Index of /linux/metamail

      Name                                               Last modified       Size  Description

[DIR] Parent Directory 05-Oct-2013 11:14 - [TXT] ANNOUNCE 05-Jul-1996 17:07 7k [TXT] CSCW-ATOMICMAIL.txt 23-Dec-1992 01:00 36k [DIR] EmailWorld/ 18-Nov-1996 23:43 - [TXT] MIME-overview.txt 04-Jun-1992 02:00 28k [   ] 25-Mar-1993 01:00 483k [TXT] README 05-Jul-1996 17:07 7k [CMP] contrib2.7.tar.Z 18-Feb-1994 01:00 1.1M tar archive [DIR] drafts/ 18-Nov-1996 23:42 - [DIR] eclectic/ 18-Nov-1996 23:43 - [SND] 01-Jul-1993 02:00 972k [SND] 21-Feb-1994 01:00 1k [DIR] famlet/ 18-Nov-1996 23:42 - [IMG] linimon.flesh 17-Mar-1993 01:00 239k [   ] 18-Feb-1994 01:00 68k [CMP] mm2.7.tar.Z 18-Feb-1994 01:00 257k tar archive [CMP] mm2.7.tar.Z.uu 18-Feb-1994 01:00 354k tar archive [   ] 01-Dec-1993 01:00 97k [IMG] nsb.flesh 15-Mar-1993 01:00 9k [SND] 11-Mar-1992 01:00 392k [SND] 22-Sep-1992 02:00 1k [IMG] quartet.gif 11-Mar-1992 01:00 115k [IMG] quartet.gif.ct 22-Sep-1992 02:00 1k [TXT] readme.txt 07-Feb-1994 01:00 3k [DIR] samples/ 18-Nov-1996 23:43 - [DIR] st/ 18-Nov-1996 23:43 - [DIR] stlib/ 18-Nov-1996 23:43 - [TXT] table1 07-Feb-1994 01:00 58k [CMP] tahoe.tar.Z 03-Apr-1992 02:00 126k tar archive [DIR] ugh/ 18-Nov-1996 23:43 - [CMP] usenix-slides.tar.Z 16-Feb-1993 01:00 513k tar archive [SND] 24-Mar-1994 01:00 2.1M

On behalf of Bellcore, I am happy to announce the availability of version 2.7 
of the "metamail" software to the email community.  This package, which is 
available free of charge for unlimited use by anyone for any purpose, is 
offered in the hope of making multimedia mail (using the MIME standard) more 


The basic idea of "multimedia" electronic mail is to extend email as we now 
know it to include many other types of data beyond plain English text.  In 
particular, there is no reason, in principle, why email should not include 
text in any of the world's languages and character sets, nor why email should 
not include pictures, sounds, animations, active spreadsheets, or any other 
kind of data that can be stored on a computer.

In recent years, various research systems and even some commercial products 
have extended email to include some or all of these capabilities.  Until 
recently, however, none of them worked together, and all of them required 
whole communities of users to abandon their old tools en masse in favor of the 
new tools of a single software vendor.

Recent developments have the promise of changing all of that.  There is a new 
proposed standard for the format of multimedia mail, which would make software 
from different vendors able to work together smoothly with multimedia mail, as 
they do now with plain text mail.  The software being announced here 
implements that proposed standard, but takes it a step further by 
incorporating it into the existing tools with which people read mail today, 
allowing multimedia mail to be adopted in an evolutionary rather than a 
revolutionary fashion.


Metamail is a package that can be used to convert virtually ANY mail-reading 
program (on UNIX, DOS, or Commorodore Amiga) into a multimedia mail-reading 
program.  It is an extermely generic implementation of MIME (Multipurpose 
Internet Mail Extensions), the proposed standard for multimedia mail formats 
on the Internet.   The implementation is extremely flexible and extensible, 
using a "mailcap" file mechanism for adding support for new data formats when 
sent through the mail.  At a heterogeneous site where many mail readers are in 
use, the mailcap mechanism can be used to extend them all to support new types 
of multimedia mail by a single addition to a mailcap file.

The core of the package is a mechanism that allows the easy configuration of 
mail readers to call external "viewers" for different types of mail.  However, 
beyond this core mechanism, the distribution includes viewers for a number of 
mail types defined by the MIME standard, so that it is useful immediately and 
without any special site-specific customization or extension.  Types with 
built-in support in the metamail distribution include:

	1.  Plain US ASCII (i.e., English) text, of course.
	2.  Plain text in the ISO-8859-8 (Hebrew/English) character set.  
	3.  Richtext (multifont formatted text, termcap-oriented viewer)
	4.  Image formats (using the xloadimage program under X11)
	5.  Audio (initial "viewer" for SPARCstations)
	6.  Multipart mail, combining several other types
	7.  Multipart/alternative mail, offering data in multiple formats.
	8.  Encapsulated messages 
	9.  Partial & external messages (for large data objects)
	10.  Arbitrary (untyped) binary data 

Other media types and character sets may be easily supported with the mailcap 
mechanism, using the provided types as examples/templates.  The metamail 
software also provides rudimentary support for the use of non-ASCII characters 
in certain mail headers, as described by a companion document to the proposed 
MIME standard.

The metamail distribution comes complete with a small patch for each of over a 
dozen popular mail reading programs, including Berkeley mail, mh, Elm, Xmh, 
Xmail, Mailtool, Emacs Rmail, Emacs VM, Andrew, and others.    Crafting a 
patch for additional mail readers is relatively straightforward.

In order to build the metamail software, a single "make" command followed by a 
relatively short compilation will suffice.  Patching your mail reader is 
somewhat harder, but can usually be accomplished in less than an hour if you 
have the sources at hand.  The experience of most users is that the metamail 
package can easily be used to get multimedia mail working with your existing 
mail readers in less than half a day.


To retrieve the file, use anonymous ftp to the machine 
(Internet address  Type "cd pub/nsb".  In that directory, you 
will find:

1.  mm2.7.tar.Z -- this is a compressed tar file containing the core metamail 
distribution.  Uncompress it, untar it, and read the top-level "README" file 
for further instructions.  Strictly speaking, this is the only thing you 
really need to retrieve.  Note that the "2.7" will change in future releases.

2.  contrib2.7.tar.Z -- another compressed tar file, this one containing lots 
of useful MIME and metamail-related utilities contributed by metamail users, 
including software for building multimedia mail-based services, and MIME-
related utilities for Emacs, Tk, SGI, Mac, DOS, Amiga, and more.  Binaries for 
DOS are also included.  Note that the "2.7" will change in future releases.

3.  A subdirectory called "samples".  Except for the README file, each file in 
this directory (except the one named ".MS_MsgDir", which should be ignored) is 
a sample MIME-format message, which can be used to test your metamail 

The distribution is mirrored in Europe in the directory mail/metamail on the 
machine, and on  in  /pub/unix/mail/metamail.  
If you do not have ftp access to any of these machines, but desire a copy of 
the metamail distribution, send mail to "" with 
a subject line of "autosend: metamail-sources-uu" for a uuencoded compressed 
tar file containing the complete metamail distribution.  Once you have MIME 
software installed, you can download anything from the thumper ftp server by 
sending mail to "" (note the "-" in this 
address, unlike the previous one) with a subject that is the name of the file 
you want to download, such as "pub/nsb/contrib2.7.tar.Z"

Metamail and MIME are discussed on the newsgroup "comp.mail.mime".  If you 
cannot read news, the same information is available as the mailing list is  Requests to join the list should be directed 

If you do not wish to join the mailing list or read the newsgroup, but you DO 
want to know about future releases of metamail, please send mail indicating 
this interest to

Please feel free to recirculate this announcement as widely as possible.
		-- Nathaniel S. Borenstein <>
		   Member of Technical Staff, Bellcore