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How to Setup a Unix News Server (1999) (aplawrence.com)
30 points by kruhft 66 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 12 comments



It seems like the way news propagates, it should be possible to eliminate bad posters IF most people on the network are either running their own server or posting from a friend's server. If spam is popping up, you can look back at the path it took; if the spammer's feeds don't stop propagating his messages, then they themselves will probably get disconnected by their feeds. Earlier this year I participated in a recreation of a UUCP network, booted on simulated VAX nodes running Unix; we were able to propagate news pretty well, but the very old software combined with "serial lines over TCP/IP" meant things tended to drop on and off. I think a Usenet2 that focuses on small servers propagating to small servers, rather than the giant ISP-run systems we have today, could be a very neat thing to set up.


Are not today's standard systems similar to those giant run ISPs today of yesteryear? I agree, everyone should run their own usenet server and build some sort of mesh network to create a new usenet, I just don't see how the software would need to be improved much other than in user interface.

What would have to be changed in 'inn' to make it better than what it already does other than possibly auto-peer finding?


I don't think inn really needs any improvement; my gripe was with C-News running on BSD 2.11 :) I've set up INN on a modern system and it's quite simple.

Personally, I think auto-peering would be terrible for the reason I mentioned in my previous post. If you have to manually set up a peer, you have some control over who and what you propagate. If your friend starts posting garbage, one of your other peers might get pissed off enough to de-peer you--which I consider a feature! Configuring a peer isn't difficult, but it does require an explicit human-to-human agreement.

The way things work today, when somebody wants to post on Usenet, they go to eternal-september.org and get a free account. I think something like 50% of postings on text newsgroups must originate from eternal-september, and it's great that they're providing a free service, but things like e-s and the Google Groups Usenet bridge means that there's no accountability for garbage. With a $20 Raspberry Pi, though, you can run a totally capable text groups server, and I think a network like that might have some interesting people on it. It's also a foot in the door toward people hosting their own content rather than shoving everything on some random free online service.


I think this is a great idea and I'd love to participate in something like it, personally.

What Mastodon does for decentralized / less-shitty Twitter, this could do for Usenet.


I don't see why Usenet couldn't be used as the backbone for a complete social media platform. Give it a better interface for reading and peer finding (possibly through a re-interpretation of 'friends') that doesn't require setup and you have the perfect multi-machine transport system for posts.


I'd really like to make it happen, but getting a critical mass of people who are willing to set this up and then actually use the damn thing is real hard. Look at the thousands of abandoned phpBB forums scattered across the web, populated with a dozen sub-boards each containing only test messages from the admin. If you don't have people actually using the platform from the very start, the people who set it up first will get bored and stop using it, then anyone new who happens along will see that it's dead and not even bother.

Edit: I'm going to go ahead and put it out there: people who are seriously interested in doing something like this, there's a link to contact info in my HN profile. Email me. A dozen users from HN plus users from the more curmudgeonly online communities I follow may almost be enough to make it happen.


Even in the 90s there was (for Windows) a basic, simple to use news proxy called Nfilter. I can't remember if it took multiple feeds or just one, but it allowed filtering on more headers than a Usenet client.

Most Usenet clients would filter on the overview headers, which has the advantage that the messages did not have to be downloaded first, so it's much faster (these days that might not be such a issue), but the disadvantage that all a spammer/troll has to do (and did do) was change the From address to bypass the filter.

With Nfilter it was possible to filter on anything, for example crossposts (commonplace with trolls and spammers), NNTP-Posting-Host or even the Path, so a bad Usenet site with nothing but spam or trolls could be completely filtered out or flagged as junk.

The problem is nobody wanted to make even the small effort of running Nfilter (I tried repeatedly to get people to use Nfilter when groups were invaded by trolls but they preferred to just mindlessly continue complaining about it instead).

The author of Nfilter gave up development in the early 2000s, but its site is on Wayback Machine, from where it can be downloaded from its archived page (whether it works on anything later than Windows 95/NT I don't know), along with its source code:

https://web.archive.org/web/20030206100941/http://www.nfilte...

So even without individual users running INN (which seems a bit like overkill to me), users can and always could filter out every type of abusive garbage very easily. They just have to want to do it.


True enough. Thanks for sharing your experiences.


> It seems like the way news propagates, it should be possible to eliminate bad posters IF most people on the network are either running their own server or posting from a friend's server. If spam is popping up, you can look back at the path it took; if the spammer's feeds don't stop propagating his messages, then they themselves will probably get disconnected by their feeds.

The Usenet Death Penalty (UDP) is what was used in the past against ISPs or spammers, but the wikipedia article [1] indicates that it relied on cancel messages rather than reconfiguring the peering arrangement.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usenet_Death_Penalty


The Easy Way to Set Up a Local News Server (1996)

http://www.tldp.org/LDP/LG/issue09/newsserver.html


Excellent, much more concise.

Now, how to exchange IPs to find upstream/peer servers?





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