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INN FAQ Part 5/9: Other error messages and what they mean

This article is part 5 of a multi-part FAQ: Part 5: A list of error messages and what they mean.
Posted-By: post_faq 2.10
Archive-name: usenet/software/inn-faq/part5
Last Changed: $Date: 1997/11/18 02:25:35 $ $Revision: 2.26 $

                  Part 5 of 9

INN FAQ Part 1: General and questions from people that don't (yet) run INN
INN FAQ Part 2: Specific notes for specific operating systems
INN FAQ Part 3: Reasons why INN isn't starting
INN FAQ Part 4: The debugging tutorial (setup of feeds etc.)
INN FAQ Part 5: Other error messages and what they mean
INN FAQ Part 6: Day-to-day operation and changes to the system
INN FAQ Part 7: Problems with INN already running
INN FAQ Part 8: Appendix A: Norman's install guide
INN FAQ Part 9: Appendix B: Configurations for certain systems
Subject:  Table Of Contents for Part 5/9

	5.1 Undefined symbol: _dbzwritethrough
	5.2 Bad file number writing history file -- throttling
	5.3 log file fills with "<site> <article-id> 436 No space"
	5.4 Why does my innd often die with the message "Can't sync history..."
	5.5 Reply from ctlinnd: Can't send XXX command (sendto failure)
	5.6 syslog msg: ME cant sendto CCreader bytes 4 No such file or directory
	5.7 syslog: cant symlink
	5.8 syslog: cant read Connection reset by peer
	5.9 inews says "bad message-id"
	5.10 Why do all these "readclose" messages show up in my syslog?
	5.11 "File exists writing symlinking article file -- throttling"
	5.12 "cant fopen <newsgroup>/.thread No such file or directory"
	5.13 news.daily reports: "Expire had problems removing articles"
	5.14 syslog: nnrpd[22560]: ? cant gethostbyaddr Permission denied
	5.15 syslog: ME cant nonblock 15 Operation not supported
	5.16 innd: ME cant renumber ... lo too wide
	5.17 innd: ME cant update_active control
	5.18 syslog message: innxmit[1234]: max connect failed Error 0
	5.19 Can't open "/usr/local/news/shlock955", Permission denied
	5.20 INND: PID file exists -- unclean shutdown!
	5.21 cant fopen /usr/lib/news/distributions
	5.22 cant fopen /usr/lib/news/distrib.pats
	5.23 ME cant exec in /usr/lib/news/capture No such file or directory
	5.24 ME cant remalloc xx bytes Cannot allocate memory
	5.25 innxmit says: Ignoring line "news/group/name/art_num art_id"
	5.26 innxmit says; Can't connect to Permission denied
	5.27 innd: s  (s might be replace by other letters) (in syslog )
	5.28 innd: site: closed 5:closed seconds 12 accepted 3 rejected 4 refused 5
	5.29 syslog: nnrpd[13]: '' bad_auth
	5.30 Not a directory writing article file -- throttling
	5.31 syslog: nntpd[13]: cant open ...../subscriptions ...
	5.32 syslog: nntpd[13]: post ok ^A
	5.33 news.daily: Can't open a/b/.LCK.overview, No such file or directory
	5.34 syslog: innd: site buffered
	5.35 syslog: innd: cant bind RCreader Permission denied



Subject: (5.1) Undefined symbol: _dbzwritethrough

> Everything compiles correctly, but when I try to test rc.local I get:
> hermes# sh /usr/local/etc/
> Undefined symbol: _dbzwritethrough
> What am I doing wrong?

This means that you are using a $INN/lib/dbz.c file that hasn't been
patched with the $INN/lib/dbz.pch patch.

The patching is automatic.  Running "make" should do the patch without
you even noticing.  To force the code to be re-patched (i.e. copy the
original to dbz.c and apply the patch to it), simply delete
$INN/lib/dbz.c and run the usual "make".  The Makefile does everything
for you.

Why might the patch fail and leave you with an unpatched dbz.c?

1)  You don't have Larry Wall's (or the FSF's) "patch" program
installed.  It is available at

2)  Most C++ compilers based on USL's cfront come with a program called
"patch" that does something completely different than Larry Wall's (or
the FSF's) "patch" program.  If your path is configured so that this
program is found before Larry Wall's (or the FSF's) "patch" program,
you will get an unpatched dbz.c.  To fix this, delete $INN/lib/dbz.c,
change your path, and do the usual "make".  If this file is deleted the
Makefile will do everything for you.

See also section "5.2 The DBZ package" of the document.


Subject: (5.2) Bad file number writing history file -- throttling

The system ulimit was set restrict files from growing beyond a certain
size and the history file was to large for the limit. Check the ulimit
setting for the news user.

The ulimit should be set to infinite.  You need to figure out how to
set this for user "news" no matter if the user logged in, is running
from cron, or was run at boot up.


Subject: (5.3) log file fills with "<site> <article-id> 436 No space"

innd issues this message if it cannot create a directory for a group,
_no matter what the reason for the failure_.  In most cases,
/usr/spool/news (and the mount point it is symlinked to, if any)
accidentally has permissions and ownerships that do not permit write
access by innd (which runs as "news").  After chowning them to news,
and setting the permissions to 755, everything should work fine.


Subject: (5.4) Why does my innd often die with the message "Can't sync history,
		interrupted system call"

Are you running SunOS?  See "Known Problems" section of the
installation manual."  To the best of my knowledge, nobody has seen
this problem on any other system.


Subject: (5.5) Reply from ctlinnd: Can't send XXX command (sendto failure)

The socket sendto wants to write to isn't available. This can either
come from a dead server (e.g. send a ctlinnd shutdown twice) or from a
process (find -exec rm{} comes to mind) that removed the socket from
the filesystem.

Look after _PATH_NEWSCONTROL in and find out if all components
of the path exist and are accessible. (inncheck could be of help ...)

This condition will occur whenever news.daily is run as root, leaving
the ownership of history, active, etc files as root.  Change ownership
of these files back to news and then restart.


Subject:  (5.6) syslog msg: ME cant sendto CCreader bytes 4 No such file or directory

(Rich Salz replies:) It usually means that some ctlinnd command timed
out and gave up before innd could get around to replying.  Always a
problem with datagrams.  :-)  Usually not a problem in real life
however.  In INN1.3, the timeout stuff is handled better so most of
these should go away.

You can ignore the messages, but if it bothers you, edit news.daily and
find this line:

	ctlinnd -s -t`wc -l <${ACTIVE}` renumber '' 2>&1
You can rewrite it to be something like this:
	COUNT=`wc -l <${ACTIVE}`
	ctlinnd -s -t`expr ${COUNT} \* 5` renumber '' 2>&1


Subject: (5.7) syslog: cant symlink

This usually means an intermediate directory doesn't exist.  Usually
"ctlinnd renumber" clears this problem, but doesn't remove the cause.

This is usually an indication of some larger problem.  Often it means
that you have opted to use MMAP on an operating system (like Ultrix)
that doesn't have a working mmap() function.  However, this would only
be the cause if you ignored the *and* part 2 of this FAQ.
So, obviously, this isn't the cause :-).

Another cause might be that "ctlinnd renumber" fails because of fields
in the active being too narrow. See #5.17 for how to deal with this.


Subject: (5.8) syslog: cant read Connection reset by peer

This means that the client vanished or deliberately aborted the nnrpd
TCP stream rather than closing it gracefully.  This is a common
situation, and it does not normally indicate a problem.

Most, or all, of these messages are due to clients crashing or being
aborted in the middle of a dialogue with nnrpd.  For example, a PC or
Mac user shuts off their machine at 5pm.  Or, you are seeing the
results of a bad design decision in the NewsWatcher newsreading program
for the Mac.  Future versions of NewsWatcher will be (hopefully) more
graceful about closing connections.  In other words, they should
send "QUIT\r\n" on the socket, then close it.


Subject: (5.9) inews says "bad message-id"

If this is a Solaris 2.x system, you didn't delete the lines mentioned
in "SVR4, Solaris 2.x, and SCO ODT 3.0" in part 2 of this FAQ.


Subject: (5.10) Why do all these "readclose" messages show up in my syslog?

Chris Schmidt <> says:

The "readclose" message indicates that a remote connection to your
server was not correctly terminated with the server-command "quit".
This can have two reasons.  First the line your feed uses to connect to
you might be instable so that the connection drops every now and then.
Solution:  either ignore theses messages or find out why the line is
unstable.  The second reason for these messages could be a
missconfigured client-program at your feed.  This means the program
(e.g nntplink) does close the connection without sending the "quit"
first.  If you configure a lower number for the exit-timeout (-e) than
the close-timeout (-C) in nntplink then exactly this will happen.
Solution:  ask your feed to fix its nntplink-setup.  Let me repeat
that:  If you are using "nntplink" your -e value must be higher than
your -C value.


Subject: (5.11) "File exists writing symlinking article file -- throttling"

QUESTION: I'm running INN 1.4, and the server throttles itself, saying
"File exists writing symlinking article file -- throttling".  Why?  I
have no clue, other than to note that the message is being emitted
while innd/art.c tries to link a crossposted group.

ANSWER:  Innd wrote the article to comp/foo/123 and then tried to
symlink it to alt/bar/128 and found that the symlink failed with errno
== EEXIST.  This generally only happens when your active file does not
match your file/directory use.  The three most common cases of that are:

		Trying to use MMAP on Ultrix
		Trying to use MMAP on (older) Linux
		Some strange interaction with tind.

If you are using Ultrix or Linux, turn off MMAP.  You don't have a choice in
this.  The Ultrix mmap() function does something completely different
than the Sun/BSD mmap() function.  The Linux function gives you some
of the functionality that Sun/BSD mmap() function has, but not enough.
(The Linux people expect to have it fully up to spec eventually, yeah right.)

At least one person has reported problems with ICL DRS6000 SVR4 Unix
when using MMAP.  Try turning off MMAP if you find problems.

Some people have also seen this, when the filesystem has problems.
Shutting down the system and running fsck helped in that case.

It has been reported that tind writes to the active file and this
confuses innd (innd assumes it is the only process writing to the
active file).  If you are using tin, upgrade to the newest version of
tin, it can read the NOV database rather than the "tin" database.

To fix the active file (which may be corrupted), make sure nobody
else is writing to the active file, then do
		ctlinnd renumber ''
to get things synchronized again.

If your history file is corrupt, you should do:
		ctlinnd renumber ''
		makehistory -buv          (or -bunv  see #6.6 for it)
		ctlinnd renumber ''
(Note: the "makehistory" will take hours to run. See #7.53 on this.)

IF YOU IGNORE THIS PROBLEM LONG ENOUGH (by issuing the "go" command via
ctlinnd) you will eventually get a "innd: ME cant update_active
control" message in syslog.  The cause of this error is dealt with
elsewhere in this FAQ (#5.17).


Subject: (5.12) "cant fopen <newsgroup>/.thread No such file or directory"

Q: nnrpd logs "cant fopen <newsgroup>/.thread No such file or
   directory" hundreds of times a day although I installed trn-3 and
   maintain an overview database.  Why doesn't trn use overview files
   instead of mthreads data?

A: trn-3 tries to open .thread files (or use XTHREAD) first because
   $spooldir/db.init still exists.  Delete it.


Subject: (5.13) news.daily reports: "Expire had problems removing articles"

This message tells you that you need to look in the file
${MOST_LOGS}/expire.log to find out what really happened.

On the other hand...

Expire reports this if it goes through the entire expire process and
didn't find any articles to remove.  It is normal to get this error the
first few days you are running INN.  For example, if the smallest
integer that appears in the 4th field of your expire.ctl is a "4", then
you're sure to see this error the first four days you get an news.daily

However, those first four days are when you are still learning the
system and it can be very shocking to see the error.  "Eeek!  Did I do
something wrong?"  Nope, news.daily is just telling you that you have a
virginal system.

Rich writes a more technical explanation:
| When using the "delayrm" keyword, news.daily calls expirerm to
| actually remove the articles that expire listed in its "-z" file.
| As distributed, expirerm calls fastrm with the "-e" flag.  This
| flag says "exit non-zero if nothing was removed."  In the normal
| case, it is an error if expire doesn't find anything to remove.

...and a system being 4 days old isn't the normal case.  So you
get the error.  Ignore it.


Subject: (5.14) syslog: nnrpd[22560]: ? cant gethostbyaddr Permission denied

When someone connects to nnrpd, nnrpd does a reverse lookup on the
clients IP address so it can look up the hostname in nnrpd.access.  If
the client's DNS information is incorrect, you will get this error.
Make sure your SOA record is correct, as well as your

Derek <> adds that another cause for this problem,
at least under SunOS 4.1.x, is that nnrpd wasn't linked with the proper
resolver library (statically or dynamically).  Even when you've
replaced Sun's fershlugger libresolv.a you've still gotta remind
yourself to _use_ it properly.


Subject: (5.15) syslog: ME cant nonblock 15 Operation not supported

I get the following "syslog" message in /var/adm/messages:

Dec  2 20:40:04 venus innd: ME cant nonblock 15 Operation not supported

Answer: (from (Paul Riddle))

It turns out that this is happening because /usr/spool/news on the
machine running innd is an NFS-mounted filesystem, and innd is trying
to do an FIONBIO on my feed file, which is under /usr/spool/news/out.going.

( adds:)
All news transports (INN, C news, B news) want the spool partition to
be local.  Newsreader can read from an NFS mounted partition without
any problems but innd should only see local partitions.  NFS has a
blatant disregard for many of the file semantics that are needed for a
good netnews implementation.  If you don't agree, please feel free to
prove the authors of B news, C news, and INN wrong.  Include source
code. :-)

Greg Andrews <> adds:

The spool can certainly be kept on an NFS filesystem without anything
breaking, as the FAQ suggests.  I've kept the spool on an NFS server,
split between two NFS servers, and split between a local filesystem
and two NFS servers.  Reads and writes over NFS tend to be slower
than over local disk, even if the NFS backbone is 100BaseT or CDDI.

The out.going filesystem can be put on an NFS server, but the file
locking becomes a problem on some Unixes.  I bypassed that by
borrowing the lockfile technique I saw in the old "cleanup" release 
of C-News, and writing a replacement for nntpsend in Perl.  I also 
eliminated the numerous 'ctlinnd flush' commands that can choke a 
busy server.  The lockfile technique is pretty simple and seems to 
work well for multiple machines mounting a common out.going filesystem 
via NFS.
The nntpsend replacement script creates a lockfile unique to itself
(using the machine name and PID), and locks sites by hard linking
site lockfiles to its own lockfile.

The newslib filesystem can also be put on the NFS server, though
the only advantage is a minor one:  If everything's on the same
NFS server, you only need to mount one filesystem on the client

Systems without unix-domain sockets sometimes see this error.  Just
ignore it.


Subject: (5.16) innd: ME cant renumber ... lo too wide

When you try to renumber your active there are articles in your spool 
with numbers higher than what will fit in the fields in the active.
Look under innd: ME cant update_active control below for how to fix it.


Subject: (5.17) innd: ME cant update_active control

What does "innd: ME cant update_active control" mean?

Look at your active file.  One of the fields is "99999" and has to be
incremented to "100000" but there is no space.  Shut down innd
("ctlinnd shutdown x").  Edit your active file (see the "Safe way to
edit the "active" file?" question in INN FAQ part 6) to add more
leading zeroes to all the numbers.  You can use the following for this:

1. ctlinnd throttle 'updating active'
2. awk '{printf "%s %.10d %.10d %s\n", $1, $2, $3, $4}' active >

if your awk printf spaves instead of leading zeroes in this step,
then try the following instead of step 2: 

awk '{printf "%s %010d %010d %s\n", $1, $2, $3, $4}' active >


perl -lane 'split;printf "%s %.10d %.10d %s\n", @F' active >

3. mv active
4. ctlinnd reload active updated
5. ctlinnd go 'updating active'

See also #5.11.


Subject: (5.18) syslog message: innxmit[1234]: max connect failed Error 0

John Line <> writes:

If you get syslog messages like "innxmit[1234]: max connect failed
Error 0" when using nntpsend, it probably means you messed up a line in
nntpsend.ctl (specifically, missed out one of the first two fields).
While nntpsend.ctl is an obvious place to look for an nntpsend problem,
there is nothing obvious to link the error message directly to the
problem, because the text "max" is actually something invented by
nntpsend when processing the file, and doesn't exist in nntpsend.ctl.
It means the next-to-last field was null, but was the second field when
it should have been the third!

NB Remember to try inncheck when you have problems like this. I only
just thought of it, after finding the problem the hard way, and it
immediately reported "nntpsend.ctl:18: malformed line."


Subject: (5.19) Can't open "/usr/local/news/shlock955", Permission denied

This usually means you don't have /usr/local/news owned by "news".  The
first time you run "make install" it should set the proper ownership if
you run "make install" as "root".


Subject: (5.20) INND: PID file exists -- unclean shutdown!

This just means your machine crashed or you didn't shutdown innd
properly and THEREFORE is doing a bit of cleanup work before it
starts innd.

There is not much for you to do. You might run makehistoy or
to find articles that are on disk, but not in history.


Subject: (5.21) cant fopen /usr/lib/news/distributions

Step 1:  Can you "cat" this file?

Step 2:  You can't?  Does it exist?

Step 3:  It doesn't?  That's because you have to create it yourself.
It should list every distribution your users might want to know a
description of, starting with the local one.

Step 4:  Here's a sample file to start from.  It's appropriate for
a New Jersey site:

nj	New Jersey
ny	New York
nyc	New York City
ne	North East, USA
usa	United States of America
na	North America


Subject: (5.22) cant fopen /usr/lib/news/distrib.pats

A sample distrib.pats comes with the distribution and should
be in your $inn/site directory automatically. 
The sample needs the following modification:

Remove the line: has moved from inet groups to normal groups 
end 1994/begin 1995.

If you get this error it sounds like something was badly configured 
on your machine.


Subject: (5.23) ME cant exec in /usr/lib/news/capture No such file or directory

The newsfeeds file includes lines that looks like this:

## Capture all Foo, Incorporated, postings
#       :*/foo\
#       :Tp,H2:/usr/lib/news/capture %s

That's just a sample of how one might capture articles.  There is no
capture program that comes with INN.  It's just an example of how to
use the Tp,H2 flags.

Don't uncomment anything that you don't want to activate!


Subject: (5.24) ME cant remalloc xx bytes Cannot allocate memory

This probably means that innd wants to grow bigger than what the
actual limit for a single process is.
To solve this either rebuild your kernel with a different default max, 
or add "unlimit datasize" to the beginning on your file.
On some OS (e.g. FreeBSD 2.1.x) there might be some problems when
using the supplied malloc. Linking with -lgnumalloc helped (after Joe
Greco <>).

For HP-UP see also 'HP-UX tips' in part2 of the FAQ (#2.6).


Subject: (5.25) innxmit says: Ignoring line "news/group/name/art_num art_id"

Q: Innxmit logs the above error message - what does this mean?

You set the parameters for the feed wrong in newsfeeds - try Wnm instead
of Wmn. See also newsfeeds(5) and innxmit(8) for further information.


Subject: (5.26) innxmit says; Can't connect to Permission denied

If you get this error, then first look if permissions of all files are
correct. If yes try out innxmit <ip-number of> foo.togo 
If this works you have some problems with name resolution. You might 
use the ip-number in nntpsend.ctl instead of the hostname next time.


Subject: (5.27) innd: s  (s might be replace by other letters) (in syslog )

Q: What do these innd: s   (or other innd: <letter>) mean?

Innd logs to syslog when it receives a command from ctlinnd. The letter 
corresponds to the command that is send to innd. For a list of commands,
refer to include/inndcomm.h


Subject: (5.28) innd: site: closed 5:closed seconds 12 accepted 3 rejected 4 refused 5

This isn't really an error but an informative message of inn. It also
appears with 'checkpoint' instead of 'closed'. This message tells you how
long a connections from the remote existed, how many articles were accepted
from this remote site, how many innd already had of those offered and how
many were rejected of some reason (see below). If you get a lot of rejects
from a site then you should investigate, as there might be some problems.

Erland Sommarskog, <> explains further:
  Rejected articles are articles in groups that you don't have in your active 
  file, or you ban in hosts.nntp. This could be groups you have missed to add, 
  it could be groups you don't want. Also articles which are already too old
  for you to accept (-c switch to innd) fall in this part. 

If you get many rejects then you might also check out the clocks on
the sender and receiver machines as it might be that with wrong clock
settings articles get refused which seem to be to old or posted in

  Refused articles are articles that are already present in your
  history file, and which for some reason are being offered to  
  you again. If you have more than one incoming feed, you are
  likely to get a fairly high number in the Refused column. If
  you are a leaf site with only one incoming feed you can still
  get high numbers in this column, if you have a longer expiration
  time (including /remember/) than you feed has. 


Subject: (5.29) syslog: nnrpd[13]: '' bad_auth

A Newsreader that could be allowed via nnrp.access did send bad
authinfo commands. This could either be that the client has a password
in nnrp.access and sends a wrong one or the client needs no password
and sends one even if it does not need to.


Subject: (5.30) Not a directory writing article file -- throttling

This typically means that in the spool there is a directory in 
the spool that thinks it is a file.  This seems to happen when
the machine running innd crashes, and the spool gets corrupted.
Fsck then tries to make sense of the mess it finds; sometimes
it guesses wrong.

Here is a little script that finds the offending file and disposes
of if:

# change this line to your news spool
find ${NEWS_LOC} -type f -print |  # list all files
        tr -d [0-9] |              # get rid of numbers
        grep -v "overview" |       # get rid of .overview files
        egrep -v "/$" |            # everything w/ / at end of line
        sed -s "s/^/rm /" |        # put rm in front of file
        sh -s                      # it's history
or alternatively:

find ${NEWS_LOC} -type f -name "[a-z]*" -print | xargs rm

(From: Carlso Castro <> and Matthias Urlichs <>)


Subject: (5.31) syslog: nntpd[13]: cant open ...../subscriptions ...

This is a new option in unoff4. First look if _PATH_NNRPSUBS is
correctly set. If yes, then just fill it with information ...
The subscriptions file contains what the NNTP "LIST SUBSCRIPTIONS"
command returns.  Some newsreaders, such as tin, use this command
to get a default set of groups that people are subscribed to if
they do not have a .newsrc.  If you don't want to use it, there are
no side-effects that I know of beyond the messages in your log.


Subject: (5.32) syslog: nntpd[13]: post ok ^A

Q: What is this? Normally posting lines look like nntpd[13]: post ok <id>.

A: Your posting was posted to a moderated group and is now sent by mail
to the moderator who will (or not) post it to news. See also: #6.7, #6.8


Subject: (5.33) news.daily: Can't open a/b/.LCK.overview, No such file or directory

Expireover goes through the active file and tries to remove old entries
of overchan records from the spool. If now a group exists, that is new
i.e. that exists in active, but for which no articles have been received, 
then there is no spool dir for that group. Expireover tries to make
a lock file in the directory, which fails, so it prints the above message.

See also #4.19, #6.30, #7.21


Subject: (5.34) syslog: innd: site buffered

I run INN 1.5 and see the following in syslog - what does it mean?

| Jan  9 03:10:02 cactus innd: buffered

It means either your newsfeeds file has too many entries to handle in
the normal way, or you've run out of file descriptors. This isn't
fatal, but a warning message.


Subject: (5.35) syslog: innd: cant bind RCreader Permission denied

This means that innd can't bind to port 119 as either inndstart is 
not suid root or not started as root. Normally the install should take
care of this.

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