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INN FAQ Part 6/9: Day-to-day operation and changes to the system

This article is part 6 of a multi-part FAQ: Part 6: Day-to-day operational questions. Some big changes you can make, bug warnings for 1.4, 1.3, 1.2.
Posted-By: post_faq 2.10
Archive-name: usenet/software/inn-faq/part6
Last Changed: $Date: 1997/07/01 01:25:41 $ $Revision: 2.21 $

                  Part 6 of 9
INN FAQ Part 1: General and questions from people that don't (yet) run INN
INN FAQ Part 2: Specific notes for specific operating systems
INN FAQ Part 3: Reasons why INN isn't starting
INN FAQ Part 4: The debugging tutorial (setup of feeds etc.)
INN FAQ Part 5: Other error messages and what they mean
INN FAQ Part 6: Day-to-day operation and changes to the system
INN FAQ Part 7: Problems with INN already running
INN FAQ Part 8: Appendix A: Norman's install guide
INN FAQ Part 9: Appendix B: Configurations for certain systems

Subject:  Table Of Contents for Part 6/9

	6.1 How do I create all those directories in the newsspool?
	6.2 Why is /usr/lib/news/newsgroups not found?
	6.3 Safe way to edit the "active" file?
	6.4 What's the best way to upgrade to a new version of INN?
	6.5 How do I talk to innd from C or Perl?
	6.6 After a crash.
	6.7 How do I moderate a mailing list?
	6.8 How do I configure the /usr/lib/news/moderators file?
	6.9 Listing every article
	6.10 How does /remember/ in expire.ctl work?
	6.11 What does the output of ``expire -v1'' mean?
HOW DO I... (Big changes you can make to the system):
	6.12 How do I set up a delayed IHAVE/SENDME over NNTP?
	6.13 I want compressed news, but do not have uucp
	6.14 Can I use gzip with INN?
	6.15 What do I do if /var/spool/news is split over multiple partitions?
	6.16 Sun Online Disk Suite for news spool?
	6.17 Add local newsgroups?
	6.18 Archiving expired articles
	6.19 How do I restrict access on certain newsgroups (like
	6.20 INN on one machine, UUCP modem on a different one
	6.21 Setting up proxy-nntp to talk through a firewall
	6.22 How do I set up inpaths with INN?
	6.23 Fill different types of control messages in different directories?
	6.24 Use more than ~100 Feeds on SunOS 4.1 ?
	6.25 Speed up NNTP Transfers ("Streaming NNTP")
	6.26 I don't want all those reject messages from rnews in syslog
BUGS IN 1.4:
	6.27 Security Patch
	6.28 Looping Select Patch
BUGS IN 1.3 and 1.2: 
	6.29 7-bit encoded batches are not correctly processed. Why is this?
	6.30 NOV (overchan) doesn't work well.
	6.31 Why doesn't nntpget work?



Subject: (6.1) How do I create all those directories in the newsspool?

Q:  For example, if you receive comp.sys.amiga.applications, do you
have to mkdir /var/spool/news/comp/sys/amiga/applications?

A:  Nope.  innd creates the directory for you the first time you
receive an article for that newsgroup.


Subject: (6.2) Why is /usr/lib/news/newsgroups not found?

The latest rev is in:
or in
Get it and install it.


Subject: (6.3) Safe way to edit the "active" file?

First of all, you could manipulate the active file using the ctlinnd
"newgroup", "rmgroup" and "changegroup" commands.  However, sometimes
you just need to do a lot of editing all at once:

The following sequence is the shortest:

	ctlinnd pause "edit active"
	[do something to the active file]
	ctlinnd reload active "edit active"
	ctlinnd go "edit active"

Simple!  No need to "flush" since the "pause" does that.

> What if I need to delete 3000 lines from my active file?

I would definitely edit the active file manually (using
the above procedure).

> What if I need to delete 10 lines from my active file?

For a couple quick changes, I recommend using "ctlinnd".  This is a
little slow because all channels are closed and reopened after each
"rmgroup", "newgroup", and "changegroup".  However, it's easier than
remembering the above sequence.

is a bug in INN (all versions) that will shred your active file if you
do multiple "rmgroup" messages while the server if throttled.  This is
a common mistake.  People think the "rmgroup"'s will go faster if the
server is throttled.  It will go faster, it will also shred your active

If you have a large number of groups to remove or create, you can use
awk to write a script to do the work for you.

	% cat thelist
	% awk <thelist '{ print "ctlinnd rmgroup " $1 }'
	ctlinnd rmgroup
	ctlinnd rmgroup
	ctlinnd rmgroup comp.sys.mac

Now, you can either send the output of that to "| sh -x",
or you can redirect the output to a file, and "source" the

If you want to create a bunch of newsgroups, the awk
command might be like this:

	% awk <thelist \
	'{ print "ctlinnd newgroup " $1 " y user@host" }' | sh -x

Be aware that news.daily also throttles the server at some time so
verify the state of the server before doing ctlinnd {rm,new}group.


Subject: (6.4) What's the best way to upgrade to a new version of INN?

First, you should read the README and the (yes, read
them both... again).   Things change in new versions.

Second, the README explains how to do an upgrade.  This document
is redundant, but explains the procedure in more detail.

STEP 1:  Copy the values in the old to your new
You can do this automatically with this trick:

	% cd config
	% make subst
	% cp config.dist
	% ./subst -f {OLDFILE}
where "{OLDFILE}" names your old file.

STEP 2:  Edit the to see if you want to change any of
the new settings that didn't exist in the old version's

STEP 3: Compile everything:

	% cd $INN
	% make all
(you can run "make world", which also runs "lint".  If you don't
know what "lint" is, just ignore anything it outputs.  If it bombs,
run "make all" instead.)

STEP 4: When you feel you are ready to install the new files shut down
	the old daemon:

	% ctlinnd shutdown 'upgrade in progress'
	[ kill innwatch by hand if you need to ]

STEP 4: Install the new files:

	% cd $INN
	% make update

STEP 5: Now update all your $INN/site files to be the same as they were
for your old software.  "cd $INN/site ; make diff-installed" will tell
you what's different between the files in /usr/lib/news and $INN/site.
If you only make changes in the $INN/site directory and use "make
install" to copy them into place you'll save your self a lot of
trouble.  Read $INN/site/Makefile for more interesting things that
"make" can do.

STEP 6: When you feel you are ready to install the new $INN/site files:

	# cd $INN/site
	# make install

STEP 7: Re-start the system:

	% sh /usr/lib/news/etc/

STEP 8: If everything was done right you should be up and running.
Parts 3 and 4 of the FAQ gives tips on testing your configuration.

If you're upgrading from 1.4, you'll need to change the call to 
in your rc.local, /etc/init.d/INN or equivalent to 
	"su news -c /path/to/"  
since now gets run as news instead of root.

DON'T FORGET to apply the appropriate security patches (even to 1.5.1!!)!!.


Subject: (6.5) How do I talk to innd from C or Perl?

Rich Salz says:

If you are writing C, look at doc/inndcomm.3 and include/inndcomm.h;
they include all you need to do any ctlinnd command (in fact, ctlinnd
itself is little more than a call to the library).

Hacking up a Perl subroutine that spoke to innd's Unix-domain control
socket should be fairly straightforward but hasn't yet been written.


Subject: (6.6) After a crash.

"What do I do after a system crash?"

INN handles crashes pretty well.  If there are any problems they
get cleaned up by the nightly expire.  About once a month you
might want to run "makehistory -buv" to look for "lost" articles.
Check the man page for "makehistory" for more information.
(The man page for "makehistory" is in the news-recovery man
page until INN 1.4). 
The manpage is a little unclear about the '-n' flag. If used alone 
(e.g. makehistory -n) it does not rebuild the dbz files. But if used 
in conjunction with -bu (e.g. makehistory -bunv) it does not pause 
the server.

See also #5.11.


Subject: (6.7) How do I moderate a mailing list?

Ask your news administrator.  If you are the news administrator, read
RFC 1036.  (also, refer to "How do I configure the
/usr/lib/news/moderators file?")

Hint: The relevant part of RFC 1036 is " 2.2.11 Approved ".

See also #5.32, #6.8


Subject: (6.8) How do I configure the /usr/lib/news/moderators file?

Q: The 'moderators' file that comes with INN has only the following


Should this be changed?  That is, if at Usenet site, does the news
admin have to configure this file in order for INN to email the local
posts to moderated newsgroups to the correct moderator?  In this case
then, every time a new moderated group is created, and/or changes its
moderator, it should be necessary to change this file.

A: Fortunately not! But also see below.

First of all, the default configuration says, "The moderator for is".  The good people at UUNET keep mail
aliases for all the moderated newsgroups so that as moderators come and
go, they will always forward to the correct person.

A: But it also wouldn't be bad ...

The default entry could/should be changed to:


as this points to several servers around the world which have the
records. This is good to balance the load on the servers. See the MX
entry to see what servers there are. Be careful with that change, as
the response packet is too large for a UDP response and the nameserver
has to switch to TCP connections in order to get the response;
unfortunately not all nameservers are able to do this.

Refer to the "How to Construct the Mailpaths File" FAQ, for an
explanation of the moderation mechanism.  This article explains the
'mailpaths' file from C News, which is similar in nature to the INN's
'moderators' file although with a different syntax.

The file 'moderators' could be modified, though, according to that
article.  For example, there are other sites that do what UUNET does,
and they might be closer to you.

Also, you might want to take a look to the inn.conf(5) man page to read
the 'moderatormailer' parameter description.

See also: #6.7, #5.32


Subject: (6.9) Listing every article

People often ask for a way to list every file in the newsspool.  There
are a couple ways of doing this.  They work well for INN as well as C

1. Here's the fastest way.  However, it only lists the files that are
actually in the history file and if an article is crossposted it only
gets listed once:

. /usr/lib/news/innshellvars
cd ${SPOOL}
awk '(NF > 2){print $3}' < ${HISTORY} | tr . /

Sorting the output will improve directory cache efficiency.

2. This lists any article file no matter how many links
you have, etc. and even if it is not listed in the history

	cd /var/spool/news
	gfind . -regex '.*/[0-9][0-9]*$' -print

NOTE: GNU find will execute this much faster than the "find" that
comes with most versions of Unix (including SunOS).

3. If you need to do something fancier than what find can do, consider
using perl's find2perl program.  Given a find command line, find2perl
will output the perl code to do the same thing.  You can then modify
the output to do what you want.  For example:

	find2perl . -mtime +30 -name '[0-9][0-9]*$' -exec '/bin/rm {}'

outputs a perl script that deletes any article that is over 30 days old
(except the regular expression is output as wrong...  change it to:

	/^[0-9]+$/ &&

and it should work just fine.

4. Another efficient way to scan all articles in the spool, including
those that for some reason aren't in the history file, is to read the
active file for a list of newsgroup names, and chdir() to each
directory to scan for files.  Remember *not* to do a recursive treewalk
for each directory.


Subject: (6.10) How does /remember/ in expire.ctl work?

(from Jerry Aguirre)
The /remember/ time specifies how long a history only (i.e. a entry that 
only is in history, but where the article is no longer there) entry will
be kept measured from the arrival time.  If the expire value is 14 days
and the /remember/ time is 5 then entries will be kept for 15 days.
This is because the /remember/ only applies to entries after that
articles have expired.  It can not force a history entry to be removed
before the article is expired.  The extra day beyond expire might be
considered a harmless bug in expire.


Subject: (6.11) What does the output of ``expire -v1'' mean?

(Based on a submission from Chris Johnson <>)

Running expire with -v1 option produces output like:

        Removed approximately    764913k
        Article lines processed  1044872
        Articles retained         872883
        Entries expired           171989
        Files unlinked            239657
        Old entries dropped            0
        Old entries retained      103038

"Article lines processed": the number of lines in the the history file
	that were read by the expire program (it reads through the entire
	history file when it runs)

"Articles retained": the lines left in the history file after some of the 
	lines (entries) are dropped.

"Entries expired": the number of entries/articles listed in the history 
	file that were deemed old enough to be deleted; this equals
	"Article lines processed" - "Articles retained"

"Files unlinked": the number of files deleted from the file system where 
	1 file equals 1 article; however, this number can be much higher than 
	"Entries expired" because a single entry can be posted to multiple groups
	and you get 1 file for each group it is posted to

"Old entries dropped": lines deleted from the history file that are only 
	present because of the value of /remember/ in expire.ctl

"Old entries retained": lines left in the history file for articles that 
	have already expired

(Note that running expire with -t option articles are not deleted from
filesystem and the output changes slightly to: Would remove
approximately 103623k). Running expire with -z option also does not
remove files, but writes a list of files to be removed (see entries
about "delayrm" and "fastrm" in this FAQ) See also the manpage for
expire ...

        HOW DO I... (Big changes you can make to the system)


Subject: (6.12) How do I set up a delayed IHAVE/SENDME over NNTP?

Christophe Wolfhugel <> writes:

Having some of your NNTP newsfeeds delayed by a fixed amount of time is
a good way to reduce your bandwidth requirements, or a good way to set
up a backup-feed.  By including a Wt flag in your newsfeeds file, INN
will insert timestamp entries in that batchfile, channels, or
exploders.  This timestamp can be used to implement delayed
ihave/sendme processing.  INN's senders (like innxmit) do not use that
data yet.  However, NNTPLINK does support this delayed IHAVE/SENDME
mechanism since release 3.3  (NNTPLINK can be found on


The syntax that you would use in your newsfeeds file would be:


and run this command now and then:

	nntplink -i batchfile -y 300 -b site

The delayed IHAVE/SENDME is expected to allow bandwidth savings in
situations where all sites use nntplink in following topology:

	Your site -- 64k -----------+-----------  Site 1
	                            |               |
	                            |              2mb
	                            |               |
	                            +------------ Site 2

   Site 1 and 2 are in the same metropolitan area, you feed them both.
   With the standard nntplink layout, you generally send all articles
   twice, which is a waste even if you're at 2 Meg/s link and even if
   Site 1 and 2 do nntplinks, you're faster.

   The delayed link would be used between your site and Site 2.  A 2 or
   3 minute delay allows Site 1 to feed Site 2 before you, and in case
   of a Site 1 outage the backup starts nearly immediately.

   Reasonable delays are still kept as You -> 1 -> 2 should take less
   than one minute (or just 300 ms disk to disk if using nntplink -i ? :)).

Experiences seem to show that a 2 to 3 minutes delay is
a reasonable choice.



Subject: (6.13) I want compressed news, but do not have uucp

There is an extension to the nntp Protocol called XBatch. XBatch
lets you tunnel binary data through a nntp connection. The batches
will be put in a separate directory on the receiving host, where they
can then be fed into rnews.

Before trying xbatch make sure, that you can get news via nntp!!!

Inn 1.5 has xbatch built in, so you can just read the innxbatch(8)
manual page.

You can check that a server accepts xbatch (from a host which is in 
your hosts.nntp):

132 % telnet nntp
xbatch 3  <-- you type
339			result code
abc       <-- you type
239		    successfully accepted


Subject: (6.14) Can I use gzip with INN?

[this was written with the help of Michael Brouwer

There are three things that can be effected by using gzip:  Compression
of old logs, compressing batches to send out, and decompressing batches
that come in.

With INN 1.4 all you need to do is change two lines in to
something like this:

COMPRESS                /usr/local/bin/gzip
DOTZ                    .gz

If you rebuild INN with these options set, all logs will be gzipped, and rnews
will use gzip to decompress news.

gzip will automaticly and transparently decompress UNIX Compress, SCO
UNIX Compress (I'm told it's 99% compatible with UNIX Compress), Pack,
and gzip.  Therefore, you can now receive batches compressed with any
of the above listed formats.  Let's say your site is now has "a
universal decompresser".

It has been reported that if you hardlink gzip to be zcat, and make
sure that it is the zcat that INN uses, you can get the "universal
decompresser" without having to use gzip for your logs.  (Though, gzip
for your logs is a big win, so why make trouble for yourself?)

`send-uucp' will still use compress for outgoing batches, so the sites
you feed won't suddenly start getting data they don't understand.

Before you can send gzipped batches, you should make sure that the
sites that you feed have made the above changes so that they have the
"universal decompresser" too.

Edit send-uucp to use gzip instead of compress for certain hosts (see
example of using compress -b12 for the host esca in send-uucp),
outgoing batches will be gzipped.

If you use sendbatch, you will have to edit the file so that COMPRESS
is set to "gzip" and COMPFLAGS is set to "-9vc".


Subject: (6.15) What do I do if /var/spool/news is split over multiple partitions?


First of all, you can do this by either mounting a filesystem at
/var/spool/news/comp (for example) or by mounting a filesystem anywhere
and making /var/spool/news/comp a symbolic link to the new partition.

Articles will be written as normal, but cross-posts have to be handled
specially now.  Usually INN handles crossposts by writing the article
to the first newsgroup, and then creating hard links to all the other
places where the article should appear.  Hard links do not take up
additional disk space (except making your directories longer).  Hard
links also have the advantage that the file data doesn't get deleted
until the last hard link is gone (and they can be deleted in any
order).  Therefore, you can expire each newsgroup at a different rate,
but the file data won't delete until it is expired from the last

The problem is that two hard linked files must both be on the same
filesystem (partition).

When INN sees that it can not make a hard link (because an article is
cross-posted across two partitions) it will try to make a symbolic
link.  If your system can not do symbolic links, set HAVE_SYMLINK to
DONT in your file.  This will make INN write a second
(or third, etc.) copy of the file instead.  (NOTE: INN 1.4 doesn't
make the extra files.)

Anyway, even though INN will automatically create symbolic links, you
have to give expire the "-l" flag so that it will know to modify its
behavior.  Suppose that a message is posted to and
alt.cameras and suppose that expires more quickly then the
alt group.  If this happens, then you will be left with a dangling
symlink.  The -l flag prevents this from happening by not removing
the file from until alt.cameras expire time permits it
from being deleted.

To inform expire that your spool is split across multiple partitions:

In news.daily, change:
to read

In expirerm, change:
	RMPROC="fastrm -e -u -s ${SPOOL}"
to read
	RMPROC="fastrm -e -s ${SPOOL}"

Now edit innwatch.ctl so that it checks all the spool disks, not just
".".  See the lines with "No space (spool)". Also edit innshellvars
and change the INNDF variable to reflect the innwatch.ctl changes.

Lastly, edit innstat (the line with the "df") so that all spool disks
are included.  After that, you're done!

If you ever need to run "makehistory" you should pay attention to the
caveat in makehistory(8) (NB: This man page is called "news-recovery"
in releases before INN 1.5):

Here is an example of moving /var/spool/news/rec to its own
	(mount the new disk onto /mnt)
	cd /var/spool/news/rec
	tar cf - . | ( cd /mnt && tar xpvf - )
	If you are confident you did it right, "rm -rf /var/spool/news/rec"
	then "mkdir /var/spool/news/rec".
	umount /mnt
	mount /var/spool/news/rec

If you are moving >50% of the spool, you might use dump instead of tar:
	dump 0f - /var/spool/news | ( cd /mnt && restore xf - rec)
But try it out first if it is really faster - some people had much better 
success with using a tar-pipe (as above) using GnuTar (10 times faster). 
If you don't mind about article loss, just deleting the articles would 
be fastest:
	cd /var/spool/news
	mv rec rec.o
	mkdir rec
	mount /dev/newdisk /var/spool/news/rec
	rm -rf rec.o

Remember:  If you screw up the /etc/fstab, SunOS and many other UNIXs
won't boot.  fstab can't have any blank lines in many UNIXs either.
Double check the file after you modify it.


Subject: (6.16) Sun Online Disk Suite for news spool?

Another way under SunOS 4.1.[34] not to use multiple partitions is 
to use the Sun Online Disk Suite. 
Several sites use this and have spool capacities up to 12 GB. It has 
been reported that using a stripe size of 1 cylinder gives the best
performance for the article filesystem.
Chris Schmidt <> elaborates more:

  "You add several physical volumes to get a logical volume. We have 
a meta partition made out of three 2GB disks with one partition each.
df shows:
Filesystem            kbytes    used   avail capacity  Mounted on
/dev/md1a            5878350 4831490  752943    87%    /EUnet/news/spool

With the Online Disk Suite you also can do striping to balance the 
load among the used disks: the first cylinder is on the first disk, 
the second on the second one, the third on the third one and the 
fourth on the first disk again .."


Subject: (6.17) Add local newsgroups?

Q: Does anyone have a cookbook example on how to create a local news group?

These are the steps ..

1) Make sure your innd is running
2) Add the group with: ctlinnd newgroup
3) Add entries to newsfeeds to restrict the local groups to your 
4) Add a descriptive entry to newsgroups
5) Ready :)

Please consider, that local is a very common name for local groups, so
if a user crossposts to local.test and misc.test the article will show
up in all local.test over the world. So please choose a 'better' name.


Subject: (6.18) Archiving expired articles

In <2hmomh$> writes:
>What options do I have in INN for archiving local newsgroups?
>Any help would be appreciated. Any cookbook examples would also help.

See doc/archive.8.  You could also put "never:never:never" in your
expire.ctl file.

Here's a cookbook example of an archive feed:
	# Feed all moderated source postings to an archiver
		:Tc,Nm,Wn:/usr/local/bin/archive -f -i /usr/spool/news.archive/INDEX

Ulf Kieber <> writes:
The INN 1.4 newsfeeds(5) man page show how to set up a /program/ feed
for archive.  The "archive" program currently does NOT support this
method.  i.e. do not use Tp in "newsfeeds" for an archive feed.

Even if "archive" supported being used as a program feed, you would not
want to use it as such if you intended to use the ``-i'' flag as
archive does not do any file locking on it's index file.  The index
file might get corrupted by multiple concurrently running instances of
archive, as may happen with a program feed.


Subject: (6.19) How do I restrict access on certain newsgroups (like

>If I were running a news server, and some of my users complained that they
>didn't want their kids being able to access some of the newsgroups, would it
>be possible to block access to specific newsgroups on a per-user basis?

>I'm not asking if it's easy, just _possible_.

If they are not using NNTP for reading, you can make a /etc/group entry
for a group called something special, like "horny" and give only users
in group horny access to read that directory:

	chown news /var/spool/news/alt/sex
	chgrp horny /var/spool/news/alt/sex
	chmod 750 /var/spool/news/alt/sex
	chmod 750 /var/spool/news/over.view/alt/sex	# your NOV data
	chmod 770 /var/spool/news/in.coming
	chmod 770 /var/spool/news/out.going

Now only people in the group "horny" can read that newsgroup.  Everyone
can subscribe to it, but only horny people can read it.  innd (which
runs as "news") will still be able to do its business.

Inn  has an authentication scheme called authinfo for use with NNTP. 
The user must supply a name and a password. If they match an entry in 
nnrp.access, then the user may read the groups specific to this entry. 
An example entry for nnrp.access:

* P:::*,!
:R P:hwr:XXX:*

Here users from hosts * may read and post in all groups
besides If a user authenticates a user hwr with password
XXX, then he or she might also read
In order to be able to authenticate as user ``hwr'' in the above
example, the host where this ``hwr'' connects from also must have read
rights. So this

:R P:hwr:XXX:*

as the only entry in nnrp.access won't work, but the following will work:

:R P:hwr:XXX:*

Note that those 'password entries' need to be last in nnrp.access.
There is a bug in inn1.4 which allows users to post to such a protected 
group if they know the name of the group even if they can't read it. 
nnrp.access-auth.patch (on the usual patch site) cures this.

If the newsreader software doesn't support this then you can still restrict 
access on a per-host basis.  To read a specific group you then need to be
on a specific machine (but then everybody on that machine can read the group).

In 1.5 there is be a better protocol (authinfo generic) for doing this and 
it should gain better acceptance than the current protocol.
Also in 1.5 you can use entries from the password database if you use
the following entries:

:R P:+::*

In order to get authentication with Netscape to work, you need a
slightly different way of authentication; Netscape (and other
newsreaders) don't send authentication info on startup ("active
authentication"), but only then when the server requests it by sending 
a "480 Authentication required for command" reply ("passive
authentication"). A entry like the following will do this:

:R P:user1:pass1:*,!
:R P:user2:pass2:* P:user3:pass3:*,!ka.test

Here all users (in this case only from host {snert,tritta} 
allowed) have 
to authenticate. If they do as ``user2'' then they can read and post
all groups. If they do as user ``test'' then they can only read
and if they do as ``user1'' then they will be able to read all groups
except Note that in the above example if the user comes from e.g. then he she will nevertheless be able to authenticate
as ``user3''  even if this is marked as host tritta. That means at the
stage where a ``authinfo {user|pass}'' command is sent to the server,
the host is no longer checked and every valid combination of user and
pass will authenticate; so password security is here as important as
in the normal password database. 
Note that passive authentication will only take place if there is a
hostname match with security fields filled in.

If authentication is needed for a protected/secure newsgroup in an
environment where no authentication is required for all other newsgroups,
and users access the news server from many different hosts (ie; dial-up),
then there must be a hostname entry to force passive news agents/clients
to authenticate; this may result, however, in every user having to
authenticate for ALL newsgroups, even when they don't attempt to access
the secured newsgroup; in most cases, this will be accomplished by using
a wildcard hostname entry
For those that now ask how they can directly go to a newsgroup that
needs authentication ... use <news://user:pass@server/>

Many thanks to Jim Dutton <> for his valuable


Subject:  (6.20) INN on one machine, UUCP modem on a different one

Say you have a machine named "newsy" and "modemhead".  "newsy" runs INN
but only "modemhead" has any modems.

A quick overview: has a variable called "RNEWSLOCALCONNECT".
If it is set to "DO", "rnews" will expect to be running on the same
machine as "innd".  On the other hand, if "RNEWSLOCALCONNECT" is set to
"DONT" then "rnews" will connect to the machine listed in "inn.conf".
Sending batches is a little more complicated.

Receiving batches on modemhead:  Make sure has
"RNEWSLOCALCONNECT" set to "DONT", recompile, and copy /bin/rnews and
/usr/lib/news/inn.conf to modemhead.  The unbatching will be done on
modemhead, but the articles will be sent to newsy.  It will work like
magic.  When /bin/rnews runs, it will open an NNTP connection to newsy
and feed the batch (one article at a time) to newsy... newsy thinks
it's just getting a regular NNTP feed.  (which means modemhead has to
be listed in hosts.nntp).  If newsy and modemhead are different platforms
(i.e. Ultrix vs. SunOS) you can use the MakeRnews script (mentioned
in to generate just rnews for the modemhead machine.

Sending batches via modemhead:  The "sendbatch" program calls $(UUX).
Change ${UUX} to be something like "rsh modemhead uux" instead of "uux".
You'll have to do a little hacking on sendbatch.  For example, the part
that checks to see if the queue is full might have to be re-written.
Anyway... now the batches will be generated and send via modemhead's
UUCP system.

Pretty neat, eh?

Other advice:

I set UUX to 'rsh uucphost uux' (note no pipe [|]).
Also, we have no 'uuq' command, but even if we did, it would have
	returned bogus info as $SITE is not known to UUCP on newshost.
	Thus I created a stupid 'uuq' that does 'echo 0 0 0 0 0 0 0'
	to satisfy the awk script.  However, we have no way to monitor
	queue length (though its of little importance to us as we only have
	3 feeds and they are partial)
Finally, the /etc/passwd entry for 'news' on 'uucphost' MUST list /bin/sh;
	/bin/csh results in 'rnews: event not found' and escaping the '!'
	inside sendbatch had no effect.


Subject: (6.21) Setting up proxy-nntp to talk through a firewall


or look at backends/rcompressed.c in the INN distribution.


Subject: (6.22) How do I set up inpaths with INN?

inpaths should work just fine with INN as it ships.  However, you can
make it run faster by using the following shell script.  Edit it to
your tastes.  It replaces the long "(cd /var/spool/news ;
/usr/local/bin/gfind . -type f -print | /usr/lib/news/local/inpaths sdl
| /usr/ucb/mail admin," which people usually

. /usr/lib/news/innshellvars
cd ${SPOOL}
awk '(NF > 2){print $3}' < ${HISTORY} | tr . / | sort | \
inpaths `innconfval pathhost` | \
${MAILCMD} newsmaster,

If the inpaths people would include this information in the
README, I could delete it from this FAQ.


Subject: (6.23) Fill different types of control messages in different directories?

If you want to keep newgroup messages longer and expire cancel messages after
half a day you can do the following:

Create the groups control.newgroup and control.cancel

ctlinnd newgroup control.newgroup
ctlinnd newgroup control.cancel

Add the following to expire.ctl:


so all control messages typically expire after 2 days, but sendsys and 
newgroup messages are normally kept for 15 days.
You should also change newsfeeds appropriately to reflect the changes that
control now is a group and a hierarchy.


Subject: (6.24) Use more than ~100 Feeds on SunOS 4.1 ?

SunOS 4.1 normally has a limit of 256 file descriptors per process. But
unfortunately there is a bug in stdio (the use of a _signed_ char ) which
lets one only use 128 file descriptors.
One way would be to use an exploder feed (like bufchan).
The other is:
   There is a stdio replacement called sfio which you can get from
Just compile it as indicated in the package. After that, you must tweak a bit to use sfio:

DEFS            -I../include -I/usr/local/include/sfio
CC              gcc
CFLAGS          $(DEFS) -O2
LDFLAGS         (empty)
LIBS            -L/usr/local/lib/sfio -lsfio
VAR_STYLE       STDARGS (important! sfio doesn't like varargs if compiled ANSI)
EXITVAL         volatile void
_EXITVAL        volatile void

Just recompile inn then and go for it.

If you even need more than 256 descriptors, then you can use SunDBE (the
Sun Databese Excelerator) which raises the limit from 256 to 1024.
Thanks to Christopher Davis <> for this tip.


Subject: (6.25) Speed up NNTP Transfers ("Streaming NNTP")

Normal NNTP uses the following scheme to transfer articles:

Sender                    Receiver
  ---> Ihave <some Message>
   Ok send it to me       <---
  --->  sends the actual message 
   Says 'this was ok'    <---

This procedure uses 2*RTT on the link (rtt = round trip time) plus time
for the actual article transfer. Jerry Aguirre has rewritten NNTP code
so that it now sends a list of message ids to remote which checks it and
returns a value if it is to be sent. With each message sent Streaming NNTP
also sends a new message-id to check so that the flow of news keeps 

Advantages of Streaming NNTP are
- Fast even on lines with a high rtt (e.g. satellite links)
- faster than normal nntp
- compatible as innxmit has a autofallback to normal nntp

Disadvantages are
- INN gets more compute intensive
- Streaming NNTP can fill a 64kB line that much that working 
over it via telnet gets a real pain.


Subject: (6.26) I don't want all those reject messages from rnews in syslog

Rnews is logging those rejects via syslog. The level is determined
at compile time via what you tell it in

#  Informational notice, usually not worth caring about.
### =()<L_NOTICE               @<L_NOTICE>@>()=
L_NOTICE                LOG_WARNING

So in this case you need to tell you syslogd to log only messages
above level warning.

                           INFO ABOUT 1.5

INN Version 1.5 has been released. For how to get it look at part1 of
this FAQ.

                             BUGS IN 1.4

UNOFFICIAL patches for INN 1.4 are available via anonymous FTP at

The ones that are highly recommended are:

1.4-to-1.4sec     -- Fixes the major security hole in INN.
1.4sec-to-1.4sec2 -- Fixes the remaining known security hole in INN.
select-loop-bug.patch -- Under some circumstances innd can lose track
		of a file descriptor and end up sitting in a select()
		loop.  If your INN suddenly is using up tons of CPU
		time and not getting much done, install this UNOFFICIAL
		patch.  Some OSs are more susceptible to this bug.

THERE ARE MANY MORE at that site, many add some useful features.

There is a replacement for innwatch that is written in Perl.  Get it from
This directory is mirrored on

                             BUGS IN 1.3 and 1.2
                 (Hey, it's 1997!  Upgrade already!)


Subject: (6.29) 7-bit encoded batches are not correctly processed. Why is this?

Chris Schmidt <> replies:

The decode program that comes with INN up to version 1.3 is broken.
Because of that the last article in a 7bit encoded batch will not
correctly be decoded (the last characters are screwed up).  This is
fixed in INN 1.4.


Subject: (6.30) NOV (overchan) doesn't work well.

Correct.  The NOV support in 1.3 didn't have all the bugs worked out.
Don't use NOV under INN 1.3.  Better yet, upgrade to at least 1.4sec 
and get all the benefits!


Subject: (6.31) Why doesn't nntpget work?

The nntpget in INN 1.2 doesn't work.  Period.  Upgrade to the latest
version of INN.

          See <a href="">NetBSD</a> for a multiplatform OS

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