INN 2.x FAQ

Russ Allbery <rra@stanford.edu>
Last modified November 26, 2013

This FAQ is intended to answer frequently asked questions concerning the current versions of INN (INN 2.x and later) seen on news.software.nntp. It should be referred to in preference to the old INN FAQ, which only documents versions up to 1.7. It mostly covers INN 2.3 and later; earlier versions of INN may behave differently or use different configuration files.

If you're reading this on Usenet, this FAQ is formatted as a minimal digest, so if your news or mail reader has digest handling capabilities you can use them to navigate between sections. In rn variants, you can use Ctrl-G to skip to the next section; in Gnus, press Ctrl-D to break each section into a separate article.

Please send any comments, suggestions, or updates to rra@stanford.edu. Bear in mind when sending me e-mail that I receive upwards of 800 mail messages a day and have unanswered personal e-mail dating back six months or more, so please don't expect an immediate response. You may receive quicker responses by posting to news.software.nntp (even, due to the quirky way in which I read mail and news, from me).

This FAQ is posted monthly to news.software.nntp, and is available on the web at <http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/faqs/inn.html>.

Contents

  1. General Questions
    1.1. What is INN?
    1.2. What is the current version?
    1.3. Where can I get INN?
    1.4. Where can I find documentation?
    1.5. What newsgroups are there for INN?
    1.6. What mailing lists are there for INN?
    1.7. How can I support INN development?
    1.8. How can I contribute to INN?

  2. Terms
    2.1. What is tradspool (traditional spool)?
    2.2. What is CNFS?
    2.3. What are timehash and timecaf?
    2.4. What is overview?
    2.5. What are deferrals (NNTP code 431)?

  3. Specific Problems
    3.1. INN won't start after a new installation
    3.3. The news server isn't keeping up with incoming news
    3.4. news.notice is empty and the nightly report is missing things
    3.5. INN is running out of file descriptors
    3.6. Can't get debugging information out of INN
    3.7. Articles aren't being sent to remote peers
    3.8. sendmail isn't installed

  4. Error Messages
    4.1. innd: SERVER cant store article
    4.2. innd: SERVER internal no control and/or junk group
    4.3. Modification of read-only value attempted (Cleanfeed)
    4.4. tradspool: could not open ... File exists
    4.5. Binary posting to non-binary group (Cleanfeed)

  5. Problems on Specific Systems
    5.1. INN won't compile on SCO OpenServer / UnixWare / OpenUNIX
    5.2. Using raw devices on Solaris destroys the partition table
    5.3. Will INN run on Windows?
    5.4. Why aren't INN's files where the documentation says they are?
    5.5. Running INN on Mac OS X

  6. How Do I...
    6.1. Set up a server with no external feeds, just local groups
    6.2. Process a single control message
    6.4. Feed all articles on a server to another server
    6.5. Rename a newsgroup
    6.6. Change the domain used for message IDs
    6.7. Use INN without a direct news feed
    6.8. Generate MRTG graphs for INN
    6.9. Hide the junk and control groups from users
    6.10. Modify the body of posts made through my server
    6.11. Hide the Injection-Info header
    6.12. Run innd and nnrpd on separate ports
    6.13. Back up and restore an INN installation

(Note that some numbers have been skipped. When questions are removed, the remaining questions are not renumbered to avoid breaking links in Usenet and mailing list archives.)

1. General Questions

Contained in this section are general questions about INN, where to find it, and things of that sort. It is aimed at the person who is not yet running INN, or who has general questions about how it works.

1.1. What is INN?

The README that comes with INN has this to say (in part):

INN (InterNetNews), originally written by Rich Salz, is an extremely flexible and configurable Usenet / Netnews news server. For a complete description of the protocols behind Usenet and Netnews, see RFC 3977 (NNTP), RFC 4642 (TLS/NNTP), RFC 4643 (NNTP authentication), RFC 4644 (streaming NNTP feeds), RFC 5536 (USEFOR), RFC 5537 (USEPRO) and RFC 6048 (NNTP LIST additions) or their replacements.

In brief, Netnews is a set of protocols for exchanging messages between a decentralized network of news servers. News articles are organized into newsgroups, which are themselves organized into hierarchies. Each individual news server stores locally all articles it has received for a given newsgroup, making access to stored articles extremely fast. Netnews does not require any central server; instead, each news server passes along articles it receives to all of the news servers it peers with, those servers pass the articles along to their peers, and so on, resulting in "flood fill" propagation of news articles.

INN is free software, supported by Internet Systems Consortium and volunteers around the world.

For a more complete answer, see that file. A full description of what Usenet and Netnews are is beyond the scope of this document; for a beginner's introduction, see the news.newusers.questions home page at <http://www.anta.net/misc/nnq/>.

1.2. What is the current version?

The most recently released version of INN is 2.5.3.

INN development proceeds in two branches, as with many other free software projects. The STABLE branch is maintenance of the most recently released stable version, and only bug fixes are added to it. The CURRENT branch is the development version of the next release of INN.

As mentioned in the next section, when installing a new INN server, you may wish to download the latest snapshot of the STABLE branch rather than the current full release.

Note that the previous STABLE series for INN 2.4 terminated in the release of INN 2.4.6 and current STABLE snapshots are based on INN 2.5. You should therefore read the upgrade instructions in NEWS when upgrading from a STABLE snapshot before June 8th, 2009 to one dated after that.

1.3. Where can I get INN?

The download site for INN is <ftp://ftp.isc.org/isc/inn/>. In that directory are the various releases of INN, some additional documentation (particularly of security holes), the original INN Usenix paper.

There is also a snapshots subdirectory, in which you will find daily snapshots of the INN Subversion repository for the last seven days. The snapshots with STABLE in the name are the latest versions of the STABLE branch and may have some additional bug fixes over the current released version. The snapshots with CURRENT in the name are of the current development version.

Please note: There is no guarantee that a snapshot will even compile, let alone function well as a news server. In particular, the CURRENT branch is under active development, and all sorts of things may be broken at any given point in time. Use snapshots with caution, and don't use snapshots from the CURRENT branch on any production system unless you're prepared to debug the inevitable problems in code that's actively changing and not yet thoroughly tested. (The STABLE snapshots should be fairly reliable, however.)

1.4. Where can I find documentation?

INN comes with extensive documentation. See the files INSTALL and README at the top level of the source tree, for starters. In addition, nearly every program and configuration file has its own Unix man page. The best place to start is by reading the entire INSTALL file and then from there discovering which configuration files and programs do what you want to do and reading their individual man pages.

There are HTML conversions of the documentation that comes with recent versions of INN available at:

<http://www.eyrie.org/~eagle/software/inn/>

For additional documentation beyond what is distributed with INN, follow the links suggested in the above page.

The documentation that comes with INN is fairly technical in nature and lacking in some more general details on configuring news servers. Some of the links off of the INN home page have additional overview documentation or documentation on how to set up servers for specific roles.

Another good resource is the newsgroup news.software.nntp (and the Google archives thereof) and the archive of the inn-workers mailing list. A link to the latter is off the INN page referenced above.

Finally, the following additional links may be useful:

<http://aplawrence.com/Unixart/newsserver.html>

A tutorial on setting up INN aimed at beginners using SCO Unix. While it's mostly focused on SCO, it may be useful for any beginner to INN and news servers.

<http://www.kozubik.com/published/inn_tutorial.txt>

A tutorial on setting up INN on FreeBSD. Contains a lot of information focused on FreeBSD and its preferred file layout, so may be easier to follow than the generic instructions on that platform.

1.5. What newsgroups are there for INN?

news.software.nntp discusses all NNTP-based news servers, including INN. It's the best newsgroup for technical questions and discussion. The newsgroup news.software.b is also chartered for such discussion, but it's essentially dead now. General news administration questions are also on-topic in news.admin.technical (moderated) and news.admin.misc (unmoderated).

news.admin.hierarchies covers questions of general hierarchy configuration and is where announcements of new news hierarchies are generally posted. news.admin.net-abuse.* covers the topic of network abuse and prevention (including spam), but is not for the faint of heart; it is extremely noisy to the point of being essentially unreadable without a lot of time and patience (and a good killfile).

1.6. What mailing lists are there for INN?

There are several INN-related mailing lists:

inn-announce@lists.isc.org

Where announcements about INN are set (no posting allowed).

inn-workers@lists.isc.org

Discussion of INN development. It is also where to send bug reports and patches for consideration for inclusion into INN (postings by members only). If you're an INN expert and have the time to help out other users, we encourage you to join this mailing list to answer questions. (You may also want to read the newsgroup news.software.nntp, which gets a lot of INN-related questions.)

inn-committers@lists.isc.org

Subversion commit messages for INN are sent to this list (only the automated messages are sent here, no regular posting).

inn-bugs@lists.isc.org

Trac tickets for INN are sent to this list (only the automated messages are sent here, no regular posting). Bug reports should be sent to the inn-workers mailing list.

To join these lists, send a subscription request to the `-request' address. The addresses for the above lists are:

    inn-announce-request@lists.isc.org
    inn-workers-request@lists.isc.org
    inn-committers-request@lists.isc.org
    inn-bugs-request@lists.isc.org

inn-workers tends to be moderate volume (3-5 messages a day, but varying a lot depending on what's being discussed). inn-bugs and inn-committers are occasionally higher volume but entirely automatically generated Trac or Subversion notifications. inn-announce is a low-volume moderated list containing only major announcements.

1.7. How can I support INN development?

There are four major ways. First, like with any other free software project, a great way to support INN development is to join in yourself. If you know how to program and have an interest in working on a widely deployed and fairly intricate news server, we'd love to have your help. See the next question for more details.

Second, even if you don't have the time or expertise to write much code, any contributions of documentation are greatly appreciated. There's always documentation work to be done, from maintenance of INN's technical documentation to tutorials and overviews for the new user or the user who wants to do something specific. Listen on news.software.nntp for what people are looking for, or ask on inn-workers. Similarly, beta testers are always welcome; if you have a test news server and some knowledge of how to diagnose server problems and want to try out the current development code and report any bugs you run into, that helps the developers immensely.

Third, there are always more questions from new INN users to answer. news.software.nntp gets a regular stream of them, and it's a great way to help out intermittantly when you have a few moments to read news. If you can identify general solutions to frequent problems and pass them along to the INN maintainers in the form of documentation or suggestions, even better.

Fourth, from the README:

Note that INN is supported by Internet Systems Consortium, and although it is free for use and redistribution and incorporation into vendor products and export and anything else you can think of, it costs money to produce. That money comes from ISP's, hardware and software vendors, companies who make extensive use of the software, and generally kind hearted folk such as yourself.

Internet Systems Consortium has also commissioned a DHCP server implementation and handles the official support/release of BIND. You can learn more about the ISC's goals and accomplishments from the web page at <https://www.isc.org/>.

The ISC provides ftp and web space and mailing lists and archives. Donations to help support all of that are greatly appreciated.

1.8. How can I contribute to INN?

First, join inn-workers, since that's where all the development discussion takes place. The traffic isn't that high.

Next, download a snapshot of the INN CURRENT branch as described above so that you have a relatively current source base to work from. You may want to check out the current source from Subversion; just point a Subversion client at:

    http://inn.eyrie.org/svn/

This repository is a read-only mirror that can lag up to an hour behind the working repository. Read the HACKING file at the top of the INN source tree for some general information and tips for working on INN.

Then pick something that looks interesting to you, mention what you're doing on inn-workers if it's likely to affect other parts of the development, and have at it! The TODO file in the CURRENT tree has a pretty comprehensive list of things that could be done. Best to start with something small (getting INN to work correctly on a platform where it doesn't currently and which you have available is often a great start, or working on one of the supporting programs or scripts that's a bit easier to wrap one's mind around than the core INN daemons). Patches to INN should be sent to inn-workers@lists.isc.org, or put on an ftp or web site somewhere and the URL sent to inn-workers if they're extremely large.

2. Terms

Here are definitions of some commonly used terms related to INN. (More definitions are welcome; this section is extremely incomplete at the moment and the FAQ maintainer tends not to recognize terms that need a definition for people unfamiliar with INN.)

2.1. What is tradspool (traditional spool)?

Traditional spool is called that because it's the way that all news servers used to store articles. A traditional news spool is a tree of directories matching the hierarchical structure of newsgroups. For example, the newsgroup news.software.nntp would be stored in a directory news/software/nntp under the root of the news spool, and next to the "nntp" directory in news/software would be a "readers" directory for the group news.software.readers.

As of INN 2.3, traditional spool is completely integrated into the storage API as the tradspool storage method and use the same overview mechanisms as the rest of INN.

Storing articles in the traditional spool format is slow relative to other storage mechanisms. It's probably nearly impossible to keep up with a full Usenet feed using pure traditional spool. It is, however, the recommended storage method for low-traffic local newsgroups and any newsgroups that you want to back up.

For more details, see the INSTALL file.

2.2. What is CNFS?

CNFS is the Cyclic News File System, written by Scott Fritchie. It is a high-performance method of storing news articles, designed to avoid the high overhead involved in interacting with the file system when storing articles in individual files. CNFS stores articles sequentially in pre-configured buffer files. When the end of the buffer is reached, new articles are stored from the beginning of the buffer, overwriting older articles.

It's the fastest article storage method in terms of write performance, and is recommended for storing binaries.

For more details, see the INSTALL file.

2.3. What are timehash and timecaf?

These are two less-used storage mechanisms available under the INN storage API (similar in that respect to CNFS). Both can usefully be thought of as compromises between the write speed of CNFS and the fine-grained control over article expiration. INSTALL says for timehash:

Articles are stored as individual files as in tradspool, but are divided into directories based on the arrival time to ensure that no single directory contains so many files as to cause a bottleneck.

and for timecaf:

Similar to timehash, articles are stored by arrival time, but instead of writing a separate file for each article, multiple articles are put in the same file.

timecaf was new in INN 2.3.

2.4. What is overview?

Overview is summary information about articles in a newsgroup that is returned to news reading clients as a response to the OVER command. It's a very common extension to the NNTP protocol that allows readers to review summary information about articles before taking the time (and bandwidth) to download the entire article.

The canonical items of information included in an overview record are the Subject, From, Date, References, and Message-ID headers of the article, the byte count of the article, and the line count of the article. Nearly every server now also returns the Xref header (a list of the newsgroups carried by the server to which the article was posted and the article number in each of those newsgroups) as an additional field.

Note that with the References and Message-ID headers, the overview record contains enough information to do article threading. It also contains all of the fields normally keyed on for client-side filtering (killfiles and the like).

Generating overview information for a newsgroup on the fly would be prohibitively expensive, particularly for large groups, since the server daemon would have to find all of those articles and scan them to build the information. It would also be inefficient, since the overview information for a particular group will generally be requested many times by different clients.

Any INN server that supports readers must therefore have an overview method configured. There are three different methods to choose from: tradindexed, which is the slowest but the best tested and most reliable and the method with the best recovery tools; buffindexed, which is fast at writing because it uses preconfigured large buffers like CNFS, but which is harder to recover; and the experimental ovdb overview method, which stores overview information in a BerkeleyDB database.

2.5. What are deferrals (NNTP code 431)?

Consider the following situation. You have two incoming peers, both of which are getting ready to offer you an article in streaming mode. The first sends you a CHECK <message-id> message, to which you respond affirmatively (i.e., you don't already have the article). Then, before that peer sends you the article with TAKETHIS, you receive a CHECK <message-id> from the second peer for the same message. What response does INN send to the second peer?

If deferrals are enabled (noresendid == false in incoming.conf for that peer, the default), INN will send a 431 deferral telling that peer that you may or may not want the article; try again later. Chances are that when it retries, you will have received the article from the first peer and you'll just refuse it. But if the first peer dies before it ever sends you the article, this way you can still get it from the second peer.

If deferrals are disabled, INN will refuse the article from the second peer, which means there's a possibility you'll lose news if the first peer dies before sending you the article.

As a side note, some older versions of Diablo, upon receiving a deferral, turn around and immediately send the article via TAKETHIS, which is basically exactly what you don't want. (Chances are extremely high in practice that the first peer will come through with the article.)

3. Specific Problems

This section contains specific problems that are frequently reported when using INN, and includes fixes or suggestions for fixes. Candidates for inclusion in this section are any problems reported frequently on news.software.nntp or inn-workers@lists.isc.org. Contributions, including fixes, are very welcome.

3.1. INN won't start after a new installation

The most common cause of this problem is that inndstart isn't setuid root (please note that it only affects versions prior to INN 2.5.0 because inndstart was removed in INN 2.5.0). inndstart must be installed owned by root and group news, mode 4550. The ls -l output for inndstart should look something like:

-r-sr-x---   1 root     news        53768 Jan  8 00:47 inndstart*

inndstart will automatically be installed with the right permissions if you run make install as root. If inndstart isn't setuid root, it will log errors to syslog when it tries to start and cannot. If you aren't seeing those error messages in syslog either, you probably haven't set up syslog properly (see 3.4).

The other most frequent cause of this problem is not correctly following the instructions in INSTALL on how to set up the initial history database. After running makedbz, the initial history database files will have names starting with history.n. These files must be renamed to remove the ".n" before innd will start.

3.3. The news server isn't keeping up with incoming news

Start by looking for the profile information in your nightly report. That will tell you where the news server is spending most of its time and may identify the exact nature of the problem.

This problem is quite frequently due to using the traditional spool storage format for news articles. This storage method is now too slow to be able to handle a full Usenet news feed (although with a more limited selection of groups it can still do just fine). If your server is spending a lot of time writing articles and you're using traditional spool, this is probably the problem.

One possible solution would be to switch to CNFS as a storage mechanism. You can do this simply by configuring CNFS (see INSTALL for details), changing storage.conf to direct some or all of the incoming traffic to CNFS buffers, and then restarting INN. Older articles will continue to be stored in tradspool until they expire, but new articles will go into CNFS.

3.4. news.notice is empty and the nightly report is missing things

You have syslog set up incorrectly.

INN logs nearly everything except article trace information via syslog. It expects syslog to write its log messages into particular files under ~news/log, unless you gave it a different path at configure time (see the pathlog parameter in inn.conf). You'll need to set up logging of INN-related log messages in your system /etc/syslog.conf. See the "Configuring syslog" section in INSTALL.

Note that you don't have to worry about rotating these log files; news.daily (which should be run nightly from cron) will take care of that and innreport generates a daily summary report from them.

3.5. INN is running out of file descriptors

You may need to increase your system file descriptor limits. See the "File Descriptor Limits" section of INSTALL for more details. This is particularly a concern on Solaris systems, since Solaris by default has an exceptionally low file descriptor limit.

3.6. Can't get debugging information out of INN

The INN startup process is quite complicated, involving the rc.news shell script (and the setuid inndstart wrapper for versions of INN prior to 2.5.0). This can make it rather difficult to get enough debugging information out of it to determine what's going wrong if it's crashing immediately after startup or otherwise having serious difficulties.

One approach is to run innd by hand directly, giving it the -d option. This requires setting up a configuration where innd doesn't need to bind to privileged ports, however.

Another, sometimes better option, is move the innd binary to another name, like innd-real, and put a shell script in its place. Here's an example, from Kai Henningsen:

    #! /bin/bash
    # allow core dumps
    ulimit -c unlimited
    # save any output
    exec > /tmp/innd.log 2>&1
    # who are we running as, anyway?
    id
    # show exported environment
    export
    # start innd (don't forget the arguments, or it will complain)
    exec strace -o /tmp/innd.strace -f -F /path/to/innd-orig "$@"

This starts innd under strace, suitable for debugging startup core dumps and the like. You can use this as a general model for a variety of debugging; for example, you could replace the strace invocation with an invocation of gdb and then start innd from inside gdb with the -d option.

3.7. Articles aren't being sent to remote peers

(This entry is based on a post by Jeffrey M. Vinocur.)

Here's how to trace through INN's logs to figure out what's happened to a particular article. This should help you discover where the process of feeding an article to a peer broke down.

  1. First you look in the $pathlog/news file. There should be one line per article (search for the Message-ID, or they're in order by time of arrival if you know that).

    If you don't see a line for the article in question, your innd has never seen it. For articles being fed remotely, this means your peer didn't feed it to you. For articles being posted to your server, this generally indicates some sort of problem in nnrpd.

    (The only other time you wouldn't see a line for the article in question is if your innd has seen it in the past, and is considering this attempt a "duplicate".)

  2. Next, look at the second field of the line you've found in $pathlog/news.

    If it's "-", then your innd rejected the article. The reason should be at the end of that line.

  3. At this point, you should be looking at a line with "+" in the second field. The article should be on your server at this point.

    If it's not, either it's been cancelled, or has already expired.

  4. You're now interested in whether the article was sent to your peers. At the end of the same line in $pathlog/news, innd puts all of the peers it thinks should receive this article.

    If you don't see a peer you expect there, it indicates that $pathetc/newsfeeds is not configured in the way you think it is.

  5. If a peer is listed at the end of the line, the article should have been fed to that peer.

    If a peer doesn't have that article, it's possible that the article is spooled on your system somewhere. Check $pathoutgoing, or the innfeed spool if the peer is configured to use innfeed. (It's probably easier to look for error messages in $pathlog/news.notice than to actually wade around in $pathspool/innfeed.)

  6. If you're sure the article isn't spooled, and it doesn't show up on the peer, you have to consider the possibility that the peer has rejected the article. Alternatively, it's possible that the peer has some misconfiguration like the ones described above.

    In either case, if you're sure that the article was offered to the peer and not spooled, you will need the assistance of the peer's admin to investigate further. INN does not generally log enough information about outgoing articles to be able to tell more from your server alone.

    It may be possible to get a slight bit of information from the remote server by connecting with telnet (usually to port 119) and issuing "IHAVE <message-id>". The peer may respond with something like "435 Duplicate" which means that the problem is not likely to be with your server (it may be still a problem with the article itself). If the peer responds with something like "335", your server probably did not offer the article after all.

    If you really are at a dead end and need to get more information about what's going on with an outgoing feed, you can switch it from innfeed to nntpsend (see INSTALL for instructions). You can then run it manually with innxmit -dv, which will show the full conversation with your remote peer.

3.8. sendmail isn't installed

Yes, INN really does require sendmail. It uses sendmail to send out the daily reports and to mail messages to moderators, and it assumes that you have a program installed as /usr/sbin/sendmail or /usr/lib/sendmail that it can use to do this. It does not speak SMTP, nor is it likely to ever speak SMTP; it's hard enough maintaining a package to speak NNTP.

If you need a very simple local sendmail implementation that just sends mail to a smarthost, there are several available (nullmailer, for example).

4. Error Messages

Explanations of specific error messages, including solutions where applicable.

INN logs nearly all messages to syslog, so in general these error messages will be found in syslog. If you aren't seeing anything from INN in syslog at all, make sure that you have it set up correctly (see 3.3).

4.1. innd: SERVER cant store article

You probably have a misconfigured storage.conf. In current versions of INN, "no matching entry in storage.conf" is added to the end of this message unless it really is a disk I/O problem, making the cause considerably clearer.

storage.conf(5) has this to say:

If an article doesn't match any entry, either by being posted to a newsgroup that doesn't match any of the <wildmat> patterns or by being outside the size and expires ranges of all entries whose newsgroups pattern it does match, the article is not stored and is rejected by innd(8). When this happens, the error message

     cant store article: no matching entry in storage.conf

is logged to syslog. If you want to silently drop articles matching certain newsgroup patterns or size or expires ranges, assign them to the "trash" storage method rather than having them not match any storage method entry.

One of the more frequent causes of this problem is misuse of the expires key in storage.conf entries. Read the man page for storage.conf very carefully if you're using the expires key, since it may not do what you think it does. In particular, if you have a storage class that specifies expires with a min-time greater than 0, it won't match any article without an Expires header (the vast majority of Usenet articles).

4.2. innd: SERVER internal no control and/or junk group

Your active file isn't complete. Either it's been mangled by something or it's missing some required entries. Even if you're running a small stand-alone server for internal use that only carries a handful of groups, there are some pseudogroups used internally by INN that you have to have.

Since INN isn't running (it won't start when this error occurs), you can edit the active file by hand without worrying about stepping on INN's toes. Make sure the following lines are present in the active file (if the numbers are different, that's fine):

    control 0000000000 0000000000 n
    control.cancel 0000000000 0000000000 n
    control.checkgroups 0000000000 0000000000 n
    control.newgroup 0000000000 0000000000 n
    control.rmgroup 0000000000 0000000000 n
    junk 0000000000 0000000000 n

and then start INN again. The control* groups are for control messages (messages with a named group will be filed into it, and all other control messages will go into the top-level catch-all group). The n flag is so that users won't post messages directly to the control* groups; control messages should be posted to the groups that they affect instead and INN will refile them automatically based on the Control header.

If you have mergetogroups: set in inn.conf, you will also need to create a newsgroup named "to". Otherwise, you will get the following error:

    innd: SERVER internal no to group

4.3. Modification of read-only value attempted (Cleanfeed)

INN 2.3 and later have an internal optimization to the interface to embedded filters that makes filtering about 15-20% faster, but which disallows a trick that many versions of Cleanfeed use to count the number of lines in the article. (This problem is fixed in current versions of Cleanfeed.)

To correct this problem, find the line in Cleanfeed that looks like:

    $lines = $hdr{'__BODY__'} =~ tr/\n/\n/;

and change it to:

    $lines = $hdr{'__LINES__'};

The __LINES__ hash value is set internally by all recent versions of INN and is guaranteed to be correct.

4.4. tradspool: could not open ... File exists

This error generally happens after a crash or unclean shutdown of innd using the tradspool storage method, and is caused by overview information being out of sync with what articles are in the spool. When innd was restarted, it renumbered its active file (which determines the range of existing articles in each group and therefore what article number is assigned to new articles) based on the overview information. If there are newer articles already on disk that aren't mentioned in the overview (because the overview information for those articles hasn't been flushed to disk yet), new incoming articles will get assigned the same number as the existing article and then innd will fail to store the article and throttle with this error.

In INN 2.4 and later when using the tradindexed overview method, you can solve this problem by rebuilding the overview for any affected group. Throttle the server (if it isn't already) and then run:

    tdx-util -R <path-to-articles> -n <newsgroup>

where <newsgroup> is the newsgroup that INN is complaining about and <path-to-particles> is the full path to the directory where the articles for that group are stored (it's generally in the error message). Immediately afterwards, run ctlinnd renumber for that newsgroup, and then unthrottle the server.

The general solution to this problem, which works with any version of INN and any overview method, is to shut down the server, delete all of your overview database, and then rebuild it from your news spool with:

    makehistory -O -x -F

This takes a long time and is to some degree overkill. For versions of INN prior to 2.5, you will also need to run ctlinnd renumber '' immediately after restarting INN.

A third and better solution in some cases is to just remove all articles in the spool that have higher numbers than the numbers in the active file. Here's a Perl script that will do that. Just save this to a file, make it executable, and run it, giving it the path to the active file as the first argument and the path to the top of your tradspool news spool as the second argument:

    #!/usr/bin/perl
    die "Usage: <name> <active> <spool-path>\n" unless @ARGV == 2;
    open (ACTIVE, $ARGV[0]) or die "Can't open $ARGV[0]: $!\n";
    while (<ACTIVE>) {
        my ($group, $hi, $lo, $flag) = split;
        my $directory = $group;
        next if ($hi == 0 and $lo <= 1);
        $directory =~ tr%.%/%;
        $directory = $ARGV[1] . '/' . $directory;
        if (-d $directory) {
            opendir (DIR, $directory) or die "Can't open $directory: $!\n";
            while (defined ($_ = readdir DIR)) {
                unlink "$directory/$_" if ($_ > $hi);
            }
            closedir DIR;
        }
    }

If you're not already running INN 2.4, upgrade if you can. Not only can you recover directly from this problem if you're using tradindexed overview, but INN 2.4 does a better job of flushing data to disk and is less likely to have this problem in the first place.

4.5. Binary posting to non-binary group

This message does not actually come from INN. It's generated by Cleanfeed, and if you're seeing it, that means that you have Cleanfeed installed. At least at one point, the default Red Hat installation of INN included Cleanfeed without documenting this particularly well.

In order to allow binaries in your local hierarchies, you should modify the Cleanfeed configuration file to set bin_allowed to a regular expression matching the groups that should allow binaries. Please don't allow binary postings to regular Usenet newsgroups that you don't know should have binaries, as they consume large amounts of bandwidth and possibly disk space for other sites.

For more information on Cleanfeed configuration options, see the Cleanfeed documentation and the comments in the default configuration file.

5. Problems on Specific Systems

Problems specific to particular operating systems or platforms. Look here if INN doens't behave as expected on your particular system, or if you're having trouble compiling INN in the first place.

5.1. INN won't compile on SCO OpenServer

For information about getting INN to run on SCO UnixWare 7.1.* and OpenUNIX 8.0.0, see:

<http://www.zenez.com/tmp/ou8faqz/cache/269.html>

On SCO OpenServer, the default cc requires -O be given when -Kalloca is given (which is added by default by configure since the parsers generated by bison need it). However, there appears to be a bug in the compiler that causes it to miscompile nnrpd/commands.c under -O, generating the error:

    Assembler: commands.c
            aline 1505      : Syntax error

I had to get around this by cd'ing into nnrpd, running:

    make COPT=-g commands.o

and then cd'ing back to the top level and running make again. On OpenServer, to build with cc, you have to use:

    env CC=cc CFLAGS=-O ./configure --with-sendmail=/usr/lib/sendmail

Building under gcc is cleaner, but of course if you want to use --with-perl you want to build with the same compiler that you built Perl with.

It's also worth noting that with a shared Perl library, Perl on this platform doesn't apparently generate the right link magic to include the path to the dynamic Perl libraries. You need to either set LD_RUN_PATH before building or LD_LIBRARY_PATH before running any binaries so that they can find the Perl libraries. (The former is preferred, since then the path is encoded into the binaries and you don't have to remember to set LD_LIBRARY_PATH later.)

5.2. Using raw devices on Solaris destroys the partition table

If you use slice 2, or some other disk slice that includes the entire disk, under Solaris as a raw partition for CNFS, you may run into this problem. The symptoms are that INN manages to initialize the cycbuffs just fine, but then gets invalid device errors when it tries to open them again, and the disks show up in format as needing to be repartitioned.

The solution is to not use raw devices that include the first cylinder of the disk. Solaris doesn't protect the superblock from being overwritten by an application writing to raw devices and includes it in the first cylinder of the disk, so unless you use a slice that starts with cylinder 1 instead of 0, INN will invalidate the partition table when it tries to initialize the cycbuff and all further accesses will fail until you repartition.

Generally all that has to be done is to repartition the disk with slice 0 starting from cylinder 1 and extending to the end of the disk and then point INN at slice 0 instead of slice 2. You lose some small amount of space, but generally not enough to care about.

5.3. Will INN work on Windows?

It won't out of the box. The standard INN distribution doesn't build on Windows. It has, however, been built for Cygwin (a Unix-like environment for Windows) in the past and some of the necessary patches (although perhaps not all of them) have been incorporated into current INN releases.

Search for http://homepage.mac.com/imeowbot/inn/ at <http://web.archive.org/> for the previous work. Don't forget to peruse INSTALL if you download and want to try this.

5.4. Why aren't INN's files where the documentation says they are?

INN's default installation locations are intended to be convenient for sysadmins adding INN to their system without disturbing other software. They don't match any of the standards used by various Linux distributions or other Unix packaging systems. Because of that, distributors who supply INN packages often rearrange the files and directories.

Unfortunately, this is very confusing for system administrators, because the documentation is not updated to reflect the modified locations of files.

You can always get the details of how your system is configured by looking in inn.conf at "pathnews" and similar parameters. But for convenience, here are comparisons of INN's default locations with some of the most common packages.

(Data courtesy of John F. Morse.)

               DEFAULT                          DEBIAN
pathnews:      /usr/local/news                  /usr/lib/news
pathbin:       /usr/local/news/bin              /usr/lib/news/bin
pathcontrol:   /usr/local/news/bin/control      /usr/lib/news/bin/control
pathdb:        /usr/local/news/db               /var/lib/news
pathetc:       /usr/local/news/etc              /etc/news
pathfilter:    /usr/local/news/bin/filter       /etc/news/filter
pathhttp:      /usr/local/news/log              /var/log/news
pathlog:       /usr/local/news/log              /var/log/news
pathrun:       /usr/local/news/run              /var/run/news
pathtmp:       /usr/local/news/tmp              /var/spool/news/incoming/tmp
pathspool:     /usr/local/news/spool            /var/spool/news
patharchive:   /usr/local/news/spool/archive    /var/spool/news/archive
patharticles:  /usr/local/news/spool/articles   /var/spool/news/articles
pathincoming:  /usr/local/news/spool/incoming   /var/spool/news/incoming
pathoutgoing:  /usr/local/news/spool/outgoing   /var/spool/news/outgoing
pathoverview:  /usr/local/news/spool/overview   /var/spool/news/overview
               DEFAULT                          FEDORA
pathnews:      /usr/local/news                  /usr/lib/news
pathbin:       /usr/local/news/bin              /usr/lib/news/bin
pathcontrol:   /usr/local/news/bin/control      /usr/lib/news/bin/control
pathdb:        /usr/local/news/db               /var/lib/news
pathetc:       /usr/local/news/etc              /etc/news
pathfilter:    /usr/local/news/bin/filter       /usr/lib/news/bin/filter
pathhttp:      /usr/local/news/log              /var/log/news
pathlog:       /usr/local/news/log              /var/log/news
pathrun:       /usr/local/news/run              /var/run/news
pathtmp:       /usr/local/news/tmp              /var/lib/news/tmp
pathspool:     /usr/local/news/spool            /var/spool/news
patharchive:   /usr/local/news/spool/archive    /var/spool/news/archive
patharticles:  /usr/local/news/spool/articles   /var/spool/news/articles
pathincoming:  /usr/local/news/spool/incoming   /var/spool/news/incoming
pathoutgoing:  /usr/local/news/spool/outgoing   /var/spool/news/outgoing
pathoverview:  /usr/local/news/spool/overview   /var/spool/news/overview
               DEFAULT                          MANDRAKE
pathnews:      /usr/local/news                  /usr
pathbin:       /usr/local/news/bin              /usr/bin
pathcontrol:   /usr/local/news/bin/control      /usr/lib/news/bin/control
pathdb:        /usr/local/news/db               /var/lib/news
pathetc:       /usr/local/news/etc              /etc/news
pathfilter:    /usr/local/news/bin/filter       /usr/lib/news/bin/filter
pathhttp:      /usr/local/news/log              /var/log/news
pathlog:       /usr/local/news/log              /var/log/news
pathrun:       /usr/local/news/run              /var/run/news
pathtmp:       /usr/local/news/tmp              /usr/tmp
pathspool:     /usr/local/news/spool            /var/spool/news
patharchive:   /usr/local/news/spool/archive    /var/spool/news/archive
patharticles:  /usr/local/news/spool/articles   /var/spool/news/articles
pathincoming:  /usr/local/news/spool/incoming   /var/spool/news/incoming
pathoutgoing:  /usr/local/news/spool/outgoing   /var/spool/news/outgoing
pathoverview:  /usr/local/news/spool/overview   /var/spool/news/overview

In addition, the FreeBSD port uses the standard INN paths except that it puts logs in /var/log/news and pathtmp in /usr/local/news/spool/tmp.

Most packages install INN's man pages into a system man directory (/usr/share/man or /usr/local/man) rather than into a separate man directory under news's home directory.

5.5. Running INN on Mac OS X

Richard Tobin provided the following advice in news.software.nntp on 2013-06-29 based on experience with running INN on Snow Leopard:

Mac OS X, at least through the GUI, won't let you create a group with the same name as a user. So you can't use "news" for both.

The Perl module GD isn't installed by default. GPG is not installed by default.

You probably want to turn off Spotlight for the news spool directory.

Configure didn't get the Perl compile flags right. PERL_CPPFLAGS had "-arch x86_64 -arch i386 -arch ppc", but on this x86_64 machine the files for the other architectures don't seem to be installed. I edited Makefile.global by hand to remove them.

I needed to tell the application firewall to allow innd to accept incoming connections. (A window pops up to ask you, but this doesn't help when you're connected by ssh!)

When I ran rc.news form a terminal window, it stopped working when I logged out. This is because of MacOS's convoluted and undocumented way of doing DNS lookups. Using "nohup" fixed it -- not because of anything to do with SIGHUP, but because nohup calls an undocumented function related to "vprocmgr". Running from launchd shouldn't have this problem, and it appears to be fixed in Mountain Lion.

The Perl flags come from the Perl configuration, so this problem may be fixed with newer builds of Mac OS X.

6. How Do I...

This section documents various common or uncommon tasks or configurations that people want to do with INN. It is mostly taken from frequently asked questions in news.software.nntp.

6.1. Set up a server with no external feeds, just local groups

The basic steps are to set up a newsfeeds file empty except for internal feeds like controlchan or overchan (if you're using either), have only localhost in incoming.conf, and start INN with the default minimal active file. Then, create the groups you want to carry with ctlinnd newgroup. Set up reading permissions using readers.conf as appropriate for your organization.

In other words, it's very much like setting up any other instance of INN, but you don't bother with innfeed, nntpsend, or any of their configuration files. INN may also complain that you have no feeds in newsfeeds; this is harmless and can be ignored.

6.2. Process a single control message

To process a single control message, you can use controlchan from the command line. Just type either:

    echo /path/to/article-file | controlchan

or:

    echo @token@ | controlchan

if you have the storage API token of the article. (This assumes controlchan is in a directory in your path.) This is useful mostly for testing; if you just want to create, remove, or change a group, it's easier to use ctlinnd (newgroup, rmgroup, or changegroup).

6.4. Feed all articles on a server to another server

To feed all articles on an existing server to another one, regardless of how they're stored on the server, first tell the new server to accept articles regardless of how old they are (otherwise, INN will reject articles older than artcutoff in inn.conf) and disable your filtering:

    ctlinnd param c 0
    ctlinnd perl n
    ctlinnd python n

You may also want to set xrefslave to true in inn.conf and then restart INN on the new server if you want to keep the same article numbers as you had on the old server.

Next, make sure that the old server is listed in incoming.conf of the new server, and reload incoming.conf with ctlinnd to pick up that change. Also make sure that the new server carries exactly the same set of newsgroups as the old server.

Then try these commands (a variation on commands posted by Katsuhiro Kondou to inn-workers) on the old server:

    cd <pathdb in inn.conf>
    perl -ne 'chomp; ($a,$b,$_) = split " "; print "$_\n" if $_' history \
        | tr . / > <pathoutgoing in inn.conf>/list
    innxmit server list

where <pathdb> is the path to the directory containing the history file (usually ~news/db), <pathoutgoing> is the path to the outgoing spool directory (usually ~news/spool/outgoing), and server is the name of the new news server to which you're feeding the articles.

When done, set xrefslave to false in inn.conf again if you changed it and then either restart INN on the new server (necessary if you changed xrefslave) or use another ctlinnd param command to set the cutoff value back to what's specified in inn.conf and use ctlinnd perl and ctlinnd python to reactivate your filters.

Please note that when using xrefslave, this method requires that all of the articles in your spool have Xref headers. Current versions of INN will always add an Xref header, but very old versions (earlier 1.x versions) will only add an Xref header to crossposted articles. If you're trying to import such a spool, you'll need to modify all of those articles to add an Xref header.

6.5. Rename a newsgroup

INN has no native support for renaming a newsgroup, and doing so is difficult, so the best advice is to not do this. If there's a way that you can just create the new newsgroup, encourage people to start using it, and then remove the old newsgroup, I recommend that. It's much easier.

Although it is not a renaming, it is also possible to create an alias. Articles cannot be posted to that newsgroup, but they can be received from other sites and treated as if they were actually posted to the group named after the equal sign. However, their Newsgroups: header is not modified.

    ctlinnd newgroup group.to.file.under y
    ctlinnd changegroup old.group =group.to.file.under

Creating an alias newsgroup is useful in case you want residual articles received under the old newsgroup name to be filed into the new group.

As for a renaming, if it really must be done, it's best if you're using the tradspool storage method. The newsgroup of an article is stored in the Newsgroups header and Xref header of the article as stored on disk (and possibly in Followup-To), as well as determining where the overview information is stored, and in the case of tradspool is also encoded in the article's storage token. To rename a newsgroup in tradspool, stop the server, move the directory containing all of the articles to its appropriate new location in the news spool, edit every article to change the old name to the new name in Newsgroups, Followup-To, and Xref, create the new newsgroup with ctlinnd newgroup, and then rebuild history and overview with makehistory.

The following bit of Perl may help with the renaming (from Jeffrey Vinocur):

    #!/usr/bin/perl -wi
    my ($src, $dst) = (shift, shift);
    die "Usage: $0 oldgroup newgroup [file1 [file2 ...]]\n"
        unless(defined $dst);
    while(<>) {
        s/$src/$dst/g if 1 .. /^$/ and /^(Newsgroups|Followup-To|Xref):/i;
        print;
    } continue {
        close ARGV if eof;
    }

Note that this may cause some problems if the newsgroup you're renaming is contained in the name of another newsgroup to which messages in that group are crossposted. If that's a problem, you may have to use a more sophisticated script.

If any articles were crossposted to other newsgroups, you'll also have to find and recreate the links in those newsgroups to the new location of the articles (if the links were hard links and the process of changing the Xref, Followup-To, Newsgroups headers didn't break those links, you may be lucky and be able to skip this).

If you're using another storage method, this is harder, although with timehash you may be able to just change the Newsgroups, Xref, Followup-To headers of the articles in that newsgroup and then rebuild history and overview as above.

One other approach that can be used regardless of storage method is to refeed the articles to the server into a new newsgroup. This approach works best if you're also changing news servers at the same time; otherwise, the message IDs of the articles will already be in history, and you'll have to change the message IDs of all of the messages or remove them from the history database (such as by moving the articles away, changing /remember/ to 0 so that old history entries won't be retained, and then running expire to purge them out of history). To do this, get all of the messages into a directory (by pulling them down via NNTP or some other method), change the Newsgroups, Xref, and Followup-To headers to rename the newsgroup, and then create a file containing paths to all of the articles, one per line. You can then use that file as input to innxmit, pointing it at the server to which to feed the articles, and if the articles aren't listed in history on that server and it carries the new group, they will be accepted into the new newsgroup.

Note that if you use this method and something goes wrong the first time, the message IDs will probably have all been added to history on the new server and the articles now will never be accepted until those entries are removed from history again (or all the message IDs changed).

6.6. Change the domain used for message IDs

By default, any message IDs generated by INN will use the domain of the local system for the right-hand-side of the message ID. In some cases, this isn't desirable for various reasons (the server may have an internal name that doesn't make sense on Usenet at large, or one may not want to expose the name of the server).

In INN 2.3.3 and later, you can set virtualhost: to true in an access stanza of readers.conf and then set domain: in the same stanza, and all posts coming from connections to which that access stanza applies will use that domain to generate message IDs. So if you need to change the domain used to generate message IDs for every local post from your server, just add virtualhost: and domain: keys to every access stanza in readers.conf.

This is really overkill for this option, and eventually the domain: parameter in inn.conf will probably be changed to allow this to be modified for the whole server. (Right now, domain: in inn.conf means something completely different.)

6.7. Use INN without a direct news feed

INN is designed to be used as a regular news server, receiving direct news feeds from other news servers and sending news directly to other news servers using the peer-to-peer portions of the NNTP protocol. However, with some additional software, it is also possible to use INN as, in essence, a local cache for a news server that you can use to read and post but which doesn't treat your server like a peer.

This configuration is generally called a "suck" feed, because rather than having news fed directly to your server, you pull it down or "suck" it from another news server, and because possibly the first and one of the most widely used packages for doing this is named suck.

The software to pull down articles from another server and to feed articles to another server using post rather than peer-to-peer commands does not come with INN (INN has a few utilities to do this on a small scale, but not really anything designed to handle a lot of groups or a lot of articles). You will need an external package to do this. The two most popular are suck and newsx; however, both sites appear to be unavailable as of thos writing. You may be able to find a package in your local distribution or package repository.

Note that current versions of INN refer to articles internally using a storage API token, not a path name, which is not always what suck or newsx expects. Read the documentation carefully; you'll need to use a script or configuration that retrieves articles using the sm program that comes with INN rather than trying to open files directly.

It's also worth noting that INN is a fairly complex package, and while many people are running it successfully using this sort of configuration and like having a full-fledged news server available to them, other people have found INN rather complicated and difficult to configure for a small, simple personal news cache. If your needs and goals are simple and the number of groups you're interested in is small, you may be better off with a smaller, lighter package such as LeafNode or NNTPcache.

6.8. Generate MRTG graphs for INN

INN's CNFS storage system has direct support for producing information suitable for MRTG graphs on the usage of the CNFS cycbuffs. Running cnfsstat -m <cycbuf> will generate output suitable for MRTG, and running cnfsstat -p will generate sample MRTG configuration fragments for each cycbuff.

To generate MRTG graphs of the usage of the buffindexed overview system, try the following configuration fragment:

    Target[overview-BUFF]: `/usr/local/etc/mrtg/overview.sh`
    MaxBytes[overview-BUFF]: 100
    Title[overview-BUFF]: BUFF1 Usage
    Options[overview-BUFF]: growright gauge
    YLegend[overview-BUFF]: Overview Buffers
    ShortLegend[overview-BUFF]: %
    PageTop[overview-BUFF]: <H1>Usage of Overview Buffers</H1>
    <BR><TT>overview</TT>

where the overview.sh script is:

    #!/bin/sh
    echo "100"
    <pathbin in inn.conf>/inndf -o | awk '{print $1}'
    echo "0"
    echo "overview"

This sample configuration is from Basil Kruglov. Note that you can instead use -n (for total count of articles); in that case, you'll want to remove the MaxBytes setting above or change it to be some sensible limit on the total number of articles you receive. You'll also want to change a few of the other labels in the MRTG configuration.

I'm not aware of any packaged solutions for generating MRTG data from other things, such as incoming or outcoming news flows. If anyone has any pointers, let me know.

6.9. Hide the junk and control groups from users

The junk, control, and control.cancel groups must exist in the active file for the proper operation of INN, so you can't remove the groups entirely. You can, however, hide them completely from users.

To do this, edit readers.conf, and for each user access group where you want to hide the junk and control groups, add "!junk,!control,!control.*" to the newsgroups pattern. In other words, if you have a line like:

    newsgroups: *

just change that to:

    newsgroups: *,!junk,!control,!control.*

If you use read and post patterns instead, do the same for each of them individually. The groups will then no longer show up on the server for users to which that access group applies; it will be as if they do not exist.

6.10. Modify the body of posts made through my server

You can't without either making code changes to INN or putting your own software in the path of incoming posts. This is intentional.

Some sites like to try to append a standard signature to all posts through their service, generally as advertising. This creates the appearance of users saying things that they didn't, runs the risk of corrupting messages by appending text without regard to what's in the message, and can possibly modify messages that arrive via a suck/rpost connection. It also adds advertising in an obnoxious location, rather than in the Organization header which is more widely used for that purpose. Accordingly, INN does not support this, or any other modification of the body of a message from inside the news server.

If you only want to do this for a private hierarchy, the easiest way to do this (as well as any other modifications and internal filtering that you want to perform) is to mark all of the groups as moderated and route all submissions through a script that makes whatever modifications you want and then posts the messages with an Approved header.

If you want to do this in order to advertise your service, please reconsider. You can add your advertisements to the headers, like many other news service providers.

6.11. Hide the Injection-Info header

There is no built-in support for suppressing generation of the Injection-Info header. You can, however, remove it from inside a Perl posting filter. Try using a posting filter like this:

    sub filter_post {
        $modify_headers = 1;
        delete $hdr{'Injection-Info'};
        return '';
    }

Note that you have to set $modify_headers to make changes to the article header effective in the actual posted article. Instead of removing the header, you can also alter it if you modify $hdr{'Injection-Info'}. If you only want to alter the host name used in Injection-Info, see the virtualhost: and domain: parameters in readers.conf.

6.12. Run innd and nnrpd on separate ports

Originally, innd was designed to handle all incoming connections and hand them off to nnrpd as appropriate. It is, however, becoming increasingly common to run innd and nnrpd on separate ports for a variety of reasons, such as wanting to handle connections to nnrpd with a smart network connection handling daemon like xinetd that can do things like rate limiting of connections. INN does support this configuration, but be warned that since you need to run nnrpd on port 119 for most reader clients to be able to find it, you'll need to tell all of your news peers to use a different port to feed you news.

The recommended alternate port for innd transit-only connections is port 433, which has been reserved for that purpose. If you want to use some low-numbered port (less than 1024) other than 119 or 433 for innd, you will need to build INN with the --with-innd-port option specifying that port.

Now, set port in inn.conf to the port you want to run innd on and add noreader: true (so that innd will never attempt to hand connections off to nnrpd). Then, restart INN. It will now be listening on the new port. You should now set up nnrpd to run via xinetd, inetd, tcpserver, or some other similar network connection handling daemon on port 119. Make sure that nnrpd is run as the news user, not as root. You don't have to pass any arguments to nnrpd (unless you want to).

6.13. Back up and restore an INN installation

(This entry is based on a post by Jeffrey M. Vinocur.)

For a full backup, you need, at a minimum, to save all of the articles in $patharticles, the configuration files in $pathetc, and the active and newsgroup files in $pathdb. If you have any custom filters you've installed, or a cleanfeed.local file, you'll want to keep that, as well as any custom authentication programs or files you're using (like a password file for news accounts). You may also want to save HTML versions of the news.daily reports, if you've been generating them, and you may want to look at the first few lines of config.status in your original source tree so that you can be sure to use the same options to configure.

Note that most people only back up those portions of the news spool that they retain for a long time (like local hierarchies) and don't bother with all the regular Usenet articles.

It's considerably easier to back up and restore articles from tradspool than any other storage mechanism, and it's quite hard to back up and restore timecaf or CNFS. Remember that you can use different storage methods for different articles. I highly recommend saving the hierarchies you want to back up in tradspool and use the higher-performance storage mechanisms for news you don't care as much about.

To restore a single newsgroup using tradspool and the tradindexed overview method, you can just restore the articles into the news spool and then rebuild overview for just that group with tdx-util -R.

Otherwise, for more general restorations, compile INN on the new system with the same ./configure command if you've lost the installation, run make install, then put all the pieces back where they belong. Now, you have to run:

    makehistory -O

to rebuild the history and overview databases. When that finishes, cd to the $pathdb directory and run:

    makedbz -s `wc -l < history` -o

You should now be able to start the server and read and post news to it.

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