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CHAPTER 7 Communicating With Other Users

On SLAC's UNIX system, most communication between users occurs with electronic mail and via Network News (Netnews), a computer-based conferencing system and bulletin board that is available on SLAC's network. Elm is the supported e-mail system on UNIX; on Macs and Windows NT the supported system is Eudora-Pro. Although there are several news readers available, SCS does not support one.

Using E-mail


The supported e-mail system on UNIX is elm, which is fairly intuitive. For documentation see the README file in the subdirectory /usr/local/doc/Reference/elm/elm-2.4 or enter the command man elm. Within elm, enter ? to receive help. We suggest that you familiarize yourself with a UNIX editor, such as emacs or vi, if you aren't already before using an editor within elm. The default editor in elm is emacs; if emacs doesn't exist on UNIX of the machine you are using, the default is vi. Note that elm uses the default printer for printing, unless you change the default. For more information, see "Changing the Default Printer on New UNIX Accounts" on page 43.

Your initial session as a new elm user might look something like the session below.

vanilla@sisyphus $ elm


This version of ELM requires the use of a .elm directory in your home

directory to store your elmrc and alias files. Shall I create the

directory .elm for you and set it up (y/n/q)? n

Mailbox is '/usr/spool/mail/vanilla' with 2 messages [ELM 2.4 PL25]

1 Jul 5 meb@mailbox.SLAC.S (17) test

2 Jul 1 meb@mailbox.SLAC.S (38) Re: mail/pine problems for user hebe

You can use any of the following commands by pressing the first character;

d)elete or u)ndelete mail, m)ail a message, r)eply or f)orward mail, q)uit

To read a message, press <return>. j = move down, k = move up, ? = help


FIGURE 5. Sample elm E-mail Session
Note: When you enter an elm command, such as "m" for mail message, do not to press the ENTER key. As soon as you type "m", elm executes the command; pressing ENTER will likely cause a second command to be executed
To display a list of elm commands and how to invoke them, enter ? and then enter ? again in response to the prompt.

Finding Email Addresses

An easy way to locate an email dress, phone number, office location, etc. for people at SLAC is using the Phonebook button on the WWW SLAC Home pages. It will display a search form on which you can enter search data. To locate email addresses of people in the physics community world-wide use the resources listed under the heading Information from SLAC on the WWW Highlighted or Detailed Home page. For more information about WWW, see section "World Wide Web (WWW)" on page 11.


Through NetNews you have access to many news groups that speak to a variety of subjects. UNIX users (and other SLAC computer users on other platforms) can share information and publicize upcoming events using local SLAC Netnews groups and access information from all over the world.

Netnews has many similarities to a normal electronic mail delivery system, but also some major differences. A normal e-mail system provides person-to-person communications, a transaction between sender and recipient in which a third party cannot view the mail contents. An e-mail system can typically be extended by using mailing lists through which each mailing list member receives a copy of the mail. Bulletin boards extend the e-mail model by allowing all bulletin board subscribers to view all postings to the board. Usually a bulletin board resides on one computer to which subscribers log on. In contrast, the Netnews "board" floats around the world travelling from one computer on the network to the next. Since new messages can be entered at any computer, the "board" will usually look slightly different at every site.

For newsgroups local to SLAC see newsgroups with names starting with slac. You might, for example, want to periodically read the entries in slac.users.unix.

Currently there is no single supported newsreader for UNIX. SCS is presently evaluating several news support models whose goal is to provide reliable news service using news readers on all supported platforms. IBM AIX/6000 and Sun users have access to the X-windows application xrn, which is also available in line-mode as the command rn. xrn is a point-and-click interface. For more information about the line-mode rn enter the command man rn. To use xrn you must first start an X-windows system; for information, see "Workstations and Window Systems" on page 9.

If you use the editor emacs, consider using the emacs newsreader. It has both a line mode and X-window interface. To use the X-windows interface:

1. Start X-windows.
2. Enter the command: emacs &.
3. To get a list of newsgroups, select Read Net News from the Tools menu.
To exit, select Exit from Gnus from the Misc menu. To read a news group or news item, click on the name of the newsgroup or a news item; then press RETURN. Online help is also available.

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