ACTSYNC(8)                                                          ACTSYNC(8)


       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 pre-
       served.  Certain newsgroup errors may be detected and  optionally  cor-

       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            Your control.ctl may be out of date or incomplete.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 β€β€˜β€β€˜.β€β€™β€β€™  or β€β€˜β€β€˜/β€β€™β€β€™, 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 β€β€˜β€β€˜.β€β€™β€β€™  or β€β€˜β€β€˜/β€β€™β€β€™, 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  β€β€˜β€β€˜:β€β€™β€β€™  ,  the
       right  side will be considerd the port to connect to on the remote sys-
       tem.  If no port number is specified, actsync(8) will connect  to  port

       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 speci-
       fied 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, β€˜β€˜.’’,
       β€˜β€˜+’’, β€˜β€˜-’’, and β€˜β€˜_’’.  One may not have two β€˜β€˜.’’s in  a  row.   The
       first character must be alphanumeric, as must any character following a
       β€˜β€˜.’’.  The name may not end in a β€˜β€˜.’’ 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

       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  β€β€˜β€β€˜=β€β€™β€β€™ character.  Blank lines are ignored.
       Comment lines start with β€β€˜β€β€˜#β€β€™β€β€™ 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:

       -A     actsync(8) tries to authenticate before issuing LIST command.

       -b hostid
              This  flag  causes  actsync(8)   to   ignore   newsgroups   with
              β€˜β€˜bork.bork.bork’’  style names.  That is, newsgroups whose last
              3 components are identical.  For example,  the  following  news-
              groups have bork style names:


              The  value  hostid determines on which hosts this action is per-

                   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 com-
              ponent  could  conflict  with  an  article from another group if
              stored  using  the  β€˜β€˜tradspool’’  storage  method;  see   stor-
              age.conf(5).  For example, the directory for the first newsgroup
              listed above is the same path as article number 23209  from  the


              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  news-
              groups  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 β€β€˜β€β€˜#β€β€™β€β€™ 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 news-
              groups 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, β€β€˜β€β€˜=β€β€™β€β€™ is equiva-
              lent to β€β€˜β€β€˜=*β€β€™β€β€™.

              On each rule line, no pattern type may  not  be  repeated.   For
              example,  one  may  not have more than one type that begins with
              β€β€˜β€β€˜=β€β€™β€β€™, per line.  However, one may achieve an effect  equivalent
              to  using  multiple  β€β€˜β€β€˜=β€β€™β€β€™  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

       -I hostid
              This flag restricts which hosts are affected by the ignore file.
              The hostid value is interpreted the  same  as  in  -b  described

              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.

       -k     By default, any newsgroup on host1 that is in error will be con-
              sidered for removal.  This causes actsync(8) simply ignore  such
              newsgroups.   This flag, used in combination with -m , will pre-
              vent any newsgroup from being scheduled for removal.

       -l hostid
              This flag causes β€˜β€˜problem newsgroups’’ of type β€β€˜β€β€˜=β€β€™β€β€™ from host1
              or host2 to be considered as errors.  The hostid value is inter-
              preted the same as in -b.  Newsgroups of type  β€β€˜β€β€˜=β€β€™β€β€™  are  news-
              groups  active  entries  that  have  4th  field that begins with
              β€β€˜β€β€˜=β€β€™β€β€™, i.e. newsgroups that are equivalent to other  newsgroups.
              A β€˜β€˜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

       -m     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  neces-
              sary.   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)  com-
              mands.   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 com-
              mand 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 per-
              forming 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

              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 β€β€˜β€β€˜=β€β€™β€β€™ 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  news-
              groups despite top only names and therefore are exempt from this


              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 news-
              groups from the remote are ignored.

       -T     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 news-
              groups in the same hierarchy, e.g. β€˜β€˜chongo.*’’, then the  news-
              group  in  question  will  be ignored and will not be created on

       -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

              By default, actsync(8) will pause for 4 seconds before each com-
              mand is executed if -o x is selected.


       Determine the difference (but don’t change anything) between your news-
       group 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

            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    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    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

            # 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

       To check only the major hierarchies against news.uu,net, use  the  fol-
       lowing 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

            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 β€˜β€˜x’’ or β€˜β€˜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 <>.


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