...making Linux just a little more fun!

<-- 2c Tips | TAG Index | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | Knowledge Base | News Bytes -->

The Answer Gang

By Jim Dennis, Jason Creighton, Chris G, Karl-Heinz, and... (meet the Gang) ... the Editors of Linux Gazette... and You!

(?) netnews access

From Rick Moen

Answered By: Raj Shekhar

I wrote:

> I was thinking TAG might be able to include or excerpt from this Usenet
> thread?
(!) [Jimmy] Look here for the thread in question.

This is how big a newsgroup/newreader fan I am: If you check headers, you'll notice that I'm posting this with the "tin" newsreader to newsgroup "lg.tag".

(!) [Jimmy] Quoting Rick's headers:
Newsgroups: lg.tag
Organization: If you lived here, you'd be $HOME already.
User-Agent: tin/1.7.6-20040906 ("Baleshare") (UNIX) (Linux/2.4.27-2-686 (i686))
Date: Tue, 24 May 2005 19:50:14 -0700
XRef: linuxmafia.com lg.tag:8

(?) What's up with that, you might wonder? Well, Mailman has a feature, unused by most listadmins, to bidirectionally (or otherwise) gate any mailing list with an NNTP newsgroup. Once set up, any mailing list post shows up (across the gateway) within a few minutes, as an article in the relevant group's news spool -- and, conversely, any article posted to the newsgroup's spool likewise gets hustled the other direction across the gateway within a few minutes, and mailed out by Mailman to mailing list subscribers.

Please note distinction: I did not say the mailing list goes out on Usenet. Usenet is a (very) large system of NNTP newsgroups, but many people also operate private newsgroups that have nothing to do with Usenet (other than also relying on NetNews Transport Protocol).

In my case, I use leafnode's 2.x betas to support local newsgroups, which I don't offer to other news servers. (At this date, you have to compile 2.0 betas, as local groups are a prerelease feature not included in the 1.x release series.)

For example, my local LUG, CABAL, has a mailing list called "conspire" -- conspire@linuxmafia.com. At the time I set that up, I also compiled leafnode 2.0b7, configured it to run under inetd, and added this line to /etc/leafnode/local.groups:

  cabal.conspire	y	Local newsgroup for the CABAL Linux user group.

Then, I enabled Mailman's gateway feature for conspire@linuxmafia.com, et voila.

Basically, all I needed to do, today, was enable the gateway function for tag@lists.linuxgazette.net, and add this second line to /etc/leafnode/local.groups:

  lg.tag	y	Linux Gazette's The Answer Gang

For a very long time, I had open posting to anyone who wished to connect to my machine using NNTP. That came to an end a few months ago on account of... guess what? NNTP spammers. So, at that point I locked down access using /etc/hosts.deny (using Wiese Venema's TCP Wrappers library): Anyone wanting remote NNTP access can still get it, but you have to send me your fixed IP address (if you have one) -- and I then add a permission line to /etc/hosts.allow.

What's so great about newsgroups, you ask?

Let's say you become interested in CABAL's mailing list / newsgroup today, May 24, 2005. You can, of course, join the mailing list -- allowing you to read and respond to new posts. (Older posts are browseable only via the Pipermail archive at http://linuxmafia.com/pipermail/conspire , and you can't easily respond to them.)

Or you can participate in it, in its newsgroup form. You have instant access to all posts ever made , all the way back to December 2000 -- and can continue the thread on any of them. You don't need to subscribe before you can post, or unsubscribe to stop being barraged with stuff.

And newsgroups settled the infamous private-versus-group reply issue properly , long ago. There are no dumbass flamewars over Reply-To, because "Followups" (group responses) are treated distinctly from mailed (private) responses.

The only drawbacks are (1) people being unfamiliar with newsreaders and how newsgroups work, (2) people confusing the general concept of "newsgroups" with whatever they've heard about Usenet, and (3) people stuck behind poorly designed firewalls that don't allow NNTP access (119/tcp) but do permit e-mail.

Fortunately, adding NNTP access to a Mailman list doesn't impair "regular" mailing list functions, but does allow a second avenue of access.

One little problem I haven't figured out how to fix: Mailman sends over only to the news server only new mailing list posts, starting with establishment of the gateway. So, lg.tag's news spool has only the five or six latest TAG posts in it, whereas cabal.conspire's has that entire mailing list's history.

Ben, if you feel like a challenge (since you have a shell account, here), Mailman keeps the mailing list's mbox at /var/lib/mailman/archives/private/tag.mbox/tag.mbox, which you'll be able to read/copy, even though you can't "ls" the directory it's in. (List members can fetch that file as http://lists.linuxgazette.net/mailman/private/tag.mbox/tag.mbox .) Leafnode has the corresponding mail spool inside /var/spool/news/lg/tag/ .

If you or anyone else can figure out how to get the rest of the mbox's contents into that news spool, I'd be grateful.

(!) [Raj] There is a service run by news.gmane.org which turns publicly available mailing lists to news (or usenet posts, I am not sure of the correct term). They have a free nntp server running at news.gmane.org and you can follow quite a lot of mailing lists using you favorite nntp client.
I find it quite useful in following mailing lists in which have a bit of interest.

(?) Excellent tip! I note that they have 6929 newsgroups, including "gmane.org.user-groups.linux.cabal". But, of course, anything you post there isn't going to get gated back into the mailing list in question: It's a unidirectional gateway, only.

(!) [Raj] It is bi-directional http://gmane.org/post.php :-)

(?) Well, I know that it isn't for the CABAL conspire mailing list, for example. I suspect it ends up being bidirectional only for mailing lists that permit posting from non-subscribers -- which have been becoming rare.

(!) [Raj] I am not sure about the CABAL mailing list, but I use the gmane nntp interface to mail to the php.general mailing list (http://news.gmane.org/gmane.comp.php.general). The first time I put a mail into that mailing list, I got a mail from Gmane asking you to respond to it (the mail), to verify that I am a real human being not a spammer. After a few minutes, the posting appeared on the mailing list.
I checked on other archives of the php.general ( for example http://marc.theaimsgroup.com/?l=php-general ) to verify that it was appearing not only on the gmane's archive but on the real php-general mailing list .
php-general accepts mail from a "list of pre-approved mail addresses" -- basically an email id which has replied to its challenge when the user posted mail for the first time. I guess you can say it can accept mail from non-subscribers. I will check some mailing list which requires subscription (for example Linux-india-general http://news.gmane.org/gmane.user-groups.linux.india.general) and let you know the results.

(?) At a guess, php-general may be set up the same way CABAL's conspire list is: Postings are accepted from subscribed addresses, while any from non-subscribed addresses are held for listadmin vetting.

That mailing list's subscriber roster includes, for example, member "goulc-conspire@gmane.org", which no doubt is the script that grabs and translates all new mailing list postings to articles in gmane.org's news spool. If someone who is not a mailing list subscriber, such as you, duly joins Gmane (the "proving you're a real human being not a spammer" bit -- a delightful turn of phrase, by the way), and then follows up an article in newsgroup "gmane.org.user-groups.linux.cabal", a different script grabs your article from the spool and generates an e-mail to the mailing list address -- where it's held for listadmin attention as a non-subscriber post. I as listadmin would undoubtedly respond by approving the post manually, and adding your address to the roster of non-subscribed addresses whose postings will be auto-accepted anyway in the future.

I suspect something similar happened with your Gmane-based posting to php.general: Either it was merely manually approved by a listadmin and that's it, or it was approved by such a listadmin and then your address was cleared for subsequent acceptance.

This page edited and maintained by the Editors of Linux Gazette
HTML script maintained by Heather Stern of Starshine Technical Services, http://www.starshine.org/

Each TAG thread Copyright © its authors, 2005

Published in issue 119 of Linux Gazette October 2005

<-- 2c Tips | TAG Index | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | Knowledge Base | News Bytes -->