SUMMARY: reading PC e-mailings w/attachments

From: Roger Spaulding (
Date: Tue Apr 15 1997 - 11:52:38 CDT

        Here's my original posting:

> What is everyone doing to enable their mailtool (or whatever UNIX
> MUA) users to read documents from a Microsoft, or other, PC mailer
> that include attachments? (No, unfortunately getting rid of the
> PC's isn't an option :-).
> The OS I'm tied to is SunOS 4.1.4, running on an assortment of

        The responses are attached to the end. Lots of good ideas. I
        haven't tried them yet.

        Hearty thank-you's go out to :

                Miquel Cabanas
                Marc S. Gibian
                Harvey Wamboldt
                Todd Boss
                David Fetrow
                Danny Lee
                Gary White
                Bertrand Hutin
                Karl von Jena
                Lester Ingber

        Roger Spaulding
        Network System Administrator
        Ramtron International Corporation
        1850 Ramtron Drive
        Colorado Springs, CO 80921

        "Keep your stick on the ice" -- Red Green

======================= Begin attached responses ===============================

The mailer that comes with Solaris 2.5.1 handles the MIME attachments
quite nicely.

What you may want to do in your case is to get a hold exmh mailer
package. This one does all sorts of cool stuff including understanding
mail files from PCs.

go for Netscape and it's mail. It understands mime and comes knows how
to handle PCs and MACs attachments.


Miquel E Cabanas ---------------------------------------------------
This is really getting to be a chronic problem. I and my users have it due to
the need to read documents from DISA related to the DII COE, and DISA
distributes them in either MS Word, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF format more often
than not. On the PC, there are a number of tools available that claim to be able
to display files of huge varieties of formats, i.e. be a universal file viewer,
and thus work well as an email attachment viewer. Unfortunately, I know of none
of these running on Unix. I am currently running only Solaris 2.5 & 2.5.1
platforms, but do not have nor do we want WABI, though our product requires
sunpc (but we don't have sunpc for every machine or even every developer). It
might be feasable to run one of these universal file viewers under WABI or sunpc
if they are available to you, or SoftWindows for that matter.

Our very poor solution to date is to keep a couple of public PCs and run the
necessary MS Windows applications to read these attachments, using floppy disks
to move the files around.

I would be very interested in any solutions you come up with as they are bound
to be better...


Marc S. Gibian
I use pine to read all my mail on SunOS and Solaris. I don't use my
PC's mail program at all (we use Pegasus on our PC's). I "save" the
attachment to a file, which I then read on my PC after mounting my NFS
home directory on the PC using Samba. Both machines are on my desk,
works like a charm ...


Pine lets me pop mail from the built in composing editor into my
Emacs, where I can use ispell to check spelling, crypt to use PGP, and
reformat, slice, dice and sort to my heart's content ;-)


Harvey M Wamboldt
well, until you can find a Unix-compiled version of Microsoft Word,
you have little chance of an integrated uni-platform's
your choices:

(note: through here i refer to only base64-type attachmnents, NOT uuencocdded
attachments. It should be obvious to the unix user that to manipulate a
uuencoded file they should save the email as a text file, edit out the
headers, nad uudecode. At that point they'll have to ftp the file to a PC
which has the programs that can read the file...

1.) run WinDD on your unix box and give your unix users lan login accounts.
They can run a WinDD session on their unix box (its an X-windows app)
which will give them a virtual Microsoft windows screen, in which they can
run ccMail/eudora/exchange or whatever to read the mail.
2.) Bounce (not forward) the email to a second pc-based email account
like ccMail. I was at one place where everyone had a second ccMail account
just for things like this. Also, some PC tcp/ip packages come witht heir
own mailer (chameleon, super tcp) and thus you can bounce the mail to user@pc
address and the tcp mailer program can read the attachments.

Anything uuencoded can be read by these pc email programs as well...

i've had little success in mime-capable email programs manipulating these
attachments. typically it comes across as crap.

hope this helps
  _ / /_ Todd Boss, Consultant
 | |/ / /
 | / /__

 There is a real standard for attachments (MIME; the same deal as used
in WWW) and mailtool probably doesn't use it although Microsoft and
most other mailers do.

 Personally I use pine. It's free, easy, adaquate and is kept up to
date. There are much fancier choices available.

        It was developed at UW when everyone (and I mean EVERYONE
        on a campus of 10's of thousands) got email and the email
        questions became overwhelming to the three people assigned
        to deal with them. It's chief goal is to keep the questions
        users have to ask down. Needless to say it's popular with
        folks like us.

        It also tracks IMAP, which sort of a follow on to POP (very
        popular with PC users). Microsoft Exchange 6 will support
        IMAP. Also, the IMAP server at UW will support pop as well.
        You will be a hero.


Use the Netscape mail reader. It is part of Netscape.

Are you now using Eudora light, here you would have to upgrade or go through
the painfull process of uudecoding the messages as they come in..


        I'm using Netscape Navigator on Solaris...


Danny Lee                               
There are many solutions to this problem.  Some more expensive than
others.  Since you are on SunOS Wabi is out.  There is a product called
WINDD which allows you to run a program on NT and basically send the
display to the Sun.  Along with this however you will need something
like PCNFS to mount the Sun drive to the PC so the PC can access the

There is also a product which emulates DOS on a Sun it is called SoftWindows. I believe the newest version emulates a 486. This is a memory hog and should be run on a fairly robust machine.

I do not have prices for these at hand but they should be easy enough to find on the Web.

There is also a product called NTED which is based on NT somehow. I do not have any experience with it but someone I know tried to install it and had a lot of problems. It is pretty complicated from what I am told. On the other hand WINDD was installed at our site by an inexperienced SA with my supervision (which he needed very little of) so it seems to be eash to install.

Hope this helps a little.

Gary White --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Solaris mailtool works fine with attachments... You can also use Netscape on SunOS. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The problem is that the PC's are probably using a proprietary mail package (MS Mail, MS Exchange, CC Mail, etc). These all use proprietary formats that aren't compatible.

You can attack this from a couple of angles:

There are several manufacturers of mail gateway programs that can transfer the proprietary mail formats into standard Internet mail formats, which mailtool should receive okay. I think that Exchange comes with a gateway for this already. You might need some decoding tools for the Sun to decode UUencoded or BinHexed files.

The other alternative is to get the PC users to use standard Internet mail. If you install a POP3/SMTP mail package on your Sun (there are free ones out there that work well), then the PC's can use mail packages like Eudora or the Exchange client to get mail from your server. I think that this is the best mail server method there is. Unfortunately, Lotus notes and Exchange also offer lots of other things that are hard to duplicate (scheduling for instance). There is probably also a sizable investment in that PC mail system that you'll be hard pressed to make them throw away.


====================================== Karl von Jena

"It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper." --R. Serling (creator of The Twilight Zone) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Try MUTT; it's great (and it's free).


* Prof. Lester Ingber ======================= End attached responses =================================

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.2 : Fri Sep 28 2001 - 23:11:50 CDT