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1 Leafnode FAQ
3 Dr. Cornelius Krasel
5 Matthias Andree
7 Copyright 2002 Cornelius Krasel
9 Copyright 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2021 Matthias Andree
13 Table of Contents
15 Leafnode frequently asked questions, with answers.
16 Installation-related problems, including relocations
17 Configuration problems
18 Problems at run time
19 Problems with particular newsreaders
20 Obtaining a stack backtrace
21 From a core file.
22 Running a program under gdb supervision.
23 From a running/hanging leafnode program.
24 Red Hat and the inetd vs. xinetd issue.
26 Leafnode frequently asked questions, with answers.
28 Installation-related problems, including relocations
30 Q: Compiling causes a message 'SA_RESETHAND undeclared'!
31 Q: I cannot compile leafnode on Linux!
32 Q: Where/how do I get the source RPM? I want to modify it.
33 Q: How do I copy/move the spool?
35 Q: Compiling causes a message 'SA_RESETHAND undeclared'!
37 A: This means that your operating system is too old and lacks this symbol which
38 is required by POSIX. Please update your operating system.
40 Q: I cannot compile leafnode on Linux!
42 A: Another common reason for the build to fail is that Leafnode depends on some
43 system-specific information which is usually included in the sources of the
46 Unfortunately, some Linux distribution do not install kernel sources by
47 default; therefore, compilation of Leafnode (and most other programs as
48 well) will fail. The obvious solution is to install the kernel sources. On
49 Linux, if the kernel sources are installed in /usr/src/linux-a.b.cc (with
50 a.b.cc being the version number of your kernel), create a symlink to /usr/
53 Q: Where/how do I get the source RPM? I want to modify it.
55 A: You can generate it yourself from the source tarball (which contains the
56 necessary .spec file. Just type: rpmbuild -ts leafnode-1.11.5.tar.bz2 - of
57 course, you will have to adjust the version shown here. For RPM 3.x and
58 older, type this instead: rpm -ts leafnode-1.11.5.tar.bz2
60 Q: How do I copy/move the spool?
62 A: There are two important requirements to heed:
64 1. You must copy hard links as hard links. There are three supported
65 methods to achieve that. In each of the following examples, replace the
66 source and DEST directories:
68 □ On POSIX compliant systems, use mkdir DEST && sudo pax -r -w -p e -H
69 /var/spool/news/ DEST
71 □ If rsync is installed, use (note the trailing slash!), use rsync -aH
72 /var/spool/news/ DEST
74 □ If GNU cp is installed (it's sometimes called gcp), use cp -a /var/
75 spool/news/ DEST
77 If you fail to do this, texpire may expire articles too early. You can
78 repair broken hard links with texpire -r.
80 2. You must update the hashed message.id/nnn/ links if you are running
81 leafnode from the new location. Unless the new spool directory has the
82 same name as the old one (if, for instance, moving to a new computer),
83 run texpire -r before any other leafnode program. Leafnode-1's spool
84 layout unfortunately depends on the name of the spool directory, and
85 when that changes, files may have to be moved between the message.id/nnn
86 / directories, and texpire -r does just that - and it also repairs hard
89 If you fail to do this, leafnode may not find articles in its spool.
91 Configuration problems
93 Q: Leafnode refuses to start and tells things about my hostname!
94 Q: Does leafnode support local newsgroups?
95 Q: How do I run leafnode as NNTP+SSL server?
96 Q: How do I use fetchnews with NNTP/SSL servers, such as nntp.sourceforge.net?
98 Q: Leafnode refuses to start and tells things about my hostname!
100 A: There is a separate documentation file dedicated to this issue, how to
101 obtain a hostname, and how to tell leafnode about it. Please see README-FQDN
102 or README-FQDN.html for details.
104 Q: Does leafnode support local newsgroups?
106 A: Leafnode 1.x does not support local newsgroups. Leafnode 2.x will do that.
108 Q: How do I run leafnode as NNTP+SSL server?
110 A: Wrap leafnode with an SSL wrapper:
112 1. Obtain stunnel version 3 and install it.
114 2. Create a certificate and save it to /etc/leafnode/stunnel.pem, see the
115 stunnel documentation. Implications such as whether to use signed
116 certificates are beyond the scope of this document.
118 3. Add a configuration to your inetd.conf or xinetd.conf as described in
119 the INSTALL document; but instead of /usr/local/sbin/leafnode, you'll
122 /usr/local/sbin/stunnel -f -p /etc/leafnode/stunnel.pem -l /usr/local/
125 Q: How do I use fetchnews with NNTP/SSL servers, such as nntp.sourceforge.net?
127 A: Warning: SourceForge does not currently support the HEAD, STAT and BODY
128 commands, so leafnode-1 is totally out of the play for now. leafnode-2 will
129 work for lurking, but will likely be unable to post. Sourceforge are aware
130 that we need these commands and will add them at a later time.
132 1. Obtain stunnel version 3 and install it.
134 2. Arrange for stunnel to be started at system boot time, try:
136 /usr/sbin/stunnel -c -d 127.0.0.1:563 -r nntp.sourceforge.net:563
140 server = localhost
141 port = 563
142 username = YOUR_SF_LOGIN
143 password = TOP_SECRET
146 to your /etc/leafnode/config.
148 Problems at run time
150 leafnode (the NNTP server)
152 Q: I cannot post, leafnode tells me the Message-ID is invalid.
153 Q: I cannot connect to my newsserver.
154 Q: Remote users cannot connect to leafnode.
156 Q: I cannot post, leafnode tells me the Message-ID is invalid.
158 A: Netscape Communicator, Mozilla and derived products (Beonex) will by default
159 generate the Message-ID from the domain part of your E-Mail address.
160 However, if your address is that of a big freemailer site (hotmail.com,
161 yahoo.com, gmx.de), this will lead to invalid Message-IDs.
163 To work around this, go to the Mail & Newsgroups settings and enclose your
164 E-Mail addresses into double quote marks, like this:"firstname.lastname@example.org"
165 This will prevent your Netscape-based newsreader from generating the invalid
166 Message-ID and leave the generation to leafnode.
168 Q: I cannot connect to my newsserver.
170 A: You may not have configured inetd or xinetd properly, or the corresponding
171 super server is not running. Please review the installation instructions.
172 See below for information specific to Red Hat.
174 To test the setup, try: telnet localhost 119. Leafnode should then reply
175 with (on one line):
177 200 Leafnode NNTP Daemon, version 1.9.27.rel running at merlin.emma.line.org
178 (my fqdn: merlin.emma.line.org)
180 Q: Remote users cannot connect to leafnode.
182 A: You are connecting from outside the same networks that your leafnode server
183 is in. Leafnode by default refuses connections from outside your LAN to
184 prevent your leafnode server from abuse should you forget to configure tcpd
185 or make a mistake when writing your hosts.allow or hosts.deny files. Please
186 see /etc/leafnode/config.example for the allowstrangers option and how to
187 configure this option, and its requirements. YOU are responsible for the
188 abuse of your server if this option is enabled, so only give access to
189 people with static IP whom you trust.
191 If the clients are on dynamic IP, please use other methods of access
192 instead, for instance SSH tunnels (which are also available on Windows,
193 before you ask).
197 1. Fetchnews does not fetch any articles.
198 2. Fetchnews has problems retrieving new newsgroups.
199 3. Since the update, fetchnews does not post my new articles!
200 4. While fetchnews is running, my modem hangs up.
201 5. How can I run fetchnews as regular user (not root)?
202 6. I have unsubscribed from a newsgroup, but fetchnews still pulls articles for
203 that group.
204 7. How do I stop fetchnews from unsubscribing from newsgroups?
205 8. fetchnews is slow, how do I speed it up?
206 9. fetchnews keeps downloading the full newsgroup list every time it runs
208 1. Fetchnews does not fetch any articles.
210 There are several reasons why this may be the case:
212 • You did not read any pseudo articles with your news reader. Subscribe to
213 some groups, enter them and read the leafnode placeholder article.
215 • Your groupinfo file may be corrupt. Run fetchnews -f.
217 • /var/spool/news may have wrong permissions. /var/spool/news and all its
218 subdirectories should be owned by user and group news and have
219 permissions drwxrwsr-x (02755).
221 2. Fetchnews has problems retrieving new newsgroups.
223 Maybe your upstream server supports neither the XGTITLE news.group.name nor
224 the LIST NEWSGROUPS news.group.name command.
226 In this case, add nodesc = 1 to the server entry in /etc/leafnode/config, as
227 described in the leafnode(8) manual page and the /etc/leafnode/
228 config.example file.
230 3. Since the update, fetchnews does not post my new articles!
232 You have probably mixed old and new binaries. Check your inetd.conf or
233 xinetd.conf configuration if they really point to the new binary.
235 4. While fetchnews is running, my modem hangs up.
237 An article that causes the interruption may contain three plus signs in a
238 row (“+++”), which many modems interpret as the beginning of a command. You
239 can change or disable this “escape” sequence. Consult your modem's manual,
240 register S2 is a common place to configure this.
242 5. How can I run fetchnews as regular user (not root)?
244 For security reasons, this is not possible.
246 However, there is a tool named “sudo” that allows a regular, unprivileged
247 user to impersonate another user, and this can be used to enable a regular
248 user to run fetchnews.
250 “sudo” is available from http://www.courtesan.com/sudo/.
252 If “sudo” is installed on your system, then run visudo as root and add this
255 username ALL = (news) NOPASSWD: /path/to/fetchnews
257 Remember to replace “username” and “/path/to/” with the user's login and the
258 proper path to fetchnews.
260 Now, the user who has been enabled access to fetchnews can just type sudo -u
261 news /path/to/fetchnews to run fetchnews.
263 6. I have unsubscribed from a newsgroup, but fetchnews still pulls articles for
264 that group.
266 Your news reader talks to leafnode via the NNTP protocol. This protocol
267 provides no means for Leafnode to determine which newsgroups you are
268 actually subscribe. Therefore, Leafnode assumes that a newsgroup that is not
269 read for a certain time (which can be configured with the timeout_long
270 parameter) is unsubscribed and will only stop retrieving articles in it
271 after this time.
273 If you are impatient and want to stop retrieving articles from that group
274 immediately, delete the corresponding file in the /var/spool/news/
275 interesting.groups/ directory. The articles that are already in your spool
276 are still subject to the regular texpire schedule, however.
278 7. How do I stop fetchnews from unsubscribing from newsgroups?
280 Make sure that your newsreader issues GROUP or LIST ACTIVE commands for each
281 of the groups it is subscribed to when checking for new news, so that
282 leafnode can actually see which groups are interesting. For instance, a
283 newsreader configured to read the whole active file with a LIST command may
284 lose subscriptions for low-traffic groups. See also the Gnus FAQ below.
286 As a last resort, change your cron job or ip-up script to run fetchnews -n
287 rather than just fetchnews.
289 8. fetchnews is slow, how do I speed it up?
291 If you are using filters, try the article_despite_filter option (introduced
292 in leafnode v1.9.33).
294 If your upstream server does not support XOVER, try using as few of the
295 maxage, maxlines, maxbytes, minlines, maxcrosspost options as possible.
297 9. fetchnews keeps downloading the full newsgroup list every time it runs
299 Watch the fetchnews output for error messages, if you see a message such as
300 Reading newsgroups descriptions failed: 501 bad command usage. then try
301 adding nodesc = 1 blow the server=news.example.org line of the server that
302 showed this error.
306 1. Texpire does not expire articles.
307 2. Texpire message.id counts do not match the sum of the group counts!
309 1. Texpire does not expire articles.
311 The backup software that you are using may not reset the atime after reading
312 a file. Check if you can reconfigure it to reset the “atime”.
314 As a workaround, run texpire -f. This will expire articles somewhat earlier
315 because expiry is then determined from the time the file was last modified,
316 rather than when it was last accessed.
318 2. Texpire message.id counts do not match the sum of the group counts!
320 This may happen if texpire has been interrupted previously, crashed, some
321 other application touched the spool or the spool is corrupt.
323 Problems with particular newsreaders
325 Q: leafnode loses subscriptions of low-traffic groups with Gnus.
326 Q: leafnode loses subscriptions of low-traffic groups with slrn.
327 Q: When searching news with Netscape, I only get back “unknown command”.
328 Q: Outlook Express locks up.
329 Q: Tin complains about a missing file /var/lib/news/active.
331 Q: leafnode loses subscriptions of low-traffic groups with Gnus.
333 A: Check the setting of gnus-read-active-file (you can use customize-variable
334 to do that), it should be 'some or nil.
336 Q: leafnode loses subscriptions of low-traffic groups with slrn.
338 A: Check the setting of read_active, it should be 0 (the default).
340 Q: When searching news with Netscape, I only get back “unknown command”.
342 A: To search news, older versions of Netscape needed a news server which
343 supports the XPAT command. Leafnode-1 does not. If you want to use Netscape,
344 you have to upgrade to version 4.5 and press the “options” button which
345 appears in the “search messages” window. In the box which appears you have
346 to select “on your local system”.
348 Q: Outlook Express locks up.
350 A: This can be caused by a corrupted inbox file in Outlook Express. It is said
351 to happen during the initial install of Internet Explorer. To fix this
352 problem, go to “Add/Remove Programs”, choose “Internet Explorer”, then “
353 Repair installation.”
355 Thanks to Jim Gifford who talked to Microsoft to find this solution.
357 Q: Tin complains about a missing file /var/lib/news/active.
359 A: Either you have started the wrong version of tin (the one which tries to
360 read news directly from the spool) or your groupinfo file is corrupt.
362 In the first case, simply invoke tin with the -r flag: tin -r. If this does
363 not help, try to rebuild the groupinfo file by running fetchnews -f.
365 Obtaining a stack backtrace
367 This section will tell you how to obtain a stack backtrace, a special program
368 state output that is very useful to somebody who is about to debug a crash.
370 The prerequisite to work is that the program is not stripped, i. e. it contains
371 the debug symbols. That means leafnode must have been installed with make
372 install rather than make install-strip. Note that most packagers (for RPM at
373 least) use make install-strip to save space.
375 To find out if your leafnode installation has been stripped, type file /usr/
376 local/sbin/leafnode (adjust the path as necessary, packages will usually
377 install to /usr/sbin/leafnode instead), here is a sample output of an
378 unstripped program:
380 $ file /usr/local/sbin/leafnode
381 /usr/local/sbin/leafnode: ELF 32-bit LSB executable, Intel 80386, version 1,
382 dynamically linked (uses shared libs), not stripped
384 From a core file.
386 This is simple:
388 1. Type gdb PROGRAM core. Replace PROGRAM by the name of the program that
389 crashed, for example fetchnews.
391 2. Type backtrace full.
393 3. Type quit.
395 Running a program under gdb supervision.
397 1. Type gdb PROGRAM. Replace PROGRAM by the name of the program that crashes,
398 for example fetchnews. Do not give any program options, gdb does not
399 understand them here.
401 2. Type run OPTIONS, where you name the options that you would normally pass
402 to the program itself. Just a plain run is also fine.
404 3. Wait until the program crashes. The output might look like similar to this:
406 This GDB was configured as "i686-pc-linux-gnu"...
407 (gdb) run -vvn
409 Starting program: /tmp/crashme
411 Program received signal SIGSEGV, Segmentation fault.
412 main () at crashme.c:4
413 4 *x = 4;
417 4. Type backtrace full, this is the desired stack backtrace.
419 5. Type quit to leave gdb.
421 From a running/hanging leafnode program.
423 1. Find out the Process ID of the hanging leafnode program. Type ps axw | grep
424 PROGRAM | grep -v grep on BSD systems and Linux, replacing PROGRAM by the
425 name of the program. Use ps -ef instead on SysV systems such as Solaris.
427 You will get an output like:
429 1995 ? S 0:00 /usr/local/sbin/leafnode
432 1995 is the Process ID.
434 2. Then attach gdb: gdb PROGRAM 12345, replacing PROGRAM by the program's name
435 and 12345 by the PID that you have just found out.
437 3. Type backtrace full.
439 4. Type detach.
441 5. Type quit.
443 Red Hat and the inetd vs. xinetd issue.
445 William Hooper
447 RedHat Linux has changed stance on inetd/xinetd over the years. In the 6.x
448 version, inetd was used, while xinetd is used in the 7.x series and 8.0. Note
449 in the following I make the assumption that the "Gnome workstation" and "KDE
450 workstation" installs are the same in regard to our discussion. Also, when in
451 doubt a simple rpm -qa | grep inetd will show you if either inetd or xinetd is
452 installed. The service and chkconfig commands can be used to be sure [x]inetd
453 is running and configured to run at boot time. By default, runlevels 3, 4, and
454 5 start [x]inetd.
456 Beginning with Redhat 6.2, inetd was broken out as a separate RPM and not
457 included when doing a "Workstation" install. This stands true for the 7.x
458 series (xinetd not installed) until 7.3. In Redhat 7.3, xinetd was added back
459 to the "Workstation" install as a dependency for "sgi_fam". Note, this change
460 is not reflected in the RH documentation, which states that xinetd is not
461 installed in "Workstation" installs.
463 In Redhat 8.0, the install options have changed, now offering a "Personal
464 Desktop" install. When doing a "Workstation" or "Personal Desktop" install
465 xinetd is installed as in 7.3, presumably to satisfy the same dependency.
467 In cases where inetd is not installed, no other RPMs are required to install
468 it. This means to install it you have three options (for RedHat 6.2 substitute
469 inetd instead of xinetd):
471 1. Best - If you have registered for Redhat's up2date service, just type
472 "up2date xinetd" as root.
474 2. Next Best - Install RPM from updates.redhat.com (version numbers current as
475 of 2002-11-10 for RH 7.3). You can manually download the RPM and install it
476 (as root) using rpm -ivh xinetd-2.3.9-0.73.i386.rpm, or have RPM download
477 it for you by using (again, as root) rpm -ivh http://updates.redhat.com/7.3
480 3. Worse - Install the RPM from the original CD. This is usually the worse
481 option because the updates (used above) are released to fix security
484 (All as root) First mount the first RH CD by putting it in the CD-ROM and
485 doing a mount /mnt/cdrom, and install the RPM similar to this: cd /mnt/