Version 4.3x to 5.0 Guide

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Contents

Using Version 5.x when you are used to 4.3x

Version 5 is a complete rewrite from the ground up. It is really a completely different program from the 4.x series and does things differently. We have comments from many of our users and testers that, once they learned how to use Version 5, it is far superior to Version 4 in many ways. Having to undergo a learning curve may be frustrating and this guide is intended to help it go a little smoother.

New Features in Version 5

There are a large number of features and improvements that have been introduced in Newsbin 5 compared with the Newsbin 4.3x series. The following is some examples of the more obvious ones:

  • Significantly reduced memory usage when loading Post lists making it possible to handle much larger groups in a given amount of RAM.
  • More control over the location of files used by Newsbin. You can specify where the Newsbin working files should be located independently of where Newsbin has been installed. You can also specify different download paths for different groups if you so desire.
  • New download algorithm that makes much better use of connections. In particular all servers can be used, not just those associated with items at the top of the queue.
  • Both File and Header download tasks now show in Download list.
  • Downloading headers is now asynchronous to viewing posts so that you can be looking at the headers for one group while downloading headers for another group(s).
  • Headers can be downloaded from multiple groups in parallel (connections permitting).
  • New spool file format stores headers in compressed format which means they take up only about 10% of the space used in Newsbin 4.3x series.
  • The 'new' status of headers is now persistent until cleared by the user making it easier to download headers as a background task and later see what is new since the group was last viewed.
  • Multiple Post lists can be open at the same time (RAM permitting)
  • Groups of similar types can be arranged into "Group of Groups".
  • Many properties can be set at the individual group level as well as the global level.
  • Headers can be downloaded from multiple groups at the same time (connections permitting)
  • Post lists support 'compact' mode to group all files of a RAR set into a single post list entry.
  • Enhanced handling of NZB files, and in particular an NZB autoload facility from a watch folder.
  • Download list saved at regular intervals so that contents are not lost in case of a system crash.
  • Scratch (Now PAR list) list as a persistent holding area for posts that may be needed later
  • Failed files list contents now persistent across an exit/restart
  • AutoPAR function combines split RAR files and extracts the contents.
  • Group list taken from all servers
  • Flexible tab positioning. The user can select which of the windows the various tabs should be displayed in. This allows for the 3 window view similar to Newsbin 4, but also allows for 1 and 2 window views for those who have constrained screen sizes.
  • Control of Colors and fonts.
  • Makes use of multiple processor systems, or CPUs with Hyperthreading to improve performance of CPU intensive tasks.
  • Minimize to the Systray (new in 5.30)
  • Find facilities in the Download, Scratch (now PAR), Failed Files and Files lists (new in 5.30).
  • Integrated Internet Search function (optional service) which searches Usenet for files over the Internet.

Version 4.3x Features Missing from V5

First, be aware that the following features from 4.3x have not yet been implemented in the current release of version 5. We are planning on implementing them in the future.

  • Firewall Feature
  • Logging Feature
  • Server level download limits

If any of these features are crucial to your use of Newsbin, we suggest you stay with your current version for now.

Upgrading to Version 5

There is no automatic upgrade path from Version 4 to Version 5. The primary server and group configuration can be migrated but any saved lists or stored headers will be lost. To be specific:

  • Any download lists you have in Version 4 will no longer be usable to in Version 5. Make sure you complete any downloads that you already have queued in Version 4 and only try and do new downloads in version 5.
  • Any headers you have downloaded with Version 4 will not be available in Version 5. You will need to download headers again with Version 5.

You can run both versions in parallel until you get used to Version 5.

Running V4.3x and V5 in parallel

It is possible to run both Version 4.3x and Version 5 in parallel. This allows you to evaluate of V5 while still retaining your V4.3x capability. Note that it is not expected that you will do this for a significant length of time so no special effort has been put in to supporting users who want to run both versions other than making sure they both can co-exist on the same machine. Therefore bear in mind the points mentioned below.

To do this the following guidelines are relevant:

  • Install Version 5 to a different folder than version 4.3x. The V5 installer will try and do this anyway, so do not over-ride it.
  • Make a copy of your Version 4 configuration file as Version 5 will make changes not compatible with version 4. You then need to add the name of the configuration file specific to each version as a parameter in the shortcut used to load the respective versions.
  • Back up any other configuration files in the Newsbin 4 data directory (but not the sub-folders) so that if you accidentally upgrade them to V5 format you still have the V4 format ones to return to.
  • Make sure that the DATA path in V5 does not point to the location that V4 is using. You want to keep the two sets of files separate. The DOWNLOAD path can be the same without problems. These can be set under Options/Setup and are different than Version 4 by default.
  • Group lists and Download lists are not compatible between v4.3x and V5. You will need to create new versions of the Group List and any Download list under V5.
  • The Spool file format (used to store headers) is not compatible between v4.3x and V5, and there is no way to upgrade V4.3x spool files to V5 ones. You will therefore need to redownload headers under V5. While you are running both versions in parallel you will also need to download headers separately under each version.
  • Signature file formats are different, and each version will update its own signature file. Therefore it is up to you to make sure that files downloaded under one version are not also selected for download under the other version. Newsbin releases up to 5.21 supported importing v4.3x signature files, but this is no longer supported from Newsbin 5.30 onwards.
  • Filter file formats are slightly different between the two versions. However if you put the filters.xml file you have been using with v4 into the folder specifed as the DATA path for v5, then it will be upgraded to the v5 format.
  • Be very careful about running V4 and V5 at the same time because they will compete for connections if they are configured to use the same news server.

File Format Changes

The file formats used to store spools and items like he download list between runs have changed completely betweeen the Newsbin 4.3x series and the Newsbin 5.xx series. The effects of this are:

  • Configuration files are not compatible. If a Newsbin 4 configuration file is used with newsbin 5 it is automatically upgraded to the new format, but the upgraded file will no longer be usable with Newsbin 4.3x.
  • Headers are not carried forward to the new version. You have to download any headers again.
  • Download lists are not carried forward between the two versions. You should complete any download lists using version 4.xx series using that release.
  • The Signature cache database is not compatible.
    Newsbin 5 versions up to 5.20 can import Newsbin 4.3x signature databases, but later releases cannot do this. If your signature file is important to you and you want to upgrade your Signature file you should upgrade via the 5.20 release.
  • Filter files are not compatible. Newsbin 5 can autmatically upgrade a v4 filters file (filters.xml) to the v5 format, but once this has been done the file is no longer usable with v4.

One good point about the above is that as long as different directories are used to install the different releases into it is perfectly possible to have both Newsbin 4.xx and Newsbin 5.xx series on your machine at the same time, thus easing the transition.

Header Downloading Differences

There are a number of differences in the way that header downloads are handled in Newsbin 5.

  • Header downloads no longer need an extra connection - they will dynamically share connections with file downloads as required.
  • Header downloads now appear as tasks in the download list just like file downloads. They can be moved up/down to change priority, although initially they are added at the top of the Download list which means they get priority over file downloads for a given server.
  • Header downloads are stopped just like file downloads by selecting the relevant tasks in the Download list and using the DEL key (or the "Remove from Download list" option on the right-click menu if you prefer to use a mouse).
  • Header downloads are asynchronous to viewing posts, so you no longer need to have a Post list open while headers are downloading.
  • Header downloads can be done from multiple groups at once on the same server, with the number happening in parallel being limited by the number of connections allowed for the server.
  • The 'new' attribute is persistent so if you use the Auto-Header option to download headers as a background task you can still see which headers are new since you last viewed the posts.

The net result is that a lot less planning has to be done around header downloads compared to the way that Newsbin 4 operated.

File Downloading Differences

A common question we get is "Why am I only downloading 1 file at a time in version 5?". Version 5 downloads each multi-part file with all available connections. With this method, each file downloads faster. This turns out to be more efficient than downloading 4-5 files in parallel and better maintains usage of your full datarate for the entire download list. If you only download single-part posts, it will download as many files as connections.

Another big difference is that Newsbin 5 is not restricted to working on the item(s) that are the top of the Download List. Newsbin will try and keep all connections active which results in higher overall throughput. If a server has a connection that is not currently being used then Newsbin will start searching down the list for a post that the connection can be used with. If you have different retention servers then this can be quite some way down the list.

Finally, you no longer have to worry about keeping connections free for special purposes such as header downloads, downloading group lists or reading post bodies. All download activities are sent to the Download Tab. Header downloads go to the top of the queue and get the next available connection. This means that any current file downloads are interrupted so header downloads have priority. This is the same for Download Groups and Read Post Body. If you want a file download to take priority over a header download, you can just move the file download to the top of the queue. You can also queue a file direct to the top of the Download list from a Post, PAR List or Failed Files lists by holding down the SHIFT key while queueing the post.

Setting Server Connections

Version 5 now manages server connections much better than Version 4. You no longer have to keep connections free for header downloads, group downloads, or reading post bodies.

You should set your Max Server Connections to some number up to the maximum connections your server allows. It is not recommended to always choose the max, especially if your server allows 8 to 10 connections. Most users should be able to achieve maximum bandwidth usage with only 4 connections. NewsBin sets the default connections to 2 when you add a new server.

To set the number of connections, use the Server Options screen.

  1. Click the Servers button
  2. Highlight the server you wish to modify in the list along the left side of the screen.
  3. Change the number in the Connections box.
  4. Click OK then close and restart Newsbin for the new settings to take effect.

Increasing connections will take effect right away. Decreasing connections may require that you restart NewsBin, depending on the version you are running. Alternatively you can disable the server; wait for all the connections to finish; and then enable the server.

Handling New Posts

Version 4 had no memory of "New" posts. Once you downloaded headers and viewed them in the post list, they would be considered "old" the next time you open the post list. Version 5 now remembers the "New" state until you clear it. Setting the Hide Old box on a Post list filter bar will show all headers that you have not specifically acted on, to either Download, Mark as Read, or Delete.

To clear the new attribute you need to explicitly mark an item as read. This can be done in a variety of ways:

  • Using the DEL key
  • Using one of the Mark as Read options from the Post list right-click menu. Note that if you do a Mark as Read on a large group it can take a measurable length of time to complete as it runs as a back-ground task.
  • Using the Auto-Mark Old option under Options->Switches. If you prefer how Version 4 worked where the "New" attribute was cleared when a Post list was closed, then setting this option will cause the disk copies of headers to automatically be marked as "Old" when they are loaded from disk into a Post list. Therefore the enxt time this Post list is loaded they will show up as old.

Update Button

Once you have selected the groups you will be using, the Update Button is the easiest way to get all your headers. Clicking this will queue up header downloads and perform a Download Latest for all selected groups from all selected non-slave servers. Once header downloads are complete, you can then do a Show Posts to open a Post List or just double-click a group. Keep in mind that the first time you perform this on a newsgroup, the Download Age setting is used. On subsequent uses, any headers that have arrived since the last group access will be downloaded.

Note that there is no longer a STOP button to stop header updates. This is nol onger needed as you can stop them just like file downloads by highlighting the header download tasks in the Download list and pressing the DEL key.

Auto Headers

If you typically keep NewsBin running all day, enabling Auto Headers may be your best option. This feature basically hits the Update button for you automatically based on your update Interval set under Options->Switches. Whenever you Show Posts on a newsgroup, you will always have the latest headers without having to wait for a header download. This is a major area of improvement of version 4 as the New state is now persistent, so it does not matter how many auto-header cycles have run since you last looked at the group - you will still be able to see which headers are new. Even if you double-click to do a Download Latest, you will be able to top off the header list more quickly. You can also set a switch to specify whether the first automatic update of all the headers is triggered as soon as Newsbin is loaded, or instead after the Auto-Update interval has passed.

Download Latest

Just like Version 4, the first time you perform this on a newsgroup, the First Time Records setting is used. On subsequent uses, any headers that have arrived since the last group access will be downloaded. After the header download completes, use Show Posts to open a Post List to view headers.

If you invoke Download Latest by double clicking the newsgroup as you did in V4, then a Download Latest is performed at the same time as a Show Posts. If this is the first time you access the group, you will not see any posts in the post list because Version 5 does not dynamically load headers while they are being downloaded. After the header download completes, you can hit the Reload button to see the posts.

If you have previously downloaded headers for this group, a double click will bring up a Post List but, only previously downloaded headers will be displayed. When the Download Latest header download completes, hit the Reload button to see the headers that have just been downloaded.

Automatic Download Mode

Starting with version 5.10, there is an option to have files automatically download when you download headers. If used in conjunction with Auto Headers, Newsbin will continually download posts that match the groups filter profile with a frequency based on the Update Interval set for Auto Headers under Options/Switches.

Only new headers are used for automatic download mode. Stored headers do not get used. To start clean on a group you've previously downloaded headers from, right-click the group, select "Post Storage" and "Delete Stored Posts" to clear stored headers so auto download will apply the next time you download headers from the group.

Differences in behavior from the v4 Automatic Download mode are:

  • Automatic download mode is no longer a global option but is set per group or per Group of Groups (which are the folders in the Group tab). By default, there is only the "Unsorted" folder. To set Automatic Download Mode, right-click on the group or the folder and select "Properties", then turn on "Automatic Download". For groups where this is enabled, all files will be queued for download whenever headers are downloaded.
  • Headers are normally downloaded from multiple groups at once which means that files from different groups can be intermixed.
  • As automatic Download mode is no longer a global option it is possible to have groups that are enabled for Auto-header download, but that do not have automatic file download. This can be useful for groups that you want to process manually, but which you would prefer to have the headers downloaded as a background task.

If you want to simulate the serial processing of groups in the way that v4 did in automatic Download mode then the following technique can be used:

  • Set your current instance of your server to only allow it one connection.
  • Set up another instance of your server(s) as a Slave so that it can be used for File downloads and will not download headers. Allocate the remaining connections to this instance.

This means that when you hit the Update button (or it is done automatically via an Auto Update setting) the following will occur:

  • Header tasks will be queued in the Download list for all the groups, but as there is only one available connection on the master server they will be forced to run serially, and thus the files will be queued for each group in turn.
  • The Slave server will download files using header information from the other server. As they are not constrained to servicing the top item(s) in the Download list (which would be the header download tasks they are not allowed to perform), the Slave instances will look down the list for work and start downloading files as soon as they are added to the Download list.
  • When it has finished servicing the header download tasks the master server instance will join in and start downloading files over its connection.

Viewing Posts

There are a number of important differences that relate to Viewing Posts in Version 5:

  • You no longer tie up a Post List while headers are being donwloaded. Viewing Posts and downloading headers are now completely asynchronous to each other so you can be viewing posts in one group while downloading headers in another group(s).
  • You can have more than one Post List open at the same time, or continually re-use the same Post List. Which of these behaviors is used is determine by the setting of the Multi-Tab mode switch under Options->Switches.
  • The Maximum Post Age setting is now used to purely affect how many posts are loaded from the disc spool files into a Post List when you open it. It has no relevance to whether Posts will be purged from the Spool files or not. The Maximum Post Age has a default value set under Options->Setup, and the ability to do group level over-rides under the properties of individual groups.
  • It is sensible to run with a comparitively low value of Maximum Post Age in groups that you visit regularily as this significantly speeds up the loading time of individual groups, and reduces the RAM used to handle them. You can always change the Maximum Post Age value for a group if you want a longer period, or ignore the Maximum Post Age value completely by using the "Show All Posts" option from the right-click menu in the Groups tab.

Read Post Body

In Version 5, ctrl-R downloads a text post and makes it available for viewing in your Text Editor. It is also added to the Read Posts tab in case you want to read it again later. If the tab isn't already in view, go under the View menu and select Read Posts. A tab will then be displayed with a list of the posts you have performed a Read Post Body on. If the list is empty, you may need to hit the Reload button to bring it up the first time. Clicking on any of the subjects in the top pane will show the contents of the post in the bottom pane.

Compact Mode Feature

Bringing up a Post List has Compact Mode enabled by default. This feature combines all files from a RAR or Master Splitter set into one line. If you add this line to the Download List, all posts needed to create the final file is added. This only works for yEnc encoded posts. UUencoded posting style is not standard enough for NewsBin to reliably determine what files are required.

Because of this feature, the old Version 4 feature of "Process with Plugin" isn't as necessary. We do plan to implement some type of advanced PAR processing in a future release.

Combining Files

Starting with version 5.10, the "Combine Files" option from 4.3x has been replaced with the AutoRAR tab. This function will combine RAR or Master Splitter (or HJSplit) files for you.

Scratch / PAR Tab

Version 5 has a new tab called Scratch that changed its name to PAR with V5.54. The PAR List tab is a place for you to keep posts that you might want to download later. For example if you have a set of RAR files that have 10 PAR files, you don't want to download the PAR files unless you need them. So you let them sit in the PAR List tab so you can easily add them to the download list if needed. The contents of this tab is persistent across a Newsbin exit/restart sequence.

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