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Errors and Problems



Large messages & Memory Use

Unless you have infinite memory on your system, then it is necessary to limit the size of messages that can be processed. This also saves a lot of wasted bandwidth and disk space for you and every other news system. DNews limits messages to 1MB by default. (A fairly generous limit considering many news readers still die horribly with messages greater than 64K and anything bigger than this should not be sent via news but should be put on an FTP/WEB site and a pointer to it should be sent.)

To deal with messages of size 1MB DNews needs about 6MB of memory, so if you are short of memory you may want to reduce this. To limit messages to 100k you would add a line in DNEWS.CONF

ITEM_MAX 100000

(this setting is not dynamic, you must restart DNews)

I'm not getting any binary groups, why not?

The default configuration file (newsfeeds.conf) that comes with DNews excludes all binary groups. In my opinion these groups should not exist, they are a leftover from the days before FTP and WEB and even EMAIL, so that news was the only option. Now it is much more appropriate to post pointers to large files, rather than the file itself.

Anyway, you or your users demand it, to fix the problem edit your newsfeeds.conf file and remove the !*binaries* from the 'ME' feed.

Then use the commands:

tellnews undelete *binaries*
tellnews matchfeed

My news reader says the newsgroups don't exist?

Check access.conf, you might have access to get in, but no access to read the news groups so they will appear empty or give 'no such newsgroup' errors. Also check you have an active.dat with groups in it.

I don't know if posts are working?

There are two main reasons for posts to fail:

  1. You've messed up your newsfeeds.conf file.
  2. Your provider is not allowing you to send messages via 'ihave'

Follow these instructions to figure out where the error is:

Post an item to some local TEST news group, e.g. nz.test, then check the file DNEWS.OUT, this should give one line per message sent 'out' of your system. If this file is empty or gives an error, first consider if the error is from DNews or if it is from the site you are sending items to. Second, look in dnews.log, search for "out:" once you've found the failure message you will probably find more clues just above or below it as to what went wrong.

Another common problem is sending the incoming feed back out to your provider, this clogs up your feed so that local posts almost never get sent. To confirm this problem look in the *.feed,*.send files in the workarea directory, if they contain message ID's that are not local then your EXCLUDE parameter in newsfeeds.conf needs adjusting.

I'm still not convinced my posts are getting to the other side of the planet?

Post an item to alt.test, you should receive 10-15 messages from news robots all over the world.

I have an old fashioned feed coming in but I'm not getting any items?

There are two main reasons for incoming feeds to fail:

  1. You've messed up your access.conf file (or your DNS does not work)
  2. Your provider has not successfully setup the feed.
  3. You don't have any newsgroups defined, you need to get an active file from your provider

In case 1), first try letting everyone in by putting a wildcard access line at the bottom of access.conf

tellnews reload

Then check the log files, or use tellnews status, and you will see the name and number of any machine sending you IHAVE messages, (in the list of connected channels) put this name in access.conf.

If tellnews status shows the number twice, but no name, then your DNS is not working, use numbers in the access.conf file instead or fix your DNS.

Why doesn't the status report match actual diskspace used?

DNews maintains an internal count of free disk space. This can be wrong, or possibly your setting for 'diskspace' in dnews.conf could be wrong. To correct the internal count use:

tellnews check_buckets
tellnews setused

DNews goes very slow

On Unix remove 'nohup' for and then stop and start DNews.

Check your if DNS is working.

Type in:

tellnews stats
(not status)

This gives a listing of NNTP commands and how long DNews is spending on each one, this will show if one command is slow, and also if one command is being used more than is reasonable. Also consider adding memory.

Send the output of tellnews stats and status to the mailing list or NetWin for further suggestions.

Check the log file dnews.log, and work out from the time stamps what DNews was doing when it locked up. Send the section showing the lockup to

This can happen if you run an expire while lots of people are trying to use the system. In this case you may need to use DMULTI if this is going to be a regular problem.

Use the tellnews stats command, this will also point to commands which are taking too long to process for some reason.

Check your DNS and also that the site you are sucking from is working and its news server is working, either of these can cause a problem. If the site you suck from is down for a few hours, you may have to remove the feeder line from dnews.conf until it is up again. (normally you won't have to do this, it's just a thing to watch for)

DNews Crashes

Check the end of the file dnews.log, the only partly acceptable reason for a crash is if DNews runs out of memory, if the errors indicate this then see the section on memory use.

If it gives an error 'signal xxx causing exit' then set the debugging level to 'debug', if the log files just ends suddenly, then set the debug level to 'flush'

loglvl debug   (or flush)
debug_rotate 3000

Now next time it crashes email the last few hundred lines of dnews.log to NetWin. We really don't accept crashes as acceptable behavior and will go to some extreme lengths to fix this sort of problem.

Instructions for getting a stack trace on NT

If DNews crashes on NT the most useful file you can send us (with the end of dnews.log) is the file:


This will help us find the problem and probably get you a fix within a few days.

Instructions for getting a stack back trace on solaris / unix

cd /usr/local/dnews
   gdb DNews
   core core

(send the output of this to

TELLNEWS fails or locks up

The DNews process may take 1-2 minutes to initialize, so wait a bit before panicking.

If it gives the error 'Connection refused' then DNews probably isn't running, try starting it.

Check if the process is running

ps -axl | grep DNews (linux)
ps -ef | grep DNews (SunOS)

Check the log files

more /usr/local/dnews/dnews.log

On UNIX if it gets started up with the wrong PID you will get all sorts of protection problems, all the files in:


(including var/spool/dnews)

must be owned by the same user, normally 'news'. Also all the files in:


Also on UNIX it is possible to start DNews twice, this can cause real disasters, always check with ps and by looking at the log before restarting DNews.

TELLNEWS says "Cannot access tellnews.pass"

For some reason tellnews cannot find its configuration files, on NT this could be caused by a file protection problem or more likely if the disk drive letter was not specified in the configuration file DNEWS.CONF.

On VMS and UNIX you must be running the tellnews command from the usercode ROOT or NEWS or NEWS$SERVER.

I see errors "NNTP, Sorry I can't talk to you" in the log file?

Your news-host does not want to talk to you. This is because there is a security file which gives a list of hosts which are allowed to connect. The name of your machine must be in this list, and your machine's name must be in the Domain Name Server tables as well as the Reverse Translation Domain Name server tables.

The access file may be called something like:

CNEWS /usr/local/lib/news/nntp_access

INND /usr/local/news/nnrp.access

DNews /usr/local/dnews/access.conf

DNEWS-NT /dnews/access.conf

What does "Transfer permission denied" mean?

This can come from one of two directions, DNews can give this error when a site tries to feed it new items.

If you are using a sucking feed then you should stop the site that is trying to send to you from sending, as DNews will ask for any items it wants.

If you do want to allow incoming IHAVE messages, then add an IHAVE record for this ip address in the ACCESS.CONF file, and also remove the 'POSTING' flag from the NEWSFEEDS.CONF file for the ME site.

The last possibility is that this error is coming from your feeding site, in which case you need to contact the system manager of that site and ask him to give you 'ihave' access.

Posts not going upstream, 437 Duplicate article?

The problem is DNews is echoing all your incoming news back to your news feed site, this is clogging the outgoing feed. To fix this see the section above entitled "3.6 How do I set my EXCLUDE parameter correctly?"