Re: Documenting in Tamil Computing

From: Barry Caplan (
Date: Tue Dec 17 2002 - 12:34:38 EST

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    At 10:34 AM 12/17/2002 +0100, Stephane Bortzmeyer wrote:
    >> There are various extensions and kluges described in various RFCs
    >> (ESMTP, MIME, etc. )
    >All these extensions are referenced in the same RFC, 2821, which is
    >the authoritative one about SMTP. I do not know any mainstream SMTP
    >server which does not implement them.
    >The most important for us is 8BITMIME:
    > Eight-bit message content transmission MAY be requested of the server
    > by a client using extended SMTP facilities, notably the "8BITMIME"
    > extension [20]. 8BITMIME SHOULD be supported by SMTP servers.

    There is another RFC, whose number I forget, that defines "should". Essentially it says you must not rely on anyone else actually implementing this feature.

    >> but they are not universally implemented at the server transport
    >> layer,
    >This is absolutely wrong. sendmail, Postfix and qmail allow 8-bits
    >transport for a *very* long time.

    Well, aside from the fact that those are not the only 2 pieces of mail transport sw by a long shot, this feature e is a configurable option, and may not always be turned on.

    >> But for arbitrary email from one address to another, you can't rely on it.
    >I send Latin-1 (ISO 8859-1) emails for more than ten years (and
    >without using quoted-printable or other similar hacks) to
    >French-speaking people in various parts of the world and I'm still
    >waiting for an actual problem.

    >You're playing with words.

    Not really - this is very clearly dealt with in an RFC that defines "SHOULD" and "MUST".

    >In real life, all SMTP servers support
    >8-bits mail because all SMTP servers authors are aware of the issue
    >(true, it was long and difficult to convince them all but it
    >worked). Any counter-example?

    Jungshik Shin wrote:
    >Besides, some email servers still don't
    >abide by ESMTP standard and don't include '8BITMIME' in their response
    >when queried with 'EHLO' although they support 8bit clean transport
    >(as you wrote).

    I did a quick survey of mail servers in the .com top level domain about 18 months ago to see which servers implemented 8bitmime and which didn't. IIRC, about 20% or more did not. As I said earlier, that does not mean 8 nits wouldn't go through anyway if they are modern servers, but you can't rely on that.

    I would like to do a wider survey if someone could donate some bandwidth.... or maybe someone at W3 who was going to look into this at the time can bring this back to top of the things to do list (no names, but I am pretty sure he is on this list...:)

    Barry Caplan

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