Network mail path service
RFC 915

Document Type RFC - Unknown (December 1984; No errata)
Last updated 2013-03-02
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Network Working Group                                       Marc A. Elvy
Request for Comments: 915                             Harvard University
                                                             Rudy Nedved
                                              Carnegie-Mellon University
                                                           December 1984

                       NETWORK MAIL PATH SERVICE

STATUS OF THIS MEMO

   This RFC proposes a new service for the ARPA-Internet community and
   requests discussion and suggestions for improvements.  Distribution
   of this memo is unlimited.

INTRODUCTION

   The network mail path service fills the current need of people to
   determine mailbox addresses for hosts that are not part of the
   ARPA-Internet but can be reached by one or more relay hosts that have
   Unix To Unix Copy (UUCP) mail, CSNET mail, MAILNET mail, BITNET mail,
   etc.

   Anyone can use the service if they have TCP/TELNET to one of the
   hosts with a mail path server.

DISCUSSION

   Currently many hosts that are not connected to the ARPA-Internet
   network can send mail to and receive mail from the ARPA-Internet
   community.  The ARPA-Internet community sends mail using mailbox
   addresses of the form "user@host" or "local-part@domain" [1, 5].  In
   an effort to provide service to hosts not connected directly to the
   ARPA-Internet, mail maintainers have used the feature that the
   "local-part" of the mailbox address is locally interpreted to imbed
   specially encoded mail routing or relaying information.  These
   encoded mailbox addresses have a variety of forms and have become
   common practice. For example:

      demco%ucb-ean.cdn%ubc.csnet@CSNET-RELAY.ARPA

      "Rudy.Nedved%CMCCTE@CARNEGIE.MAILNET"@MIT-MULTICS.ARPA

      ihnp4!cmucsg!ern@UT-SALLY.ARPA

      mss.dartmouth@CSNET-RELAY.ARPA

      nedved%CMCCTF.BITNET@WISCVM.ARPA

   It is important that people be able to communicate, but it is clear
   from the rampant confusion and frustration that something must be

Elvy & Nedved                                                   [Page 1]



RFC 915                                                       Month Year
Network Mail Path Service

   provided to make it easier for people to address mail to
   non-ARPA-Internet hosts.  The result, for a variety of reasons, has
   been the work and development of the Domain Name system and
   facilities [2, 3, 7, 9], and it is expected to make mailbox addresses
   be as simple as the current ARPA-Internet mailbox format (e.g.,
   "user@domain").

   How do people discover the special encoded addresses for
   non-ARPA-Internet host mailboxes until the domain name system is
   working and covering the majority of hosts in the mail world?  The
   proposed solution to this problem is to provide a network service for
   the ARPA-Internet and a mail service for the non-ARPA-Internet hosts
   that, given a host and an optional addressing system or communication
   protocol or some other piece of information, supplies the mailbox
   address format for sending mail to that host.  For example,
   "nedved@Carnegie.MAILNET" would be translated by the server to
   "nedved%Carnegie.MAILNET@MIT-MULTICS.ARPA". This memo covers the
   proposed network service.

DOCUMENT CONVENTIONS

   Unless otherwise noted, all numbers are in decimal.

   The term "host", as used in this document, describes one computer
   system which may have more than one name associated with it. It may
   have a name for each network or mail connection it supports and may
   have several nicknames or aliases for the computer and/or for each
   set of network names that the computer has acquired.

OVERVIEW

   The network service is a connection based application on TCP [4].  A
   server listens for TCP connections on the assigned port of 117 [8].
   It responds to the connection with a coded greeting message and waits
   for a command line. For each command line sent to the server, the
   server will respond with a coded message.  The special command QUIT
   causes the server to respond with a coded closing message and closes
   the connection.

Elvy & Nedved                                                   [Page 2]



RFC 915                                                       Month Year
Network Mail Path Service

DESIGN GOALS

   One of the goals is to provide the service to as many ARPA-Internet
   hosts as possible. In the current ARPA-Internet, experience has shown
   that software people first implement TELNET/TCP [6] before any other
   network application or protocol. Therefore, it is a sub-goal that
   people be able to access the service using available programs (with
   minimal modifications) that implement TELNET/TCP.  Therefore,
   TELNET/TCP on port 117 will work correctly.  The server understands
   TELNET options but refuses all option negotiations that disagree with
   the NVT characteristics defined by the TELNET protocol (see [6]),
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