GMT

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