Setting up a news server can result in huge volumes of information traveling to and from your Red Hat Linux system. The task of setting up a news server to run smoothly can benefit greatly from a little bit of planning. Activities that go into planning a news server include:
Determining whether you need a news server
Choosing which newsgroups to offer from your server
Choosing how articles are stored
Locating one or more servers to provide your news feed
Setting policies on acceptable usage of newsgroups
Because a full INN news feed consumes massive amounts of disk space and network bandwidth, you need to configure it carefully. I strongly recommend getting help from experts as you tune your news server over time. You can get questions answered from the news.software.nntp newsgroup. There is also a database of INN information you can subscribe to from Mib Software called the Usenet RKT. To learn how to subscribe to the Usenet RKT, visit the following site: www.mibsoftware.com/0023.htm.
This may sound strange, but the first thing you need to decide when planning a news server is whether or not you really need one. Unless you have a fairly large group of users who need to access newsgroups on a regular basis, you may simply want to have your people access newsgroups from a news server provided by your ISP.
Maintaining a news server is resource-intensive. It involves a lot of network traffic, demands on the CPU, and disk space consumed. A full news feed can consume about 250GB of disk space per day. You can save a lot of space by not allowing groups that include binary files. Even then, however, you will still be consuming about 2GB of disk space per day.
A news server can be contentious as well. Without firm policies, you can find yourself dealing with demands for newsgroups from your users that may not be appropriate for your organization's goals.
After you decide to set up a news server, choosing the newsgroups to offer will have an impact on all other aspects of setting up the server. Your decision will affect the amount of traffic coming into the server, the disk space used, and probably, above all, how your users can spend or waste their time with newsgroups. Basically, you will do this by restricting which newsgroups are accepted from the news feeds you define. For example, you may want to exclude many of the newsgroups in the alt.* hierarchy because they include topics that are inappropriate in a business environment.
The traditional method of storing news articles places each article in a separate file within the news server's directory structure under the name of the newsgroup. This method is inefficient for large volumes of news. Therefore, INN offers several different methods of storing news articles. (See the section "Choosing How Articles Are Stored," later in this chapter, for descriptions of each of these methods.)
Articles that are stored using the traditional news storage method are held for 10 days by default. You can change that value (by resetting entries in the inn.conf and expire.ctl files). For the cnfs method, articles are rotated out automatically after the buffers are full. How to change the length of time that news articles are stored is described in detail later in this chapter.
You need to find one or more news servers to provide you with news feeds. Likewise, you need to configure your news server to feed other news servers with the articles that you want to pass on. You can ask your ISP whether it can provide you with a news feed or query a newsgroup that discusses how to set up news servers. How to set up news feeds is described later in the chapter.
Some news feed providers don't want to be bothered with configuring partial news feeds. They will want you to take a full news feed or none at all. One way to use INN to configure a partial feed is by using the suck package. With suck, instead of having an INN server provide you with a feed, you simply use suck to copy selected newsgroups from an INN server. To do this, suck relies on the same command set that a standard INN newsgroup reader would use, but suck uses the results to populate its small INN server so multiple users can access the downloaded articles. You can find the suck package by visiting rpmfind.net or a Red Hat FTP mirror site.
Both the best and the worst of humanity seem to be unleashed in newsgroups. You need to set standards for your organization on what is acceptable usage of your newsgroups. For example, you may want to prevent the use of certain "offensive" newsgroups. Because the use of your news server reflects on your organization, you also want to teach your users good netiquette (Internet etiquette) when it comes to participating in newsgroups.
Encourage your users to read articles from the news.announce.newusers newsgroup first. The articles in this newsgroup offer behavior guidelines when participating in newsgroups. Guidelines for posting to newsgroups also exist. If users of your news server are abusive or antisocial, you as the administrator may find yourself the recipient of many complaints.