7.2.1 NNTP

Subscribing to a foreign group from an NNTP server is rather easy. You just specify nntp as method and the address of the NNTP server as the, uhm, address.

If the NNTP server is located at a non-standard port, setting the third element of the select method to this port number should allow you to connect to the right port. You’ll have to edit the group info for that (see Foreign Groups).

The name of the foreign group can be the same as a native group. In fact, you can subscribe to the same group from as many different servers you feel like. There will be no name collisions.

The following variables can be used to create a virtual nntp server:


is run after a connection has been made. It can be used to send commands to the NNTP server after it has been contacted. By default it sends the command MODE READER to the server with the nntp-send-mode-reader function. This function should always be present in this hook.


This function will be used to send ‘AUTHINFO’ to the NNTP server. The default function is nntp-send-authinfo, which looks through your ~/.authinfo for applicable entries. If none are found, it will prompt you for a login name and a password. The format of the ~/.authinfo file is (almost) the same as the ftp ~/.netrc file, which is defined in the ftp manual page, but here are the salient facts:

  1. The file contains one or more line, each of which define one server.
  2. Each line may contain an arbitrary number of token/value pairs.

    The valid tokens include ‘machine’, ‘login’, ‘password’, ‘default’. In addition Gnus introduces two new tokens, not present in the original .netrc/ftp syntax, namely ‘port’ and ‘force’. (This is the only way the .authinfo file format deviates from the .netrc file format.) ‘port’ is used to indicate what port on the server the credentials apply to and ‘force’ is explained below.

Here’s an example file:

machine news.uio.no login larsi password geheimnis
machine nntp.ifi.uio.no login larsi force yes

The token/value pairs may appear in any order; ‘machine’ doesn’t have to be first, for instance.

In this example, both login name and password have been supplied for the former server, while the latter has only the login name listed, and the user will be prompted for the password. The latter also has the ‘force’ tag, which means that the authinfo will be sent to the nntp server upon connection; the default (i.e., when there is not ‘force’ tag) is to not send authinfo to the nntp server until the nntp server asks for it.

You can also add ‘default’ lines that will apply to all servers that don’t have matching ‘machine’ lines.

default force yes

This will force sending ‘AUTHINFO’ commands to all servers not previously mentioned.

Remember to not leave the ~/.authinfo file world-readable.


This is a list of regexps to match on server types and actions to be taken when matches are made. For instance, if you want Gnus to beep every time you connect to innd, you could say something like:

(setq nntp-server-action-alist
      '(("innd" (ding))))

You probably don’t want to do that, though.

The default value is

'(("nntpd 1\\.5\\.11t"
   (remove-hook 'nntp-server-opened-hook

This ensures that Gnus doesn’t send the MODE READER command to nntpd 1.5.11t, since that command chokes that server, I’ve been told.


If the NNTP server doesn’t support NOV headers, this back end will collect headers by sending a series of head commands. To speed things up, the back end sends lots of these commands without waiting for reply, and then reads all the replies. This is controlled by the nntp-maximum-request variable, and is 400 by default. If your network is buggy, you should set this to 1.


If you have lots of foreign nntp groups that you connect to regularly, you’re sure to have problems with NNTP servers not responding properly, or being too loaded to reply within reasonable time. This is can lead to awkward problems, which can be helped somewhat by setting nntp-connection-timeout. This is an integer that says how many seconds the nntp back end should wait for a connection before giving up. If it is nil, which is the default, no timeouts are done.


If the NNTP server does not support NOV, you could set this variable to t, but nntp usually checks automatically whether NOV can be used.


List of strings used as commands to fetch NOV lines from a server. The default value of this variable is ("XOVER" "XOVERVIEW").


nntp normally sends just one big request for NOV lines to the server. The server responds with one huge list of lines. However, if you have read articles 2–5000 in the group, and only want to read article 1 and 5001, that means that nntp will fetch 4999 NOV lines that you will not need. This variable says how big a gap between two consecutive articles is allowed to be before the XOVER request is split into several request. Note that if your network is fast, setting this variable to a really small number means that fetching will probably be slower. If this variable is nil, nntp will never split requests. The default is 5.


When Gnus refers to an article having the Message-ID that a user specifies or having the Message-ID of the parent article of the current one (see Finding the Parent), Gnus sends a HEAD command to the NNTP server to know where it is, and the server returns the data containing the pairs of a group and an article number in the Xref header. Gnus normally uses the article number to refer to the article if the data shows that that article is in the current group, while it uses the Message-ID otherwise. However, some news servers, e.g., ones running Diablo, run multiple engines having the same articles but article numbers are not kept synchronized between them. In that case, the article number that appears in the Xref header varies by which engine is chosen, so you cannot refer to the parent article that is in the current group, for instance. If you connect to such a server, set this variable to a non-nil value, and Gnus never uses article numbers. For example:

(setq gnus-select-method
      '(nntp "newszilla"
             (nntp-address "newszilla.example.com")
             (nntp-xref-number-is-evil t)

The default value of this server variable is nil.


A hook run before attempting to connect to an NNTP server.


If non-nil, nntp will log all commands it sends to the NNTP server (along with a timestamp) in the *nntp-log* buffer. This is useful if you are debugging a Gnus/NNTP connection that doesn’t seem to work.


It is possible to customize how the connection to the nntp server will be opened. If you specify an nntp-open-connection-function parameter, Gnus will use that function to establish the connection. Seven pre-made functions are supplied. These functions can be grouped in two categories: direct connection functions (four pre-made), and indirect ones (three pre-made).


Non-nil means the nntp server never echoes commands. It is reported that some nntps server doesn’t echo commands. So, you may want to set this to non-nil in the method for such a server setting nntp-open-connection-function to nntp-open-ssl-stream for example. The default value is nil. Note that the nntp-open-connection-functions-never-echo-commands variable overrides the nil value of this variable.


List of functions that never echo commands. Add or set a function which you set to nntp-open-connection-function to this list if it does not echo commands. Note that a non-nil value of the nntp-never-echoes-commands variable overrides this variable. The default value is (nntp-open-network-stream).


A hook run just before posting an article. If there is no Message-ID header in the article and the news server provides the recommended ID, it will be added to the article before running this hook. It is useful to make Cancel-Lock headers even if you inhibit Gnus to add a Message-ID header, you could say:

(add-hook 'nntp-prepare-post-hook 'canlock-insert-header)

Note that not all servers support the recommended ID. This works for INN versions 2.3.0 and later, for instance.


If nil, then always use ‘GROUP’ instead of ‘LIST ACTIVE’. This is usually slower, but on misconfigured servers that don’t update their active files often, this can help.