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INN FAQ Part 7/9: Problems with INN already running

This article is part 7 of a multi-part FAQ: Part 7: Day-to-day operational questions. This includes general questions asked once INN is running for a while.
Posted-By: post_faq 2.10
Archive-name: usenet/software/inn-faq/part7
Last Changed: $Date: 1997/09/16 01:25:57 $ $Revision: 2.25 $

                  Part 7 of 9
INN FAQ Part 1: General and questions from people that don't (yet) run INN
INN FAQ Part 2: Specific notes for specific operating systems
INN FAQ Part 3: Reasons why INN isn't starting
INN FAQ Part 4: The debugging tutorial (setup of feeds etc.)
INN FAQ Part 5: Other error messages and what they mean
INN FAQ Part 6: Day-to-day operation and changes to the system
INN FAQ Part 7: Problems with INN already running
INN FAQ Part 8: Appendix A: Norman's install guide
INN FAQ Part 9: Appendix B: Configurations for certain systems

Subject:  Table Of Contents for Part 7/9

	7.1 XHDR says Bad Article Number
	7.2 Everything I receive, I re-feed to the feeder
	7.3 Suddenly my active and history files are owned by root!
	7.4 How come my host name comes out twice in the Path line?
	7.5 Expire had problems and won't run again after fixing the problem
	7.6 Expire says "Group not matched (removed?) -- Using default ..."
	7.7 Expire reports 'Can't replace history files, Cross-device link'
	7.8 Why doesn't this newsfeeds entry do what I want?
	7.9 Why am I forwarding cancel messages for articles in
	7.10 Debugging someone that is feeding you.
	7.11 Feeds suddenly can't connect anymore!
	7.12 I'm getting groups sent to me that I don't want.
	7.13 When my feeder connects, I get articles but they don't take what's waiting for them.
	7.14 Directories are being created with wrong permissions.
	7.15 Why am I getting even though I have...
	7.16 More about the "to.*" groups
	7.17 What's a decent syslog.conf configuration?
	7.18 INN batcher writing "#!rnews 0" separators
	7.19 Posting while throttled doesn't work
	7.20 I am not getting all the articles, but my feeder is sending a full feed
	7.21 overchan can't keep up.
	7.22 "newgroup" control messages aren't being executed
	7.23 What do these history.n.* files do?
	7.24 Out of inodes but still space left on disk
	7.25 Server throttled No space left on device writing article file
	7.26 Is there a automatic way to update newsfeeds?
	7.27 Reloading hosts.nntp is slow.
	7.28 What are these "xforte" or "xindex" commands that appear in my logs?
	7.29 My active is not updated frequently enough
	7.30 Feedentries in newsfeeds are ignored
	7.31 Help, my active file got corrupted (or deleted)!
	7.32 Help, my history file is getting real big!
	7.33 Help, INND gets real big
	7.34 Help, my history file got deleted!
	7.35 I'm seeing duplicate message-id's in my history database!
	7.36 Getting lots of duplicate articles
	7.37 Inn send mail to 'rmgroup' or 'newgroup'
	7.38 Ctlinnd cancel doesn't cancel my articles ..
	7.39 Inn hangs during renumbering the active file
	7.40 Some local postings don't make it to remote, but others do
	7.41 Expire does no longer work
	7.42 news.daily complains about unknown entries from syslog
	7.43 Innd writes to syslog: DEBUG ERROR SITEspool: trashed
	7.44 My feed does have different groups in active
	7.45 INN is only slowly responding
	7.46 What does 'Reserved Expiring process xxx' mean?
	7.47 What happens to cancels if they arrive before the article ?
	7.48 I use funnel feeds and INND dumps core
	7.49 NNTP-Posting-Host is even if host has a name
	7.50 uuxqt says: rnews exit status 1
	7.51 innd get a non-zero ``nice'' value?
	7.52 innd runs as root, even if configured to run as 'news'
	7.53 Makehistory is slow on inn 1.x , x<5.1
	7.54 Expire is slooooooow
	7.55 Why are multiple innwatch's running?
	7.56 I upgraded to INN 1.5.1, and peers have trouble feeding me.
	7.57 I upgraded to INN 1.5.1, and it takes clients a long time to connect.
	7.58 My server gets slower and is busy doing io



Subject: (7.1) XHDR says Bad Article Number

Q: When I do a XHDR command the INN NNTP server may give
me article numbers which is not valid (get 403 Bad Article Number
when requesting the article text). Is this normal?

A: Absolutely not!

Perhaps DIR_STYLE is wrong?


Subject: (7.2) Everything I receive, I re-feed to the feeder

"It seems that all the articles sent to me are resent back to my
provider.  I only want to post those articles which have been locally
generated at my site back to my news feed provider."

or "I feed a site named, but it puts something besides
in their Path: header"

Let's look at a typical Path: line:

Path: plts!sdl!!uunet!gatech!!agate!!!usenet

As a post goes from system to system, each site prepends their sitename
to the line.  Usually a site uses their FQDN, but sometimes they register
something with the UUCP Mapping Project which makes sure no two sites use
the same name.  In the above, we see a couple FQDN's and a couple sites
that are registered with the UUCP Mapping Project.

INN will not feed this article to any feed who's name appears in the Path:

Suppose you have a feed to/from that looks like this:*,!control,!junk:Tf,Wnm:

This means "send all newsgroups except control and junk, but not if the
Path: line includes ''".  That's fine, but as we see
in the above Path: example, BarrNet puts "" in the path,
even though their netnews machine is called "".

Therefore, we change the newsfeeds file to include a "/"
which means "exclude posts that have gone through".*,!control,!junk:Tf,Wnm:

Now you won't feed to articles that have already
gone through barrnet.

The best way to solve this problem is:
	1.  Read the Path: line from an article that has passed
		through that site already.
	2.  Insert that sitename into the feeds description in newsfeeds.
	3.  "ctlinnd reload newsfeeds fixed_feed"


Suppose two sites have very reliable NNTP feeds from uunet and psinet
but still want a feed between each other to increase redundancy.  They
might set up feeds like:


so that they aren't sending articles that have already reached two of
the biggest sites on Usenet (and therefore must have gotten good
distribution already), but will pass on everything else.


Subject: (7.3) Suddenly my active and history files are owned by root! runs from root.  After that, everything else should run as
news.  It sounds like you've run news.daily as root by mistake.  Make
sure all your cron jobs run as news and you'll be fine.

If you have an old "cron" system, you might consider replacing yours
with one of the many public domain replacements.  If you can't create
a different "crontab" for each user, the idiom is:

0 * * * * * su news -c '/do/this/as/news'


Subject: (7.4) How come my host name comes out twice in the Path line?

The INN server puts its name in the Path line of every article that it
receives.  Obviously, it has to do this.  The default configuration has
inews put the local host in the Path header.  If nobody posts on the
server and you use fully-qualified domain names on your workstations,
then everything works the right way.  (If `hostname` doesn't give an
FQDN on your machine, you can work-around this by setting the "domain"
value in inn.conf; remember that innd never re-reads inn.conf.  You
must "ctlinnd shutdown x" and then re-start the server).  Many people
don't want the client machines to put their name in the Path header.
To do this, set INEWS_PATH to DONT.  Finally, let me say that it is
probably a mistake to have a "pathhost" line on any machine other than
your server if you set INEWS_PATH to DO.  If you doubt this, please
trace the article flow for yourself.  If you are curious about the
effect of INEWS_PATH, read the nroff source -- not the formatted
output -- of doc/inews.1


Subject: (7.5) Expire had problems and won't run again after fixing the problem

When expire starts up it "reserves" the server so that nobody else can
pause or throttle it.  This prevents anyone else from coming in and
modifying the history database.  If expire bails out because of a bad
error (e.g., your expire.ctl has syntax errors) it leaves the server
reserved so that no maintenance will be done until a good expire run has
occurred.  To unblock the server, use the ctlinnd "reserve" command with
an empty string argument. See also #7.46.


Subject: (7.6) Expire says "Group not matched (removed?) -- Using default ..."

Expire says:
Group not matched (removed?) alt.techno-shamanism -- Using default expiration
Group not matched (removed?) -- Using default expiration
Group not matched (removed?) de.rec.sf.startrek -- Using default expiration


That just means that you've removed those newsgroups groups and expire
is slowly removing articles from the spool as they expire.  Eventually
the articles will all have been deleted and so will these messages.

Here's a neat trick to make deleted groups go away at the next expire
instead of hanging around waiting for their articles to expire in a
timely manner.  Using this combination of lines at the *start* of
will cause groups which are neither moderated nor unmoderated to be
discarded - the only such groups are deleted ones.  Thanks to
Ian Phillipps <> for this tip!


Subject: (7.7) Expire reports "Can't replace history files, Cross-device link"

If your directory where your history is does not have enough space left
for two copies of the history, you can also expire in another directory.
But you must tell expire to do so - failing to do so produces the above
message. You can either tell it news.daily by adding a expdir=/some/dir
flag or by adding the -d flag when starting expire. In news.daily,
there is a variable called 'EXPDIR' which you can set.   This way you
never accidentally run an news.daily by hand and forget the expdir option.


Subject:  (7.8) Why doesn't this newsfeeds entry do what I want?

A newsfeeds entry is not a sys file (C News) entry.  Please read
newsfeeds.5.  You might also find the sys2nf program in the frontends
directory useful, as well as the inncheck Perl script that is found in
the samples directory.  The INN Configuration FAQ has cook-book
examples of the steps required to install a NNTP feed, UUCP feed, and
NNTP via nntplink feed.


Subject: (7.9) Why am I forwarding cancel messages for articles in
			when I explicitly have ! in the newsfeeds entry?

Control messages can be explicitly forwarded, so a control message to is forwarded to sites that receive either or control.
Please see the "Control Messages" section of innd.8.  As that
documentation says, you probably want to put "!control" in the
subscription list for most of your newsfeeds.


Subject: (7.10) Debugging someone that is feeding you.

David Myers <> suggests that if a neighbor complains
that their feed to you doesn't work: (1) make sure they've read the man
pages, and (2) have them send a copy of their newsfeeds file.

Truly sage advice!


Subject: (7.11) Feeds suddenly can't connect anymore!

Q:  How come feeds tell me they can't connect to me any more?

A:  When innd starts up it reads the hosts.nntp file and looks up the
IP addresses for all the entries mentioned there.  The problem is that
this data is dynamic (sometimes people change IP addresses), and innd
never goes back to check.  If your system stays up for days and one of
your feeds changes their IP address (or has a new CNAME), innd will
reject them.  Rich planed to handle this in INN1.5, but for now you
might find it useful to do a "ctlinnd reload hosts.nntp" out of cron
every day or so or when you notice there's a problem.

Here is a sample crontab entry to use: (news should run this)

55 7,12,17,22 * * * /usr/local/newsbin/ctlinnd -s reload hosts.nntp crontab

I hope people vary the time this runs.  If a huge number of INN hosts,
many running NTP so their clocks are within a few ms., all kick off DNS
lookups at exactly the same time, the internet traffic could get
"interesting".  Try setting the minutes value to the time you added
this entry to crontab rather than everyone using "55".  In fact, if
everyone used their birthday plus 1 if they are born on an odd month,
that would spread it out just fine.


Subject: (7.12) I'm getting groups sent to me that I don't want.

Tell the system administrator(s) of the machine(s) that feed news to
you to stop sending those groups.  There is no other way to do it.  (In
B or C News, the groups would end up in junk; at least with INN they
are not taking up space.  You should compile with WANT_JUNK set to

If the people that feed you use B news or C news, remember that they
don't use a "newsfeeds" file.  They use a file called "sys" which has a
completely different format for specifying newsgroups.


Subject: (7.13) When my feeder connects, I get articles but they don't take what's waiting for them.

I hate to say this, but this really shows that you haven't RTFMed very

News is not automatically bidirectional (it's like SMTP, not UUCP).  If
you want to send things out you will have to make sure that you run
send-nntp or nntpsend from cron.  nntpsend is easier and elsewhere in
this document there are cookbook examples of what to add every time you
set up a new feed.
James Brister is thinking about adding a 'turn' command to nntp to 
initiate turning sender to receiver and vice versa.


Subject: (7.14) Directories are being created with wrong permissions.

> Question:
>When I received news for /var/spool/news/foo/bar for the first
>time, the directories got created:
># ls -lgR foo
>total 1
>d-wx-w-rwx  2 news     news          512 Feb  9 00:03 bar/
>What did I do wrong?
>##  Mode that directories are created under.
>#### =()<GROUPDIR_MODE          @<GROUPDIR_MODE>@>()=
>GROUPDIR_MODE           2775

You forgot a zero in front of this number, for the C compiler to interpret it
as octal instead of decimal.


Subject: (7.15) Why am I getting even though I have
			"ME:!" in my newsfeeds file?

The active file is the definitive list of what newsgroups you receive.
INN's ME entry is different from C News and B News; please see
newsfeeds.5.  If you do not want to receive, ask the
system(s) that send you news not to send it to you.  (You would have to do
that no matter what news system you are running.)


Subject: (7.16) More about the "to.*" groups

(Thanks to (Joseph Malcolm) for supplying
these answers.)

>1) Why did my local INN act on the sendsys posted to to.neighbor?

to.* groups aren't magic to INN.  Your system received the message,
it acted on it.

>2) Why did my neighbor send the cmsg to all of his neighbors?

See 3.

>3) Is is related to having the "control" group in our newsgroups patterns?


>   The INN docs say you probably don't want to do this, but they don't say
>   why.

Actually, they do. This is from innd(8):

	Sites may explicitly have the ``control'' newsgroup in their
	subscription  list,  although  it is usually best to exclude
	it.  If a control message is posted to a  group  whose  name
	ends  with  the  four characters ``.ctl'' then the suffix is
	stripped off and what is left is used  as  the  group  name.
	For  example,  a cancel message posted to ``news.admin.misc.ctl''
	will be sent to all sites that subscribe to  ``control''  or

There is also a pointer to this in newsfeeds(5).

>   But I still need it in my active file, right?



Subject: (7.17) What's a decent syslog.conf configuration?

The configuration will be different for each site, but here is what
Greg Earle recommends as the lines for the "news.*" related part.
Remember that most syslog's require tabs, not spaces.

Greg's canonical SunOS 4.1.x INN-related syslog.conf entries (which can
be merged into your current configuration):

# INN stuff
##  Send critical messages to everyone who is logged in and to the console.
news.crit               *
news.crit               /dev/console

##  Log news messages to separate files.
##  Note that each level includes all of the above it.
## =()<news.crit        @<_PATH_MOST_LOGS>@/news.crit>()=
news.crit               /var/log/news/news.crit
## =()<news.err         @<_PATH_MOST_LOGS>@/news.err>()=
news.err                /var/log/news/news.err
## =()<news.notice      @<_PATH_MOST_LOGS>@/news.notice>()=
news.notice             /var/log/news/news.notice

If you don't want /var/log/messages to be crowded by messages from news
add the following to the line, where /var/log/messages get logged:
news.none so that the line reads (as an example):

*.err;kern.debug;auth.notice;mail.crit,news.none       /dev/console

On some systems you can add a flag to some entries in order to instruct 
syslog not to sync after each write. This might help raising throughput.
Or else move the logs from busy file systems if that flag is not


Subject: (7.18) INN batcher writing "#!rnews 0" separators

>Outgoing UUCP batches from here are going out with "#!rnews 0" at
>the head of each article.
Most common cause:  your newsfeeds entry has "Wnm" not "Wnb".
(If only "Wn" is specified, the batcher gets the size itself, but this
is a performance loss).

Other reasons:

batchfiles have something other than a single space between article
filename and size

batchfiles lack size information (all the articles sizes will be read
from the batch file as zero)


Subject: (7.19) Posting while throttled doesn't work

>I want to be able to allow my users to be able to post articles when
>innwatch has throttled the system when the spool disk is "full".

Cannot be done in 1.4.

In 1.5 nnrpd will spool the post for the user. When the server is
running again, then running rnews -U will feed them to innd.


Subject: (7.20) I am not getting all the articles, but my feeder is sending a full feed

(From Carlos Castro <>)

  Either your feeder is not keeping up with its feeders, or you are
not keeping up with the news flow.  

  Disk IO is probably the biggest news bottleneck.  Usually a full feed 
is more than a single Fast SCSI II disk can handle.  Having 2 or more disks 
for the spool is suggested in either a striped configuration (using ODS 
for Solaris or MD for Linux) or a split spool.  It is also recomended to
have the disks spread out over multiple controllers.

  It is best to compile your system with MMAP if it can support it.

  Run innd at a priority of -5 or -10 and see if it performs better.

  Setting NICE_KIDS to 10 will also give innd more CPU on news servers
heavily loaded with many nntplinks and nnrps.

  If you have many outgoing feeds you might want to keep the size of the
out.going files relatively small....  It takes quite a bit of effort to
write to the end of a very long file.


Subject: (7.21) overchan can't keep up.

> About once a month or so, I get the following warning messages:
> Jan 20 07:20:22 optima innd: overview!:31:proc:9193 cant flush count 14639 Operation would block
> Jan 20 07:20:22 optima innd: overview! spooling 14639 bytes


> there's a file "overview!" in /usr/spool/news/out.going with stuff in it.
> Should I be doing anything more with this than ignoring it, and maybe
> occasionally deleting it (it just grows)?

This happens because innd is feeding info to overchan faster than
overchan can process it.  The overflow is sent to the file
"overview!".  This file can be deleted, as nnrpd will grab the missing
data out of the articles "manually".  The slow-down won't be noticed,
much.  You can "expireover -a" to "fill in the holes".

To prevent this in the future, you need to make overchan run faster.
This is easy to do.  There are two things to do:

1.  Increase the size of many of your kernel buffers.  In particular,
increase buffers relating to directory caches (the "namei" cache", to
mention one).  If you use SunOS, change "maxusers" to 200.  Ignore the
variable's name.  This variable is used to calculate most of the other
buffer sizes, etc. and 200 is good for a system that is as overworked
as, say, a machine running netnews. Do this only if you have enough RAM.
I can't exactly say what is 'enough' but for a machine with 48MB 200 seems
to be too big (64 is ok here). The problem seems to be that the kernel then
needs too much space and runs out of it.

2.  (this is more important than #1) Move the .overview files out of
the /var/spool/news hierarchy.  For example, moving the overview files
into /var/spool/news/over.view made things fast enough on one machine
that the problem went away.  To do this:  change "_PATH_OVERVIEWDIR" in
"", recompile, and "make install".  You will need to
recompile any newsreaders that read via NFS or off the local disk.

For really great performance, put the NOV files on a separate disk.
(Not just a separate partition, a separate disk or spindle.)

This one-liner will generate a shell script that will move your NOV files:
	awk '{ print $1 }' /usr/lib/news/active | tr . / | awk '{ print "mkdir -p /new/location/" $1 ; print "mv " $1 "/.overview /new/location/" $1 "/.overview" }'


Why does doing all this speed up overchan?  overchan works by opening
the proper ".overview" file, appending 1 line to it, then closing the
file.  If you have the ".overview" file in the same directory as 10000
articles then opening the ".overview" file will take a huge amount of
time.  The open() call literally searches though about 5000 (half of
10000) file names to find ".overview".  If you move your ".overview"
files so that each one is in it's own directory, (say,
/usr/spool/news/over.view/{group}/{name}/.overview) then open() is
searching through 3 files ( ".", "..", and ".overview") to find 1
file.  ( O(N/2) where N=10000 vs. N=3... and you thought those first
year CS classes would never be useful!)

There isn't much you can do to make the "append" and "close" steps much
faster, except maybe install a PrestoServe or similar write-cache, and
that won't help very much.

Profiling overchan (with PureSoft's Quantify product) found that the
open() call was around 80% of the execution time of overchan.  That was
reduced to 40% when I moved the ".overview" files to their own
directory.  With the change, overview's profiling statistics are pretty
flat. (which is good).

Run "expireover -a" to fix the problem temporarily.  However, it will
come back.

DO NOT try feeding the "overview!" file to overchan manually.
	(1) overchan doesn't do any locking and you'll have two overchan's
		running at once.
	(2) overchan only appends to the ".overview" files.  If you've gotten
		any articles since the "overview!" file was created (you will
		have) then you'll be appending told old entries that are out of
		order.  Your ".overview" files must be in sorted order for the
		other utilities to work right.

See also #4.19, #5.33, #6.30


Subject: (7.22) "newgroup" control messages aren't being executed

> "newgroup" control messages aren't be executed

The usual blame for this is _PATH_EGREP points to a grep that doesn't
understand regular expressions.  For example, GNU grep only understands
regular expressions if it is called "egrep" (i.e. not "gnuegrep" or

Make sure you have a link or symlink between egnugrep and egrep.  You
then need to modify so that _PATH_EGREP is
/your/local/path/egrep and NOT /your/local/path/egnuegrep.  Then
recompile and "make install" to have the new binaries and shell
scripts installed.

You also want to check the syntax of your control.ctl file.


Subject: (7.23) What do these history.n.* files do?

Q: There are history.n, history.n.dir and history.n.pag lying around -
   what are they good for?

These files come from expire and are the new history. Without errors 
these files should disappear after expire is done. If they stay after
expire is finished, you most certainly have a problem with disk space
on the disk where history.* is or if not a broken line in history, which
caused expire to bail out.


Subject: (7.24) Out of inodes but still space left on disk

If you have still space on your disk but no more inodes then you should 
consider rebuilding the partition on which your spool is.
Default options for filesystems are mostly to use 4k / inode. For a newsfs
this isn't appropriate, as articles are in average under 3k. So create
your newsspool with 2k per inode. 
If you rebuild you also could adjust the values for block-/fragsize 
to 4096/512 so you'll get more space out of your disk than on 8192/1024
(this will be a bit slower than 8k/1k for articles bigger than 4k, which 
are a minority so don't use it on a partition dedicated to alt.binaries)


Subject: (7.25) Server throttled No space left on device writing article file

If df still shows you plenty of space then look if you have enough
inodes free. If not then refer to "Out of inodes but still space left on disk"


Subject: (7.26) Is there a automatic way to update newsfeeds?

>Does anyone know of a way to automatically update the newsfeeds file?
>I'm looking for something that will allow a site to send a request

We use gup at various locations with big success. You can find it in

One sends a mail to gup, which gets processed and a new group list for
the site is written. Then from cron gupdate runs and gathers all site
files to your newsfeeds.


Subject: (7.27) Reloading hosts.nntp is slow.
>" but I need to reload hosts.nntp each time I add
>a feed.  That takes about 15-25 minutes to happen.

Write a small script/program that parses hosts.nntp.txt and writes
only IP addresses to hosts.nntp and innd will reload it nearly

or you can  lookup on each of the hosts before doing a ctlinnd reload.
Then it should be almost instantaneous. One could write up a script for that.

Somebody has to take the time to convert FQDN's to IP addresses, but
there's no requirement that it be innd.


Subject: (7.28) What are these "xforte" or "xindex" commands that appear in my logs?

Q: I see "xforte" commands in syslog as unknown commands - where do they
come from?

Version 0.55 of Forte Free Agent uses this to make it so a news
server will not timeout even if the user is idle.  It appears to
happen once per minute when the user is idle.

After Version 0.55 Forte uses the help command as the anti-idle
command. So if you are just annoyed by the messages in syslog, encourage 
your users to upgrade to a newer version. In versions 1.0 and 0.99+ 
this feature can be turned off.

These anti-idle commands are a very bad behaviour, as the news reader does 
not disconnect, but occupies resources.

Pine seems to do this behaviour via 'NOOP'.

Xindex,Xuser,spooldir and xmotd come from tin. It is documented in the 
sources that these commands don't work with inn. You can disable them via
-DDONT_HAVE_NNTP_EXTS (tin 1.2) -- look in the INSTALL document. In tin1.3
they are disabled by default.


Subject: (7.29) My active is not updated frequently enough

This is on hp9000/350 with MMAP enabled, but could surely also be used
with other configurations:

>the active file does not seem to flushed to disk frequently enough.
>So that when I use nn to access the newserver through nntp it does
>not see the new articles posted until a few (up to 5) hours later.

First of all check the value of ICD_SYNC_COUNT in (Frohwalt Egerer) writes:

  In the source look for the place where INN would write the active file
back to disk if MMAP was turned off. At that place I added a 'msync()'
to the 'MMAP' branch to make it work on my university's HPs.


Subject: (7.30) Feedentries in newsfeeds are ignored

> I have the following newsfeeds and INND says no feeding sites:

## xlink/,xlink1,,\

The solution is that - although the first line of the two is a 
comment - the line continuation at the end still works -- so the
valid entry for xlink is within the comment and therefore ignored.


Subject: (7.31) Help, my active file got corrupted (or deleted)!

First off, do NOT run makeactive(8) to make a new one!  Not only does this
command take a long time to run, but the result is usually garbage.  Groups
that should be marked as moderated aren't, and you'll usually create lots
of spurious groups which were deleted previously or didn't exist.  You'll
end up spending a lot of time cleaning up your active file when you're done.

Every time news.daily runs, it saves a compressed copy of the current
active file in _PATH_MOST_LOGS/OLD/ (e.g. /var/log/news/OLD).  Also,
every time a newgroup or rmgroup command is issued, the previous copy
of the active file is saved as "active.old".   Should your active file
get corrupted or deleted, you have lots of backup copies lying around.
You should also include your _PATH_NEWSLIB in your daily backups,
so that your history and active files get backed up to tape.  If
you get a catastrophic disk failure, you can get back in business
much much faster if you have tape backups of these files.

The easiest way to recover from a corrupted active file is this:
1. Shut down INN
2. mv active active.corrupt
3. cp active.old active
   cp /var/log/news/OLD/active.1.Z .   (or .gz if you use gzip)
   uncompress active.1                 (or gunzip if you use gzip)
   mv active.1 active
4. Restart INN
If INN does not do a renumber on startup (you'll know if it does if
'ctlinnd mode' hangs for several minutes on startup), then force
a renumber of the active file with:
5. ctlinnd renumber ''


Subject: (7.32) Help, my history file is getting real big!

It's supposed to be big.  You want it to be big.  Don't ever run
makehistory to build a new database!  It will take hours or days
to run.  The resulting database will be smaller, but that's because
you have removed entries for expired articles, leaving yourself
vulnerable to duplicates.  It's hard to estimate exactly how much
you'll need, since it depends a lot on how much news you carry
as well as for how long.

The partition which holds your history datebase must have at least
enough room for two copies of the database, since expire(8) needs
to build a new one while the old one is still in use. If you can't 
afford free space on this partition for two copies, but have plenty
of space elsewhere, then you might use the "-d" flag to expire.


Subject: (7.33) Help, INND gets real big

Q: Innd gets real big over time - is there any way to prevent this?

This comes at least partly from the design goal to get it fast, so it
trades memory vs. I/O.
There are some configuration options and patches which could reduce
this a bit.

If you have lots of stdin nntplinks, you should incorporate the 
innd.spool.pathc which is in unoff[23] already.
Then the value of DBZINCORE also changes the way INND behaves:
        ##  Value of dbzincore(FLAG) call in innd.  Pick 1 or 0.
        #### =()<INND_DBZINCORE         @<INND_DBZINCORE>@>()=
        INND_DBZINCORE          1
  Both innd and nnrpd have the option of keeping the DBZ
  hash table in memory, under the control of the INND_DBZINCORE and
  NNRP_DBZINCORE_DELAY parameters, respectively.
  This can consume lots of RAM proportional to the size of your history
  database, but it can also avoid a great deal of disk I/O.
  You should probably see the DBZ manpage in the doc directory
  for some (brief) additional discussion of this issue. (From Rich Salz)
Matthias Urlichs <> adds:
If you still find that INND grows beyond all bounds, eg. after a week days
it's twice as big than after three days, you may have a problem with your
system malloc.
Many malloc implementations try to coalesce free blocks, and to split big
chunks into smaller ones. It can be shown that no matter what strategy you
use to split and combine blocks, there's an allocation sequence which lets
your used-up space grow without bounds.
To fix this problem, use the malloc that comes with INND. It wastes a bit
more space initially (around 25%, to be exact), but behaves a lot better --
INND allocates more memory pages, but actually needs fewer to do its job. 


Subject: (7.34) Help, my history file got deleted!

One way to get back in action is to restore the history
file from last night's backup and run 'makehistory -bu'.  That
will add back the articles that arrive since the backup to the database.
You can even add the '-n' option to not throttle the server and
you can do this while still accepting news, however you'll probably
get some duplicate articles (which may not be all that bad given
the alternative of extra downtime).

What, you don't have a backup?  Too bad.  If you still have the
news articles on disk, you can do one of two things:  run makehistory
to make an entirely new database, or newfs the news spool and start
over.  The first option will probably take at least a day or more,
the second option a few minutes.

[ One neat idea in this case would be to write a program which took
  the output of and into another program which read
  each article (a la makehistory) and sent "ctlinnd addhist"'s.
  This would be a lot faster since 'makehistory -bu' still opens
  every article in the spool. ]


Subject: (7.35) I'm seeing duplicate message-id's in my history database!

Something is wrong with your history database.  This is one of those
things that "can never happen".  In order to verify that something
is really wrong with your database, run the following command:

awk -F' ' '{ print $1 }' < history|grephistory -i

(that first thing in quotes is a tab, not a space)

This will take a while to run, but the result _should_ contain no output.

If it does output anything then the dbz database is hosed.  You'll need
to rebuild the dbz files from the history file using the "-r" flag to
"makehistory" using the process as described in the news-recovery(8)
man page.

If you still have problems after this, then it could be due to some
garbage in your history file which is causing problems with dbz.
There really isn't a good tool (yet!) to fix this.  What needs to
be written is a history file "sanitizer", which examines each line
of the file and checks it for nulls, wacko dates, huge lines,
and the like.  ( Some of this already has been integrated into expire(8)
in the "1.4unoff" release, however more could be done.  At least
now expire doesn't crash when it encounters garbage. )  If you
do write such a program, please submit it to
(Dave Barr)

If you do fix your database, but problems re-appear later then perhaps
your O/S is at fault.  Make sure your O/S has been patched to fix any
bugs related to mmap().  In your try turning off -DMMAP in
DBZCFLAGS and recompile.  If you still have problems, reset DBZINCORE
to 0.


Subject: (7.36) Getting lots of duplicate articles 

Q: I have lots ot 437 - Duplicate article  messages in my logfile -
I thought nntp would prevent this? I have /remeber/ set to 14.

This usually happens when you have some heavily lagged sites 
feeding you. Increase /remember/ to 15 days or start up innd
with the c flag set to 13. When i had both set at 14, it appeared
that most old articles arrived shorly after expire finished writing 
the new history file. this is probably due to inaccurate date headers,
now if everyone used NTP ..... (from: (Mahesh Ramachandran))


Subject: (7.37) Inn send mail to 'rmgroup' or 'newgroup'

On some installations the newssystem sends mail to a user newgroup.
This is the case if the mailer used in PATH_MAILCMD does not understand
the '-s' option which is used to specify a subject on the command line.
On some Linux /bin/mail seem to miss this option, as on some Sys V. 
Try using /usr/ucb/Mail instead (if it exists).


Subject: (7.38) Ctlinnd cancel doesn't cancel my articles ..

Q: I did cancel an article with ctlinnd cancel <message-id>, but it
is still in spool

Dave Barr:
Did you sufficiently quote the message-id (with ''s) so that your
shell (whatever it is) doesn't interpret any metacharacters?
Try using "echo '<messgage-id>'" to see if ctlinnd is getting the
characters you think it is getting.


Subject: (7.39) Inn hangs during renumbering the active file

Q: Is it normal for INN to hang during a renumber?

Yes. Innd doesn't accept incoming articles as they might change the
contents of a directory / the number count in active while renumber
tries to adjust these numbers. If it would accept these articles then you
would get '400 File exists writing article file' errors, which you could get
rid of by ctlinnd renumber ...

Internally, renumber is a loop the calls NGrenumber on each group in 
active. NGrenumber then renumbers the group. So while Innd is in this
loop it can't accept connections.

If you are worried by the long time the server does not accept
then do something like (from news.daily):

        while read GROUP hi lo flag ; do
            ctlinnd -s renumber ${GROUP} 2>&1
            sleep ${RENUMBER}
        done <${ACTIVE}

This will renumber separately each group leaving the possibility to
get connections while sleep()ing.


Subject: (7.40) Some local postings don't make it to remote, but others do

Q: My feeds are set up and postings that come from tin make it to the
remote while others e.g. from nn or netscape don't.
I have the following in newsfeeds:


A: nn and netscape produce the following path line:

>Path: host!news

while tin gives

>Path: host!user

Now the entry ``news'' in newsfeeds collides with the news in the
Path: header. Change your newsfeeds entry to*:Tf... and
it should work.


Subject: (7.41) Expire does no longer work

Q: Expire suddenly stops with : Can't store key

There were some cancel articles posted recently that tried to cancel
more than one message at a time. Dbz code doesn't like this. One
solution is the following:

Grab the Perl 'fixhist' script off
and follow the instructions at the top of the file.  That will clean
out the cruft from your history database and allow expire to run
without crashing.


Subject: (7.42) news.daily complains about unknown entries from syslog

Q: news.daily complains:
 Syslog summary:
 Unknown entries from news log file:
 Mar 25 06:46:57 xx innd: NCmode "mode stream" received
What's wrong?

A: Inn1.4unoff4 now logs when a site connects that is able to send
streaming nntp. This is for debugging purposes, but the local version
of innlog has not been changed to catch up with this.
Try to use the innlog.awk that comes with unoff4.


Subject: (7.43) Innd writes to syslog: DEBUG ERROR SITEspool: trashed

Dave Barr: This is apparently due to the innd.spool patch. As far as I
can tell the message is "mostly harmless". I have tracked it down as
far as WCHANflush() getting called with the handle of a channel (which
is a socket), except as the comment to the function says it's only
supposed to be used on file channels.


Subject: (7.44) My feed does have different groups in active

Q: The groups in my active are not in sync with those of my feeds

A: Matt Midboe <> wrote a script to get the
active in sync whith the feeds you can find it via ftp in

In v1.5 of INN there will also be actsync, actsyncd for this job.


Subject: (7.45) INN is only slowly responding

(From: Erland Sommarskog <>)
Q: We started a new news server just a month ago. SS-20, lots of memory,
   23 GB of news spool. The first week it ran fast as a jaguar, but now
   it crawls like a snail. It takes forever to connect, we can't keep
   up with our feeds which have to flush our queues, it takes to forever
   to connect. When we monitor the box it spends an awful lot of time
   in kernel mode, and seems to be doing a tremendous amount of disk
   access. Where did we go wrong? If it matters, we're not running
   expire, but dexpire and histtrim.

A: The problem is with the history database. This database consists of
   three files: history, history.pag and history.dir. The dir files
   contains a hash table. For optimal performance, the hash file must
   not be too small, or you will get many collisions. The initial size
   of the history database is based on Usenet traffic as it was a
   couple of years ago, and no one was considering a 23 GB spool. Now,
   for people who is running expire this is not a problem, because when
   you run expire, the history file is rebuilt, and the size for the
   new database is taken from the old one. But if you are running
   dexpire and histtrim, this never happens, and innd will spend most
   of its time reading overflow buckets.
     What to do then? Rebuild the history database. And the simlpest
   way to do it, is to run expire. A simple approach is to run expire 
   every now and then, with an expire.ctl that safe won't expire very 
   many articles. (But add a short expiration time on some junk group,
   so that expire get something to work with.) 
   A better approach is to discontinue use of histtrim, and run expire 
   daily basis. Dexpires produces an output which you easily can trans-
   form into an expire.ctl. I discourage use of histtrim, since it
   may delete articles from history and yet are on the system.

(From: James Brister <>)
	A good indicator of your performance characteristics would be how much
smaller is the number generated by this,

   head -1 /var/news/etc/history.dir | perl -ane 'print 2 ** $F[7], "\n";'

than the size of your history text file. If it's bigger you're OK. if it's
smaller, then lookups for the message ids at the tail of the history text
file (past the byte indexed by the number just generated) will be much
slower than for those at the front.

See also: #7.6, #7.7 and #7.41


Subject: (7.46) What does 'Reserved Expiring process xxx' mean?

Q: While trying 'ctlinnd mode' I get this line :
Reserved Expiring process 23386

Any idea about what does it mean exactly and how to correct this problem?

A: When expire is running it reserves the server so that it can safely
pause and unpause it. This prevents other processes from grabbing the
server and rendering (some parts of) expire worthless.

While expire is running this is no problem. If expire is no longer running
and the server is still reserved, then you type "ctlinnd reserve ''".

See also #5.13, #7.5, #7.7.


Subject: (7.47) What happens to cancels if they arrive before the article ?

Q: What happens if a cancel message arrives before the article it is
supposed to cancel?

A: (From Rich $alz)  
| If VERIFY_CANCELS is set to DO, then early cancel messages are ignored.
| If it is not set to DO, then early cancel messages cause a history line
| to be written for the article being cancelled.  Subsequent offers of the
| real article will be rejected.


Subject: (7.48) I use funnel feeds and INND dumps core

When the target of a funnel feed is dropped and the funnel feed that
pipes into it is not, then innd will dump core. E.g. newsfeeds :


If you now issue a ``ctlinnd drop bar'' then innd will soon drop core.

There is at the moment no fix other than dropping foo before bar in the above


Subject: (7.49) NNTP-Posting-Host is even if host has a name

Q: When I post an article on the host innd is running then the header
``NNTP-Posting-Host'' is set to instead of the real

A: Local connections often go through the loopback interface so the
ip-number is the one of the localhost ( In /etc/hosts (or 
if you are running bind in that config) just add the name of your
machine e.g. change from   localhost

to   machinename localhost


Subject: (7.50) uuxqt says: rnews exit status 1

The problem is that news batches coming in via uucp get saved fine
by uucp, but rnews isn't able to process them and uuxqt either throws
them away or puts them to a .Failed directory. This seems to happen
often with newer versions of Taylor uucp.

Taylor uucp saves batches as owner uucp mode 600. So when rnews (as it
is installed by make is news.uucp and mode r-sr-sr-x then it gets 
user news which is not able to read the batches and exits right away.
Changing rnews to
  50 -r-sr-s---   1 uucp     news       24724 Dec 10 14:59 /bin/rnews
helped in all cases that I had this specific problem. The s-Bit on
group news assures that if rnews fails (e.g. server throttled), then
it can put the batches to in.coming/bad.


Subject: (7.51) innd get a non-zero ``nice'' value?

Q. Why does innd end up with a non-zero ``nice'' value?
A. Some systems (usually BSD-based) will automatically renice a process to
   a value of 4 if the process is not a root process and if it has a nice
   value of 0 and if it has accumulated more than 10 minutes of CPU
   time. On BSD/OS systems this can be defeated by configuring a kernel
   with AUTONICETIME set to 0.


Subject: (7.52) innd runs as root, even if configured to run as 'news'

We had a little debuging session due to inn 1.5.1 starting as root instead of
the configured value news. The problem was caused by _PATH_INNDDIR and the
following lines of inndstart.c:
    /* Make sure INND directory exists. */
    if (stat(INNDDIR, &Sb) < 0 || !S_ISDIR(Sb.st_mode)) {
        syslog(L_FATAL, "inndstart cant stat %s %m", INNDDIR);
    NewsUID = Sb.st_uid;
    NewsGID = Sb.st_gid;

So inndstart takes user and group values from _PATH_INNDDIR, and our
dir was owned by root =).


Subject: (7.53) Makehistory is slow on inn 1.x , x<5.1

From: "Otto J. Makela" <>

There is a rather serious bug in the standard distribution inn 1.4 (and all
unoff versions, but has been fixed in inn 1.5.1) makehistory, which affects
innd performance very much. Makehistory can be used to create the history
dbz database files from the raw text file and for example dexpire does this
with every histtrim operation.

The problem is that makehistory is given just one parameter specifying the
size of the expected dbz database in lines, but it uses this parameter also
for the dbzfresh() tagmask parameter where the maximum key value is expected
to be given.  This means the dbz database is built with a very small hash
table causing most of the history database to be accessed without hashing,
a very serious performance hit.

As noted in the inn FAQ section 7.45, you can check the size of your dbz
hash table with the following commands:
        head -1 history.dir | perl -ane 'print 2 ** $F[7], "\n";'
if the number returned is smaller than your history text file, you are
being affected by this problem.

The problem becomes worse as the history file grows, so an indication of this
problem is that your news server worked fine at first (small history file)
but started really beating the living daylights out of the hard disk where
history is after it grew a bit larger.

This problem can be patched with the following extremely simple change to
makehistory, which just multiplies the number of lines in the dbzfresh call
with 70 which is (supposedly) an average number of characters per history
text file line.  This same fix has been implemented in inn 1.5.1 makehistory.
diff -u expire/makehistory.c{.orig,}
--- expire/makehistory.c.orig   Mon Jul 31 22:18:46 1995
+++ expire/makehistory.c        Wed Apr 23 11:26:50 1997
@@ -125,7 +125,8 @@
     /* Open the new database, using the old file if desired and possible. */
     if (IgnoreOld) {
-       if (dbzfresh(p, dbzsize(size), HIS_FIELDSEP, 'C', dbztagmask(size)) < 0) {
+      /* Assume average history line length of 70 characters */
+       if (dbzfresh(p, dbzsize(size), HIS_FIELDSEP, 'C', dbztagmask(size*70)) < 0) {
            (void)fprintf(stderr, "Can't do dbzfresh, %s\n",
            if (temp[0])


Subject: (7.54) Expire is slooooooow

Q: Expire takes 20 hours on my system to complete.

First of all you should call news.daily with the delayrm option (see
also #2.12, #4.18, #4.19, #5.13). If this is still too slow, then it 
could be that the list passed to "fastrm" is too large to be sorted by
the sort(1) command, typically because /tmp is too small. Try setting
TMPDIR in innshellvars.


Subject: (7.55) Why are multiple innwatch's running?

From: Jim Dutton <>

Currently, "nobody" seems to verify whether an innwatch task is already
executing before innwatch is started up in Also, when innd is
terminated via ctlinnd shutdown, innwatch is not affected (eg; it is
left running).

Since always starts an innwatch task, if innd is shutdown for
maintenance, it is necessary to remember to ALSO kill the innwatch task
and its attendant "sleeper" task, thus ensuring that there is no innwatch
running when is executed to restart innd (assuming that this is
how innd is restarted, of course).


Subject: (7.56) I upgraded to INN 1.5.1, and peers have trouble feeding me.

INN 1.5.1 (and some versions of INN 1.4unoff) support streaming NNTP
(see #6.25).  Jerry Aguirre (who authored the streaming support)
has this to say about streaming NNTP:

> One of the fallouts of streaming was that a streaming feed tends to hog
> the resources.  (I consider it a feature but ...)  Basically streaming
> is more efficient so it is going to send more articles and thus consume
> greater resources.  The scheduling algorithm of INN's server aggravates
> this so that the non-streaming connections suffer.  There is code in INN
> 1.5.1 to limit the work a streaming channel will do on a single pass.
> It helps but perhaps not enough.  More advanced methods have been
> discussed but require greater changes to the code.  (Jerry Aguirre, May
> 9 1997)

If you upgraded to INN 1.5.1 from a version of INN which didn't support
streaming NNTP (e.g., INN 1.4sec), and have streaming support enabled,
incoming feeds which are configured to attempt streaming mode by default
will now be streaming articles to you.  The incoming feeds which are not
capable of streaming will get less and less of INN's attention
(depending on how many incoming streamers are connected at the same
time).  Thus, the incoming feeds which can't stream will see a
performance degradation, and may develop appreciable backlogs for you.

There are several things which can be done.  If the non-streamers switch
to an outgoing feed program which supports streaming NNTP, then they
will be able to get more of INN's attention.  Current versions of
innxmit and innfeed (see #4.21) support streaming NNTP.  Another
possibility is to disable streaming NNTP for incoming connections, which
can be done in the hosts.nntp file (see the man page for hosts.nntp for
more information).

A third possibility is to apply the following patch by Alan Barrett:

This patch attempts to limit the amount of work INN does for each
channel at one time.  Several sites have experienced success with it,
but at this point, it is not an official patch.


Subject: (7.57) I upgraded to INN 1.5.1, and it takes clients a long
time to connect.

This may be caused by streaming NNTP (see #7.56).  Since INN
handles all incoming NNTP connections (even the ones which are passed
off to nnrpd), incoming streaming NNTP feeds may cause INN to take a
long time to respond to a newsreader client's initial connection.  The
solutions in Subject #7.56 should be equally effective in reducing
initial connection latency for newsreaders.

Or as another alternative move innd away from port 119 and accept
nnrpd connects port 119 using inetd.


Subject: (7.58) My server gets slower and is busy doing io

Under Unix, when directories are getting too large, operations on them
are also getting slow. Most likely candidate is control or if you
have control.cancel in active control/cancel in the spool. Rebuilding
the directory from time to time helps (e.g. mv /news/control/cancel
/news/control/bye.bye && rm -fr /news/control/bye.bye). There is also
somewhere a patch floating around that divides control/cancel in
further subdirectories which makes each of those smaller.
          See <a href="">NetBSD</a> for a multiplatform OS
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