WHEN E-MAIL STANDARDS ARE NOT

26. January 2009, 05:42 | by WD Milner | Full Article |

I was recently recruited to help a friend set up e-mail on their Linux system. I discovered that not all providers follow the various e-mail standards that have developed over the years.

Setting up retrieval from the internet service provider’s POP3 server was simple and straight forward, as was grabbing the mail from their web host mail system. Sadly, retrieving mail from Hotmail and Gmail was not so easy.

The problem with Hotmail is that they use a proprietary, undocumented, and unsupported access protocol. The easiest way to grab mail from a Hotmail box is to set up the POP3 proxy from the httpmail package, and retrieve mail from the POP3 proxy.

Gmail presents a couple of problems. The first is that the service doesn't follow proper POP3 protocol by removing messages from the POP3 view of the mailbox without the user agent issuing a DELE command. Gmail issues the DELE internally as soon as an RETR command is issued. This means that if a message download fails for any reason (full disk, unresponsive server, disrupted network connection) before the transfer is complete, or the Gmail server fails to respond to a QUIT command, etc., the next time the mail transfer agent connects to that account, Gmail will have already deleted the message from the POP3 mailbox, effectively “destroying” mail, in the context of POP3. The only information on this from Google is here

The second problem with Gmail, though perhaps a minor one depending on your needs, is that Gmail’s POP3 context does not include the contents of the trash or spam folders so they are not available to the mail transfer agent.

Unlike Hotmail, there seems to be no work around for the Gmail issues.

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Categories: ,
Keywords: e-mail,POP3,standards,Hotmail,Gmail

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