man actsync (Administration système) - synchronize newsgroups


actsync, actsyncd - synchronize newsgroups


actsync [-A] [-b hostid] [-d hostid] [-g max]

[-i ignore_file] [-I hostid] [-k] [-l hostid] [-m]

[-n name] [-o fmt] [-p min_%_unchg] [-q hostid]

[-s size] [-t hostid] [-T] [-v verbosity]

[-z sec] [host1] host2 actsyncd [-x] actsync.cfg [debug_level [debug_outfmt] ]


Actsync(8) permits one to synchronize, compare, or merge two active files. With this utility one may add, change, or remove newsgroups on the local news server to make it similar to the list the newsgroups found on another system or file. The synchronization need not be exact. Local differences in newsgroup lists may be maintained and preserved. Certain newsgroup errors may be detected and optionally corrected.

There are several reasons to run actsync(8) (or actsyncd(8)), on a periodic basis. Among the reasons are: A control message to add, change or remove a newsgroup may fail to reach your site. Your control.ctl may be out of date or incomplete. News articles for a new newsgroup can arrive ahead (sometimes days ahead) of the control message. Control messages may be forged, thus bypassing the restrictions found in control.ctl . Your active file may have been trashed.

If host1 or host2 begins with a ``.'' or ``/'', then it is assumed to be a name of a file containing information in the active(5) format. The getlist(1) utility may be used to obtain copy a remote system's active file via its NNTP server, or an FTP client program can retrieve such a file from an FTP archive (such as; see more about this below). Newsgroup information from a file may be treated as if it was obtained from a host. In this man page host1 and host2 are called hosts, even though they may be file names.

If a host argument does not begin with ``.'' or ``/'', is assumed to be a hostname or Internet address. In this case, actsync(8) will attempt to use the NNTP protocol to obtain a copy of the the specified system's active file. If the host argument contains a ``:'' , the right side will be considerd the port to connect to on the remote system. If no port number is specified, actsync(8) will connect to port 119.

Regardless how the active file information is obtained, the actions of actsync(8) remain the same.

If only one host is specified, it is assumed to be host2; if host1 is not specified, it assumed to be the default local NNTP server as specified by the NNTPSERVER environment variable, or by the server value found in inn.conf.

The newsgroup synchronization, by default, involves all newsgroups found on both hosts. One may also synchronize a subset of newsgroups by directing actsync(8) to ignore certain newsgroups from both systems. Only newsgroups with valid names will be synchronized. To be valid, a newsgroup name must consist only of alphanumeric characters, ``.'', ``+'', ``-'', and ``_''. One may not have two ``.''s in a row. The first character must be alphanumeric, as must any character following a ``.''. The name may not end in a ``.'' character.

The actsyncd(8) daemon provides a convenient interface to configure and run actsync(8). If a host is not initially reachable, the daemon will retry up to 9 additional times, waiting 6 minutes before each retry. This daemon runs in the foreground, sending output to standard output and standard error.

If the -x flag is given to actsyncd(8), then a ctlinnd xexec will be used instead of a ctlinnd reload to load the newly modified active file.

The configuration filename for the daemon is given as a commandline argument, usually <pathetc in inn.conf>/actsync.cfg The config file can contain the following options:

spool=<normally patharticles in inn.conf>
flags=actsyncd(8) options
The host, ignore_file, and flags lines are mandatory. The keyword must start at the beginning of the line, and there may be no whitespace before the ``='' character. Blank lines are ignored. Comment lines start with ``#'' and are ignored. Any other lines may produce undefined results. The host config file line refers to the host2 parameter to actsync(8). The ftppath directive causes the machine named in the host line to accessed as an ftp server, retrieving the file named. If the filename ends in .gz or .Z, then it will automatically be uncompressed after retrieval. The spool config file lines determines where the top of the news spool tree is to be found. The ignore_file config file line names the ignore file to be used by actsync(8). The flags config file line contains any flags that you wish to pass to actsync(8). Note that the -i ignore_file option and the -o format option should not be given in the flags= line because they are automatically taken care of by actsyncd(8). INN is shipped with default values of for host and /pub/usenet/CONFIG/active for ftppath. You can read about the policies used for maintaining that active file at Consider sychronizing from this file on a daily basis by using cron(8).


The options to actsync(8) are as follows:

actsync(8) tries to authenticate before issuing LIST command.
-b hostid
This flag causes actsync(8) to ignore newsgroups with ``bork.bork.bork'' style names. That is, newsgroups whose last 3 components are identical. For example, the following newsgroups have bork style names:
The value hostid determines on which hosts this action is performed:
0	neither host
1	local default server
2	remove server
12	both servers
21	both servers
The default is -b 0; no newsgroups are ignored because of bork-style names.
-d hostid
This flag causes actsync(8) to ignore newsgroups that have all numeric path components. The hostid value is interpreted the same as in -b. For example, the following newsgroups have numeric path components:
The newsgroups directory of a newsgroups with a all numeric component could conflict with an article from another group if stored using the ``tradspool'' storage method; see storage.conf(5). For example, the directory for the first newsgroup listed above is the same path as article number 23209 from the newsgroup:
The default is -d 0; all numeric newsgroups from both hosts will be processed.
-g max
Ignore any newsgroup with more than max levels. For example, -g 6 would ignore:
but would not ignore:
If max is 0, then the max level feature is disabled. By default, the max level feature is disabled.
-i ignore_file
The ignore_file , usually <pathetc in inn.conf>/actsync.ign , allows one to have a fine degree of control over which newsgroups are ignored. It contains a set of rules that specifies which newsgroups will be checked and which will be ignored. By default, these rules apply to both hosts. This can be modified by using the -I hostid flag. By default, all newsgroups are checked. If no ignore_file if specified, or if the ignore file contains no rule lines, all newsgroups will be checked. Blank lines and text after a ``#'' are considered comments and are ignored. Rule lines consist of tokens separated by whitespace. Rule lines may be one of two forms:
c	newsgroup	[type ...]
i	newsgroup	[type ...]
If the rule begins with a c then the rule requests certain newsgroups to be checked. If the rule begins with an i then the rule requests certain newsgroups to be ignored. The newsgroup field may be a specific newsgroup, or a uwildmat(3) pattern. If one or more types are specified, then the rule applies to the newsgroup only if is of the specified type. Types refer to the 4th field of the active file; that is, a type may be one of:
Unlike active files, the in an alias type may be a newsgroup name or a uwildmat(3) pattern. Also, ``='' is equivalent to ``=*''. On each rule line, no pattern type may not be repeated. For example, one may not have more than one type that begins with ``='', per line. However, one may achieve an effect equivalent to using multiple ``='' types by using multiple rule lines affecting the same newsgroup. By default, all newsgroups are candidates to be checked. If an ignore file is used, each newsgroup in turn is checked against the ignore file. If multiple lines match a given newsgroup, the last line in the ignore file is used. For example, consider the following ignore file lines:
i *.general
c *.general m
i nsa.general
The newsgroups ba.general and mod.general would be synchronized if moderated and ignored if not moderated. The newsgroup nsa.general would be ignored regardless of moderation status. All newsgroups not matching *.general would be synchronized by default.
-I hostid
This flag restricts which hosts are affected by the ignore file. The hostid value is interpreted the same as in -b described above. This flag may be useful in conjunction with the -m merge flag. For example: actsync -i actsync.ign -I 2 -m host1 host2 will keep all newsgroups currently on host1 . It will also will only compare host1 groups with non-ignored newsgroups from host2 . The default is -I 12, newsgroups from both hosts to be ignored per the -i actsync.ign file.
By default, any newsgroup on host1 that is in error will be considered for removal. This causes actsync(8) simply ignore such newsgroups. This flag, used in combination with -m , will prevent any newsgroup from being scheduled for removal.
-l hostid
This flag causes ``problem newsgroups'' of type ``='' from host1 or host2 to be considered as errors. The hostid value is interpreted the same as in -b. Newsgroups of type ``='' are newsgroups active entries that have 4th field that begins with ``='', i.e. newsgroups that are equivalent to other newsgroups. A ``problem'' newsgroup is one which is:
*  equivalent to itself
*  in an equivalence chain that loops around
   to itself
*  in an equivalence chain longer than 16 groups
*  equivalent to a non-existant newsgroup
*  equivalent to a newsgroup that has an error
   of some kind
However, a newsgroup that is equivalent to an ignored newsgroup is not a problem. By default, problem newsgroups from both hosts are marked as errors.
Merge newsgroups instead of sync. By default, if a newsgroup exists on host1 but not host2, it will be scheduled to be removed. This flag disables this process, permitting newsgroups unique to host1 to be kept.
-n name
The ctlinnd(8) command is used to create newsgroups as necessary. By default, the creator name used is actsync. This flag changes the creator name to name.
-o fmt
Determine the output / action format of this utility. The fmt may one of:
a	output in active(5) format
a1	output in active(5) format,
	and output host1 non-error ignored groups
ak	output in active(5) format, but use host2
	hi & low (2nd & 3rd active fields) values
	for any newsgroup being created
aK	output in active(5) format, but use host2
	hi & low (2nd & 3rd active fields) values
	for all newsgroups found in host2
a1k	output in active(5) format, but use host2
	hi & low (2nd & 3rd active fields) values
	for any newsgroup being created,
	and output host1 non-error ignored groups
a1K	output in active(5) format, but use host2
	hi & low (2nd & 3rd active fields) values
	for all newsgroups found in host2,
	and output host1 non-error ignored groups
ak1	same as a1k
aK1	same as a1K
c	output in ctlinnd(8) format
x	no output, directly exec ctlinnd(8) commands
xi	no output, directly exec ctlinnd(8) commands,
	in an interactive mode
The a, a1, ak, aK, a1k, a1K, ak1 and aK1 style formats allow one to form a new active file instead of producing ctlinnd(8) commands. They use hi & low values of 0000000000 and 0000000001 respectively for newsgroups that are created. The ak and aK variants change the the hi & low (2nd & 3rd active fields). In the case of ak, newsgroups created take their hi & low values from host2. In the case of aK, all newsgroups found on host2 take their hi & low values from host2. The c format produces ctlinnd(8) commands. No actions are taken because actsync(8) simply prints ctlinnd(8) commands on standard output. The sync (or merge) with host2 may be accomplished by piping this output into sh(1). A paranoid person might prefer to use x or xi in case a newsgroup name or type contains bogus characters that might be interpreted by sh(1). Even so, this output format is useful to let you see how host1 will be affected by the sync (or merge) with host2. The sync (or merge) may be accomplished directly by use of the x format. With this format, actsync(8) uses the execl(2) system call to directly execute ctlinnd(8) commands. Because of the exec, there is no risk of bogus newsgroups containing bogus characters causing a shell to do bogus (or dangerous) things. The output of such exec calls may be seen if the verbosity level is at least 2. The actsync(8) utility will pause for 4 seconds before each command is executed if -o x is selected. See the -z sec flag below for discussion of this delay and how to customize it. The xi format interactively prompts on standard output and reads directives on standard input. One may pick and choose changes using this format. Care should be taken when producing active(5) formatted output. One should check to be sure that actsync(8) exited with a zero status prior to using such output. Also one should realize that such output will not contain lines ignored due to -i ignore_file even if -p 100 is used. By default, -o c is assumed.
-p min_%_unchg
By default, the actsync(8) utility has safeguards against performing massive changes. If fewer than min_%_unchg percent of the non-ignored lines from host1 remain unchanged, no actions (output, execution, etc.) are performed and actsync(8) exits with a non-zero exit status. The min_%_unchg may be a floating point value such as 66.667. A change is considered a host1 line that was removed, added, changed, or found to be in error. Changing the 2nd or 3rd active fields via -oak or -o aK are not considered changes by -p. To force actsync(8) to accept any amount of change, use the -p 0 option. To force actsync(8) to reject any changes, use the -p 100 option. Care should be taken when producing active(5)-formatted output; be sure to check that actsync(8) exited with a zero status prior to using such output. Also one should realize that such output will not contain lines ignored by the -i ignore_file process even if -p 100 is used. By default, 96% of the lines not ignored in host1 must be unchanged. That is, by default, -p 96 is assumed.
-q hostid
By default, all newsgroup errors are reported on standard error. This flag quiets errors from host1 or host2. The hostid value is interpreted the same as in -b.
-s size
If size > 0, then ignore newsgroups with names longer than size, and ignore newsgroups equivalent (by following ``='' chains) to names longer than size. Length checking is performed on both the local and remote hosts. By default, size is 0 and thus no length checking is performed.
-t hostid
Ignore improper newsgroups consisting of only a top component from host1 or host2. The hostid value is interpreted the same as in -b. The following newsgroups are considered proper newsgroups despite top only names and therefore are exempt from this flag:
For example, the following newsgroup names are improper because they only contain a top level component:
The default is -t 2, that is, all improper top-level-only newsgroups from the remote are ignored.
This flag causes host2 newsgroups from new hierarchies to be ignored. Normally a newsgroup which only exists on host2 , for example , will be created for host1. However, if this flag is given and host1 does not have any other newsgroups in the same hierarchy, e.g. ``chongo.*'', then the newsgroup in question will be ignored and will not be created on host1.
-v verbosity
By default, actsync(8) is not verbose. This flag controls the verbosity level as follows:
0	no debug or status reports (default)
1	print summary,
	but only if work was needed or done
2	print actions, exec output, and summary,
	but only if work was needed or done
3	print actions, exec output, and summary
4	full debug output
-z sec
If -o x is selected, actsync(8) will pause for sec seconds before each command is executed. This helps prevent innd(8) from being busied-out if a large number of ctlinnd(8) commands are needed. One can entirely disable this sleeping by using -z 0. By default, actsync(8) will pause for 4 seconds before each command is executed if -o x is selected.


Determine the difference (but don't change anything) between your newsgroup set and uunet's set:


Same as above, with full debug and progress reports:

actsync -v 4

Force a site to have the same newsgroups some other site:

actsync -o x master

This may be useful to sync a slave site to its master, or to sync internal site to a gateway.

Compare your site with uunet, disregarding local groups and certain local differences with uunet. Produce a report if any differences were encountered:

actsync -v 2 -i actsync.ign

where actsync.ign contains:

# Don't compare to.* groups as they will differ.
i	to.*

# These are our local groups that nobody else # (should) carry. So ignore them for the sake # of the compare. # i nsa.*

# These groups are local favorites, so keep them # even if uunet does not carry them. # i ca.dump.bob.dorman i ca.keep.bob.dorman i i i alt.sounds.* =alt.binaries.sounds.*

To interactively sync against, using the same ignore file:

actsync -o xi -v 2 -i actsync.ign

Based on newsgroups that you decided to keep, one could make changes to the actsync.ign file:

# Don't compare to.* groups as they will differ.
i	to.*

# These are our local groups that nobody else # (should) carry. So ignore them for the sake # of the compare. # i nsa.*

# These groups are local favorites, so keep them # even if uunet does not carry them. # i ca.dump.bob.dorman i i alt.sounds.* =alt.binaries.sounds.*

# Don't sync test groups, except for ones that are # moderated or that are under the gnu hierarchy. i *.test c *.test m # check moderated test groups c gnu.*.test c gnu.test # just in case it ever exists

Automatic processing may be setup by using the following actsync.cfg file:

# host to sync off of (host2)

# location of the ignore file ignore_file=<pathetc in inn.conf>/actsync.ign

# where news articles are kept spool=<patharticles in inn.conf>

# actsync(8) flags # # Automatic execs, report if something was done, # otherwise don't say anything, don't report # uunet active file problems, just ignore # the affected entries. flags=-o x -v 2 -q 2

and then by running actsyncd(8) with the path to the config file:

actsyncd <pathetc in inn.conf>/actsync.cfg

One may produce a trial actsyncd(8) run without changing anything on the server by supplying the debug_level arg: actsyncd <pathetc in inn.conf>/actsync.cfg 2

The debug_level causes actsyncd(8) to run actsync(8) with an -v debug_level (overriding any -v flag on the flags line), not make any changes to the active file, write a new active file to standard output, and write debug messages to standard error.

If the debug_outfmt arg is also given to actsyncd(8) then the data written to standard output will be in -o debug_outfmt instead of in -o a1 format. The /bin/sh command

actsyncd <pathetc in inn.conf>/actsync.cfg 4 \
	>cmd.log 2>dbg.log

will operate in debug mode, not change the active file, write ctlinnd(8) style commands to cmd.log, and write debug statements to dbg.log.

To check only the major hierarchies against news.uu,net, use the following actsync.ign file:

# by default, ignore everything
i *

# check the major groups c comp.* c gnu.* c sci.* c alt.* c misc.* c news.* c rec.* c soc.* c talk.*

and the command:

actsync -i actsync.ign

To determine the differences between your old active and your current default server:

actsync <pathetc in inn.conf>/active.old -

To report but not fix any newsgroup problems with the current active file:

actsync - -

To detect any newsgroup errors on your local server, and to remove any *.bork.bork.bork style silly newsgroup names:

actsync -b 2 - -

The active file produced by:

actsync ...flags... -o x

or by:

actsync ...flags... -o c | sh

is effectively the same as the active file produced by:

ctlinnd pause 'running actsync'
rm -f
actsync ...flags... -o a1 >
rm -f active.old
ln active active.old
mv active
ctlinnd reload active 'running actsync'
ctlinnd go 'running actsync'

It should be noted that the final method above, pausing the server and simply replacing the active file, is faster.


Careless use of this tool may result in the unintended addition, change, or removal of newsgroups. You should avoid using the x output format until you are sure it will do what you want.


If a newsgroup appears multiple times, actsync(8) will treat all copies as errors. However, if the group is marked for removal, only one rmgroup will be issued.

The timeout for ctlinnd(8) commands is fixed at 30 seconds when running in ``x'' or ``xi'' output format. Perhaps the timeout value should be controlled via a command line option?



Written by Landon Curt Noll <> for InterNetNews. Updated to support ftp fetching by David Lawrence <>.