[INFO] How to Read Chinese Text on Usenet: FAQ for alt.chinese.text

Skip to first unread message

Ya-Gui Wei

Apr 18, 2004, 8:53:20 AM4/18/04
Archive-name: chinese-text/faq
Original-Author: Ya-Gui Wei ~{N:QG9p~}
Last-modified: Mar 25, 1996
Version: 16.1

[You are invited to contribute to this FAQ. See (12a) for detail.-yawei]


(1) What are those ~{BRF_0KTc5D6+Nw~}'s posted to alt.chinese.text?
(2) What do I need to do to read Chinese articles on usenet?
(2a) About Chinese Software FTP sites
(2b) Software for DOS Systems
(2c) Software for Microsoft Windows
(2d) Software for Apple Macintosh Systems
(2e) Software for Unix system / workstations:
(2f) Software to print HZ Chinese on Postscript Printers
(2g) Software to read HZ Chinese on dumb terminals
(2h) Are these software packages easy to use?
(3) What Chinese newsgroups are available on usenet?
(3a) My site does not carry Chinese newsgroups. What should I do?
(4) How do I post Chinese text articles to usenet?
(4a) How do I post to Chinese newsgroups via e-mail?
(4b) When I send an HZ article, it keeps saying "unknown tilde escape" ...
(4c) Why isn't it a good idea to cross-post articles to alt.chinese.text?
(5) What is 'HZ'?
(5a) How do I convert HZ Chinese text to/from GB or Big5 systems?
(6) What is FTP and how do I use it?
(7) What else do I need to know about alt.chinese.text?
(8) How many people read alt.chinese.text?
(9) What is alt.chinese.text.big5 and alt.chinese.text.hz?
(10) How do I read Chinese newsgroups through gopher or WWW?
(11) What other net resources broadcast HZ-coded Chinese text?
(12) Where can I obtain the latest version of this FAQ?
(12a) How may I contribute to the writing of this FAQ?

* * * * *

(1) What are those ~{BRF_0KTc5D6+Nw~}'s posted to alt.chinese.text?

Believe it or not, they are supposed to be Chinese characters.
They are usually coded in the "HZ" protocol. You'd need the
software that understands the protocol to read them.

If you have the right software installed on your system, you
may be able to read the Chinese text on this newsgroup directly
just as you would with English newsgroups.

(2) What do I need to do to read Chinese articles on usenet?

It depends on what kind of machine you are using. The following is
probably an incomplete list of software which you can use to read
this newsgroup:

This list is not intended to be an exhaustive list of Chinese
software. It is intended to help the beginning netter getting
started reading this newsgroup. Wherever possible, only software
packages that directly support the 'HZ' protocol and are
readily available through internet FTP are listed. Additional
criteria of quality, user friendliness, and usefulness also may
be considered. If you know of any software that I should be
included or dropped from the list, please drop me a note.

For a more comprehensive listing of Chinese software, see
[By Xiaofei Wang and Liedong Zheng <ftp-...@ifcss.org>]

[If you have problems using the programs listed below, you could
seek assistance from (1) local users; (2) fellow alt.chinese.text
netters; (3) software authors. The FAQ maintainer most probably
can't help you.]

(2a) About Chinese Software FTP sites

Many of the software packages listed below are available from
the ftp site ifcss.org. In most cases, the same software
packages can also be obtained from one of the following
mirror sites:

ftp.ifcss.org: [identical to ifcss.org]
cnd.org: /pub/software/
nctuccca.edu.tw: /Chinese/DOS/ifcss/
iiiafs.iii.org.tw: /Chinese/ifcss/software/
info.gz.gdpta.net.cn: /pub/mirror/chnsoftware/
ftp.cuhk.hk: /pub/chinese/ifcss/software/
ftp.technet.sg: /pub/chinese/

You may choose to use one of these mirror sites if ifcss.org
is slow or unavailable, or if these sites are closer to you
geographically. These sites may also contain Chinese computing
materials not found in ifcss.org.

(2b) Software for DOS Systems

(a) ZWDOS -- is a MS-DOS kernel extension that gives DOS text mode
programs the ability to enter, display, manipulate and print 'zW'
and HZ Chinese text. Small memory requirement. Supports EGA, VGA
or Hercules Monographic displays. Available for anonymous ftp at:
[Author: Ya-Gui Wei <ya...@bronze.ucs.indiana.edu>]

(b) NJStar -- A Chinese word processing program supporting GB,
HZ and zW codes. Requires Hercules, EGA, VGA or better video
hardware. A trial version of the program can be ftp'ed from:
[Author: Hong-bo Ni.]

(c) KORE -- Fast Chinese/Japanese text viewing program for MS-DOS.
Supports GB and HZ. Chinese fonts are now provided.
Available at:
[Author: Frank Klemm <p...@rz.uni-jena.de>]

(2c) Software for Microsoft Windows

(a) SimpTerm, Version 0.8.0 - A Chinese communication program
for MS-Windows 3.1 with build in support for BIG5, HZ and GB
encoded text. Features fast and smooth Chinese displaying. Cut,
Paste in ASCII, BIG5 and GB text mode, terminal emulations, plus
Kermit, XMODEM and YMODEM file transfer protocols. Modem speed up
to 57600 bps. Configurable screen size, 800 line screen buffer.
Good for on line reading act, act.big5, TANET BBS. Viewing HZ
files using regular UNIX utilities, view BIG5 or GB file using
CELVIS, CEMACS. Shareware, free for non commercial use.
[Author: Jianqing Hu ~{:z=!G`~}]

(b) HZComm 1.0 -- communication program supporting HZ codes
under Chinese Windows Systems. Requires MS Windows 3.1 and
a Chinese System (GB internal code) for Windows. Location:
[Author: Nick Ke Ning ~{D~?I~} <ni...@ucunix.san.uc.edu>]

(2d) Software for Apple Macintosh Systems

If you are using an Apple Macintosh, try:

(a) MacBlueTelnet - A Telnet program that can handle all Chinese
encodings (such as HZ, GB, Big5, ET etc); based on NCSA Telnet 2.6.2.
Require either direct TCP/IP or SLIP/PPP access to Internet.
[Author: MacBlue]

(b) MacHZTerm v0.5 - A simple terminal capable of displaying HZ, GB
and Big5 encoded Chinese. Requires System 7 or System 6 with
communication toolbox. Chinese OS is NOT required.
[Author: Xin Xu]

(c) Subtitle -- a program which decodes zW and HZ texts as subtitles
for some terminal emulators. Runs with or without Chinese OS. A trial
version can be ftp'ed from:
[Author: Ed Lai <l...@apple.com>]

(d) MacViewHZ v2.21 -- Display and print GB/HZ or BIG5 coded
Chinese text files on Macintosh without Chinese OS system,
with easy to use Mac user interface including multiple windows
and simple editing features such as delete, copy, cut and paste.
Also need font files: cclib.16, chinese.16
[Author: Xiaodong Chen (~{3BO~~6+~})]

(e) NewsWatcher -- Macintosh users who have Chinese system software,
MacTCP, and access to an NNTP news server can use a version of
NewsWatcher specially designed to handle HZ encoding. Available at:
[Author: John H. Jenkins <John_J...@taligent.com>]

(f) HZTerm -- a simple terminal emulator that supports GB, HZ
and zW codings. Requires Mac Chinese OS version 6.0 or later.
Available at:
[Author: Ricky Yeung <rye...@eng.sun.com>]

(g) If you have a Tektronix compatible terminal emulator (such as
VersaTerm), you may be able to use Chirk.

(2e) Software for Unix system / workstations:

If you are using a Unix system/workstation:

(a) CXTERM -- is an xterm with Chinese extension. It understands
Chinese text coded with the Guo-Biao format. To read HZ and 'zW'
codes, you also need 'HZTTY'. Requires X-Windows. Available:
[Author: Zhang Yongguang y...@cs.purdue.edu]

(b) MULE -- Mule is a MULtilingual Enhancement to GNU Emacs which
can handle Japanese, Chinese or Korean (16 bits) characters.
For Chinese there is support for both GB and Big5. Subscribers of
alt.chinese.text will find it useful to use GNUS with hz2gb.el,
which does HZ/zW encode/decoding automatically. Runs as stand-alone
X client or with CXTERM. Available at:
sh.wide.ad.jp []:/JAPAN/mule/*
[Author: Ken'ichi Handa ha...@etl.go.jp]

Alternative pinyin input methods (including phrase input) for MULE
available at:
[Author: Ping Zhou, zh...@okra.fnal.gov]

Also gnusutil.el packaged with MULE 2.0 can do auto decoding for any
newsgroups which have coding that mule can support, including a.c.t.

(c) Chirk -- A Unix program for viewing Chinese text on Tektronix
compatible graphic terminals (Graphon 225, 230, 140; DEC VT240,
VT330/340; etc.) and terminal emulators (XTerm on X-Windows,
VersaTerm on Macintosh, etc.) C source code is provided and may
be portable to other platforms. Supports Guo-Biao, Big5, zW and HZ.
[To use Chirk with rn, try "s | chirk".]
Available for ftp at:
[Author: Bo Yang er...@sdphu1.ucsd.edu]

(2f) Software to print HZ Chinese on Postscript Printers

If you have access to a PostScript Printer:

(a) CNPRINT. Prints HZ or GB text on Unix, VMS or MSDOS. Ftp site:
[Author: Cai Yidao <c...@neurophys.wisc.edu>]

(b) GB2PS. Converts GuoBiao or HZ Chinese text into hard copies
by using PostScript printers. Runs on Unix. Ftp site:
[Author: William Sun wil...@cs.anu.edu.au]

(2g) Software to read HZ Chinese on dumb terminals

If you only have access to a dumb terminal. Reading Chinese on a
dumb terminal is not going to be comfortable, but it can be done.

(a) HZbanner v0.94 - Display Song style Chinese in large ASCII
characters, supports GB2312-80, GB2312-80+GB8565-89,
Chinese-EUC, CNS Planes 1&2, BIG5 and HZ-encoding.
Also need guobiao16.bdf.gz, cns*hku16.bdf.gz.
[Author: Koichi Yasuoka]

(b) You may also use 'hzview', but will need hz2gb from the HZ
package described in question 5 (despite the name, hzview does not
support HZ coding directly.) Ftp'able from:
[Author: Fung Fung Lee l...@rinconada.stanford.edu]

(2h) Are these software packages easy to use?

Depends. Some of the software packages listed above are either
terminal emulators or can be run in conjunction with a terminal
emulator. Once you've installed them, reading Chinese text on this
newsgroup should be easy. For example, if you are using ZWDOS
or cxterm with hztty, the Chinese text posted on this newsgroup
will show up on your screen as Chinese characters automatically
without any efforts on your part. Other programs (text viewers)
require that you run the program with the Chinese text file as
input every time.

Consult the documentation with the software for their exact

If you have problem installing the software, you may post help
requests to alt.chinese.text or contact the software authors.

(3) What Chinese newsgroups are available on usenet?

Currently, there are several Chinese language newsgroups in the
alt.* hiarachy that is being globally transmitted:


Of these, the first two are in HZ code (although some people are
beginning to use GB code on alt.chinese.text), and the last one
is in Big5 code.

There is an entired hiarachy being established to transmitted
Chinese newsgroups globally. The following newsgroups are
currently in the hiarachy:

chinese.comp.software, chinese.comp, chinese.flame
chinese.newsgroups.announce, chinese.newsgroups.answers
chinese.newsgroups.discussion, chinese.newsgroups.newusers
chinese.rec.misc, chinese.rec.sports, chinese.rec.magazines.multiworld,
chinese.rec.magazines chinese.talk.misc, chinese.talk.politics
chinese.test, chinese.text.unicode

There are also regional newsgroup hiarachies such as tw.* (Big5).

(3a) My site does not carry Chinese newsgroups. What should I do?

The first thing to do is to tell your news administrator about
alt.chinese.text and ask him/her to carry it. Some sites do
selectively carry alt groups so it may be simply a matter of

If your news administrator is willing to carry Chinese newsgroups
(alt.chinese.text and chinese.* groups), but is unable to find
a news-feed site, ask him/her to contact news-...@ifcss.org
for a feed from news.ifcss.org.

You can also use news.ifcss.org as your news server to read
Chinese newsgroups. Simply set your Unix environment NNTPSERVER
to news.ifcss.org then read news as usual.

If all else fails, you may be able to read Chinese newsgroups
through Gopher or the World Wide Web. See related answers below.

(4) How do I post Chinese text articles to usenet?

If you are using a software package listed above which supports
Chinese character input, (such as ZWDOS, cxterm, or Mule), you
can already do this, and it is probably very similar to posting
English articles. Consult the documentation for the software
package for information about how to input Chinese characters
with the package.

If you do not have a software package into which you can directly
type in Chinese characters, but you do have access to software
that produce GB or Big5 coded Chinese text, you may use the
conversion programs mentioned in question (7) to convert them
to HZ and then post them to usenet.

(4a) How do I post to Chinese newsgroups via e-mail?

You may post your articles to alt.chinese.text by sending them
via e-mail to one of the following addresses:


Note that only HZ-coded Chinese text should be sent to the
above addresses. Even though some gateways may provide
mail-in addresses for alt.chinese.text.big5, mail-in posting
of big5 articles is not recommended because many e-mail
gateways do not guarantee safe passage of 8-bit text.

Avoid repeated postings. If you don't receive an error message,
wait a day for your article to propagate before reposting.

(4b) When I send an HZ article, it keeps saying "unknown tilde escape" ...

For Unix mail users only: When passing an edited HZ article
to some Unix mail programs as redirected input, you may get
a lot of "unknown tilde escape" error messages. Possible
solutions to this are (1) don't use redirected input, instead
use "~r filename" to read in the file when you are composing
the message manually; or (2) change mail's command escape
character to something else by adding a line "set escape=^"
to your .mailrc file, where ^ is your chosen new escape

There are also Unix mail programs that are smart enough to not
escape redirected inputs, the "waterloo mail" being one. You
may ask your system administrator to install it for you.

(4c) Why isn't it a good idea to cross-post articles to alt.chinese.text?

Some netter cross-post articles to both alt.chinese.text and
alt.chinese.text.big5. This is not a good idea because the character
coding systems on the two groups are different: your article is
bound to be in the wrong format in least one of the groups.

Cross-posting between newsgroups that are automatically mirrored
is a bad idea. For example, alt.chinese.text.hz and alt.chinese.text.big5
are mirrored by a system that automatically translates between HZ
and Big5. There is also an auto-repost between alt.chinese.text and
chinese.talk.misc, and currently there is an auto-translate between
alt.chinese.text and chinese.text.unicode. (All the tranffic being
generated by the reposting probably dones't help with the propagation
of the newsgroups involved.)

Cross-posting of articles between Chinese and English newsgroups
is also undesirable. Such articles frequently generate tons of
follow-ups in English from readers of the English groups. English-
only articles are generally not appreciated on a.c.t. and are
done only as a neccessary evil (such as this posting.)

(5) What is 'HZ'?

'HZ', and the very similar 'zW', are Chinese coding protocols
derived from Guo-Biao, the standard Character set for
information interchange used in mainland China. Compared
to Big-5 (character set used in Taiwan), Guo-Biao has
the property that each character in the set can be easily
represented by 2 printable (7-bit) ASCII characters. The 'zW'
and HZ are protocols that allow mixing of these Chinese
text and ASCII (English) text, which are the main reason
they are being used in this newsgroup.

A description of the HZ protocol is available for ftp at:
[Author: Fung Fung Lee l...@rinconada.stanford.edu]

The above HZ description is also available as Internet RFC 1843.
A review of the HZ implementations until 1995 is available
as Internet RFC 1842.

(5a) How do I convert HZ Chinese text to/from GB or Big5 systems?

If you are using a Guo-Biao based system, conversion programs
can be found in Fung Fung Lee's HZ-2.0.tar.Z package mentioned
above. Use hz2gb and gb2hz to convert between Guo-Biao and HZ
text. If you are using a Big-5 based system, check out
hc.tar.Z in ifcss.org:software/unix/convert, which lets you
convert from Big5 to GB which can then be converted to HZ (and

The DOS executables of the zW<->HZ<->GB converter are at
ifcss.org:software/dos/convert. The Macintosh version of
hc (Big5<->GB) is in ifcss.org:software/mac/convert.

(6) What is FTP and how do I use it?

FTP stands for the internet File Transfer Protocol. There are
many internet sites with FTP accounts where a remote user can
connect to and download materials of various kind.

It is beyond the scope of this document to provide a detailed
tutorial about network file transfers. Yet I hope the following
example will give you an idea.

At your system prompt, type:
ftp ifcss.org [connect to remote host]
username: ftp [or "anonymous"]
password: your_name [or anything else]
binary [use binary transfer]
cd software/unix/convert [change directory]
get HZ-2.0.tar.Z [get file]

After getting the files, you'd probably need to uncompressed/
unarchived the files in some system specific manner. Your local
system admin or users of similar machines should be your best
source of help for this. The following is only a brief summary:

(A). Unix compressed files often have a .Z extension. To uncompress,
use the Unix command "compress -d filename". After that you may
get a file with a .tar extension. You can untar a file by
"tar -xvf filename".

(B). DOS (PC) compressed files often have a .zip extension.
To uncompressed, use "pkunzip filename". (Get pkunzip.exe from

(C). MacIntosh files often have the .hqx extension. To uncompress,
you'd need "binhex" and "stuffit", both available from

The CND Chinese Magazine (Hua Xia Wen Zhai) has compiled a suite
of help files some of which may be useful for you. To obtain
an index, send a mail "get cmhelp index" to list...@uga.bitnet.

(7) What else do I need to know about alt.chinese.text?

Alt.chinese.text is a free forum. It is not a topic oriented
newsgroup, as long as your articles are in Chinese or is
otherwise related to the subject "Chinese text." Nonetheless,
after you get a hang of the software, you are strongly
suggested to post in Chinese. Even for articles that best
serve their purposes in English, a Chinese summary should
still be provided.

(8) How many people read alt.chinese.text?

Ever since the newsgroup came into existance in June 28,
1992 (with the help of Mr. Stephan Mosier of Indiana Univ
Computing Services. Thanks, Steve!), its readership has been
increasing steadily. The latest figures, compiled by DEC's
Network Systems Laboratory for Oct 1993, indicated
that alt.chinese.text is read by 56000 users worldwide.

alt.chinese.text alt.chinese.text.big5
Jul 1992 0
Nov 1992 11,000
Feb 1993 19,000
Mar 1993 28,000
May 1993 34,000
Jul 1993 41,000 15,000
Sep 1993 50,000 26,000
Oct 1993 56,000 32,000

[Data since Nov 1992 curtesy of Brian Reid of DEC Network
Systems Laboratory.]

(9) What is alt.chinese.text.big5 and alt.chinese.text.hz?

Alt.chinese.text.big5 was originally a two-way mirror of
alt.chinese.text in Big5 code, the industrial standard character
set in Taiwan. Flame wars between some nutty individuals
eventually forced the breakup of the mirroring.

Alt.chinese.text.hz has been recently created as an HZ-code
newsgroup to mirror alt.chinese.text.big5. It's content is
currently identical to alt.chinese.text.big5 except that it
is in HZ code.

There are currently no Big5 equivalent for articles in

To read Big5-code newsgroups such as alt.chinese.text.big5,
you need a Chinese system that supports the Big5 character set.
Some of the programs listed in this FAQ also supports Big5.
The Kuo-chiao Chinese system for PC, which supports Big5,
can be ftp'ed from moers2.edu.tw:chinese-pub/chinese-sys/kc/kc.zip.

Keep in mind that Big5 is an 8-bit coding standard. Therefore
your terminal and its connections to all the hosts/gateways
must be set up to accommodate 8-bit data. Consult your local
system people for details about this. If it is too much trouble,
you may want to just read alt.chinese.text.

(10) How do I read Chinese newsgroups through gopher or WWW?

(a) GOPHER. Many gopher servers offer usenet access. If you
have access to a gopher client on your system you may be able
to read alt.chinese.text through it. First check your local
gopher server, if not successful, check a server that is
geographically close to your site.

(b) WWW: the www.ifcss.org server allows you to read Chinese

(11) What other net resources broadcast HZ-coded Chinese text?

The following net-resources broadcast or store Chinese material
coded in the HZ format which are directly readable with software
described in this FAQ:

a. The CND Chinese Magazine, Hua Xia Wen Zhai ~{;*ODNDU*~}, broadcasts
an HZ edition through a list at CMUWA-L@UWAVM. To subscribe, send a
message to
With the body of the message containing only:
SUB CMUWA-L Lastname Firstname
The magazine will be delivered to your e-mail box every Friday.

b. The Chinese Poem Discussion list broadcasts Chinese poems in
HZ and other formats. To subscribe, send a message to
With the body of the message containing only:
SUB CHPOEM-L Lastname Firstname

c. News about Taiwan available through gopher at the National Sun
Yat-Sen University. To access, (1) enter HZ environment, (2)
use "gopher gopher.csie.nctu.edu.tw 70", (3) choose ~{VPI=4sQ'~}
~{J11(PBNE!!D?B<#,~} (4) choose csie server, (5) choose "HZ info-

The same gopher site above also lets you read all the Taiwan
newsgroups, including local groups of several Taiwan universities,
in HZ. Just follow the menu, choose "usenet" then "HZ access".

d. Anonymous ftp site ifcss.org also contains numerous HZ-coded
Chinese material. An archive of articles previously posted to
alt.chinese.text may be found under subdirectory act/archive.

Subdirectories in "china-studies" contain Chinese text coded
in GB or Big-5.

Resource on ifcss.org can also be accessed through gopher and WWW.

f. Lian Yi Tong Xun ~{A*RjM(Q6~} is a monthly Chinese electronic
journal published by the Ottawa Chinese organizations.
Feng Hua Yuan ~{7c;*T0~} is a bimonthly Chinese electronic
journal published by the Federation of Chinese Students in
Canada. To receive both journals via e-mail, you may subscribe
to their HZ broadcast by sending "SUB CSSADS-L your name"

HXWZ, LYTX, and FHY are also posted to alt.chinese.text upon

(12) Where may I obtain the latest version of this FAQ?

This FAQ is posted monthly to alt.chinese.text and news.answers.
The latest version of this FAQ is also available from the following
anonymous FTP sites:


(12a) How may I contribute to the writing of this FAQ?

During the past year and a half, there has been no updates to
this FAQ. Existing information may have been superseded, while
new topics need to be addressed. However, it may be beyond
one single person's capacity to investigate and write for all the
topics that should be included here.

You are hereby invited to write an answer to a new topic or
revise an existing topic for this FAQ. If you are writing for
a new topic, the topic should be germane to Chinese newsgroups
and/or their readers. If possible, please write them in a
way that can be readily incorporated into the current FAQ.
Your efforts will be acknowledged and appreciated.

Compiled by Ya-Gui Wei ~{N:QG9p~}.

Thanks are due to Dan Jacobson ~{;}5$Da~}, Fung Fung Lee ~{@n7c7e~},
Ricky Yeung, Nelson Chin for valuable advice for the improvement of
this document.

Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages