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Choice of News Readers

  Alan Silverman CN/DCI


Over the past few weeks we have conducted a review of the various news readers available on UNIX. The preliminary results can be consulted on the Web (using Netscape, not Mosaic which does not yet support tables properly) at URL:

This table will be completed over time with more comparisons but already we can make some remarks.

Line Mode News Readers

The two most common options today are nn and trn. Of these, trn is recommended mainly because of a few extra features (especially its attractive threading options) and better support by the authors. However, nn will continue to be made available for as long as we can (an earlier alternative, tin, has fallen out of favour due mainly to support issues and is no longer supported on site.)

X11 News Readers

Here the choice lies between xrn and mxrn. Once again, the table shows that they are rather similar. In the past, we have recommended mxrn because it seemed slightly more user-friendly. However, recent experience has shown that it is rather harder to maintain and its long-term support seems to be in some doubt. Therefore, although again we shall do our best to keep mxrn available for all supported UNIX platforms, we now recommend xrn for reading news on an X11 device.

Web Browser for Reading News

Although all the Web browsers seem to offer news reading in some more or less developed form, only Netscape offers anything like a complete set of news reading functions; for example, neither Mosaic nor lynx update the list of news read.

Other Options

Two other commonly-used programs can be used to read news, namely pine and emacs. pine can be used to read news in a fashion very similar to the one used to read mail but it has more limited possibilities than a dedicated news reader. And, as any fan of emacs knows, emacs can do anything.


In the NICE environment (Windows 3.1) the ``Internet news'' icon can be found in the Comms group with an Internet news reader application. Users are, however, recommended to use NICE 95 where Netscape is configured for reading Internet news. This can be found under ``More Applications'' and ``World Wide Web'' from the task bar. Netscape cannot be used for reading Internet News in the Windows 3.1 environment.


Here there is a choice of several products including Netscape 2.01 and several share-ware or free-ware products such as InterNews and newswatcher. These are all available via Appleshare on the `mac_dc' server, zone `AS', in the volume `public domain', folder `communications'. The latest version of Versaterm Pro also supports the reading of news.




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Next: Recommended Editors for CN Up: Desktop Computing Previous: Desktop Computing

Michel Goossens
CN Division
Tel. 3363
Thu May 30 20:08:07 METDST 1996