Re: Euro character in ISO

From: Robert Brady (
Date: Wed Jul 12 2000 - 16:41:04 EDT

On Wed, 12 Jul 2000, Frank da Cruz wrote:

> > > Perhaps you're suggesting the Unix 'mail' should become a translation
> > > agent between the character set of the mail and that of the user's
> > > terminal? I hope not, since given that practically any character set
> > > anybody can dream up is "MIME-compliant" as long as it's tagged, then
> > > every mail program must know how to convert from every character set in
> > > existence to every other one.
> >
> > Yes, it damn well should. And this is easy, as there is a standard Unix
> > function that knows how to do this. (it's called iconv).
> >
> I'm logged into unix right now:
> $ iconv
> bash: iconv: command not found
> $

I said "function" not "command".

> How standard can it be? And what about VMS, VMS/CMS, VOS, OS/390, OS/400,
> Tandem, and all the others?

Yes, there are probably lots of non-Unix systems that don't have it. How
is that relevant in the behaviour of the Unix "mail" command.

As for standards, it's in the Open Group's Unix98 standard, that's good
enough for me. If your Unix doesn't have it, that doesn't mean it

> How does the mail client know what character set my terminal has?

Because your locale is set appropriately.

> Anyway, between you and me, there are potentially lots of places where
> character-set conversion can occur. Your mail client, your MTA, my MTA,
> my mail client, my Telnet server, my Telnet client, my terminal emulator.
> Let's think carefully about this before we have random combinations of
> these clients, agents, and servers stepping on each others' toes.

The only place that is useful to do the translation in in this context is
in the MUA. In the telnet bit is braindead, due to not being able to
access the MIME-Type at that point. And if a mailserver for whatever
peverse reason decides to translate character sets, it should also change
the MIME tag, otherwise is it Broken.


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