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Newznab-compliant Usenet Indexer written in Python, using PostgreSQL/MySQL-like.

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Pynab is a rewrite of Newznab, using Python and PostgreSQL. Complexity is way down, consisting of (currently) ~4,000 SLoC, compared to Newznab's ~104,000 lines of php/template. Performance and reliability are significantly improved, as is maintainability and a noted reduction in the sheer terror I experienced upon looking at some of the NN code in an attempt to fix a few annoying bugs.

This project was written almost entirely for my own amusement and use, so it's specifically tailored towards what I was looking for in an indexer - fast, compatible API with few user restrictions and low complexity. I literally just use my indexer to index groups and pass access to my friends, so there's no API limits or the like. If you'd like to use this software and want to add such functionality, please feel free to fork it! I won't have time to work on it beyond my own needs, but this is what open source is for.

Note that because this is purely for API access, the WebUI is very simple. You cannot add users through a web interface, manage releases, etc. Something like 99.9% of the usage of my old Newznab server was API-only, so it's low-priority.

API Compatibility


  • Group indexing
  • Mostly-accurate release generation (thanks to Newznab's regex collection)
  • Also mostly-accurate release categorisation (which is easily extensible)
  • Binary blacklisting (regex thanks to kevinlekiller)
  • High performance
  • Developed around pure API usage
  • Newznab-API compatible (mostly, see below)
  • TVRage/IMDB/Password post-processing
  • Release renaming for most obfuscated releases
  • Pre-DB comparisons to assist in renaming
  • XMPP PubSub support to push to nzb clients

In development:

  • Additional PreDB sources
  • Got an idea? Send it in!

Technical Differences to Newznab

  • NZBs are imported whole
    • Bulk imports of 50gb of nzb.gzs now take hours to process, not weeks
    • No more importing in batches of 100 - just point it at a directory of 600,000 NZBs and let it process
    • Relies on provided NZBs being complete and mostly good, though
  • NZBs are stored in the DB
    • Commonly-grabbed NZBs are generally cached in RAM
    • Big IO savings
    • Generally quicker than off the HDD
    • You don't run into filesystem problems from having 2.5 million files in a few directories
  • Very simple query interface
    • The vast majority of access to my indexer was API-based (1-5 web hits per month vs 50,000+ api hits)
    • It's not a replacement for Newznab if you have a lot of direct user interaction
  • Simplified authentication
    • No more usernames, passwords, or anything, really.
    • API key access required for everything - sure, it can be sniffed very easily, but it always could be. Worst that can happen: someone uses the API.
  • General optimisations
    • Several operations have been much-streamlined to prevent wasteful, un-necessary regex processing
    • No language wars, but Python is generally quicker than PHP (and will be moreso when PyPy supports 3.3)
    • General (significant) database speed improvements


Installation and execution is reasonably easy.


  • Python 3.2 or higher
  • PostgreSQL 9.3+ or MySQL/Maria/Percona 5.5+
  • A u/WSGI-capable webserver (or use CherryPy)

I've tested the software on Ubuntu Server 12.04-14.10 and Windows 7/8/10, so all should work.


Ubuntu 12.04 and earlier

Follow the instructions by broknbottle in Issue #15 to install Python 3.3.x, then follow the 13.04 instructions.

Ubuntu 13.04/13.10 and later

If Postgres: install PostgreSQL 9.3/9.4, as per instructions here. If MySQL: install MySQL 5.5+ (preferably 5.6+)

You also need to install Python 3.3/3.4, associated packages and pip3:

> sudo apt-get install python3 python3-setuptools python3-pip libxml2-dev libxslt-dev libyaml-dev

And a few packages required by psycopg2 (you need these even if you're using MySQL):

> sudo apt-get install postgresql-server-dev-9.3

If you're using MySQL, you'll also need to several lines to your /etc/mysql/my.cnf, under [mysqld]:

local_infile = 1
innodb_large_prefix = 1
innodb_file_format = Barracuda
innodb_file_per_table = 1

This allows us to vastly increase the speed of segment writes. Without this, scanning will be impossibly slow!

General *nix

> cd /opt/
> sudo git clone
> sudo chown -R www-data:www-data pynab
> cd pynab
> sudo cp
> sudo vim [fill in details as appropriate]
> sudo pip3 install -r requirements.txt

If you receive an error message related to an old version of distribute while running pip3, you can install the new version by typing:

sudo easy_install -U distribute


Running pynab on Windows is possible, but not recommended or well-supported. Lack of screen support means that console output is tricky, so using logfiles is very much recommended.

Clone and configure:

> [browse to desired directory]
> git clone
> [browse to pynab]
> [copy to]
> [fill in config as appropriate, ensuring to set logfile]

Install pre-reqs. The following packages are available as Windows binaries from here. Select the appropriate package for your version of python (ie. py34 for 3.4, etc):

- lxml
- sqlalchemy
- psycopg2
- markupsafe

Two packages used in pynab require a compiler, such as MinGW. This may also require you to modify some config vars to make pip see the compiler, see here.

Once the compiler has been installed:

> pip install -r requirements.txt


New installation? As below:

> sudo python3 [follow instructions]

Migrating from Newznab? Go here: Converting from Newznab

Migrating from pynab-mongo? Go here: Converting from pynab-mongo

Once done:

> sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /opt/pynab
> sudo chown -R www-data:www-data /var/log/pynab [or whatever logging_dir is set to]

The installation script will automatically import necessary data and download the latest regex and blacklists.

Please note that in order to download updated regexes from the Newznab crew, you'll need a NN+ ID. You can get one by following the instructions on their website (generally a donation). You can also import a regex dump or create your own.

Converting from Newznab


This software is unstable as yet, so keep backups of everything - if you're importing NZBs, make sure you make a copy of them first. The import script will actively delete things, newznab conversion will just copy - but better to be safe.

Pynab can transfer some data across from Newznab - notably your groups (and settings), categories and TVRage/IMDB data, as well as user details and current API keys. This means that your users should only experience downtime for a short period, and don't have to regenerate their API keys. Hate your users? No problem, they won't even notice the difference and you don't even have to tell them.

To run the conversion, first follow the normal installation instructions. Then:

> python3 scripts/  

run --help for additional options.

This will copy over relevant data from your Newznab installation. Because Pynab's method of storing NZBs and metadata is very different to Newznab, we can't do a direct releases table conversion - you need to import the NZBs en-masse. Luckily, this is no longer an incredibly lengthy process - it should only take a few hours to process several hundred thousand NZBs on a reasonable server. Importing 2.5 million releases from my old installation took 11 hours.

To import said NZBs:

> python3 scripts/ /path/to/nzbs

For most Newznab installations, it'll look like this:

> python3 scripts/ /var/www/newznab/nzbfiles

:warning: Run this script against a copy of the nzb folder, since it automatically deletes NZBS that were successfully imported.

Allow this to finish before starting normal operation.

Converting from pynab-mongo

If you were using pynab-mongo and want to convert your database to the Postgre version, there's a script supplied. It's recommended that you side-load the Postgre branch, rather than cut over directly:

# don't bother running first, as we're copying everything from mongo
# you will, of course, need postgres installed
> cd /opt
> git clone pynab-postgres
> cd /opt/pynab-postgres
> git checkout development-postgres
> cp
> [edit to add mongo and postgres config]
> python3 scripts/

The script handles virtually everything, copying all necessary data. For large installations, this could take some time - there's no quick way to copy that data across. That said, it's not too excessive - for 500k releases, somewhere between 15 minutes to an hour depending on server specs. The migration script is unable to handle existing release file data and will need to re-retrieve it.

Once this is complete, rename the old folder and replace it with the new, then shut down mongo:

> sudo service nginx stop # or whatever you're using
> mv /opt/pynab /opt/pynab.old
> mv /opt/pynab-postgres /opt/pynab
> sudo service nginx start
> sudo service mongo stop

You can also optimise your postgres config to use available memory with something like pgTune:

Execution of the indexer works identically to the mongo version - just run and

Installing Supervisor Scripts

Pynab comes with a supervisor config that can be used to handle automatic startups. To install it:

> sudo apt-get install supervisor
> vim init/supervisor/pynab.conf
> [edit python/pynab paths as necessary]
> sudo cp init/supervisor/pynab.conf /etc/supervisor/conf.d/
> (the config path may vary per distribution, that's for ubuntu)

This will, by default, run the pynab scan and postprocess daemons automatically on system boot. You can also manually control parts of pynab, as seen below.


Pynab comes with a CLI program that can make administration somewhat easier.

In order to take advantage of some of these options, you need supervisor installed and to have copied the supervisor config, as per the previous section.

Enabling Groups

After installation, you should enable groups to be scanned. Pynab comes pre-installed with several groups, but none enabled by default. To enable a group:

> python3 group enable 

For example, to enable alt.binaries.linux:

> python3 group enable alt.binaries.linux

Adding Users

For users to access your API, they need an API key. To add a user:

> python3 user create 

This will supply you with an API key for the user. You can also delete a user:

> python3 user delete 

Updating Regex

This is run automatically as part of install, but if you miss it for whatever reason (if you forgot to add your NN+ ID to the config file before installation?), you can re-call it here:

> python3 regex

Running Pynab

The pynab CLI passes along execution and shutdown requests to supervisor. There are two primary parts of pynab: scanning and post-processing. Scanning indexes usenet posts and builds releases, while post-processing enriches releases with metadata useful for the API. This metadata includes TVRage IDs, IMDB IDs, whether a release is passworded, release size, etc.

Before running pynab, you should ensure that you've read and edited (copied from If log directories are set to unwritable locations, pynab will not run.

If you want to manually start/stop processes or check their status:

> sudo supervisorctl

The simplest way of starting pynab is:

> sudo python3 start

This will execute both the scanning and post-processing components of pynab. If you're using Windows, this will also execute the API - if you're using a nix OS, you should read down to the section on using uWSGI to operate the API.

These components can also be started individually:

> sudo python3 scan
> sudo python3 postprocess
> sudo python3 api
> sudo python3 backfill
> sudo python3 stats
> sudo python3 prebot
> sudo python3 pubsub

To stop pynab, you can use:

> sudo python3 stop

Monitoring Pynab

Pynab includes a simple monitoring window based on tmux for showing system progress. You can optionally use byobu,, which makes tmux much easier to use.

If you want to use the monitor, you'll need some other packages:

> sudo apt-get install tmux byobu

To run the monitor:

> ./

This will spawn a new tmux session, load the layout and then attach to tmux. It will use byobu if you have it installed. A full screen window is recommended.

tmux layouts can be modified or added as desired (just change Optionally, run

> tmux list-windows

and copy the Pynab window layout into $layout in

If you create a good layout, submit a pull request! :)

Backfilling Groups

Pynab has a backfill mechanism very similar to Newznab. This can be run sequentially to, so that you effectively fill releases in both directions. Because binary and release processing is atomic, there are no issues running multiple scripts at the same time - you are effectively only limited by the number of available NNTP connections, your bandwidth and your available processing power.

Before starting a backfill, you need to change the deadbinaryage config option in If backfilling, set it to 1 - otherwise, leave it on 1-3. This will delete binaries that haven't been turned into releases after they're x days old (from time of posting, not time of collection). As such, you don't want to delete backfilled binaries.

> nano [change dead_binary_age to 1]

You can use the backfill scripts as so:

> python3 backfill [group] [--date=]

You can optionally specify a group - omitting the group argument will operate a backfill over all groups. You can also optionally specify a particular date to backfill to - omitting a date will fall back onto your's backfill_days parameter.

Backfilling will add parts to the DB, but won't process them - the main pynab scanning script is intended to be run in parallel, which will take care of binary and release processing.

Updating Pynab

Run the following to update to the latest version:

> python3 update

Requires that alembic is installed and in your path (as well as git).

Starting the API

To activate the API:

> python3 api

Starting the script will put up a very basic web server, without threading/pooling capability.

If you plan on using the API for extended periods of time or have more than one user access it, please use a proper webserver.

The API is built on, who provide helpful details on deployment:

As an example, to run pynab on nginx/uwsgi, you need this package:

> sudo apt-get install uwsgi

However, Ubuntu/Debian repos have an incredibly old version of uWSGI available, so install the new one. Note that this must be pip3 and not pip, otherwise you'll install the uWSGI Python 2.7 module:

> sudo pip3 install uwsgi
> sudo ln -fs /usr/local/bin/uwsgi /usr/bin/uwsgi

Your /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/pynab file should look like this:

upstream _pynab {
    server unix:/var/run/uwsgi/app/pynab/socket;

server { listen 80; server_name;

location / {
    try_files $uri @uwsgi;

location @uwsgi {
    include uwsgi_params;
    uwsgi_pass _pynab;


While your /etc/uwsgi/apps-enabled/pynab.ini should look like this:

socket = /var/run/uwsgi/app/pynab/socket
master = true
chdir = /opt/pynab
wsgi-file =
uid = www-data
gid = www-data
processes = 4 [or whatever number of cpu cores you have]
threads = 2

Apache using

is also very easy (thanks @Enverex):
WSGIPythonPath /opt/pynab

    WSGIScriptAlias / /opt/pynab/

Note that if you're using a forwarding proxy for https, you'll also need to set the HTTPS environment variable for requests. For example, with Apache:

SetEnvIf X-Forwarded-Protocol https HTTPS=1

Using the miscellaneous scripts

Categorise all uncategorised releases - this runs automatically after import.

> python3 scripts/

Fill sizes from NZBs - this should only be used if you were running an old version of pynab (pre-aug-2014).

> python3 scripts/

Quick post-process - this quickly runs an offline post-process of files for imdb/tvrage data. This automatically gets called at the start of execution and should only be used if you've imported a large dump of imdb/tvrage data or something similar.

> python3 scripts/

Recategorise everything - as it says. Wipes clean the category slate for all releases and checks them anew. Run if there have been major changes to category regex or lots of stuff broke.

> python3 scripts/

Rename bad releases - automatically run as part of the post-process process (process [process]). CLI script that can take badly-named releases and attempt to rename them from nfo, sfv, par or rar. Don't run on normal groups, just ebooks and misc.

> python3 scripts/

Show the number of releases added each day.

> python3 scripts/

This will be run by but can be run separately as well. It shows the number of parts, binaries an releases in the database. Let it run and it also shows how many of each are added and removed every few mins. Preferences for this, including writing to a .csv file, are in

> python3 scripts/

Backup and Restore

Generally the best way to backup your data is to take a database dump. However it is understood that that is not always possible or practical, for instance if you are working to transition databases.

For this the following scripts are provided.

> python3 scripts/ [--verbose] PATH

For each release with an existing saved NZB file export that NZB (as a gzipped file) to the given PATH. The files will have a random unique file name and separated into multiple directories.

> python scripts/ [--gzip] [--no-users] [--no-groups] [--no-categories] [--no-movie] [--no-tvshow] PATH

Backup user critical data from various tables in the database to JSON files. The goal is that given a restore of this data an installation should be able to operate with or without an import of additional NZB files. If you utilize the --gzip option then the data will be gzipped. Depending on how much data you are backing up this process may take awhile.

> python scripts/ [--users=FILE] [--groups=FILE] [--categories=FILE] [--movie=FILE] [--tvshow=FILE]

Restore the user critical data. Only data provided will be restored and the existing table will be cleared before it is restored. For each table you must supply the full path and filename of the file you want restored. Files may be gzipped. Depending on how much data you are restoring this process may take awhile.

> python scripts/ PATH

See above for information for the NZB import script.

Building the WebUI

Requires NPM and probably a few other things. You can install nodejs, NPM, grunt and bower however you like. Ubuntu's repositories sometimes have an issue with node, however. Order of installation is important.

Note that using NPM 2.0.0 can break everything, 1.3.10~ should be used (which is the default in Ubuntu's repos). Installing things in the wrong order can break everything. Installing grunt/bower from aptitude can break everything, and using sudo in the wrong place can break everything. If you're having trouble with permissions and package errors, try running

rm -rf node_modules
npm cache clear
rm -rf ~/.npm
before removing/reinstalling NPM 1.3.10 and any node.js packages that came from aptitude.

A semi-reliable way to install the required packages is below (be careful of sudo use):

> sudo apt-get install npm nodejs-legacy ruby ruby-compass

Run the npm install:

> cd webui
> npm install [not using sudo]

Install necessary build tools (using sudo):

> sudo npm install -g grunt-cli
> sudo npm install -g bower

To build the webui from source, first modify the config to include your indexer host:

> cd webui/app/scripts
> vim config.js
> [add host url and port]

Then initiate the build:

> bower install
> grunt build

This will build a working and optimised version of the UI into the dist/ directory, which will then be hosted by your webserver as part of Note that you can disable the web interface in the main configuration.


  • I keep getting errors related to "config." and stops.
  • e.g. AttributeError: 'module' object has no attribute 'monitor'

This means that your is out of date. Re-copy and re-enter your details. Generally speaking this should become less of a problem as time goes on - only new features require new config options, and the project is mostly in bugfix mode at the moment.

  • I get an error "cannot import regex" or something similar!


pip3 install -r requirements.txt
. You're missing some libraries that we use.
  • How do I enable header compression?

You don't - it's automatically enabled if your provider supports it. The benefits of using it are so large time-wise that there's no real reason to include a config option to turn it off. If you can think of a reason to include it, post an issue and let me know.

  • When attempting to start the API using Nginx or something similar, I just get internal server errors?

Check uWSGI's logs. Most likely your logfiles are going somewhere that you don't have permission to write to.

  • After updating from Git, the webui won't build, citing bower-install errors.

Delete the webui/nodemodules and webui/app/bowercomponents folder and re-run npm install / bower install.

  • A whole lot of releases are getting miscategorised!

There was a bug in a particular version of the python regex module that could cause release and binary regex to give incredibly shitty results. This is forced to a correct version in requirements.txt, so just run

pip3 install --upgrade regex
if it's happening.
  • While building the WebUI, I get errors about compass.

Run the following:

> gem uninstall sass
> gem install sass --no-ri --no-rdoc
> gem install compass --no-ri --no-rdoc 

Newznab API

Generally speaking, most of the relevant API functionality is implemented, with noted exceptions:

  • REGISTER (since it's controlled by server console)
  • CART-ADD (there is no cart)
  • CART-DEL (likewise)
  • COMMENTS (no comments)
  • COMMENTS-ADD (...)
  • USER (not yet implemented, since API access is currently unlimited)


  • The Newznab team, for creating a great piece of software
  • Everyone who contributed to the NN+ regex collection
  • Kevinlekiller, for his blacklist regex
  • Everyone who's sent in issues and tested the software

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