Readme for ProNews/2 Version 1.53
New features in 1.53 not in previous releases:
Fixes in 1.53 that you may need to know about:
Making Mozilla work as a helper for Pronews:
Memory related issues and tips:
New features in 1.52 not in previous releases:
Whats new in version 1.50 ib098 (ancient!):
Good Net Keeping Seal of Approval (GNKSA):
Notes about this version:
Non obvious features:
All proceeds from the sale of this product are donated
to the Save the Children fund - http://savethechildren.org/
This version is brought to you by:
building on the original foundations supplied by Panacea software,
Bill Young, William Lamb et al.
We also wish to thank Robert Mahoney of 2Rud Software for his
assistance in making the SpellGuard code work again with ProNews.
yDecode code initially written by Brian Smith and integrated into
the current version of the program by Trevor Hemsley.
Help file and screenshots updated for 1.5x release by Peter
Weilbacher. Readme files proofread and amended by Rik Steenwinkel.
Thank you for evaluating ProNews/2, the best USENET reader for
We do advise that you take a backup of your existing ProNews
setup BEFORE you install this version.
To install simply run the install program. If you are upgrading
from a 1.00 beta 1, 2, 2b, 2c, 3, 3b, 4, or 4b you MUST delete the
entire program and all its data and index files and install from
If you are upgrading from 1.00GA you must switch to the ProNews
directory and run upgrade.exe after the install has completed but
before you start ProNews 1.53 for the first time. You are STRONGLY
recommended to backup your Pronews directory prior to this! The
new authors have no access to source for the "upgrade" program
that Panacea wrote nor do we know the format of the old files and
thus are unable to provide support for the 1.00 -> 1.5x upgrade
path. Sorry, we would if we could! The only option we can offer is
to install 1.53 in a new directory and to run the releases in
parallel for a while. We are fairly convinced that you'll prefer
If you are upgrading from any ProNews 1.5x to this release then
you do not need to perform any additional steps.
We are aware of some outstanding problems that we haven't fixed.
There's a list in the file UNFIXED.TXT that's been installed in
your \PRONEWS directory.
ProNews does not modify CONFIG.SYS or any system settings.
Uninstalling ProNews is as easy as deleting its directory.
Pre-requisite fixes to your system!
Before using Pronews/2 to do large amounts of work, we strongly
recommend that you apply the latest TCPIP stack fixes if you are
running Warp 4. One machine used for testing experienced a number
of fullscreen black TRAP 000E's when running Pronews under extreme
loads for testing purposes. On this machine, running inetver
reported a TCPIP level of 4.0e. After downloading and installing
IC16063.EXE and the "LATEST40.EXE" TCPIP fixes so that inetver
reports 4.02w these TRAPs haven't appeared since. TCP/IP 4.1 and
newer does not seem to have these issues.
New features in 1.53 not in previous releases
1) yEnc decode support
2) Changes to use less memory - details of how to configure this
3) speed ;-)
4) Addition of the %G variable in Pronews/2-->Settings tab
"Group Defaults (page 4 of 9)" to allow quoting of the group name
in both "Reply Message" and "Forward message" templates. This also
works in the local copy of the group settings.
Fixes in 1.53 that you may need to know about
You can find a complete list of the fixes in this release in the
file FIXED.TXT in your \PRONEWS directory when the installation is
complete. The following is a partial list of things that you may
need to know have been fixed before installing.
1) On all previous releases, the file GROUPS.DAT was randomly
corrupted when you fetched a new list of groups from the server.
This release contains code that will inspect GROUPS.DAT as it is
loaded, will issue warning messages to PRONEWS.LOG for each group
in error then ignore the group. If any errors are detected it will
then rewrite GROUPS.DAT so that it contains only the groups that
have been validated. The first time you look at the groups trees
in this release may log a large number of errors to PRONEWS.LOG
(one of the beta testers had over 21,000 invalid groups deleted)
and take a long time. Hopefully the bug that corrupted the groups
file is also fixed in this release.
2) In 1.52, articles with Message IDs with more than 49 characters
on the lefthand side of the @ sign were not stored in the database
correctly. Articles in reply to one of these will not be correctly
threaded in the article index. To correct this you need to delete
the article with more than 49 characters in its id and then
retrieve ALL headers for the group to make it refetch it. Or let
it age off and forget about it ;-) Mozilla for Linux seems to be
the prime offender for triggering this bug.
3) Contents of some filter files may now be ignored. There's now
some checking of the validity of the FLT files in the headers
directory and Pronews will not process those that it finds are
corrupt. Rather this than crash :-(
4) Pronews should now coexist with other running programs more
readily. Users who have experienced SYS0008 "Cannot start, not
enough memory" errors from OS/2 should be helped by this release.
Most of the problems I have had reported have been from users of
the Polarbar Mailer and Netscape.
5) Changed the behaviour of the article index when it scrolls.
When it had the last article on the screen highlighted and you
pressed the spacebar to go to the next, it used to move the
article index up to the next unread post but place it on the last
line of the display still. It now moves the index up and places
the selected article on the line below the top. This is
intentional for those of you who notice it and are just about to
send me a mail telling me it's a bug ;-)
6) When you select an article for decode, there is now a fastpath
to cater for articles that are self-contained - i.e. (1/1). This
is to speed up the selection of articles for decode. A side effect
of this is that if you swipe a whole range of articles with the
same subject, it will now select all of them for decode where the
old code would have selected just one of them - but very very
slowly. In addition, selection of articles for multipart decodes
has been speeded up.
7) The ROT13 shortcut keys were different in article and post
windows. Both now use Ctrl-T to be consistent.
8) If you have GNKSA compliance set on in the global settings
notebook then you will now be warned when an article that you are
reading and replying to in one group has a Followup-To: header
that points to a different newsgroup.
9) The popup menu that allows you to select which group(s) to send
a post to is now arranged according to the books you have defined.
This means it will not tend to drop off the bottom of the screen
if you have a lot of groups (or a small screen).
10) When you select one of the Groups tabs (All Groups or New
Groups) on the Control Panel, GROUPS.DAT is read and the number of
groups on the server selected in the Servers pane is displayed on
the tabs. The numbers are retained if you switch away from those
tabs, and also if you subsequently select a different server in
the Servers pane. Only if you now switch back to the All Groups or
New Groups tab will the group count be updated.
Not really a fix but...
Making Mozilla work as a helper for Pronews
is easy (tm) if you bear in mind that Mozilla must be able to
finds its DLLs. You can either add the \mozilla\bin path to your
system LIBPATH (and reboot) before you use Pronews or you can
invoke Pronews from a script that uses the OS/2 SET BEGINLIBPATH=
feature to add it to the current process or you can invoke Mozilla
from Pronews via a script that uses SET BEGINLIBPATH. On the
whole, having used Mozilla as my primary browser for a while, I'd
recommend using it in your system LIBPATH - it's just easier.
If you are aiming to use Mozilla then you need to provide a
slightly different parameter to it to have it work correctly.
Netscape was setup as a helper by pointing
Program path: x:\netscape\program\netscape.exe
but Mozilla requires
Program path: x:\mozilla\bin\mozilla.exe
Parameters: -url %U
but otherwise they are identical. A new Mozilla window will open
for each link you click from within Pronews.
Memory related issues and tips
The last release introduced an environment variable PNMAXHEADERS
that allowed you to specify how many articles any of your
newsgroups could contain. The default was set at 100,000 and still
is in this version. However, this has a negative side effect when
you have many small groups because each group allocates memory
when it's opened, requesting approximately 8 times PNMAXHEADERS
(in bytes) plus the size of the IDX file for that group. To try to
help this PNMAXHEADERS has been given a slightly different
meaning. It is now the maximum number of articles that any group
can be set to use. If you set the "Automatically limit to" setting
in the global settings notebook to a lower number then this number
is used for all groups. For large groups which exceed this global
number you can override the "Automatically limit to" number in the
local settings notebook. The maximum that you can set either
"Automatically limit to" value to is the one that you've specified
As this is a complex issue an example might help. Suppose you have
a lot of groups that never have more than 10000 articles, and a
small number that have between 60000 and 120000 on a regular
basis. To handle this situation, you SET PNMAXHEADERS=150000
(largest expected group size plus a bit of leeway), then go into
the local settings notebook of each of the large groups and turn
to the "Other" page. Uncheck "Use Group Defaults", turn on
"Automatically limit to" and enter 150000 in the spin control
there (you can overtype it, you don't have to spin it!). Now you
OK your way out, go to the global settings notebook and set the
"Automatically limit to" setting there (page 9 of the Group
Defaults) to a sensible number like 15000 or 20000. This reduces
the memory requirements for the remaining groups that normally
have around 10000 posts or less. For any groups still smaller you
can override the default settings too, adjusting its
"Automatically limit to" downwards as appropriate. Note that you
shouldn't set this value lower than the current group size or the
purge limit (whichever is greater).
On the old release 1.52, setting PNMAXHEADERS=150000 would
allocate 1.2MB per group, regardless of its actual requirements.
With 30 groups, of which 2 large, the new scheme as above requires
6.8MB against 36MB previously. In both cases the groups' index
file sizes should be added to this.
This way of working should help people who have subscribed many
small groups and a few large ones.
For people that have many small groups and no large ones, we
strongly recommend that you SET PNMAXHEADERS to a lower value than
100000 as this will reduce your memory requirement to the minimum.
New features in 1.52 not in previous releases
1) Missing parts in a multipart article decode are now listed when
you attempt to decode them. Messages are written to both
PRONEWS.LOG and to the article window.
2) New environment variable: PNNOOFASFILEPART. Set this to any
value and Pronews will ignore "x of y" in article subject fields.
For use where posters use subjects like "Some huge set of binaries
(1/256) File 1 of 6" to ignore the "File 1 of 6" part of the line,
as otherwise ProNews will incorrectly try to match the "File 1 of
6" to "File 2 of 6" instead of (2/256), (3/256), etc. (it works
backwards from the end of the line). It just requires the
environment variable to be set, the actual value is irrelevant.
Example: SET PNNOOFASFILEPART=whatever
3) New environment variable: PNMAXHEADERS. Previous releases of
Pronews were hard coded as to how many articles in a single
newsgroup Pronews could deal with. More recent releases have had a
limit of 100000 articles per newsgroup, older ones had a limit of
30000. You can now set an environment variable to tell Pronews how
many articles to expect in any newsgroup in your subscription
list. Note that this ideally should allow for the current number
of articles in any newsgroup plus the number of new headers
requested from the server. The default is 100000 as before. You
can change it to a lower value than 100000 in order to save on
memory allocated by Pronews, or set it to a higher number to allow
you to view more populous newsgroups. The larger the number you
use, the more memory is allocated (and vice versa for those on low
memory systems), as ProNews keeps the allocated memory associated
with a newsgroup even when it is closed.
Example: SET PNMAXHEADERS=200000 DO NOT SET TOO LOW!! This is a
loaded gun that lets you blow your own foot off ;-) Setting the
value too low can cause horrible crashes, while setting the value
too high will cause memory to be allocated unnecessarily. Trailing
or leading blanks on the numeric argument are not allowed and
should not be specified. Default if not specified is 100000.
4) Autodetection of occasions where the server has had the current
newsgroup rebuilt and reset the message numbers of the articles
within it. Also could happen when switching a group from one
server to another, we now detect the new message numbers and
What's new in version ib098
+ Installation of this beta 2 will not fix any Y2K problems that
exist in the current *database* of your old release. We have added
code to recognise the database corruption and "tolerate" it but
the database will remain corrupt until posts made after Jan 1,
2000 and downloaded with a non-Y2K compliant copy of ProNews have
been deleted. The net effect of these changes should mean that you
do not _see_ any Y2K related problems with old posts/articles.
Otherwise, build ib098 should be entirely Y2K compliant.
Good Net Keeping Seal of Approval (GNKSA)
+ A number of issues for GNSKA compliance have been addressed
in this release. A new checkbox on the Settings notebook
Group Defaults tab page 6 has been added to turn on strict
GNSKA compliance for the following items.
- maximum server connections no more than 4
- warn user if more than 4 lines in sig
- warn user if a reply to a post is directed away from
the current newsgroup by the presence of a Followup-To:
The following GNKSA items are in force regardless of the setting
of the Good Net-Keeping Seal of Approval compliant check box:
- signature should be prefixed by "-- \n" line on posts
made ("-- \n" is dash, dash, blank, carriage return on a
line by itself)
- strip out addressee's signature when replying (anything
after "-- \n" on a line by itself in original post)
- subject must be specified (no default). ProNews will now
refuse to post an article with a null subject
- don't post empty or unchanged messages. This is done to
stop accidental posts with no changes made.
+ The Spell Check code is completely new in this version. The
program still uses the Spell Guard API and dictionaries. Our
thanks go to Robert Mahoney of 2Rud Software for his assistance
in making this work.
+ The "Explore Thread" option on the Article Pop Up menu has been
replaced with a new "DejaNews" sub menu that includes the "Explore
Thread" choice and adds two new choices.
"Classic DejaNews" starts Netscape and passes an URL that asks
www.deja.com to look for the message ID for the article and
displays the article in the Classic Deja News format.
"Group Search" starts Netscape and passes an URL to www.deja.com
that asks for a search for the selected text. The menu item
will be disabled unless a text block is selected in the
+ The tasks "Retrieving all articles for %newsgroup%" have been
moved from "Article Activities" to "Miscellaneous Activities"
queue. This requires that you have at least 1 Miscellaneous
Activity thread configured to run. The more MISC threads that you
configure then the more "Retrieving all article" threads will run
at any one time. This affects the rate at which "Retrieving
article xyz" posts will appear in the "Article Activity" queue.
It's these last ones that actually transfer articles from your
news server to ProNews. You need to find a balance between the
number of MISC threads that run putting Article Activity tasks
onto the queue and allowing enough of them to run to transfer
Notes about this version
+ There are probably numerous bugs, and without your help we won't
be able to find them. If you have a problem, please email us
(Pronews_Support@os2warp.org) and let us know.
Wherever possible we need to know accurate ways to recreate the
problem. If you have a crash then we'll want the popuplog.os2
entry for the crash and, if you're running a debug version, the
*.TRP file from the ProNews directory. The last few lines of the
PRONEWS.LOG file would also be useful. If you can recreate the
problem and we cannot then mail us and ask for the debug version
of the code, run with "pronews -3" to turn on debugging logging
then recreate the problem and let us know.
+ This software is Shareware. It will work unhindered in ANY way
for 45 days. After this there will be a delay upon starting the
program. Please see the programs help files for information on how
Non obvious features
+ Using the TAB key on the article windows switches between the
article bodies and article headers windows. In the control panel
it will switch between the server field and the list of subscribed
+ The SPACE key pages down the article body window, and when the
end of the article is reached, advances to the next unread
article. The default action of the spacebar may be configured in
the program's settings notebook. If you reach the last unread
article in a newsgroup, ProNews will open the next newsgroup that
has unread article bodies and close this one.
+ Control+Space acts as the space key, but does not wait until the
article is at the end to skip to the next. Follows the same rules
as the spacebar.
+ Each toolbar in the program can be customized. Right click on
the toolbar to learn more. Toolbars for individual groups are
saved so you can give each group you read it's own toolbar suited
to it's content. To copy an item from one toolbar to another
+ Double clicking on the [+] [-] items in the tree views expands
+ Just like OS/2, pressing Ctrl-* (on the numeric keypad) expands
ALL trees in the current window.
+ Selecting all articles in a group and then using the decode
option will automatically scan for multipart binaries and properly
decode them for you. Binaries with missing parts are not
downloaded, and are highlighted to let you know they have missing
+ To edit an article or message that is queued for send you have to go
into the Queue window and double click on it.
- articles to the desktop to save them.
- articles into user groups to store them.
- servers onto groups to change which server is used for subscription.
- books/groups in the control panel to arrange them.
- queued items to arrange them.
- outgoing post queue items to a server to transfer the post.
+ Right click on everything. Nearly every part of the program has
a context sensitive menu. Some options may only be reached in this
Again, thank you for trying ProNews/2!