A way to achieve these economies is to have a central computer system that can provide news service to the other systems on the local area network. Such a server would manage the collection of news articles and index files, with each person who desires to read news bulletins doing so over the LAN. For a large cluster of computer systems, the savings in total disk space is clearly worthwhile. Also, this allows workstations with limited disk storage space to participate in the news without incoming items consuming oppressive amounts of the workstation's disk storage.
We have heard rumors of somewhat successful attempts to provide centralized news service using IBIS and other shared or distributed file systems. While it is possible that such a distributed file system implementation might work well with a group of similar computers running nearly identical operating systems, such a scheme is not general enough to offer service to a wide range of client systems, especially when many diverse operating systems may be in use among a group of clients. There are few (if any) shared or networked file systems that can offer the generality of service that stream connections using Internet TCP provide, particularly when a wide range of host hardware and operating systems are considered.
NNTP specifies a protocol for the distribution, inquiry, retrieval, and posting of news articles using a reliable stream (such as TCP) server-client model. NNTP is designed so that news articles need only be stored on one (presumably central) host, and subscribers on other hosts attached to the LAN may read news articles using stream connections to the news host.
NNTP is modelled upon the news article specifications in RFC 850, which describes the USENET news system. However, NNTP makes few demands upon the structure, content, or storage of news articles, and thus we believe it easily can be adapted to other non-USENET news systems.
Typically, the NNTP server runs as a background process on one host, and would accept connections from other hosts on the LAN. This works well when there are a number of small computer systems (such as workstations, with only one or at most a few users each), and a large central server.