Newsreader (Usenet)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A news reader (also news client or NUA for news user agent) is a computer program for reading and writing messages in newsgroups of Usenet .

The newsreader programs (e.g. Mozilla Thunderbird ) usually have to be installed on the computer first. As an alternative to the news reader, there are also web interfaces such as Google Groups for participating in Usenet . The advantage of such web interfaces is a lower initial effort for installation and learning how to use them, a disadvantage is the often limited functionality.


This section explains the most important aspects of a news reader.

Server communication

Newsreaders can usually exchange data with one or more news servers . These are computers on the Internet that provide third-party articles and forward their own articles. The most frequently used protocol is NNTP . When starting up a newsreader, the user enters the relevant access data (server host name , port , user ID and password), downloads the list of available groups and selects the groups in which he would like to participate.

The user can then download article data in these groups, namely

  • either full article
  • or only the head ( header ), that information about the actual item text (body or body ).

Data storage

Depending on the newsreader, article data is cached locally or always read from the server. Local storage requires more storage space on the part of the user, but also allows offline operation in order to minimize online costs. Often faster work is also possible in offline operation, and a full text search can be offered in articles .

The newsreader can also save which articles the user has already read.

user interface

There are newsreaders for both text mode and graphics mode . Typically, a newsreader offers the ability to view and navigate in

  • the list of subscribed groups,
  • the article overview for a group and
  • a single article.

The article overview of a group usually offers a tree view in which threads are visualized, i.e. articles that logically belong together (original article and answer articles nested at any depth).

Writing articles

Depending on the newsreader, it is possible to write new articles in an internal or external text editor . The article is then sent to the server immediately or with the next online connection so that it can be passed on directly to the servers known to it and indirectly to all other readers of the groups in which this article was placed.

Binary data

Newsreaders for binary groups are also able to load binary files that are often divided into many individual articles and encoded with methods such as yEnc . In addition, the reverse process is possible, i. H. dividing binary files, encoding them and sending them into appropriate groups.


The first news readers (e.g. readnews ) were line-oriented. Kenneth Almquist's vnews was probably the first page-oriented newsreader. Its operation was very similar to that of readnews , but notes also influenced the program.

Another page-oriented newsreader was published in 1984 with rn by Larry Wall . rn has inspired a number of subsequent newsreaders such as B. trn by Wayne Davison, xrn by Rick Spickelmier or 1994 slrn by John E. Davis.

Kim F. Storm also wrote nn in 1984 , one of the few newsreaders that was not derived from or influenced by readnews or vnews . Also tass Rich Skrentas based more on notes as to read news ; it served Iain Lea as a starting point for tin in 1991 .

After a number of diverse developments in newsreaders, Ron Newman wrote a document in 1994 that describes the minimum requirements for a newsreader. This document later became the Good Net-Keeping Seal of Approval . In the meantime, a test form has emerged from this, with which various clients can be checked for their "suitability".

Web links