There are some reasons for people nowadays to use Usenet newsgroup. For example, a historical reason such as to join the same newsgroup as Linus Torvalds first announcement, comp.os.minix. Here we explain simple steps to join a Usenet server and then subscribe to one newsgroup. We provide examples here.

Introduction to Usenet

Usenet is an oldest global distributed discussion system. Is was originated in 1979, long time before WWW existed. Phisically, it consists of many servers around the world and every server exchanges its data with another server (so Usenet is called distributed). A newsgroup is a specific group inside Usenet network. A Usenet server typically contains dozens or thousands of newsgroups. It typically contains the same newsgroups with another server worlwide. So a newsgroup subscriber just need to know the newsgroup address (such as comp.os.minix) and they typically can select any Usenet server to access it. A subscriber just need to have an email account to subscribe to a newsgroup. Discussions inside Usenet newsgroup are text based by email, just like mailing list.

So in Usenet network there is Usenet server and there is Usenet newsgroup. Typical address for a server is like, and for a newsgroup is like comp.os.minix or gnu.announce. What a new user should do first is to find a Usenet server, then to subscribe to a newsgroup. Read references below if you need some.


There are paid Usenet services, and there are free (gratis) Usenet services. We provide here an example to join a free Usenet service and join a legendary newsgroup for GNU/Linux users. Actually there are so many Usenet servers out there but here we pick one example.

  • Usenet server:
  • Usenet newsgroup: comp.os.minix

Join Usenet Server

In Thunderbird, do these steps:

  • Open menu File > New > Other Accounts > Newsgroup Account.
  • Enter your name and your email address.
  • Enter the Usenet server address i.e.
  • Enter the name of this new account. Let it's default name is safe. 

Access The Usenet Server

In Thunderbird, do these steps:

  1. Right-click the account entry in left panel > Subscribe. 
  2. A new window shows it is in progress accessing the Usenet server
  3. While finished, it shows tens of thousands newsgroup addresses from that server. 

Join A Usenet Newsgroup

In the same Subscribe window, do these steps:

  1. Do search for comp.os.minix newsgroup address.
  2. While you find it, check its check box.
  3. Press Subscribe button.
  4. A new entry is newsted below the account in left panel. 
  5. Enjoy reading and replying to comp.os.minix. 
See picture below. We still can read the legendary threads there.

Some Usenet Servers and Newsgroups

Here some free servers and newsgroup probably interesting for you:

  • Servers:,
  • Newsgroups: gnu.emacs.announce,, comp.unix.admin


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