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Choosing a Newsreader
A "newsreader" is a program that reads the Usenet conferences. Well, all right, it doesn't read them. It presents them in an organized way so that you can read them. Any newsreader will let you choose what newsgroup to read and what messages to read. Many have other features.
There are several newsreaders to choose from. Your decision will depend on the kind of interface you have to the Net, and - to a lesser extent - on your own preferences.
If you are using SLIP or PPP, your newsreader can reside on your own system at home. If you have a Unix shell account, you will pick one of the newsreaders supported by the IO system itself.

Unix Newsreaders: rn, trn, strn, tin, and nn

In the time-honored Unix tradition of naming programs after famous letters of the alphabet, we present the Usenet newsreaders. If you have a "shell account" - that is, if your basic interface is the Unix prompt - you will use one of these to read your news.
You can also use pine (described above) from the Unix shell, and many people do find it convenient to use the same program for both mail and news!
You can start any Unix program just by typing its name. So, for instance, if you type trn, you'll be running the "trn" newsreader.
rn
Stands for 'read news'. The grandaddy of them all, I still use it. Other users, enamored of their relentlessly featureful newsreaders shake their head sadly, as if I were pulling up in front of the office in a stagecoach. Why use it? It is somewhat faster, and considerably less likely to do something weird than the others. On the other hand, it has a fairly hostile interface that forces users to memorize lots of letters.
trn
Stands for 'threaded read news'. Interface-wise, it's pretty much like rn, except it has more commands, and does this really cool thing where it shows you a map to the 'threads' of a discussion in the upper right corner.
strn
The next level. Stands for 'scanning threaded read news program'. All the strn documentation is readable by running strn and typing the 'H' key, which enters the online documentation browser. If you really like man pages, do 'man trn' for info on features shared by trn and strn.
tin
Stands for 'threaded interface to notes'. The winner in the user-interface department, it does threads (sort of) and is great at breaking down posts into subjects and letting you tackle one subject at a time. Ranks fairly high on my 'random weirdness' scale, however, as it is still going through fairly rapid change by its author.
nn
Stands for 'no news' is good news. More of a religion than a newsreader, nn is based on the principle that the primary purpose of a newsreader is to get rid of news. Has a reasonably friendly interface. May do weird things, but its acolytes rigorously maintain a code of silence.



Last revised August 29, 2000