Network News Transfer Protocol
RFC 977

Document Type RFC - Proposed Standard (February 1986; No errata)
Obsoleted by RFC 3977
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                      Brian Kantor (U.C. San Diego)
Request for Comments: 977                   Phil Lapsley (U.C. Berkeley)
                                                           February 1986

                     Network News Transfer Protocol
                                    
                A Proposed Standard for the Stream-Based
                          Transmission of News

Status of This Memo

   NNTP specifies a protocol for the distribution, inquiry, retrieval,
   and posting of news articles using a reliable stream-based
   transmission of news among the ARPA-Internet community.  NNTP is
   designed so that news articles are stored in a central database
   allowing a subscriber to select only those items he wishes to read.
   Indexing, cross-referencing, and expiration of aged messages are also
   provided. This RFC suggests a proposed protocol for the ARPA-Internet
   community, and requests discussion and suggestions for improvements.
   Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

1.  Introduction

   For many years, the ARPA-Internet community has supported the
   distribution of bulletins, information, and data in a timely fashion
   to thousands of participants.  We collectively refer to such items of
   information as "news".  Such news provides for the rapid
   dissemination of items of interest such as software bug fixes, new
   product reviews, technical tips, and programming pointers, as well as
   rapid-fire discussions of matters of concern to the working computer
   professional. News is very popular among its readers.

   There are popularly two methods of distributing such news: the
   Internet method of direct mailing, and the USENET news system.

1.1.  Internet Mailing Lists

   The Internet community distributes news by the use of mailing lists.
   These are lists of subscriber's mailbox addresses and remailing
   sublists of all intended recipients.  These mailing lists operate by
   remailing a copy of the information to be distributed to each
   subscriber on the mailing list.  Such remailing is inefficient when a
   mailing list grows beyond a dozen or so people, since sending a
   separate copy to each of the subscribers occupies large quantities of
   network bandwidth, CPU resources, and significant amounts of disk
   storage at the destination host.  There is also a significant problem
   in maintenance of the list itself: as subscribers move from one job
   to another; as new subscribers join and old ones leave; and as hosts
   come in and out of service.

Kantor & Lapsley                                                [Page 1]



RFC 977                                                    February 1986
Network News Transfer Protocol

1.2.  The USENET News System

   Clearly, a worthwhile reduction of the amount of these resources used
   can be achieved if articles are stored in a central database on the
   receiving host instead of in each subscriber's mailbox. The USENET
   news system provides a method of doing just this.  There is a central
   repository of the news articles in one place (customarily a spool
   directory of some sort), and a set of programs that allow a
   subscriber to select those items he wishes to read.  Indexing,
   cross-referencing, and expiration of aged messages are also provided.

1.3.  Central Storage of News

   For clusters of hosts connected together by fast local area networks
   (such as Ethernet), it makes even more sense to consolidate news
   distribution onto one (or a very few) hosts, and to allow access to
   these news articles using a server and client model.  Subscribers may
   then request only the articles they wish to see, without having to
   wastefully duplicate the storage of a copy of each item on each host.

1.4.  A Central News Server

   A way to achieve these economies is to have a central computer system
   that can provide news service to the other systems on the local area
   network.  Such a server would manage the collection of news articles
   and index files, with each person who desires to read news bulletins
   doing so over the LAN.  For a large cluster of computer systems, the
   savings in total disk space is clearly worthwhile.  Also, this allows
   workstations with limited disk storage space to participate in the
   news without incoming items consuming oppressive amounts of the
   workstation's disk storage.

   We have heard rumors of somewhat successful attempts to provide
   centralized news service using IBIS and other shared or distributed
   file systems.  While it is possible that such a distributed file
   system implementation might work well with a group of similar
   computers running nearly identical operating systems, such a scheme
   is not general enough to offer service to a wide range of client
   systems, especially when many diverse operating systems may be in use
   among a group of clients.  There are few (if any) shared or networked
   file systems that can offer the generality of service that stream
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