21.4. The active File

The active file is located in /etc/, and lists all groups known at your site and the articles currently online. You will rarely have to touch it, but we explain it nevertheless for sake of completion. Entries take the following form:

newsgroup high low perm

newsgroup is the group's name. low and high are the lowest and highest numbers of articles currently available. If none are available at the moment, low is equal to high+1.

At least that's what the low field is meant to do. However, for efficiency, C News doesn't update this field. This wouldn't be such a big loss if there weren't newsreaders that depend on it. For instance, trn checks this field to see if it can purge any articles from its thread database. To update the low field, you therefore have to run the updatemin command regularly (or, in earlier versions of C News, the upact script).

perm is a parameter detailing the access users are granted to the group. It takes one of the following values:


Users are allowed to post to this group.


Users are not allowed to post to this group. However, the group may still be read.


This group has been disabled locally. This happens sometimes when news administrators (or their superiors) take offense at articles posted to certain groups.

Articles received for this group are not stored locally, although they are forwarded to the sites that request them.


This denotes a moderated group. When a user tries to post to this group, an intelligent newsreader notifies her of this and send the article to the moderator instead. The moderator's address is taken from the moderators file in /var/lib/news.


This marks newsgroup as being a local alias for another group, namely real-group. All articles posted to newsgroup will be redirected to it.

In C News, you will generally not have to access this file directly. Groups can be added or deleted locally using addgroup and delgroup (see the section Section 21.10” later in this chapter). A newgroup control message adds a group for the whole of Usenet, while a rmgroup message deletes a group. Never send such a message yourself! For instructions on how to create a newsgroup, read the monthly postings in news.announce.newusers.

The active.times file is closely related to the active file. Whenever a group is created, C News logs a message to this file containing the name of the group created, the date of creation, whether it was done by a newgroup control message or locally, and who did it. This is convenient for newsreaders that may notify the user of any recently created groups. It is also used by the NEWGROUPS command of NNTP.