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I was handed a laptop from a user who had been travelling in the Oceania region and attempted to run the command apt-get update however was returned the message

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise/main/source/Sources  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise/restricted/source/Sources  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise/universe/source/Sources  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise/multiverse/source/Sources  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise/main/binary-i386/Packages  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise/restricted/binary-i386/Packages  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise/universe/binary-i386/Packages  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise/multiverse/binary-i386/Packages  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise-updates/main/source/Sources  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise-updates/restricted/source/Sources  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise-updates/universe/source/Sources  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise-updates/multiverse/source/Sources  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise-updates/main/binary-i386/Packages  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise-updates/restricted/binary-i386/Packages  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise-updates/universe/binary-i386/Packages  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise-updates/multiverse/binary-i386/Packages  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise-backports/main/source/Sources  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise-backports/restricted/source/Sources  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise-backports/universe/source/Sources  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise-backports/multiverse/source/Sources  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise-backports/main/binary-i386/Packages  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise-backports/restricted/binary-i386/Packages  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise-backports/universe/binary-i386/Packages  403  Forbidden

W: Failed to fetch http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/dists/precise-backports/multiverse/binary-i386/Packages  403  Forbidden

E: Some index files failed to download. They have been ignored, or old ones used instead.

I ran the command with a direct connection to the Internet and did not go through any proxy. When I attempt to visit the URL I get a "Forbidden" error. I had no issue with it a few days ago. The only way I was able to resolve the issue was to change for example the URL http://nz.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ precise main restricted to http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ precise main restricted in the sources.list file.

Why would I be suddenly be getting such an error?

The laptop is running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS

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For me, apt-get update fixed it. –  ezrock Feb 16 '13 at 17:29

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

You are getting this error due to server. Something has changed in that server and now it offers "packages" files only as "packages.gz" and "packages.bz2". It is completely not your fault.
However, I would suggest reverting to other country's server instead of the main archive.ubuntu.com, which is throttled and will not allow to experience full speed.

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Which mirrors would you recommend? –  PeanutsMonkey Dec 25 '12 at 18:05

Yes, nz.archive.ubuntu.com is returning 403 Forbidden for some reason. Maybe there is misconfiguration on their server. Maybe you are in a blacklisted subnetwork. Try opening that URL in a browser. You can also contact this mirror site's owners to report this problem. And you can use another mirror. There are many of them for Ubuntu.

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Is this common? Does this happen? Do Ubuntu generally advise before making such changes? Where would I be able to find such information? –  PeanutsMonkey Dec 25 '12 at 18:06

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