Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online

5.10. What program should I use to read news?

Dozens of programs exist with which you can read Usenet news. These pieces of software--appropriately called newsreaders--may be complex or simplistic, but they all show you the Usenet news. The programs available to you depend on what system you're reading news on. If you are accessing the Internet by running SLIP on a Macintosh, your choices are completely different than if you're dialing into a VAX to read news. Because the majority of Internet folks use UNIX, this answer focuses on popular newsreaders available for UNIX. A full overview of all newsreaders for every system could take a chapter of its own and bore us all to death.

If you do use a UNIX system, remember that not every site will have all of the following newsreaders, so your choices may be more limited. If you don't use UNIX, check with your system administrator to see what newsreaders are available to you.

Note: The following part of the answer was provided by Rahul Dhesi (

You can read news by using any of a number of news reading programs. To help you decide which you should use, a brief description of each is given in the following text. Most Usenet users prefer to use nn, trn, or tin.

Help! Too many choices? Don't let all these choices confuse you. If you want to keep it simple and can't decide which news reader to use, begin with vnews. After one or two weeks of using vnews, you can explore the other news readers. If in doubt, try trn, because it is slightly easier to use than nn and is faster than tin.

Note: By the way, Rahul prefers nn, Kevin prefers trn, and Dave Taylor likes tin best, proving that no program is perfect for everyone.

Here's an example of what the trn newsreader looks like. (You should try it. It's my favorite newsreader, but it's not particularly easy to learn.)

======   6 unread articles in -- read now?
[+ynq] n
======  24 unread articles in comp.infosystems.wais -- read now? [+ynq]
======   4 unread articles in -- read now? [+ynq]
Reading overview file...          4 articles

a+Thomas Dowling    1  >Stock quotes from the Internet
b Dave Taylor       1  >The internet mall
d DaveHatunen       1  >Anonymous mail
e Rick Duffy        1  >How many people are on the Internet? (Flame!!)

-- Select threads (date order) -- All [Z>] --
Here's what the tin newsreader looks like. tin uses a friendly screen-oriented display.
       1     6                Will it be a
music conce
       2     4                  Not available in the
       3    24  comp.infosystems.wais                  The Z39.50-based WAIS
       4    15                Carl Malamud's
       5   151  comp.sys.mac.hypercard                 The Macintosh
       7     5  alt.etext
       8        a2i.announce
       9        a2i.general
      10        a2i.modems
      11        news.announce.important                General announcements
      12        news.announce.newusers                 Explanatory postings
      13   233  alt.config                             Alternative subnet
      14   804  news.answers                           Repository for
      15     7  news.lists                             News-related
      16    42  news.misc                              Discussions of USENET

       <n>=set current to n, TAB=next unread, /=search pattern,
    g)oto, j=line down, k=line up, h)elp, m)ove, q)uit, r=toggle
      s)ubscribe, S)ub pattern, u)nsubscribe, U)nsub pattern, y)ank

Threading articles...
                              Group Selection (77)

           (3T 6A 0K 0H R)

     1  +    Laurie Anderson's _Nerve Bible_ book            woody
     2  + 3  Lovely Laurie                                   Godes Shimon
     3  + 2  William S. Burroughs                            Rob
Yuck! Everyone (except perhaps beginners) should avoid readnews at all costs. It's so simple that it's impossible to use for any length of time.

Article 394 of 398, Fri 06:31.
Subject: Re: William S. Burroughs
From: (Steve Fletty @ University of Minnesota,
ng Services.)
(34 lines) More? [ynq] n

Article 395 of 398, Wed 04:35.
Subject: Re: Lovely Laurie
From: (Godes Shimon @ Tel-Aviv University Computation
(14 lines) More? [ynq] n

Article 398 of 398, Mon 16:16.
Subject: Laurie Anderson's _Nerve Bible_ book
From: (woody @ University of Missouri,
(17 lines) More? [ynq] n


Article 17557 of 17560, Wed 10:20.
Subject: Re: Stock quotes from the Internet
From: (Thomas Dowling @ University of

(18 lines) More? [ynq] y

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