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alt.usenet.offline-reader FAQ (01/02) intro

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Archive-name: off-line-readers/usenet/intro
Alt-usenet-offline-reader-archive-name: intro
Posting-Frequency: biweekly
Original-Author: Rhys Weatherley
Last-modified: 2001-Apr-07
Posting-Via: (mail2news)
Not-Posting-Via: my connectivity provider who doesn't do news for uucp now
Not-Posting-Via-The-Cable-Modem-Because: I don't want to

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
auo == alt.usenet.offline-reader
FAQ == Frequently Asked Questions

The FAQ lists for alt.usenet.offline-reader can be found on the Internet:


part 01/02 intro

 1 Credits and Disclaimer
 2 Spam
 3 Other sources
 4 QWK and Crayons
 5 Overview
 6 Newsgroups of interest to offline readers
 7 What is an offline reader?
 8 What is the difference from getting a news feed?
 9 What are QWK and BlueWave?
10 What is SOUP?
11 What is ZipNews?
12 Where are tutorials?
13 Where can I find the Good Netkeeping Seal of Approval?
14 Why does Forte Agent get its own group?

part 02/02 software

100 Where can I get the software?
200 Where are the QWK readers?
300 common sites, template
400 author contacts
500 ftp sites
600 miscellaneous
700 packers
800 readers


Subject: a.u.o intro: Credits and Disclaimer From: auofaq@locutus.ofB.ORG (Alt.Usenet.Offline-reader FAQ) This FAQ is based in part on one by Dave Cheung <>, last posted to alt.usenet.offline-reader in April 1993. It was updated and posted by Rhys Weatherley for a while. It was then digestified and hardly modified by Russell Schulz <auofaq@locutus.ofB.ORG> Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the information contained herein is correct, neither the current author, the current poster, nor any previous author or previous poster can accept ANY LIABILITY WHATSOEVER for errors, ommissions or damage howsoever caused.
Subject: a.u.o intro: Spam From: auofaq@locutus.ofB.ORG (Alt.Usenet.Offline-reader FAQ) you wouldn't believe how much spam I get to this address.
Subject: a.u.o intro: Other sources From: auofaq@locutus.ofB.ORG (Alt.Usenet.Offline-reader FAQ) many people have publicly complained that the FAQ is useless or worse. you are certainly encouraged to mail them and ask them for their insight, and stop reading the FAQ now. aside from this, I will mostly stop responding to these or similar non-points in the newsgroup or mail. here are some quotes -- I hope you find them as humorous as I do -- the last few are hilarious. --> From: (Nick Knight) > It's a shame that the FAQ's available to the general public are effected so > negatively by the whims of their author(s), and/or a small "circle" of > off-center extremists. > This FAQ contain WAY too much pointed personal opinion. Can it be cleaned > up and made more useful, or is it destined to simply express the outdated > viewpoint of one or two hard.heads? --> From: > This FAQ certainly takes the cake for being the most worthless one I've > ever read. I don't really care what the tone of the rest of the net is > ... it doesn't disprove my point in the least. Nice try, tho. > There'd be hope, but Russell is in charge of this one. The ultimate > net.bitch. --> From: (Nick Knight) > I'll take this oportunity to point out that some of these "answers" > aren't as valuable as a new user might think. That's a shame, but > because these "answers" are maintained my one or two close-minded > old-timers, some of the "answers" are nothing more than pointy opinions, > and in fact, are fact-less. --> From: (Nick Knight) > Good for you. Your FAQ still is inaccurate and based on pointed > opinion, nomatter *what* your follow up header "suggests". It sucks, > and if it's posted in all these newsgroups, I'll crosspost and say so in > all of them. --> From: (Nick Knight) > Now, quit trying to change the subject and answer the basic claim. Your > FAQ sucks and is made worthless by the interjection of massively > inaccurate opinion. --> From: (Joe Kovacs) > A constructive FAQ is badly needed. --> From: (Martin Pollard) > I'm more than willing to create, and post, an alternative FAQ, one which > is long on actual facts and short on opinions (especially those of the > closed- minded variety). The current FAQ will be a good start, at least > as far as raw information is concerned; the editorializing will, of > course, be sent to /dev/null. --> From: (Nick Knight) > Hmmm. I've toyed with this idea myself ... at first I thought I'd > create a "FAQ about the alt-usenet* FAQ ... the real story"-type thing. > I think it might be more useful to actual create a real "alternate" FAQ > with some real information. It couldn't possibly be any worse than what > already exists! --> From: (Nick Knight) > As for "having to do with QWK" or not, who cares? I mean, WHO CARES? > You keep wanting to get so infinitely technical, and nobody needs to > look that hard. The files are created with a QWK extension. --> From: (Nick Knight) > At this point, while I'd love to actually see the FAQ corrected, I'm more > interested in unstubbornizing Russell. We've had public and private > exchanges, and my personal opinion is that Russell possesses less > intelligence than a centepede.
Subject: a.u.o intro: QWK and crayons From: auofaq@locutus.ofB.ORG (Alt.Usenet.Offline-reader FAQ) using QWK for Internet mail or Usenet is like using wax crayons for all your business correspondence. it'll get your message across, but only to those people who don't throw it away without opening it. this is because QWK has small limits on certain essential headers, and does not allow certain other essential ones. some QWK packers try to compensate by recreating the headers and removing the truncated data, but such efforts are prone to failure. of course, some formerly-QWK packages also can ignore the truncated headers and use full headers in the body of the text -- which they correctly manipulate, just like any other correct newsreader. it's nice that these authors have started to catch up to the rest of the crowd. but since this can be done only by ignoring the QWK headers, they can not be seriously referred to as QWK messages anymore.
Subject: a.u.o intro: Overview From: auofaq@locutus.ofB.ORG (Alt.Usenet.Offline-reader FAQ) A common question on netnews these days is "how do I package up my mail and news to be read offline?". This FAQ attempts to answer this question for e-mail and netnews, to point the reader at relevant software, and to describe some of the ongoing efforts in this area. Other networks such as FidoNet, CompuServe, etc. are not covered.
Subject: a.u.o intro: Newsgroups of interest to offline readers From: auofaq@locutus.ofB.ORG (Alt.Usenet.Offline-reader FAQ) alt.usenet.offline-reader is for the discussion of offline systems for netnews in general. This includes the installation and use of offline systems, and the discussion of "packet formats" to facilitate offline activities. comp.os.msdos.mail-news is for the discussion of any aspect of managing RFC-compliant mail and news on MS-DOS machines, and is not limited to the discussion of offline activities. comp.os.os2.mail-news is for the discussion of any aspect of managing RFC-compliant mail and news on OS/2 machines, and is not limited to the discussion of offline activities. \ for the use of winsock-compatible > mail, news, and other applications / (including SLIP/PPP access) alt.usenet.offline-reader.forte-agent is for the discussion of Forte, Inc.'s Agent and Free Agent newsreader/mail agents. is for the discussion of Peak to Peak's OUI (Offline Usenet Interface) at <news://> only [defunct] alt.sys.amiga.thor is for the discussion of the Amiga package Thor is for the discussion of news software in general, and specific packages which aren't already covered in a more specific group.
Subject: a.u.o intro: where does `offline' begin? From: auofaq@locutus.ofB.ORG (Alt.Usenet.Offline-reader FAQ) ==begin FAQ caption== From: Rahul Dhesi <> Newsgroups: comp.mail.pine,,comp.mail.misc Message-ID: <3k6bv8$> Date: 15 Mar 1995 09:28:08 GMT Suppose I have a high-powered Sun machine that gets, oh, 6 incoming newsfeeds totalling a couple of hundred megs a day. If I read or post news on it, am I reading or posting offline? (Probably not, you might say.) What if I cut it down to, say 2 incoming news feeds and 50 megs a day? One incoming newsfeed and 3 megs a day? A sporadic incoming newsfeed that's rather selective based on my tastes, a couple of hundred kbytes a day? Just what is meant by offline news reading? ==end FAQ caption==
Subject: a.u.o intro: What is an offline reader From: auofaq@locutus.ofB.ORG (Alt.Usenet.Offline-reader FAQ) The concept of offline reading comes from BBS world where a user connects via a modem to the bbs, and downloads a file (usually called a packet) containing all unread messages since the last connection. Then a program is used, to extract the messages from the packet, read them and reply to them, creating a reply packet to be uploaded at the next connection. This saves time (the bbs lines are less engaged) and money (on phone bills). It also means that the user can make use of much friendlier reading tools than can be made available in an interactive login environment. For the purposes of this FAQ, "offline" is defined to mean the following: "transferring mail and news in some form from an existing interactive account to a user's machine, usually via a modem, so that the messages may be read while the user is not connected to the account, and so that replies may be composed to be uploaded to the account at some later time to be injected into the network".
Subject: a.u.o intro: What is the difference from getting a news feed? From: auofaq@locutus.ofB.ORG (Alt.Usenet.Offline-reader FAQ) Another definition of "offline" pertains to the system administrator of a mail and news site (usually a UUCP site) who reads mail and news while the machine is not physically connected to the network, usually with some friendly third-party utility. This usage is common in the Waffle community. It is often the case that your server can provide you with an automatic transfer method to send you mail and news. This is called a "feed" and can be received by modem using the UUCP protocol (among other methods). There is no big difference with the "offline reading" concept except that it is a little more automated. If your home machine runs on a multi-tasking system, or you can dedicate it to mail and news all night long (when you're asleep -- probably easy to do) you can even set it to call the server regularly. You can also start feeding other machines if you wish. The disadvantage is that traditionally, getting a feed has been a lot more complicated, needlessly so, than using an offline reader. Another disadvantage is that some providers charge more for a uucp connection on top of a shell connection or slip connection. One advantage of the uucp approach is that uucp is designed to _only_ transfer files. You don't have to worry about your ProComm script accidentally leaving you logged in for nine hours on a long-distance connection until you find it in the morning, waiting for you to press `Enter'. If a uucp connection is idle, the other system will disconnect, since it's not expecting anyone to be there to press `Enter'. You can also more confidently set your machine to dial up at 3:00 am when system response is quickest, the phone lines to your provider are never busy, and any long-distance charges drop as low as they go. Also, it is almost always easier to get a free uucp connection than a free shell account with offline-friendly capabilities (for instance, most FreeNet sites don't). SNUUPM is a package designed to allow simple installation of the full UUPC, SNews, and PMail (Pegasus Mail) packages. uufree is another such installation and configuration suite, but none of the included packages is shareware, and the installation time has been kept to an absolute minimum -- and most of the configuration can easily be done by the site giving you the uucp feed. At the start, especially if you want few newsgroups, you may want to begin with an offline news reader and then maybe move to a feed when you feel more confident.
Subject: a.u.o intro: What are QWK and BlueWave? From: auofaq@locutus.ofB.ORG (Alt.Usenet.Offline-reader FAQ) QWK and BlueWave are the names of popular packet formats in the BBS community. QWK was originally created to get messages for PC-Board bulletin boards and FidoNet "mail areas" (the equivalent of netnews newsgroups). It became a de-facto standard since more and more QWK readers are available not only on MS-DOS machines but on all architectures. However, the QWK and BlueWave formats are not capable of carrying RFC-compliant messages such as Internet mail and netnews. Some efforts have been made to adapt QWK to netnews, but at best the extra information present in netnews messages has been ignored by existing readers, and at worst the extra information is truncated or lost. Some of this information, for example the Message-ID: and References: headers, is very important to netnews, and the loss of this information causes problems for other netnews readers. Some packages try to put all the RFC-compliant header information in the _bodies_ of the messages, which creates a lot of ugly messages when these aren't intercepted, but also doesn't solve the problem of creating _correct_ headers, since the QWK programs will just let any old garbage out, and your messages can silently disappear, without you getting any warning until it's too late. As mentioned, there are already a _ton_ of QWK readers. if you're looking for a programming project, see the next section. it'll be about as much work, but a lot more fun because it's a lot less likely to be ignored once you finish.
Subject: a.u.o intro: What is SOUP? From: auofaq@locutus.ofB.ORG (Alt.Usenet.Offline-reader FAQ) SOUP == "Simple Offline USENET Packet" format. It is intended as a replacement for QWK in the netnews community. The messages stored in SOUP packets are completely RFC-compliant so that no critical information is lost. Software which supports SOUP on a variety of platforms is available. See "Where can I get the software?" later in this FAQ for more information. SOUP was originally called the "Helldiver Packet Format" or HDPF, and was devised by Rhys Weatherley ( near the end of 1992. A variant of HDPF, called the "Simple Local News Packet" format or SLNP, was devised by Philippe Goujard ( soon afterwards. SOUP now combines the features of both HDPF and SLNP. Rhys Weatherley currently maintains the "official copy" of the format document. The SOUP format document may be found on any (old) SimTel FTP mirror as msdos/offline/ The latest copy may also be obtained by mailing Rhys Weatherley at the above e-mail address. SOUP also has the ability to download "summaries" of message areas. That is, downloading just the header information for the user to peruse and then choose what messages they want to be downloaded later. This can be useful in very large newsgroups where a user typically only reads a few messages and wishes to avoid downloading the rest of the "noise". This feature is not currently widely implemented however.
Subject: a.u.o intro: What is ZipNews? From: auofaq@locutus.ofB.ORG (Alt.Usenet.Offline-reader FAQ) ZipNews is an offline reading system that was developed independently by Jack Kilday ( It is primarily intended for Waffle, PC-Board and Wildcat! systems, although the UQWK package can generate ZipNews packets (and process ZipNews reply packets) on Unix systems. Two known ZipNews compliant readers exist. SOUP and ZipNews formats are superficially very similar, and it is not inconceivable that a reader for one format could be adapted to read the other format. The original ZipNews reader can also function as a local newsreader for Waffle system adminstrators.
Subject: a.u.o intro: Where are tutorials? From: auofaq@locutus.ofB.ORG (Alt.Usenet.Offline-reader FAQ) (Michael Kirk) I still have the file ( available thru my Home Page ( but havn't had the time in months to update it. (Kevin Martin) I have expanded and edited the Hands-On How-To in an effort to make it more "Web-friendly." It now includes hot links to many of the add-on and maintenance utilities discussed here and on the YARN mailing list. This html version is at (Sami) I've written a small manual about reading the news offline with uqwk and yarn. This file is public domain. You can add it to FAQ's, give it to your friends interestered in offline reading etc. Just keep the author information in the text. This text is also available via WWW and Gopher. With WWW, use URL:
Subject: a.u.o intro: Where can I find the Good Netkeeping Seal of Approval? From: auofaq@locutus.ofB.ORG (Alt.Usenet.Offline-reader FAQ) The Good Netkeeping Seal of Approval
Subject: a.u.o intro: Why does Forte Agent get its own group? From: auofaq@locutus.ofB.ORG (Alt.Usenet.Offline-reader FAQ) alt.usenet.offline-reader.forte-agent was created because of the high volume of traffic Agent/Free Agent users created which was useless to a significant number of readers. that's why we get most any new group. a key reason was many Forte users' unwillingness to simply put the word `Forte' into their Subject: headers, which made it needlessly difficult to filter messages. many messages simply mentioned the version of the software, which was inconsiderate at best. some FAQ sites I've seen posted: William Guynes' site: Automating Free Agent/Agent:

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