NWG/RFC# 278 RWW 17-NOV-71 14:12 8056

Revision of the Mail Box Protocol

NETWORK WORKING GROUP             Abhay Bhushan, MIT-DMCG
Request for Comments #278         Bob Braden, UCLA-CCN
NIC 8056                          Eric Harslem, RAND
Categories: A.5, O.7              John Heafner, RAND
Obsoletes RFC 221, NIC 7612       Alex McKenzie, BBN-NET
                                  John Melvin, SRI-ARC
                                  Bob Sundberg, HARV
                                  Dick Watson, SRI-ARC
                                  Jim White, UCSB


The file transfer committee met and discussed the Mail Box Protocol RFC 221, NIC 7612. The potential utility for the mechanism was confirmed and a couple of changes suggested. We first give the changes and then restate the Protocol.


1) The Mail Box Protocol is only to allow ASCII stings of text formatted for a network standard line printer rather than allowing other data types.

2) A new command is to be added to the File Transfer Protocol called "Append With Create" which appends to a file if the file exists, and creates a file if it does not exist.

3) The standard path name for the mailbox is to be, using conventional metalanguage symbols,

      "MAIL" <separator> ("PRINTER"/<ident>)

<separator> is the ASCII GS, octal 035. The semantics of the above are the following:

<ident> is a NIC IDENT

"MAIL" <separator> "PRINTER" would be interpreted by the receiving site as meaning Append With Create the transmitted file to a bulk mail file to be printed or directly output it to a printer.

"MAIL" <separator> <ident> would be interpreted to mean either

1) The same as "MAIL" <separator> "PRINTER" i.e., ignore <ident> or

2) Append With Create the following file to a file

specifically for the person designated by <ident> for

either online access or printing or both.

The problem of delivering mail to TIPs was discussed.

At the moment TIPs support only the Telnet Protocol, but it is planned to support the Data Transfer Protocol. TIPs will have an ASCII line printer available as an optional device. People desiring to send a mail item to a TIP with a printer can open a standard published socket and transmit to it with Telnet Protocol now, later also with the Data Transfer Protocol. The NIC's plans with regard to TIPs is not to do automatic network delivery to them. Messages to people using TIPs can be sent to them through the NIC and will be delivered as with everyone else directly to the person's initial file at the NIC. The TIP user can read the item online or obtain a hardcopy at his terminal with the Output Device Teletype command of NLS.


The Mail Box Protocol will use established network conventions, specifically the Network Control Program, Initial Connection Protocol, Data Transfer Protocol, and File Transfer Protocol (as described in current Network Protocols, NIC 7104).

The transmission is to be Network ASCII. The standard receiving mail printer is assumed to have a print line 72 characters wide, and a page of 66 lines. The new line convention will be carriage return (Hex per the Telnet Protocol, RFC 158, NIC 6768. The standard printer will accept form feed character (Hex '0C') (Octal '014') as meaning move paper to the top of a new page.

It is the sender's responsibility to control the length of the print line and page. If more than 72 characters per line are sent, or if more than 66 line are sent without a form feed, then the receiving site can handle these situations as appropriate for them. These conventions can be changed by control codes as described below. At the head of the message or document sent there is to be two copies of an initial address string each terminated by a form feed. This address string is to contain the sender's name and address, and the receiver's name and address formatted in some reasonable, easy-to read form for a clerk to read and distribute. Comments could also be included in the address string. The requirements for two copies are to make one readable from a fan fold paper stack without effort.

   Initial Connection

Initial Connection will be as per the Official Initial Connection Protocol, Document #2, NIC 7101, to the standard File Transfer socket #3.

   File Transfer

The mail item (file) to be transferred would be transferred according to the File Transfer Protocol.

As per the File Transfer Protocol, a file (mail item) can be sent in more than one data transaction as defined in the Data Transfer Protocol. End of file is indicated by the file separator (as defined in Data Transfer Protocol) or by closing the connection.

   Order of Transactions

The only basic operation required is an Append With Create

Append With Create Request

     (Mailer) User -------------------->  Server (Mail Box)

<File - data>


End of File indication


The data type default is network ASCII. The Standard line printer default is as defined above. Other control transactions can be used.


      OP CODE
     Hex     Octal
      09       011      Error or unsuccessful terminate
      0A      012      Acknowledge or successful terminate
      05      005       Append With Create request (add to
                        existing file or create file if
                        none exists)
      5A      132       Change printer control settings


All error codes defined in the file Transfer Protocol could be returned.


     Hex     Octal
      D1      321       Meaning: Set line width to 72 characters
      D2      322       Meaning: Use the full width of your printer
      03      323       Meaning: Set page size to 66 line
      04      324       Meaning: Set page size to infinite

Other virtual printer control codes can be added in the future.

Other classes of control codes can be added as the need arises.

       [ This RFC was put into machine readable form for entry ]
       [ into the online RFC archives by BBN Corp. under the   ]
       [ direction of Alex McKenzie.                   12/96   ]