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News Readers

An article is posted on one machine to a list of newsgroups. That machine accepts it locally, then forwards it to all its neighbors...

- RFC 850; Standard for Interchange of USENET Messages; Mark Horton; June 1983.

News reader client applications enable you to connect to the Usenet to read and post messages.

One of the first news readers was called "rn", for "read news", and was written by Larry Wall from NASA. It was later improved by Wayne Davison of Borland, Inc. to incorporate one of the first functions for message threading in a version called trn.

When you start a news reader it usually connects to the news server specified in the default application settings, often the one run by your Internet Service Provider. When you request a list of the current newsgroups, the news reader downloads the current group list from the server. Some news readers display the total number of messages and the number of new messages since the last download in each newsgroup.

When you open a newsgroup, your news reader asks the server for a list of the group's message headers, including the subject, sender, date, and number of lines in each message. Most news readers give you the option of downloading a small number of messages at a time so that slow Internet connections don't get overloaded by too many messages at once.

When you open a message to view it, your news reader downloads the specific message from the news server. If the message has an attachment, you may have to download that with another function.

Most news readers include a function to search a newsgroup for keywords in the subject or sender. The news reader sends the search string to the news server, which then runs an efficient search program on the list of messages and returns a list that match your keywords.


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