Taken From

The Internet Complete Reference, Second Edition, Hahn

Chapters 7, 8, 22

On this page:

Chapter 7: MAIL

SMTP: The Basis for the Internet Mail System

SMTP (Simple Mail Tranfser Protocol): Standardizes email transactions.

Transport Agent: A program that runs in the background and provides the mail link to the outside world.

Sendmail: A Unix Transport Agent. Always awake and watching for incoming and outgoing email.

UserAgent: The program which acts as an interface between the user and the Internet mail system (ie. elm).

POP (Post Office Protocol): A system which allows your email client at home to communicate with your mail server (POP server).

*** Intro to Pine ***


Understanding Mail Headers

Email messages have two parts: the header and the body.

Body: The text message that you type.

Header: Information about the message including



A signature is a file which you specify to be automatically included at the end of each outgoing email message.


The Difference Between Text and Binary Data

Text Data: Data represented by ASCII characters exclusively.

Binary Data: Data represented by binary encoding.

Word Processing, Database, Spreadsheet, Executable Programs, Pictures, Sounds, Movies, & Compressed files all fall under the binary file category.


Using Mime to Mail Binary Data as an Attachment

MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) encodes a binary file as ASCII and attaches it to your email. When your email reaches its destination, MIME decodes the file back to its original binary data.

Elm does not send MIME but does receive it. Pine sends and receives. Pop email clients are best for MIME use.


Chapter 8: Using Mail from a Shell Account

Read through this chapter to learn how to use Pine.


Chapter 22: Mailing Lists


What is a Mailing List

A mailing list is a group of people who exchange email messages with each other pertaining to a specific subject.

Most mailing lists are unmoderated and fully automated. By sending mail to the list, or replying to mail from the list, your message is automatically forwarded to all members of the mailing list.

The three most common mailing list programs are Listserv, Listproc and Majordomo.



Bitnet is a world wide network, separate form the Internet, that connects thousands of academic and research institutions. It is IBM mainframe centered and the home of many of the Listserv mailing lists.

Many Bitnet lists are available through usenet as well.


Finding Mailing Lists


The Two Types of Mailing List Addresses

List Name: A one word description of the group topic.

Subscription Address: listserv@such.n.such, listproc@such.n.such, majordomo@such.n.such

To post a message, send email to ListName@such.n.such.


Subscribing and Unsubscribing

To subscribe or unsubscribe send email to the subscription address.

To subscribe to Listerv or Listproc lists:

Send email to the Subscription address with no subject.

In the body of the message type subscribe followed by the list name and your first and last name.

To unsubscribe

Send email to the Subscription address with no subject.

In the body of the message type subscribe followed by the list name

To subscribe to a Majordomo list, you need not include your name.


Email Tutorials


Intermediate Email Techniques Using Elm



You should know the effect of the following commands:

ls ls -l ls -a ls - al | more
pwd man cd mkdir
cp mv rm rmdir
logout more chmod finger
. .. ~ lpr


You should be familiar with the following Unix programs:

pico elm telnet rlogin
gopher tar gzip gunzip

If not, you need to review the last tutorial.


This tutorial assumes that you have basic email understanding and are able to send and

receive email using the Elm email program. If this is not so, you need to fire up Elm and

get familiar with it.


Changing Elm's User Options


Start Elm from the Unix command prompt by typing elm. The default elm user level is set at beginning user. Beginning users are given a limited command list. Let's change your level to Advanced so that you can see more of Elm's command options.


You should see twice as many command options as previously listed. Elm has even more command options than this. Here is a complete list with brief explanations of each item:


Command Effect
<RETURN>,<SPACE> Display current message
| Pipe current message or tagged messages to a system command
! Shell escape - allows you to temporarily use a Unix prompt.
$ Resynchronize folder
? This screen of information
+, <RIGHT> Display next index page
-, <LEFT> Display previous index page
= Set current message to first message
* Set current message to last message
<NUMBER><RETURN> Set current message to <NUMBER>
/ Search from/subjects for pattern
// Search entire message texts for pattern
> Save current message or tagged messages to a folder
< Scan current message for calendar entries
a Alias, change to 'alias' mode
b Bounce (remail) current message
C Copy current message or tagged messages to a folder
c Change to another folder
d Delete current message
^D Delete messages with a specified pattern
f Forward current message
g Group (all recipients) reply to current message
h Headers displayed with message
J Increment current message by one
j, <DOWN> Advance to next undeleted message
K Decrement current message by one
k, <UP> Advance to previous undeleted message
l Limit messages by specified criteria
^L Redraw screen
m Mail a message
n Next message, displaying current, then increment
o Change ELM options
p Print current message or tagged messages
q Quit, maybe prompting for deleting, storing,
Q Quick quit - no prompting
r Reply to current message
s Save current message or tagged messages to a folder
t Tag current message for further operations
T Tag current message and go to next message
^T Tag messages with a specified pattern
u Undelete current message
^U Undelete messages with a specified pattern
x, ^Q Exit leaving folder untouched, ask permission if folder changed
X Exit leaving folder untouched, unconditionally


The command menu items that are most helpful are listed on screen when using Elm. This tutorial discusses these more popular commands in more depth.


Elm Aliases


Elm allows you to create aliases to represent one or more email addresses. For example, say you write weekly email to three friends at University of Florida,, and Up until now, you have been sending the email using one of these two methods:


Method 1: To:,,


Method 2: To:

Copies To:,


Either way you use, it amounts to too much typing.

Elm allows you to send email to all three friends using a one word reference at the To: prompt. For example your may name the alias UFfriends. Then to send them email you use this method:

To: UFfriends

 Much better!

 Let's try creating the above aliases.


Now try sending email to your new alias.

Command: m

To: UFfriends


After you fill in the alias name and hit enter, notice how the To: field is filled with the three email addresses.


Leave the Subject blank. Elm will ask if you wish to continue. Respond with n for no.


Go back to the alias menu.

Type e at the Alias prompt to edit the alias file (this file is kept in your home directory at .elm/aliases.text).

The aliases file, aliases.text is opened with the Pico editor.

Notice the format of the UFfriends alias. You can manually add aliases to this file. Often times it's easier to manually enter long aliases containing over three email addresses than it is to enter the list through the Alias prompts.

Try adding the following line to the end of your aliases.text file:

ken = Baldauf; Ken =

This adds an alias to the file for me, Ken Baldauf. To send me email, just type ken for an email address.

Close the file with Ctrl x and save it. If the alias was entered incorrectly, you'll get an error message from elm. Otherwise elm will process the alias that you added and return you to the Alias screen.

Type r to return to Elm's index.


Reading Files into Email Messages


When typing long email messages, you run the risk of running out of time before the

message is completed. In such a case you either have to send the email message off in

its it's incomplete state or scrap it and start again at another time. When sending long

messages, it's often more convenient to create the message using an editor (Pico) saving it

as a file, opening elm, and then reading the file into the email message.


Try it yourself!


Note: You can read a file into any pico document, email or not. Realize that pico searches the current directory for the file to read. If the file you wish to read into pico exists in some other directory, you need to type out the pathname to the file (ie. /home/cs8/CIS3066/README).




Elm allows you to organize your received email into folders. These folders are stored in

files in the Mail directory in your home directory. When specifying a folder name from

within Elm, you must precede the folder name with = to indicate that the folder is stored in your Mail directory.


To save a massage to a folder, highlight the message and type s at the Elm Command prompt.

Elm asks which folder to save in using the senders user name as a default. If you wish to

use some other folder name just type it in. For instance you might wish to save all of our

class mail to =cis3066 (Mail/cis3066).


To view the email in a different folder, type c (for change folder) at the Elm Command prompt.

Type in the folder name (ie =cis3066) which you wish to look in. There are three folders

which Elm automatically will create for you. Elm uses short folder names for these:


Folder Name Description


Your mailbox where all new mail is delivered.


Your received folder where Elm automaically saves read mail if yo request it when exiting Elm.


Your outgoing folder where Elm saves a copy of all email that you send.


When changing between these folders, you need not precede the folder name with =.




One of the biggest problems with email is that it is not a secure medium for communication. Anyone who really wants to, can find a way to eavesdrop on your correspondences. The answer to this problem is encryption.


Encryption scrambles the text of your email so that it can't be read by anyone but the person it is intended for. Most meth