Message-ID: < anews.Acbosgd.129>
Date: Tue Oct 27 12:50:21 1981
Subject: version B netnews
This is a status report for those of you that have been wondering when
B is going to be released, and what's different about it.
The current estimate of the release date is about one month from now.
There are still many minor nits being cleaned up in the code, and the
documentation is still incomplete. I suspect the biggest bottleneck
will be getting the BTL bureaucracy to release the tutorial paper,
thus the estimate of one month.
If you are unsure about which version to run, here is a brief rundown
of what exists.
The original version from Duke is an A version. It had the /bin/mail
interface only, and used a bitmap for keeping track of who had read what.
This version worked well for small systems with small volumes of news.
A later A version comes from Berkeley and is on 2.8BSD. This is basically
the Duke version with some minor embellishments from Berkeley, such as
the msgs interface. This version (as well as the original Duke version)
do not work well if you have a large /etc/passwd file due to locking problems.
Every time anything happens (an article is posted, or comes in from the net,
or someone reads news) the bitmap is updated. On large systems, this takes
a long time, and if a second update is attempted while the first one is
happening, the second one waits 60 seconds, tries again, and if it fails,
removes the lock and throws the message on the floor and exits. A third
message can then trash the files. (Since articles tend to come in in spurts
over the net, this happens often.)
Duke's current version, still a version A, is said to have a much faster
algorithm to update the bitmap, and to have improved locks. I haven't
seen it yet.
The upcoming release from Berkeley will be version B. This means it's
not compatible with version A. There are a number of convention changes,
mostly at the internal format level, but a few changes to the user
interface, and several significant enhancements. B systems can talk to
A systems without any changes to the A system. The B system gets rid of
the bitmap entirely and keeps a separate record for each user (in ~/.newsrc)
of what newsgroups are subscribed to and which articles have been read,
so things don't get trashed. Enhancements include presenting articles
in order by newsgroup, and being able to read messages out of order without
losing track of which articles have been read. There is better support
for the Mail interface, and it is possible to write your own interface
without having to update special system files. Articles expire automatically
after two weeks (or whenever the author sets the expiration date to).
Conversion to version B will involve doing the following: First, install
version B on your system in a different place than version A. (The user
commands are inews, readnews, and checknews, so there is no user interface
conflict. But you'll want to use /usr/spool/news for only one of the two.)
Get the new version running and test it out, including transmitting news.
Then, you have a flag day. You post one final article on the old news
telling people to change, pointing them at the documentation, etc.
You chmod the old spool dir to 555, install the new rnews in place of
the old one (so that incoming news goes to the new news), and that's it!
The user interface is the same flavor as before, but there are differences.
One changes his subscription by editing .newsrc rather than with netnews -s.
The sense of the -c option is reversed. Articles are printed in a slightly
different format, and in order of newsgroup. ALL becomes all.
Now for the question: should you convert to B? In my opinion, yes, but then
I'm biased. There is one disadvantage to B, other than the conversion needed,
which is that A's nchk program/subroutine is lightning fast. B's is not
as fast - it's still pretty fast, but it has to look in the spool directory
and at your .newsrc, so it's an order of magnitude slower. Thus, on a
system with a very small passwd file that requires users to be told of
new news each time they log in, it might make sense to go with version A.
(On a moderately loaded 11/70, the B newscheck for me takes about 1 second
of CPU time, of which about 2/3 is system time.)
Message-ID: < anews.Acbosgd.132>
Date: Tue Oct 27 19:39:17 1981
Subject: how to get netnews version B
I forgot to mention that when it's released, it will be posted to
the newsgroup net.sources, so if you're on USENET already you'll
get it for free unless you have that newsgroup turned off.