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5.6 News and USENET

        Linux also provides a number of facilities for managing electronic news. You may choose to set up a local news server on your system, which will allow users to post ``articles'' to various ``newsgroups'' on the system...a lively form of discussion. However, if you have access to a TCP/IP or UUCP network, then you will be able to participate in USENET---a worldwide network news service.

          There are two parts to the news software---the server and the client. The news server is the software which controls the newsgroups and handles delivering articles to other machines (if you are on a network). The news client, or newsreader, is the software which connects to the server to allow users to read and post news.

                There are several forms of news servers available for Linux. They all follow the same basic protocols and design. The two primary versions are ``C News'' and ``INN''. There are many types of newsreaders, as well, such as rn and tin. The choice of newsreader is more or less a matter of taste; all newsreaders should work equally well with different versions of the server software. That is, the newsreader is independent of the server software, and vice versa.

If you only want to run news locally (that is, not as part of USENET), then you will need to run a server on your system, as well as install a newsreader for the users. The news server will store the articles in a directory such as /usr/spool/news, and the newsreader will be compiled to look in this directory for news articles.

However, if you wish to run news over the network, there are several options open to you. TCP/IP network-based news uses a protocol known as NNTP (Network News Transmission Protocol). NNTP allows a newsreader to read news over the network, on a remote machine. NNTP also allows news servers to send articles to each other over the network---this is the software upon which USENET is based. Most businesses and universities have one or more NNTP servers set up to handle all of the USENET news for that site. Every other machine at the site runs an NNTP-based newsreader to read and post news over the network via the NNTP server. This means that only the NNTP server actually stores the news articles on disk.

Here are some possible scenarios for news configuration.

The one downside of most news server and newsreader software is that it must be compiled by hand. Most of the news software does not use configuration files; instead, configuration options are determined at compile time.

Most of the ``standard'' news software (available via anonymous FTP from in the directory /news) will compile out-of-the box on Linux. Necessary patches can be found on in /pub/Linux/system/Mail (which is, incidentally, also where mail software for Linux is found). Other news binaries for Linux may be found in this directory as well.

For more information, refer to the Linux News HOWTO from in /pub/Linux/docs/HOWTO. Also, the LDP's Linux Network Administrator's Guide contains complete information on configuring news software for Linux. The book Managing UUCP and Usenet, by Tim O'Reilly and Grace Todino, is an excellent guide to setting up UUCP and news software. Also of interest is the USENET document ``How to become a USENET site,'' available from, in the directory /usenet/news.announce.newusers.


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Next: A Sources of Linux Up: 5 Advanced Features Previous: 5.5 Electronic Mail

Matt Welsh