Usenet readers on Mac OS X vs. Gmane

Posted on Jul 24, 2006

The service provided by Gmane is wonderful. In essence, Gmane subscribes to a huge set of mailing lists and makes the content of the lists available over NNTP. Many of the subscriptions are bi-directional (you can send to the list by posting to the news server) and Gmane has collaborative spam filtering, anonymity support, etc. Truly great.

Of course, it’s NNTP, meaning that I need a Usenet news reader for Mac OS X to follow along. Forgoing a fifteen year addiction to gnus (recently abandoned in favour of for email), I spent some time trying to find a decent client. To cut a long story short, I failed. All of the news readers seem to have a variety of flaws. The most surprising was Unison, which was recommended by a variety of people. Two things annoyed me particularly:

  1. It looks as though it’s necessary to use the groups window (screenshot), but it seems like a waste of screen space, and I didn’t see a way to make the icons smaller.

  2. MIME support is either poor or completely missing. Take this article. It’s base64 encoded fill-flowed text. Rather than showing useful content, Unison displays the base64 text. In essence, it’s unreadable. This is at the extreme end of irritating, but there are less serious problems that probably have the same root. For example, if an article has both a plain text and HTML version (multipart/alternative, say), then both parts are shown, but as plain text.

It’s perhaps ironic, given that I’m interested in reading mailing lists via NNTP, that I was longing for a interface for usenet. I guess I’ll end up just subscribing to the mailing lists directly.