FTP and Network Mail System
RFC 475

Document Type RFC - Unknown (March 1973; No errata)
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                         A. Bhushan
Request for Comments: 475                                       MIT-DMCG
NIC: 14919                                                 March 6, 1973

                      FTP AND NETWORK MAIL SYSTEM

   This paper describes my understanding of the results of the Network
   Mail System meeting SRI-ARC on February 23, 1973, and the
   implications for FTP (File Transfer Protocol).  There was general
   agreement at the meeting that network mail function should be within

   FTP currently provides two commands for handling mail.  The MAIL
   command allows a user to send mail via the TELNET connection (the
   server collects the mail and determines its end by searching for the
   character sequence "CRLF.CRLF").  The MLFL (mail file) command allows
   a user to send mail via the data connection (requires a user-FTP to
   handle the command but transfer is more efficient as server need not
   search for a special character sequence).  These commands are being
   used to provide network mailing facilities.  Local mail and SNDMSG
   programs have been modified at many sites to include network mailing
   (e.g., USER@HOST at BBN_TENEX and MAIL host user at MIT-DMCG).

   The network mail system should provide a facility whereby users can
   conveniently send messages to other network users who have
   "mailboxes" at one or more hosts.  It is not required that the
   messages or mail be delivered in real-time.  The network mail system
   is not an interactive inter-console communication facility, but it
   may be possible for some sites to deliver "urgent" mail to users in
   real-time (e.g., print mail at user console if user is currently
   logged-in).  The mail system also does not provide a general inter-
   process communication facility, though it may be possible to deliver
   messages to programs which have mailbox addresses.  Inter-process and
   inter-entity communication facilities are very desirable but are
   beyond the scope of the network mail system.

   The concepts of "mailbox" and "mailbox addresses" are central to this
   discussion of network mail system.  A mailbox is a place where the
   mail is stored before a user picks it up.  It may be a file in the
   user's directory or it may be a bin for hard-copy.  The mailbox
   address is the address required by the sender in order to send the
   mail to its destination mailbox.  For users who have an "on-line"
   network mailbox, the mailbox address contains the Host address and
   the user's mailbox identification at that Host.  The mailbox
   identification is that which is required by an FTP-server in order
   that it may put the mail in the desired mailbox.  The terms mailbox
   address will be used to refer to the on-line network mailbox address.

Bhushan                                                         [Page 1]
RFC 475               FTP AND NETWORK MAIL SYSTEM             March 1973


   The network mail system should provide the following six functions:

   1. CREATING: This refers to the manner in which the user creates or
      composes his message.  The FTP servers do not explicitly provide
      any message editing capability (server's editing conventions may
      be applicable in the case of MAIL command).  Editing conventions
      such as those for character delete and line cancel vary widely
      over the network.  The user is most familiar with his local Host
      conventions and these should be used for network mail editing.
      The user also has access to local editing systems which can be
      used for composing message files.  The message file may then be
      transmitted via the MAIL or MLFL commands (MLFL being preferable).
      The present FTP approach of assuming the creation of messages to
      be sender's responsibility seems adequate.  TIP users if they
      desire editing facilities should use intermediate Hosts for
      creating and sending messages.

   2. LOCATING: How sender determines receivers address.  FTP assumes
      that the sender knows the receivers correct address.  There is no
      published or "on-line" list of mailbox addresses.  There is,
      however, a list of network participants maintained (on-line) and
      published by the Network Information Center (NIC) at SRI-ARC.  The
      network users have been assigned a unique "NIC Ident" and Host
      site by the NIC.  It was therefore specified in FTP that FTP-
      servers maintain a table that maps NIC Idents to mail-box
      identifications.  The NIC will maintain on-line and publish the
      local mailbox address information for network participants.  It
      would be possible for users to look up a published list, or querry
      the NIC on-line to locate destination addresses.  The NIC will
      also provide an on-line facility (similar to FTP) that can be used
      by programs for retrieving the address information.  This latter
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