notes, autoseq, readnotes - a news system
notes [ -sxin ] [ -o date-spec ] [ -a subsequencer ] [ -t termtype ] [ -f file ] topic1 [
autoseq [ -a subsequencer ]
readnotes [ -a subsequencer ]
Notes supports computer managed discussion forums. It coordinates access to and updates
of data bases of notes and their responses. A single notesfile contains an ordered list
of base notes, each of which may have an ordered list of responses associated with it. A
note string consists of a base note and all of its responses. Separate notesfiles contain
discussions on separate subject matters; microcomputers might be discussed in a
``micronotes'' notesfile while bicycling enthusiasts make their comments in a ``bicycle''
The -s option signals notes to use the automatic sequencer. With the sequencer enabled,
notes shows the new notes and responses since your last entry into that notesfile. With
the sequencer enabled by -s the notes program will not enter notesfiles which have no new
text. Specify -x to use the sequencer and enter notesfiles even if they have no new text.
The -i and -n options are still more sequencing modes, -i is similar to -s but shows the
index page instead of the first modified note. -n turns the sequencer off.
The -o option helps users find articles that are vaguely remembered with terms such as
``some note in the last 3 days in one of several notesfiles''. These can be found with a
notes -o "3 days ago" nf1 nf2 nf3
which sequences past all articles written in notesfiles ``nf1'', ``nf2'', and ``nf3'' in
the last 3 days. The user's timestamps are not updated.
The -a option specifies a subsequencer. This allows several people sharing the same
signon to maintain their own sequencer file. The actual sequencer name is generated by
concatenating the user name and the subsequencer name. It is recommended that subse-
quencer names be unique within the first 6 characters.
Specify -t termtype to override the TERM environment variable. This switch is primarily
for V6 systems.
The -f option directs notes to read the contents of a file for a list of notesfiles to
scan. This file and the directories must be readable by the notesfile user id.
The topic list specifies which notesfiles are to be scanned. The notesfiles are scanned
from left to right; upon finishing the first topic, the second is entered. The shell's
meta-characters are recognized within a topic but must be escaped to prevent shell inter-
pretation. Specifying ``net.*'' will yield all the notesfiles with the prefix ``net.''.
Specify ``*unix*'' to read all notesfiles with the string ``unix'' in their names.
Bracket and question mark constructs are also recognized.
Notesfile names are parsed such that a notesfile will be entered only once no matter how
many times it is listed on the command line and in any files specified by the -f option.
Notesfiles can also be excluded by prefixing their names with a `!'. Thus to see all
notesfiles except ``general'', one might type:
notes "*" !general
The autoseq and readnotes commands allow sequencing through a list of notesfiles with the
sequencer enabled using with a single command. Autoseq and Readnotes function identi-
cally. They are syntactically equivalent to ``notes -s $NFSEQ''. The environment vari-
able NFSEQ contains a comma separated list of notesfile specifications. A typical NFSEQ
definition for the Bourne shell looks like:
Specifications beginning with a `:' specify a file to read for more notesfile names. In
the previous example, the last specification reads the contents of the file
`/usr/essick/nflist' for more notesfile specifications. Many of these can appear in the
Notes and responses are entered by using an editor. The default editor is ed(1). This can
be changed by setting one of the environment variables NFED or EDITOR. Notes looks for
NFED before looking for EDITOR, allowing users to use different editors for writing notes
and for other tools.
Notes and responses to non-local notesfiles will include the file named in the NFSIG vari-
able as a signature block. Notes will prompt whether to include it when a new note or
response is posted.
Some commonly used commands within the notesfile system are listed below:
space Show the next page of the note/response.
; Go the next response, if there are no more responses go to the next note.
- Go to the previous page of the current note/response. From the first page of a
response, go to the previous response (or the base note from the first
response). From the first page of a base note, go to the previous note.
newline Go to the next note.
j Jump to the next unread note/response (when using sequencer).
J Jump to the next unread note, ignoring any further responses in the current note
string (when using sequencer).
w When issued from the index page enters a new note. When entered from a
note/response display enters a response. A capital-W will include the text of
the currently displayed note/response in the new response.
q Leave the current notesfile.
Q Leave the current notesfile without updating the sequencer information.
control-d Return to the shell, ignoring any further notesfiles in the current invocation.
No sequencer information is updated.
x Search for a note with the (prompted for) string in its title. Capital-X asks
for a new search string, otherwise the last entered string is used.
s Saves the currently displayed note/response at the end of a (prompted for) file.
Capital-S saves the entire note string.
M Sends the text of the note/response displayed and your comments to another
user(s). The P command routes the letter to the author of the note/response.
t Issues a write(1) command to the author of the currently displayed
note/response. No action is taken if the note originated on a remote system or
! Forks a shell.
Only the notesfile owner can create new notesfiles. The notesfile owner will create the
notesfile and turn control over to the person requesting the notesfile. This person is
the notesfile director; he may designate others to also be notesfile directors. The
notesfile director has special privileges including: deleting any note, determining policy
for the notesfile, permitting anonymous notes, and determining accessibility of the notes-
An interface is provided to news(1). Transfers in both directions are supported. See
newsoutput(8) and the Notesfile Reference Manual for more information on this facility.
Facilities for mailing to notesfiles ( nfmail(8) ), networking notesfiles ( nfxmit(8) ),
printing notesfiles ( nfprint(1) ), archiving old notes ( nfarchive(8) ), and several user
routines ( nfabort(3) and nfcomment(3) ) exist.
The concept of a notesfile was taken from the PLATO system (a trademark of Control Data
Corporation) designed at the University of Illinois to provide automated teaching capabil-
/etc/passwd for the users name
/etc/group for the users group(s)
/etc/termcap for terminal capabilites
/usr/spool/notes the default notesfile data base
/usr/spool/notes/.utilities utility programs and online help
/usr/spool/notes/.sequencer/user Sequencing timestamps for user.
Sub-sequencing timestamps for user.
checknotes(1), ed(1), mknf(8), news(1), newsoutput(8), nfabort(3), nfaccess(8),
nfarchive(8), nfmail(8), nfpipe(1), nfprint(1), nfstats(1), nfxmit(8), nfcomment(3),
notes(8), termcap(3), write(1),
The Notesfile Reference Manual
Ray Essick (uiucdcs!essick, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Department of Computer Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Rob Kolstad (kolstad@convex.UUCP)
CONVEX Computer Corporation
University of Illinois NOTES(1)