Accessing the Novell Support Forums - January 9, 2001

There are two ways to access the Novell Public Forums. One way is to use the web interface, and if you have tried that, you may have realized some frustration due to its limitations.

The other way is to use a UseNet offline reader (NNTP reader).

This is, by far, the best way to access the forums and be able to find relevant answers and keep track of message threads. In case you have never tried this, you really owe it to yourself to spend five minutes trying it out. The only drawbacks I can think of are a) you have to allow NNTP protocol through the firewall, and b) if you move from PC to PC, there may not be an NNTP reader installed.

As to the problems, the only forums supplied by the Novell NNTP server are Novell support forums (plus the Novell Community Chat forum), so there is no risk of allowing warez, porn or gaming forums into a corporate network by allowing NNTP through a firewall only from the Novell NNTP servers (

There are many free NNTP readers available, including Outlook Express, Netscape Messenger, Free Agent, Virtual Access, Gravity, and others. Some are more 'offline-ish' than others. Netscape is more like an online reader, while Free Agent is more like an offline reader, as examples.

Some of the readers can be configured to automatically connect, download new messages from selected forums, and thread the messages for you. Most of the readers have some search capabilities, allowing you to look for key words in either the message headers, message bodies, or both.

ALL of the readers will thread the messages in a way that makes it easy to see replies to messages.

If you have never tried an NNTP reader, you might want to try Free Agent. (It's free, though for a fee you can get a more full-featured version called Agent). Go to to download either version. It is extremely simple to use, and it has a reasonable global search feature.

In the Options, User and System Profile menu, select System, and use as the News Server, and check the 'Server creates messages out of order' box. In the User menu, put in either a real or dummy email address (to track your own messages), and select the 'No login is required' button. That's about all there is to it, as long as you have NNTP allowed through to your PC. On the Free Agent main toolbar, select the little icon on the upper right that looks like a radio antenna (Go Online/Offline).

If all is correct, Free Agent should make an NNTP connection to the forums server and show 'connected' in the lower left. Now select Online, Refresh Groups List. You should get a list of over 100 forums to use. Just below the toolbar, on the upper left, there is a window with a toolbar at the top that you can click on which cycles through the choices 'All Groups / Subscribed Groups / New Groups / Folders'.

Click it until you see All Groups (you should see about 115 choices to pick from). Now simply scroll down through the list, click on the ones you are interested in, and for each one, right-click it and select subscribe. When done, cycle to the 'Subscribed Groups' to see only the ones you are interested in, and select the icon at the uppermost left (get New Headers in Subscribed Groups). This should start the process of downloading the messages for the subscribed groups. Play around with the options, and you'll probably rarely, if ever, use the web interface again.

Return to the Main Page