NEWSDB(5)                     File Formats Manual                    NEWSDB(5)

       newsdb - USENET network news database: article tree, history, active,

       Each news article is stored in a separate file with one or more links,
       each a numeric name in a directory under /var/news corresponding to a
       newsgroup the article is (cross-)posted to.  For example, an article
       posted to comp.unix.wizards might be stored in

       The file /var/lib/news/active defines the locally-valid news groups and
       contains one line per group.  Each line consists of four blank-
       separated fields: newsgroup name, highest local article number
       assigned, lowest local article number in use (approximately), and a
       flag.  Both article-number fields are at least five digits wide.  (Some
       older news software may expect exactly five digits.)  The current flag
       values are y (a normal unmoderated group), n (like y but local postings
       disallowed), m (a normal moderated group), x (a locally-disabled group,
       no articles will be filed here), and = (followed by the real group
       under which to file articles in this group; articles are treated
       exactly as if their Newsgroups: header specified the real group instead
       of the original one; highest and lowest fields are ignored).

       The file /var/lib/news/active.times is an extension of the active file
       that records the arrival of new newsgroups by time and creator.  When a
       new newsgroup is created, the group name, time of group creation (as
       seconds since January 1, 1970, 00:00, GMT), and mail address of the
       creator are appended as a single line.  The file must always be sorted
       in increasing order of the creation-time field.  The news software only
       appends to the file, which normally suffices to ensure this.  An
       initial active.times for already existing newsgroups, with all times
       equal to the time of its creation and all creators ``unknown'', can be
       built using (see newsmaint(8CN)).  Active.times provides a
       quick way for newsreaders to tell when new groups have arrived, without
       weird heuristics and expensive schemes like storing old lists of
       newsgroups and comparing them to the active file.

       The file /var/lib/news/history contains one line for each article
       received.  Each line consists of three tab-separated fields: a Message-
       ID:, a complex middle field, and the list of links to this article.
       The links are separated by blanks and are given as pathnames relative
       to /var/news, except that all the `/'s except the last one (between the
       last component of the newsgroup name and the numeric article name) are
       replaced by `.'s.  If an article has been expired or cancelled without
       being seen first, the list of links and the tab before it are omitted.

       The middle history field potentially has several subfields separated by
       tilde (~).  Currently only three are defined: the arrival date, the
       expiry date, and an optional article size in bytes.  The arrival date
       is a time_t (see time(2); in Unix a time_t is a count of seconds since
       the GMT beginning of 1970) expressed as a decimal integer.  The expiry
       date is another decimal time_t, or the contents of the Expires: header
       from the message, or `-' indicating that there was no explicit expiry
       date given.

       There are also index files to permit rapid history lookup by message-
       id, typically called /var/lib/news/history.dir and

       Also usually present now are overview files, one per newsgroup; see
       newsoverview(5) for more detail on them.

       A trivial active file.

            control 0000600006 600004 y
            junk 0000000076 00074 y
   0000000006 00004 y
            talk.bizarre 0000296123 292136 n
            comp.sys.sun 0000050175 50173 m
            list.sun-spots 0000000076 00076 =comp.sys.sun
            comp.os.vms 0000000000 00000 x

       A trivial history file.

            <3451@hcr.UUCP>     581905588~-    comp.text/1317 comp.sources.wanted/4200
            <9383@alice.UUCP>   611934511~-


       dbz(1), readnews(1CN), rn(1), dbz(3Z), getabsdate(3), news(5),
       newsoverview(5), newssys(5), expire(8CN), newshist(8CN),
       newsmaint(8CN), relaynews(8CN), newsinvaders(9.1)

       Active.times invented by Mark Moraes and Geoff Collyer as part of the C
       News project.

       Reader implementors are warned that the various files mentioned here—
       the active file, the history file, the article tree itself, and the
       overview files—in general are not updated perfectly simultaneously.
       Nor are they necessarily updated in a predictable order.

                                  18 Nov 1994                        NEWSDB(5)