A little bit of usenet

Posted on 2015-11-13 15:45 +0000 in Tech • 2 min read

Earlier on today I needed a copy of wget on my iMac. It's not "native" to it so I got to wondering how you go about getting something like that onto it. Sure, I could have just grabbed the source and built myself, but really it's a lot nicer to use some sort of package manager.

A quick search lead me to Homebrew and I was then up and running in no time.

This in turn got me to thinking about how it might be fun to get some of the software I used to use on my GNU/Linux machine up and running again. The first one that came to mind was slrn. Sure enough slrn is available via Homebrew and installing it was dead simple.

But then I was faced with a problem: I needed an NNTP server. Way back I used to run a local one in my office that fed from and to my ISP's. Back then my ISP was Demon Internet; these days I'm with BT. A quick search lead me to an article or two that BT had a NNTP server, of sorts, provided by a third party. So I did a quick check:

Is the server there?

Yay! This looked good.

After that I fired up slrn and.... problems. It kept asking me to log in, to provide a user name and password. The only problem was that I'd read in more than one place that a user name and password weren't needed for BT's server; all that was required was you be on a BT IP address. Checking the slrn docs I found force_authentication but ensuring that was off made no difference.

At this point I removed slrn and gave up.

Later, thinking it might be an issue with just slrn and perhaps it was worth trying a native NNTP client, I grabbed Unison (which is no longer supported but seems to work fine). I got that set up and ran into the same issue: it wanted login details.

Finally, after a bit more digging, I stumbled on the reason why I was struggling to make any of this work: BT had closed support for the server back in December last year!

A quick search around the web and I stumbled on Eternal September. Given all I was interested in was the good old text groups this looked perfect. I quickly registered an account, ran up Unison again and plugged in my details and....

Is the server there?

Now that's all sorted I should try again with slrn. At which point I'll need to drag out and tidy up post.el (the version that was being maintained by some other people seems to have gone very stale, sadly).