Provided by: cnews_cr.g7-40.4_i386 bug


       newsdb  -  USENET network news database: article tree, history, active,


       Each news article is stored in a separate file with one or more  links,
       each  a numeric name in a directory under /var/spool/news corresponding
       to a newsgroup the article  is  (cross-)posted  to.   For  example,  an
       article    posted    to    comp.unix.wizards   might   be   stored   in

       The file /var/lib/news/active defines the locally-valid news groups and
       contains  one  line  per  group.   Each  line  consists  of four blank-
       separated  fields:  newsgroup  name,  highest  local   article   number
       assigned,  lowest  local  article  number in use (approximately), and a
       flag.  Both article-number fields are at least five digits wide.  (Some
       older  news software may expect exactly five digits.)  The current flag
       values are y (a normal unmoderated group), n (like y but local postings
       disallowed), m (a normal moderated group), x (a locally-disabled group,
       no articles will be filed here), and =  (followed  by  the  real  group
       under  which  to  file  articles  in  this  group; articles are treated
       exactly as if their Newsgroups: header specified the real group instead
       of the original one; highest and lowest fields are ignored).

       The  file /var/lib/news/active.times is an extension of the active file
       that records the arrival of new newsgroups by time and creator.  When a
       new  newsgroup  is  created, the group name, time of group creation (as
       seconds since January 1, 1970, 00:00, GMT), and  mail  address  of  the
       creator  are appended as a single line.  The file must always be sorted
       in increasing order of the creation-time field.  The news software only
       appends  to  the  file,  which  normally  suffices  to ensure this.  An
       initial active.times for already existing newsgroups,  with  all  times
       equal  to the time of its creation and all creators ‘‘unknown’’, can be
       built using (see newsmaint(8CN)).  Active.times provides a
       quick way for newsreaders to tell when new groups have arrived, without
       weird heuristics and  expensive  schemes  like  storing  old  lists  of
       newsgroups and comparing them to the active file.

       The  file  /var/lib/news/history  contains  one  line  for each article
       received.  Each line consists of three tab-separated fields: a Message-
       ID:,  a  complex  middle  field, and the list of links to this article.
       The links are separated by blanks and are given as  pathnames  relative
       to  /var/spool/news,  except  that  all  the  ‘/’s  except the last one
       (between the last component of  the  newsgroup  name  and  the  numeric
       article  name) are replaced by ‘.’s.  If an article has been expired or
       cancelled without being seen first, the  list  of  links  and  the  tab
       before it are omitted.

       The middle history field potentially has several subfields separated by
       tilde (~).  Currently only three are defined:  the  arrival  date,  the
       expiry  date,  and an optional article size in bytes.  The arrival date
       is a time_t (see time(2); in Unix a time_t is a count of seconds  since
       the  GMT beginning of 1970) expressed as a decimal integer.  The expiry
       date is another decimal time_t, or the contents of the Expires:  header
       from  the  message, or ‘-’ indicating that there was no explicit expiry
       date given.

       There are also index files to permit rapid history lookup  by  message-
       id,       typically      called      /var/lib/news/history.dir      and

       Also usually present now are overview files,  one  per  newsgroup;  see
       newsoverview(5) for more detail on them.


       A trivial active file.

            control 0000600006 600004 y
            junk 0000000076 00074 y
   0000000006 00004 y
            talk.bizarre 0000296123 292136 n
            comp.sys.sun 0000050175 50173 m
            list.sun-spots 0000000076 00076 =comp.sys.sun
            comp.os.vms 0000000000 00000 x

       A trivial history file.

            <3451@hcr.UUCP>     581905588~-    comp.text/1317 comp.sources.wanted/4200
            <9383@alice.UUCP>   611934511~-




       dbz(1),   readnews(1CN),   rn(1),   dbz(3Z),   getabsdate(3),  news(5),
       newsoverview(5),      newssys(5),      expire(8CN),      newshist(8CN),
       newsmaint(8CN), relaynews(8CN), newsinvaders(9.1)


       Active.times invented by Mark Moraes and Geoff Collyer as part of the C
       News project.


       Reader implementors are warned that the various files  mentioned  here—
       the  active  file,  the  history file, the article tree itself, and the
       overview files—in general are  not  updated  perfectly  simultaneously.
       Nor are they necessarily updated in a predictable order.

                                  18 Nov 1994                      NEWSDB(5cn)