[TUHS] Old Usenet newsreader source code?

John Labovitz johnl at johnlabovitz.com
Wed May 9 09:39:00 AEST 2018

On May 8, 2018, at 12:25 PM, Seth Morabito <web at loomcom.com> wrote:

> As an aside: If you were active on Usenet in 1989, what software were you using?

Maybe a bit earlier — 1985–1987? — but I always loved Kenneth Almquist’s ‘vnews’ as a newsreader. There was something incredibly simple and graceful about it. It was curses-based, but at the same time very Unix-y — no BBS-like prompts or extra noise. Minimal and perfect. Many times I’ve tried to build a similar interface on modern systems, and it’s harder than one would think.

A few years back I found a shar file of some late vnews distribution. (Sadly, I can’t find a link now — but have the sources if anyone wants.) I was surprised how complicated the C code was, not to mention the build system! No blame to Almquist at all — I’d simply forgotten how difficult it was in the ‘80s to architect software that could work on more than one Unix distribution.

I ran vnews, and I think C news, on a Parallel XR300 machine, which was (in theory) a fault-tolerant box with Sun motherboards. That was in Maryland — I was psc!jsl.


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