Thunderbird should use CAPABILITIES



MailNews Core
Networking: NNTP
14 years ago
5 years ago


(Reporter: Pete Davis, Unassigned)


Firefox Tracking Flags

(Not tracked)




14 years ago
User-Agent:       Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.0; en-US; rv:1.6) Gecko/20040206 Firefox/0.8
Build Identifier: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.0; en-US; rv:1.6) Gecko/20040206 Firefox/0.8

I received an error from my server when trying to search a newsgroup that XPAT
isn't supported.

Thunderbird should execute the NNTP HELP command prior to using any NNTP command
to verify that the command is supported. The NNTP RFC is fairly lenient about
implementations and XPAT is an extension anyway.

Furthermore, it seems problematic to be performing searches via the NNTP server
for various reasons, not least of which is that many NNTP servers are already
overtaxed as it is (hence the reason why XPAT isn't always implemented). 

It seems to me that, when searching, it would be far better to download all the
message headers and then perform the search locally. Since you can only search
for sender or subject anyway, I think that makes a lot more sense.

Maybe I'm wrong.

Back to the topic of checking for implemented commands, there are a number of
times when commands aren't implemented, but other commands can be used in their
place. For example, if a server doesn't implement the BODY command, the ARTICLE
command might be used in its place. This is a bit of a contrived example, but
this is particularly the case with NNTP extensions where the decision to either
not implement or disable a command is more likely.

Reproducible: Always
Steps to Reproduce:
1. Use a NNTP server that doesn't implement XPAT (such as
2. Select a newsgroup
3. Select menu item Tools/Search Messages
4. Enter any search criteria and execute the search
Actual Results:  
A News (NNTP) error occurred: Unknown command: XPAT SUBJECT 1- *[Aa][Bb][Cc]*

(this assumes the search was a 'subject' of 'abc'

Expected Results:  
Checked to see if XPAT was a supported command

The particular news server I used is which is a fairly large
commercial news service. I've seen that this has come up in the forums in the
past as well, so I imagine others have seen it and simply not submitted bug reports.


13 years ago
Ever confirmed: true

Comment 1

12 years ago requires paid access.  Do you know of another, free server with the same issue, or a test account for MegaNetNews?
Component: General → Networking: News
Product: Thunderbird → Core
Version: unspecified → Trunk

Comment 2

12 years ago
I switched from MeganetNews to Giganews, so I no longer have an account with MeganetNews, otherwise I'd let you use it. Giganews appears to support XPAT.

It seems to me that the solution is simply to perform the searches on the downloaded headers, though. I think that makes more sense and it's certainly more server-friendly. The user is likely going to, at the very least, download a subset of the headers anyway. If they don't have all the headers, simply notify them that the search will only include the headers they have downloaded.

Do you guys not have a news server that you can configure for testing? I would think you'd want your own new server that you can try various different configurations with to test things like this.

The other option of course is to spend the $8 for a 1 month account with Meganetnews or spend time searching for free servers that don't support XPAT, but I think the $8 would be a better use of your time.
Re RFC 3977, §7.2.2 (Description of the HELP command):

This text is not guaranteed to be in any particular format (but must
   be UTF-8) and MUST NOT be used by clients as a replacement for the
   CAPABILITIES command described in Section 5.2.

AFAIK, no news server currently implements CAPABILITIES, or indeed, most of RFC 3977 that does not replicate RFC 977.

Finally, I would like to point out that BODY is a required command, unlike XPAT, LISTGROUP, XOVER, or XHDR (added in RFC 2980).
Assignee: mscott → nobody
Severity: normal → enhancement
OS: Windows 2000 → All
QA Contact:
Hardware: PC → All
Summary: Thunderbird should query valid NNTP commands → Thunderbird should use CAPABILITIES

Comment 4

10 years ago
Implementing NEWGROUPS (which already exists in RFC 977) would also be a great idea.  It is something that Thunderbird lacks:  telling the user when new newsgroups are created (as a configuration option in case he wants to disable that behaviour).


9 years ago
Product: Core → MailNews Core
Whiteboard: [good first bug]

Comment 5

5 years ago
I doubt this is easy enough to be [good first bug]. If you disagree, add it back with some code pointers and add [mentor=<you>].
Whiteboard: [good first bug]
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