Background Research


What is Usenet

It is a distributed Internet discussion system that evolved from a general purpose UUCP network of the same name. It was conceived by Duke University graduate students Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis in 1979. The server holds articles for a particular news group which the client can request by number or article ID. The client may also, if the server permits it, post an article of their own into a specific news group, optionally referencing to a previous article within the group.

Uses of Usenet

Many different people use Usenet, for many different reasons, ranging from discussions of various topics, requests for help or to trade media, which is often seen as the ‘dark side’ to Usenet — the abuse of public news groups to trade copyrighted or offensive material. Thankfully however, those that use Usenet responsibly far out weight the few who use it as a tool for piracy etc.

Many of the people using and contributing to Usenet are people who work with computer technology. These people often use Usenet to seek help with a piece of software or suggest improvements, indeed one of the early functions of Usenet was to help users identify and report bugs found in software.

Unfortunately, the massive growth seen within Usenet has also made it a difficult medium to keep track of, the great variety and number of articles can take considerable time to filter through in order to find those of interest. There have been a variety of software applications created to help deal with this problem and many are freely available for personal use.




Existing News Readers

Some well known newsreaders are listed below:

slrn: s-lang read news

It is a console based newsreader that can be used on many different operating systems. This newsreader has the “usual” features of a newsreader and also supports “scoring rules to highlight, sort or kill articles based on information from their header. It is highly customisable, allows free key-bindings and can easily be extended using the sophisticated s-lang macro language.” In short, slrn is a very advanced news reader and a fine example of how open source group projects can succeed. The only possible disadvantage of this newsreader is that it lacks a GUI.

Outlook Express

Almost certainly the most popular newsreader available for the Windows operating system — Outlook Express has become available for UNIX and for Macintosh. In order to use Outlook Express, Internet Explorer is required to be installed on the target machine. This unfortunately means that to use Outlook Express requires a very large installation of software when compared to other comparative newsreaders. Outlook Express supports a similar feature set to other news readers with the addition that it has a very user friendly interface which even the most in-experienced of users should have no problem operating.

Pan — A news reader for GNOME

Pan is a Unix newsreader which attempts to be pleasing to both new and experienced users. While it is advertised as a Unix newsreader, Pan runs on several non-Unix platforms also. According to the Pan web site the newsreader supports the “standard” newsreader features and “In addition Pan also supports yEnc, offline news reading, article filtering, multiple connections, and more features for power users and alt.binaries fans.”



  Web Based News Reader Home Page

   Previous    Next  

Produced by: