Usenet Growth Reveals Need for 64-bit Based Article Numbering


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Giganews, Inc., the world's foremost premium Usenet access provider, announced today that it has observed that several high-volume newsgroups are poised to exceed the article numbering limit of 2,147,483,647, the maximum possible article number as specified in RFC 3977, the most recent standard for the NNTP protocol. The first newsgroup to exceed this limit is anticipated to do so in about 200 days.

According to RFC 3977, newsgroup article numbers must not exceed 2,147,483,647 (about 2.1 bllion), the maximum value of a 32-bit signed integer. Section 6 of the RFC specifies that "While servers MUST NOT send article numbers greater than [2,147,483,647], client and server developers are advised to use internal structures and datatypes capable of handling larger values in anticipation of such a change."

As suggested in the RFC, Giganews' custom-written news server software already provides internal support for article numbering up to the maximum value of a 64-bit unsigned integer, 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 (over eighteen quintillion). Some news reader clients may encounter issues with article numbers in this range. Most news reader clients download headers by requesting article numbers that are higher than a previous "high bound," and limiting or resetting the article numbering could cause these clients to stop showing new articles. Because of this, Giganews has chosen to continue incrementing article numbers past 2.14 billion. In fact, older NNTP RFCs 977 and 2980 provided no upper limit to article numbers.

Giganews is advising all Usenet client and NNTP software developers to adopt a 64-bit unsigned integer format for article numbering.

Developers that would like additional information regarding this issue are encouraged to contact Giganews using the support form located at

Adoption of an increased article numbering range is the latest of many actions Giganews has taken to accommodate the sustained growth of Usenet, such as their recent announcement of 240 days of retention in binary newsgroups.

Giganews is a trademark of Giganews, Inc. All other trademarks mentioned in this document are the property of their respective owners.

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