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5.3.7 Mail Gatewaying Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
5.3.7 Mail Gatewaying

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5.3.7 Mail Gatewaying

5.3.7 Mail Gatewaying

Gatewaying mail between different mail environments, i.e., different mail formats and protocols, is complex and does not easily yield to standardization. See for example [SMTP:5a], [SMTP:5b]. However, some general requirements may be given for a gateway between the Internet and another mail environment.

  1. Header fields MAY be rewritten when necessary as messages are gatewayed across mail environment boundaries.

    DISCUSSION:

    This may involve interpreting the local-part of the destination address, as suggested in Section 5.2.16.

    The other mail systems gatewayed to the Internet generally use a subset of RFC-822 headers, but some of them do not have an equivalent to the SMTP envelope. Therefore, when a message leaves the Internet environment, it may be necessary to fold the SMTP envelope information into the message header. A possible solution would be to create new header fields to carry the envelope information (e.g., "X- SMTP-MAIL:" and "X-SMTP-RCPT:"); however, this would require changes in mail programs in the foreign environment.

  2. When forwarding a message into or out of the Internet environment, a gateway MUST prepend a Received: line, but it MUST NOT alter in any way a Received: line that is already in the header.

    DISCUSSION:

    This requirement is a subset of the general "Received:" line requirement of Section 5.2.8; it is restated here for emphasis.

    Received: fields of messages originating from other environments may not conform exactly to RFC822. However, the most important use of Received: lines is for debugging mail faults, and this debugging can be severely hampered by well-meaning gateways that try to "fix" a Received: line.

    The gateway is strongly encouraged to indicate the environment and protocol in the "via" clauses of Received field(s) that it supplies.

  3. From the Internet side, the gateway SHOULD accept all valid address formats in SMTP commands and in RFC-822 headers, and all valid RFC-822 messages. Although a gateway must accept an RFC-822 explicit source route ("@...:" format) in either the RFC-822 header or in the envelope, it MAY or may not act on the source route; see Sections 5.2.6 and 5.2.19.

    DISCUSSION:

    It is often tempting to restrict the range of addresses accepted at the mail gateway to simplify the translation into addresses for the remote environment. This practice is based on the assumption that mail users have control over the addresses their mailers send to the mail gateway. In practice, however, users have little control over the addresses that are finally sent; their mailers are free to change addresses into any legal RFC-822 format.

  4. The gateway MUST ensure that all header fields of a message that it forwards into the Internet meet the requirements for Internet mail. In particular, all addresses in "From:", "To:", "Cc:", etc., fields must be transformed (if necessary) to satisfy RFC-822 syntax, and they must be effective and useful for sending replies.

  5. The translation algorithm used to convert mail from the Internet protocols to another environment's protocol SHOULD try to ensure that error messages from the foreign mail environment are delivered to the return path from the SMTP envelope, not to the sender listed in the "From:" field of the RFC-822 message.

    DISCUSSION:

    Internet mail lists usually place the address of the mail list maintainer in the envelope but leave the original message header intact (with the "From:" field containing the original sender). This yields the behavior the average recipient expects: a reply to the header gets sent to the original sender, not to a mail list maintainer; however, errors get sent to the maintainer (who can fix the problem) and not the sender (who probably cannot).

  6. Similarly, when forwarding a message from another environment into the Internet, the gateway SHOULD set the envelope return path in accordance with an error message return address, if any, supplied by the foreign environment.


Next: 5.3.8 Maximum Message Size

Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
5.3.7 Mail Gatewaying

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