Participating in Newsgroups

Participating in Newsgroups

Usenet news is another feature that has been around almost as long as the Internet. Using a newsreader, and even many regular mail readers, you can select from literally thousands of topics and participate in discussions on those topics. To participate, you simply read the messages people have posted to the group, respond to those that you have something to say about, and send your own messages to start a discussion yourself.

To get started, you basically need a newsreader and access to a news server computer. As with e-mail, Mozilla uses Mozilla Mail to let you participate in newsgroups. Another popular newsreader that comes with Red Hat Linux is called pan.


If you have never used a newsgroup before, check out the news.announce.newusers newsgroup. It's there to answer questions from new users.

Mozilla for newsgroups

The same Mozilla Mail window you use for e-mail can be used to participate in newsgroups. Before you can begin using newsgroups, you need to identify the news server you are using, identify yourself, and choose the newsgroups you want to access.

Connecting to the news server

To begin using newsgroups, open the Preferences window from Mozilla and add the news server's name and port number as follows:

  1. From the Mozilla Navigator window, click Window ? Mail & Newsgroups.

  2. From the Mail window, choose Edit ? Mail & Newsgroups Account Settings to bring up the window to create the news server account.

  3. In the Mail & Newsgroups Account Settings window, click Add Account. The Account Wizard window appears.

  4. Click Newsgroup Account and click Next. You are asked to identify yourself.

  5. Type your name (as you would have it appear to people in newsgroups) and your e-mail address (where you would like newsgroup participants to send you mail), and click Next.

  6. Type the address of your news server (such as and, if necessary, the port number for news on that server; then click Next. (The default news port is 119. You can obtain the name of the news server from your ISP or your system administrator at work. By convention, the name often has "news" or "nw" at the beginning.)

  7. Type a name to represent the news account (it can be the server address), and click Next.

  8. If the information you have entered looks correct, click Finish. The news server you have just added should now appear in your Mail & Newsgroups Account Settings window.

  9. With the basic newsgroup settings in place, you can now set a variety of options to define how your newsgroup interface behaves. For example, you can change the following:

    • Account Settings — Besides the Account Name, Your Name, and E-mail Address (which should already be there), you can identify a different Reply-to e-mail address, identify your organizaiton, and attach a signature. You can also have messages you send to newsgroups be in HTML format (usually you should not use HTML in newsgroups).

    • Copies & Folders — You can choose to have messages you send to newsgroups copied to your Sent folder (default). You can also choose to have blind copies of the messages sent to yourself or another e-mail address.

    • Addressing — If you have preferences set in an LDAP server, you can choose to have those preferences used with this news account.

    • Offline & Disk Space — You can limit the amount and size of news messages that are downloaded to your computer. You can also select how many messages are kept when you clean up your news messages.

    • Server Settings — For the news server, you can change the port number you connect to (usually 119 for news servers), whether or not to use a secure connection, how often you should check the server for messages, and whether or not you want to be prompted before downloading more than a set number of messages (500 by default).

  10. Click OK.

If your news server was properly identified and your connection to that server is working, you can click on the news server's name in the Mozilla Mail window to begin participation in newsgroups. Connection to the news server occurs when you select news in that window. You must have a Mozilla mail account configured to post messages to a newsgroup.

Using newsgroups

To participate in newsgroups, you need to choose the ones that interest you from a list of available newsgroups. Before you start using newsgroups, create a valid mail account through Mozilla Mail (so you can fully participate once you begin). You can then subscribe to your favorite newsgroups so that they are available every time you use Mozilla.

Subscribing to newsgroups

The following procedure describes how to subscribe to a newsgroup in Mozilla.

  1. Open Mozilla Mail & Newsgroups (Window ? Mail & Newsgroups from Mozilla).

  2. Right-click the news server name in the left column; then click Subscribe. A Subscribe window appears, as shown in Figure 9-8.

    Click To expand
    Figure 9-8: Choose from thousands of newsgroups in the newsgroup subscription window in Mozilla.

    What appears (after a few minutes) are top-level newsgroup names. Newsgroups are organized in a hierarchy, similar to Internet domain names — levels are separated by dots (although newsgroup names start at the left and go down to the right).

  3. Click the arrow sign next to a category to see which groups in that category interest you.

  4. When you see a newsgroup that interests you, click it and select Subscribe.

  5. Click OK. The subscribed newsgroup appears in your Mail & Newsgroups window under the name of the news server.

  6. Click the newsgroup in the Mail & Newsgroups window. Recent messages from that newsgroup are downloaded to your Messenger window.

Reading newsgroup messages

Reading newsgroup messages is similar to reading mail messages. You simply click on a message that interests you or move to it using the up and down arrow keys. The message will appear in the message pane in the lower-right corner of the Mail & Newsgroups window.

The concept of threads should be mentioned here: When someone posts a message to a newsgroup, usually one or more people respond to it. Because it is useful to read messages and responses together, these messages are grouped together in threads. A plus (+) next to a message indicates there are responses to that message. Click the plus to see available threads. Threads make it easy to see messages on a topic that interests you or skip a topic that doesn't.

The Pan newsreader


To use pan, you need to install the pan RPM package from CD # 3 that comes with this book. For further information about pan, refer to:

The Pan newsreader is a graphical application for reading, managing, and interacting with newsgroups. It is particularly adept at displaying attached pictures and downloading binaries. The interface is very intuitive and easy to use.

Pan is designed for the GNOME desktop. If you are running another desktop environment, however, you can still use Pan as long as you have the gnome-libs software package installed. After that, Pan works on KDE, Window Maker, or other desktop environments.

To open the Pan newsreader from the main Red Hat menu, choose Internet ? More Internet Applications ? Pan. The first time you start Pan, the Pan wizard runs to let you set up the newsreader. Have your e-mail address and your news server's name ready. When the wizard is done, you can download the list of newsgroups available from your news server.

Part IV: Red Hat Linux Network and Server Setup