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Tutorial: Using pine as a Newsreader

The pine news interface resembles the pine mail interface (page 88), with as much consistency among commands, screen displays, and folder organization as possible. This consistency makes it easier for those used to the pine mailer to use pine as a newsreader. If you are using Mozilla, you may prefer to use Mozilla News (page 405).

In order to use any newsreader, you must have access to Usenet news. Ask your ISP or system administrator for the address of your news server. If your site has no news server, you will not be able to read news.

Start pine and select SETUP from the MAIN MENU. Enter c (Config) on the initial SETUP screen to display the SETUP CONFIGURATION screen, where you can view and modify many configurable aspects of pine's behavior (Figure 9-4). Highlight the pine variable nntp-server, select a (Add Value), and enter the URL of your news server.

09fig04.gifFigure 9-4. 's Setup/Configuration screen

In most cases this is all you need to do to start using pine as a newsreader. The next time you run pine, it will contact the news server on your behalf as you give commands to read and post news.

If you use pine for mail, you are probably accustomed to seeing the FOLDER LIST screen containing the mail folders INBOX, sent-mail, and saved-messages, and any other mail folders you have created. If this group, or collection, of folders is the only one defined, pine displays the individual folders within the collection when you select FOLDER LIST. Once you set up news, an additional collection—News—is automatically defined, and the FOLDER LIST screen becomes the COLLECTION LIST screen and displays a list of the two folder collections instead: Mail and News. Highlight the line for the News and press RETURN to use the news feature (Figure 9-5). The pine program displays the FOLDER LIST for news groups.

09fig05.gifFigure 9-5. 's Folder List screen

The news groups FOLDER LIST screen displays folders, each corresponding to a single newsgroup that you have subscribed to. To start, no folders are displayed. You can move among the newsgroups, or folders, by using the ARROW keys; select any newsgroup by pressing RETURN.

Subscribing to Newsgroups

The news subscription file, .newsrc in your home directory, is used by pine to keep track of your news subscriptions. It is in a standard format that can be used by most newsreaders. You may find this file in your home directory, initialized with a list of newsgroups deemed to be of general interest. If not, pine will create the file for you the first time you subscribe to a newsgroup.

A newsgroup that might be useful at this point is comp.mail.pine. To subscribe to this newsgroup, while still in the FOLDER LIST for news groups screen, enter a (Add) followed by comp.mail.pine at the prompt and press RETURN. After a while pine displays Subscribed to "comp.mail.pine" on the message line and adds the new newsgroup to the list of newsgroups displayed on the FOLDER LIST screen. Each step involved in subscribing to a news group may take a while, depending on your environment.

To display all the newsgroups that include Linux in their titles, enter linux in response to the prompt you get when you give an a (Add) command. (Figure 9-6 shows partial results of this query.) Press RETURN immediately after you give an a command to display a list of all newsgroups (the list is long and takes a while to display).

09fig06.gifFigure 9-6. Partial results of a query for newsgroups containing in their titles

Reading News

Use the ARROW keys to highlight one of the newsgroups that is displayed on the FOLDER LIST screen, and then press RETURN to display the Message Index screen. If you see the message Group now downloading, please check back later, press < to go back to the FOLDER LIST screen, and return to the MESSAGE INDEX screen for that newsgroup later.

Most aspects of reading mail apply to reading news: When you view the MESSAGE INDEX screen, you see a numbered list of messages (posts) identified with dates, sender names, and subject lines. Highlight the line that interests you, and press RETURN to view the message.

Using pine, you can select messages that interest you, mark messages for deletion, export messages to files, and so on. When viewing a news message, you will see headers that resemble the headers used in pine mail messages. The fields Date:, From:, and Subject: appear in the four-line header, with similar meanings. To emphasize that recipients of news messages are newsgroups, the To: field is replaced with the Newsgroups: field. This field lists one or more newsgroups that are receiving the post.

Unlike other newsreaders, pine does not automatically delete the news messages that you have read; you must explicitly mark news messages for deletion, using the d command, as you do for pine mail messages. Because pine remembers which messages you have deleted between pine sessions, you can pick up where you left off the next time you run pine to read news.

Posting News

The commands to post news in pine are nearly identical to those to send pine mail. The main difference is that the list of recipients comprises newsgroup names, not the addresses of individual users. As with mail messages, news messages can be sent to multiple recipients.

CAUTION: Use R With Care

When you enter r (Reply) to reply to a news post, you will be asked whether you want to include the original message in your reply; answer as you wish. Next, you will be given the following choices:

  • Follow-up to news groups (F)

  • Reply via email to author (R)

  • Both (B)

Enter F or B only with the greatest caution; your message will reach thousands of people. Unless you want your message to go to all the subscribers of all the newsgroups listed in the Newsgroups: field of the header, enter R at this prompt. R causes your reply to be sent as an e-mail message only to the individual who posted the original message.

Unsubscribing from a Newsgroup

When you decide that you do not wish to belong to a newsgroup, you can unsubscribe from it. You will probably want to unsubscribe from many newsgroups if your .newsrc file was initialized for you; the list of such newsgroups is likely to be long and diverse.

To unsubscribe from a newsgroup, select News from the COLLECTION LIST screen, press RETURN to display the news group FOLDER LIST screen, highlight the newsgroup you want to unsubscribe from, and press d (Delete). Unsubscribing from a newsgroup does not remove the newsgroup from the .newsrc file; it simply tells pine not to include that newsgroup in the FOLDER LIST display. If you decide to subscribe to the same newsgroup again, pine remembers what messages you deleted, and you can resume reading the posts where you left off.

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