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Table Of Contents  The TCP/IP Guide
 9  TCP/IP Application Layer Protocols, Services and Applications (OSI Layers 5, 6 and 7)
      9  TCP/IP Key Applications and Application Protocols
           9  TCP/IP File and Message Transfer Applications and Protocols (FTP, TFTP, Electronic Mail, USENET, HTTP/WWW, Gopher)
                9  Usenet (Network News) and the TCP/IP Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP)

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Usenet Message Format and Special Headers
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NNTP Overview and General Operation
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TCP/IP Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP)

Usenet started out as an informal network of UNIX computers using dial-up UUCP connections to transmit messages between servers. This arrangement arose out of necessity, and it worked fairly well, though it had a number of problems. Once the Internet became widely used in the 1980s, it provided the ideal opportunity for a more efficient means of distributing Usenet articles. A special TCP/IP protocol was developed for sending these messages, called the Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP). NNTP is used today to carry billions of copies of Usenet messages from computer to computer every day.

In this section I provide a detailed description of the operation of the Network News Transfer Protocol. I begin with an overview of how NNTP works in general terms. I then explain the two fundamentals ways that NNTP is used: for the propagation of news articles between servers, and for client article posting and access. I then provide more information about standard NNTP commands, as well as the newer NNTP command extensions, and also illustrate NNTP status responses and the common response codes.

Background Information: NNTP is similar to the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) in many ways, including its basic operation and command set and reply format. You may therefore find this section easier to understand if you are familiar with SMTP.


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NNTP Overview and General Operation
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