Read Usenet comp.unix and more with back-then software (trn)

Is there a way to read the comp.unix Usenet discussions (and others) using the software that was used then? I’d like to read it to learn, but I can do a bit of escapism at the same time. Besides, as Usenet was so immense in popularity, probably that software wasn’t bad at all. I found trn (“threaded read news program”), and, with export, I get something, but not anything sensible to read. It seems, you should put newsgroups in a .newsrc file. Does anyone know how to do this if it is indeed possible?

Asked By: Emanuel Berg


For most Unix-based newsreaders, you need a $HOME/.newsrc file. It tracks (by article number) which articles you’ve already read in each newsgroup.

.newsrc is a plain text file. To start with, you can just created it with the name of each newsgroup you want to read on a line by itself, with a : appended to it.

I don’t believe comp.unix still exists, but there are a number of newsgroups in the comp.unix.* hierarchy.

For example:


Newsreaders (such as trn will generally have ways to get a list of all newsgroups and to subscribe and unsubscribe to newsgroups; you might not need to edit .newsrc manually (but you might as well, at least initially). is one free NNTP server — but as I understand it it’s fairly heavily used by spammers, and some Usenet participants ignore articles posted from there. I use myself. You have to set up a free account and create a $HOME/.authinfo file; see their web page for more information.

A number of Usenet newsgroups are still quite active. (I hang out in comp.lang.c myself.) Servers other than don’t save articles for more than a few months. Google doesn’t provide an NNTP interface — and its web interface has some serious problems.

My own preferred Usenet client program is Gnus, which runs under emacs; you’ll probably like Gnus if and only if you like emacs.

Answered By: Keith Thompson
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