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Article Batching

News-batches follow a particular format which is the same for Bnews, C-News, and INN. Each article is preceded by a line like this:
           #! rnews count

where count is the number of bytes in the article. When batch compression is used, the resulting file is compressed as a whole, and preceded by another line, indicated by the message to be used for unpacking. The standard compression tool is compress, which is marked by

           #! cunbatch

Sometimes, when having to send batches via mail software that removes the eighth bit from all data, a compressed batch may be protected using what is called c7-encoding; these batches will be marked by c7unbatch.

When a batch is fed to rnews on the remote site, it checks for these markers and processes the batch appropriately. Some sites also use other compression tools, like gzip, and precede their gzipped files with zunbatch instead. C-News does not recognize non-standard headers like these; you have to modify the source to support them.

In C-News, article batching is performed by /usr/lib/news/bin/batch/sendbatches, which takes a list of articles from the site/togo file, and puts them into several newsbatches. It should be executed once per hour or even more frequently, depending on the volume of traffic.

Its operation is controlled by the batchparms file in /usr/lib/news. This file describes the maximum batch size allowed for each site, the batching and optional compression program to be used, and the transport for delivering it to the remote site. You may specify batching parameters on a per-site basis, as well as a set of default parameters for sites not explicitly mentioned.

To perform batching for a specific site, you invoke it as

           # su news -c "/usr/lib/news/bin/batch/sendbatches site"

When invoked without arguments, sendbatches handles all batch queues. The interpretation of ``all'' depends on the presence of a default entry in batchparms. If one is found, all directories in /var/spool/news/out.going are checked, otherwise, it cycles through all entries in batchparms. Note that sendbatches, when scanning the out.going directory, takes only those directories that contain no dot or at sign-(@) as site names.

When installing C-News, you will most likely find a batchparms file in your distribution which contains a reasonable default entry, so there's a good chance that you wouldn't have to touch the file. Just in case, we describe its format nevertheless. Each line consists of six fields, separated by spaces or tabs:

           site size max batcher muncher transport

The meaning of these fields is as follows:

is the name of the site the entry applies to. The togo file for this site must reside in out.going/togo below the news spool. A site name of /default/ denotes the default entry.
is the maximum size of article batches created (before compression). For single articles larger than this, C-News makes an exception and puts them in a single batch by themselves.

max is the maximum number of batches created and scheduled for transfer before batching stalls for this particular site. This is useful in case the remote site should be down for a long time, because it prevents C-News from cluttering your UUCP spool directories with zillions of newsbatches.

C-News determines the number of queued batches using the queulen script in /usr/lib/news/bin. Vince Skahan's newspak release should contain a script for BNU-compatible UUCPs. If you use a different flavor of spool directories, for example, Taylor UUCP, you might have to write your own.gif

The batcher field contains the command used for producing a batch from the list of articles in the togo file. For regular feeds, this is usually batcher. For other purposes, alternative batchers may be provided. For instance, the ihave/sendme protocol requires the article list to be turned into ihave or sendme control messages, which are posted to the newsgroup This is performed by batchih and batchsm.

The muncher field specifies the command used for compression. Usually, this is compcun, a script that produces a compressed batch.gif Alternatively, you might provide a muncher that uses gzip, say gzipcun (to be clear: you have to write it yourself). You have to make sure that uncompress on the remote site is patched to recognize files compressed with gzip.

If the remote site does not have an uncompress command, you may specify nocomp which does not do any compression.

The last field, transport, describes the transport to be used. A number of standard commands for different transports are available whose names begin with via. sendbatches passes them the destination site name on the command line. If the batchparms entry was not /default/, it derives the site name from the site field by stripping of anything after and including the first dot or slash. If entry was /default/, the directory names in out.going are used.

There are two commands that use uux to execute rnews on the remote system; viauux and viauuxz. The latter sets the -z flag for (older versions of) uux to keep it from returning success messages for each article delivered. Another command, viamail, sends article batches to the user rnews on the remote system via mail. Of course, this requires that the remote system somehow feeds all mail for rnews to their local news system. For a complete list of these transports, refer to the newsbatch(8) manual page.

All commands from the last three fields must be located in either of out.going/site or /usr/lib/news/bin/batch. Most of them are scripts, so that you may easily tailor new tools for your personal needs. They are invoked as a pipe. The list of articles is fed to the batcher on standard input, which produces the batch on standard output. This is piped into the muncher, and so on.

A sample file is given below.

           # batchparms file for the brewery
           # site        | size   |max    |batcher  |muncher    |transport
           /default/       100000  22      batcher   compcun     viauux
           swim             10000  10      batcher   nocomp      viauux

Next: Expiring News Up: C-News Previous: The active file

Andrew Anderson
Thu Mar 7 23:22:06 EST 1996