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NaN - Never Again Netscape

NaN, or Never Again N@tscape, is a newsreader program. It reads news from news (also known as NNTP) servers.

This page serves to describe the basic functionality of NaN.

Table of Contents

The View

NaN Screenshot

NaN was designed to be a very useful and intuitive program. But any new program has a learning curve, and it is best not to assume the user will just 'know' what we mean. The look and feel is similar to Mozilla Mail or Microsoft Outlook Express, so it should be an easy switch over if you have ever used either of these programs.

The Subscribed Groups List

On the left side of the application is the Subscribed Groups List. This list is used to select the active newsgroup, in other words, the one you wish to read and/or post to. In our screenshot, you can see we are currently subscribed to three newsgroups: alt.comp.lang.c,, and We are currently reading the group You can tell this because it is highlighted.

The Message Tree

On the right side of the application on the top is the Message Tree. The Message Tree is used to browse the current newsgroups messages. When you select a group in the Subscribed Groups List, the current messages from this group will be loaded from the server and be displayed on the Message Tree.

The Message Information Panel

Just under the message tree is the Message Info Panel. This panel displays information about the currently selected message. Who the message is from, the subject of the message, and the date the message was posted. In addition, there is a button on the far right side which allows us to access the message's attachments.

The Message Preview Pane

At the bottom right part of the screen is the Message Preview Pane. This is where the text of the current message will be displayed when you select a message from the Message Tree.

The About Dialog

The box in the middle of our screenshot is the About dialog. The about dialog can be displayed from the menu. It will only be there at your request, and goes away when you press its OK button.

This concludes our discussion of the View. The next section deals with the menu at the top of the application.

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The Menu

This section of the manual discusses the main menu for NaN. The main menu is the one shown in the screenshot. It consists of the following menus: File, Preferences, Newsgroup, Message, and Help.

The File Menu

The File Menu is essentially the exit menu. The only option is exit which quits the program. There is however a difference between using this and the window close (The Red X on Windows and Mac OS). Using the X will ask you if you want to exit the program before quitting to prevent accidental exits. Choosing exit from the file menu quits the program immediately.

The Preferences Menu

The Preferences Menu allows you to set the preferences for the program.

User Settings

User Settings

The User Settings option allows you to change the settings for the user of the program. The name, email, and signature are set using this control. If you enter text into the signature, it will be automatically appended to all messages you post.

Server Settings

Server Settings

The Server Settings dialog is much more complex than the User Settings control. This control is how you set the NNTP server hostname and port. These can be obtained from your internet service provider or network administrator. The news server is generally or

For a description of the other properties, see the How To section.



The Newsgroup control is used to add or remove groups from your Subscribed Groups List. When you first bring it up, it will ask to download the list of available Newsgroups (Mac users see the Known Issues section). There will most likely be many newsgroups to choose from. There are over 34,000 groups on my service provider's news server.

You can select a Newsgroup by double-clicking the list on the left side, or clicking it once, then using the Add button. You can also remove groups from your Subscribed Groups List by using the remove button or double-clicking them on the list on the right side of the screen.

If you wish to see only certain newsgroups, you can filter the list a little. Enter the first few characters of the newsgroups you wish to examine, such as 'ac.csci' in the Filter box at the bottom of the screen. You can then click the Filter button and the list will show only those groups which start with those letters. To remove the filter and see the entire list, delete the text from the filter box and select filter again.

The Newsgroup Menu

The Newsgroup menu handles some special optionns regarding Newsgroups and Messages.

Set Messages to Cache

When a current Newsgroup is selected from the Subscribed Newsgroups List, this option will let you change the number of messages NaN initially caches.

In other words, NaN only downloads the most recent 50 messages by default to save time. It will also download any newer messages that become available later. If you want to download older messages, you can change this setting to download the most recent 100 messages, or 1000, or all messages. When you change this setting, NaN will discard the current message cache and download the most recent x messages. Depending upon the number of messages you select, this might take some time.

Download Full Messages

This option can be used to download the full text of all the messages you are currently caching. If you have a slow connection, you might use this option so you can read the messages offline. Just use this option, come back later when its finished, and read everything at your own pace.

Refresh Current Newsgroup

This option will search the current newsgroup for new messages. This is automatically done every time a group is selected, so it is only needed if you want to make sure your messages was posted to the server.

Check for New Newsgroups

This option will check the News service for new groups that you can subscribe to. This is automatically done everytime NaN is started, so it should not be necessary to use this option very often.

The Message Menu

The Message menu is used to post and reply to messages on the current newsgroup. You can also view the source of the current message if you want to see the full headers.


Use the Post command to post a new message to the currently selected newsgroup on the Subscribed Newsgroup List.


Use the Reply command to respond to a message. Replying to messages automatically quotes the entire message for easy response. In addition, the message will appear inside the same thread so people understand its a reponse and not a new message.

View Message Source

This command will display the source with all the message headers for the currently selected message.

The Help Menu

The Help menu is used to get help with NaN and display the license agreements, should you want to look over them again.

View Documentation

This option brings up this documentation.


Use this menu to view the license agreements.


Brings up a small dialog that tells the version number of NaN you are running, the copyright notice, and the number of files and lines of code in the source.

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Learning to Use NaN

NaN is a very simple program and should not be difficult to learn. When you first start the program, it will ask you for your settings, both personal and server.

Your personal settings are easy enough. Just enter your name, your email address, and if you choose, a short text message to sign all your messages with. This signature will be automatically appended to every message you write.

The server settings look complex, but you probably only need to worry about the first one. The news server hostname. You will need to obtain this information from whoever you get your internet service from.

When you have entered your server settings, NaN will try to connect to your news server. If something goes wrong, a message will be displayed. Otherwise, you should be good to go. Just go to the preferences menu, select Newsgroups, and find the Newsgroups you want to read.

When you have your subscribed newsgroups, just select one from the list by clicking it with the mouse. The messages will appear on the right side on the Message Tree. It should be very easy if you have ever used another news reader or an email program.

That covers the basic usage of NaN. Simple, no?

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How To...

This section covers tasks that may not be readily obvious as to how you would do them.

How to View a Message with Full Headers

If you want to see the full message source, simply click on the message, and select View Message Source from the Message menu.

How to Attach a File

When you post or respond to a message, click Add from the Attachment menu on the composer frame. It will bring up a dialog that will look for the file and add it to the attachment list. You can remove it by selecting remove.

Be aware that not all groups permit attachments to be posted to them due to viruses and other unsavory things bad people tend to post.

How to Download an Attachment

If a message has attachments, then the attachment button on the Message Information Panel will be enabled. You should be able to tell because the text will look bold instead of grayed out. Simply click the button and select the attachment to download.

NaN does not currently support MIME messages, so MIME attachments cannot yet be downloaded. Look for this feature in a future release.

How to Save a Group for Offline Reading

To save a groups messages, simply select Download Full Messages from the Message menu. You can now read all the messages in this group, even if you are not connected.

How to Setup an SSH Tunnel

Some news servers (most, in fact) allow only users from their own network to connect to them. If you have access to an SSH server on the network from your computer, you can setup an SSH tunnel which will allow you to use the news server, even though you are not part of the news server's network.

To do this, you will need access to an SSH2 server. SSH1 is NOT secure and is not used in NaN.

Go to the Server Settings on the Preferences Menu. Click the SSH checkbox. Fill in the information for your SSH server. The default port 22 is usually the correct one. Your password will not be saved with the rest of your settings for security.

Now select the SSH tunnel checkbox and pick a port to run the tunnel on. The default port is usually fine, unless some other application is using it.

Select OK and NaN will attempt to connect to the server through this SSH tunnel.

How to use Remote Save with SSH

If you want to use NaN in multiple places, but do not want to lose your settings, this option can allow you to keep the same settings in every place you use NaN.

Select Server Settings from the Preferences Menu. Fill out the SSH settings as described in the SSH tunnel setup above. Select the remote-save checkbox, and specify a path on the SSH server to save settings to. NaN will NOT create this path, it must already exist. I would choose your home directory. You cannot use ~ or any other shell substitute.

When you exit NaN, your settings will be archived and sent to the SSH server. When you start NaN, it will download them from the SSH server and load them.

This setting has very little merit if you do not use NaN in multiple places.

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Known Problems and Issues

This section describes some of the issues relating NaN that the developers are already aware of.

Mac Hides Modal Dialogs

When you first go to the Newsgroups dialog in the Preferences menu, NaN will ask if you want to download the available list of newsgroups. However, this dialog will appear behind the Newsgroup dialog on Mac OS. This is annoying, but we have not been able to find a fix for it. Simply move the Newsgroups dialog until you can see the message.

MIME/HTML Messages

NaN has no support for MIME or HTML messages. This means any message in HTML format will be displayed incorrectly, and no MIME attachments can be downloaded. Sorry.

NaN is a bit slow at times...

NaN is not the fastest newsreader in existence. We hope you will be patient with it, as this is mainly a consequence of Java. If speed is your main concern, NaN is NOT the program for you.

Attachment Foolies...

It is possible to fool NaN (and other Newsreaders, Microsoft® Outlook Express 6.0 for sure) into thinking an attachment exists where it does not by typing the same information header as an attachment. This is why the new MIME format is gaining favor and supplanting it. We know of no solution to this problem at this time. But it is not restricted solely to NaN, as we were able to reproduce the error in Microsoft® Outlook Express 6.0.

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Credits & Thanks

This section contains a list of people who deserve thanks for one time or another.

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NaN is governed by four license. The NaN Free License, which is similar to the expat license is used for all work done by John David Ratliff. Libraries are governed by their respective licenses.

SSH usage in the program is accomplished through the MindTerm SSH library for Java version 2.4.1. The MindTerm licenses govern their usage.

XML parsing is accomplished with the dom4j XML library for Java version 1.4. dom4j is awesome, and you should visit their site for all your XML needs

Download NaN 2.8.210


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