Using Tin for Newsgroups

Newsgroups are electronic bulletin boards where people can post messages. Each newgroup is meant to cover different topics, and thus, each typically has a name representing its topic.

One program that you can use to read messages in newsgroups (and to post your own messages) is called Tin. It works even from a plain text terminal.

Note: The first time you start up Tin it displays some information about how to use it. You should be able to type <Return> to continue once you are done reading it. You won't see that information screen the next time you start up Tin.

You can start up Tin by typing at the prompt:

% tin

The first time you run Tin, it may come up with a Main Menu that lists no newsgroups:

This will be because you haven't yet subscribed to any newsgroups.

Note: Tin lists common commands at the bottom of the screen. Commands are activated by pressing a single key (don't follow the key with <Return>).

Despite the empty list of newsgroups, there are actually thousands of newsgroups. To see these newsgroups, we can yank them in. We do so by pressing "y":

In fact, we'd have to scroll down a lot to see all the newsgroups. Notice that groups that you are not subscribed to (in other words, to which you are unsubscribed) have a u on their left.

Now, suppose we want to find a newsgroup about the TV show Dr. Who. We can use the search command. To activate the search command, we type "/" (the forward slash):

On the bottom of the screen, Tin then expects us to type in a word or phrase that we think is in the name of a newsgroup and press <Return>. Here, we guess that the group will contain the word "drwho" and type that in.

Searching found a newgroup called alt.binaries.drwho (you may get a different group as your first match):

We can use the search command again to find more newsgroups with "drwho" in their names. We just press "/" again:

and hit <Return> (since "drwho" is now the default string to search for).

Let's stop when Tin finds a newsgroup called alt.drwho.creative:

Note that it is the current group because it is highlighted. Since we don't know much about this group, we decide to go into it and take a look at the articles there. Since the group is highlighted, we simply need to press <Return> to go into the newsgroup.

We are now in the newsgroup and see a list of threads (you will see a different list):

A thread is simply a set of articles; more specifically, it is an article that someone posted and all the articles that respond to that post (they all have the same subject line).

Next to each thread (after the +) is the number of articles in the thread (like 2 for the first thread).

Note: Any thread without a number has 1 article in it.

To view the articles in a thread, we just need to move to it using the arrow keys:

so that it is highlighted.

Then, we can view its articles by pressing <Return>:

Press <Space> to scroll through each article. We press "q" to leave the thread when done reading its articles.

Note: The bottom of the screen lists commands we can use. E.g., to post a response, we'd press "w".

Notice that after leaving a thread, we are back in the list of threads for the group alt.drwho.creative:

It may list a smaller number next to the current thread because we read some of its articles.

Now, to leave the group, we again press "q" and arrive back at the list of newsgroups.

Since we think the newsgroup alt.drwho.creative is interesting, we decide to subscribe to it. To do so, we simply press "s" while the group's name is highlighted:

which subscribes us to that group. Notice it is no longer marked as unsubscribed (there is no longer a u on its left).

If we want to only see the newsgroups to which we are subscribed, we can yank out the unsubscribed newsgroups by pressing "y":

We now see only group(s) to which we are subscribed.

Finally, to quit Tin, we press "q" to return to the UNIX prompt. It will ask us if we really want to quit.

BU CAS CS - An Example Session with Tin
Copyright © 1993-2000 by Robert I. Pitts <rip at bu dot edu>. All Rights Reserved.