Reading and Posting News from Off-Campus

Using newsgroups effectively is much easier with a modern news client such as Thunderbird or Microsoft Outlook. The problem is that UW blocks you from posting to the newsgroup unless you've been authenticated. We don't want to wade through spam postings! That means that you can't post from off-campus -- unless you know about SSH Tunnelling.

So, to use a newsgroup fully from off campus, you need:

  1. A small, free, application named PuTTY.
  2. A newsreader such as Thunderbird (also free; it also reads e-mail). Microsoft Outlook can be set up similarly, although instructions are not (yet) provided here.
  3. A little bit of set-up on your computer.

Note: This assumes you're using Windows. If you are using a Mac, simply open up a Terminal window (Applications → Utilities → Terminal) and enter the command:
ssh -N -L
Leave that window running and start the steps from the Configuring Thunderbird section (you do not need PuTTY).

Configuring PuTTY

  1. Download PuTTY. Click on putty.exe to download the application itself. Save it someplace with other programs (remember where!).
  2. Initial PuTTY screen Launch PuTTY (double-click on it). You'll see a dialog box, as shown on the right.
  3. Filled-in tunnel options Click on the word Tunnels in the left pane. Fill it in as shown.
  4. Forwarded port list including tunnel Click the Add button.
  5. Now click the word Session in the left pane. You'll return to the first screen you saw after opening PuTTY.
  6. Finishing session information Fill in an appropriate front-end or round-robin server that you have access to.
  7. Press the Save button to save your settings for the next time you use PuTTY.
  8. Exit out of PuTTY.
  9. New screen on load Launch PuTTY again. Hopefully, the first screen you see looks like the one shown on the right.
  10. Host key warning dialogue Double-click on Off-Campus News. You'll get a security warning; click Yes.
  11. PuTTY terminal window A terminal window will appear. Enter your Unix username and password. It should then look similar to the following. Of course, your user id will not be bwbecker! Leave PuTTY running while you proceed to set up Thunderbird.

That's it for configuring PuTTY. Now you need to configure a newsreader such as Thunderbird.

Configuring Thunderbird

  1. Download Thunderbird from Thunderbird and install it on your computer. It has a nice installer to make it easier.
  2. Thunderbird account wizard Launch Thunderbird. It will ask you to create a new account. Select a Newsgroup account.
  3. Identity request screen Click Next button. Enter your name and email address.
  4. Newsgroup server selection Click Next. Enter the news server localhost. This is the keyword that directs it to communicate through PuTTY to the University's servers.
  5. Naming an account Click Next. Name this account, perhaps Off-Campus News.
  6. Wizard final confirmation screen Click Next. You'll see a confirmation screen.
  7. Thunderbird left pane entry Click Finish. A new entry will be added to Thunderbird's left pane.
  8. Server settings modification Left-click on Off-Campus News and choose Properties. Choose the Server Settings tab and change the default value of 119 to 1190.
  9. Subscription window Click OK.Back at the Thunderbird window, left-click on Off-Campus News again. Choose Subscribe.... You'll see a dialog box like the following:
  10. Narrowed-down subscription choices Type cs134 into the box. Select uw.cs.cs134.
  11. Newsgroup articles Click on the OK button.You'll return to the main Thunderbird screen.
    Select uw.cs.cs134 and you'll see a list of newsgroup articles in the right pane:
  12. Click one of the subject lines to read that message. Explore the Message menu to see how to reply to just the person who posted or to the entire newsgroup.

Reading News the Next Time

Thankfully, most of these steps are only necessary once. The next time you want to read news, do the following:

  1. Launch PuTTY.
  2. Double-click the Off-Campus News setting.
  3. Launch Thunderbird.
  4. Read news!