NOTES(1) General Commands Manual NOTES(1)
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; microcomput-
ers might be discussed in a ``micronotes'' notesfile while bicycling enthusiasts make their comments in a ``bicycle'' notesfile.
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 command like:
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
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 subsequencer 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 read-
able 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 interpreta-
tion. 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 identically. They are syntactically equivalent to ``notes -s $NFSEQ''. The environment variable NFSEQ con-
tains 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 NFSEQ variable.
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 variable 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 is anonymous.
! 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 deter-
mining accessibility of the notesfile.
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 capabilities.
/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)