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SIMPLE MAIL TRANSFER PROTOCOL (RFC 821)

 

SIMPLE MAIL TRANSFER PROTOCOL (RFC 821)

Jonathan B. Postel


RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. INTRODUCTION

2. THE SMTP MODEL

3. THE SMTP PROCEDURE

3.1. Mail
3.2. Forwarding
3.3. Verifying and Expanding
3.4. Sending and Mailing
3.5. Opening and Closing
3.6. Relaying
3.7. Domains
3.8. Changing Roles

4. THE SMTP SPECIFICATIONS

4.1. SMTP Commands
4.1.1. Command Semantics
4.1.2. Command Syntax
4.2. SMTP Replies
4.2.1. Reply Codes by Function Group
4.2.2. Reply Codes in Numeric Order
4.3. Sequencing of Commands and Replies
4.4. State Diagrams
4.5. Details
4.5.1. Minimum Implementation
4.5.2. Transparency
4.5.3. Sizes

APPENDIX A: TCP
APPENDIX B: NCP
APPENDIX C: NITS
APPENDIX D: X.25
APPENDIX E: Theory of Reply Codes
APPENDIX F: Scenarios

GLOSSARY

REFERENCES
 


 

Page 1
Network Working Group J. Postel
Request for Comments: DRAFT ISI
Replaces: RFC 788, 780, 772 August 1982
SIMPLE MAIL TRANSFER PROTOCOL

 

1 INTRODUCTION
The objective of Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is to transfer mail reliably and efficiently.

SMTP is independent of the particular transmission subsystem and requires only a reliable ordered data stream channel. Appendices A, B, C, and D describe the use of SMTP with various transport services. A Glossary provides the definitions of terms as used in this document.

An important feature of SMTP is its capability to relay mail across transport service environments. A transport service provides an interprocess communication environment (IPCE). An IPCE may cover one network, several networks, or a subset of a network. It is important to realize that transport systems (or IPCEs) are not one-to-one with networks. A process can communicate directly with another process through any mutually known IPCE. Mail is an application or use of interprocess communication. Mail can be communicated between processes in different IPCEs by relaying through a process connected to two (or more) IPCEs. More specifically, mail can be relayed between hosts on different transport systems by a host on both transport systems.

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
 
2 THE SMTP MODEL
The SMTP design is based on the following model of communication: as the result of a user mail request, the sender-SMTP establishes a two-way transmission channel to a receiver-SMTP. The receiver-SMTP may be either the ultimate destination or an intermediate. SMTP commands are generated by the sender-SMTP and sent to the receiver-SMTP. SMTP replies are sent from the receiver-SMTP to the sender-SMTP in response to the commands.

Once the transmission channel is established, the SMTP-sender sends a MAIL command indicating the sender of the mail. If the SMTP-receiver can accept mail it responds with an OK reply. The SMTP-sender then sends a RCPT command identifying a recipient of the mail. If the SMTP-receiver can accept mail for that recipient it responds with an OK reply; if not, it responds with a reply rejecting that recipient (but not the whole mail transaction). The SMTP-sender and SMTP-receiver may negotiate several recipients. When the recipients have been negotiated the SMTP-sender sends the mail data, terminating with a special sequence. If the SMTP-receiver successfully processes the mail data it responds with an OK reply. The dialog is purposely lock-step, one-at-a-time.

 

     -------------------------------------------------------------

 

               +----------+                +----------+
   +------+    |          |                |          |
   | User |<-->|          |      SMTP      |          |
   +------+    |  Sender- |Commands/Replies| Receiver-|
   +------+    |   SMTP   |<-------------->|    SMTP  |    +------+
   | File |<-->|          |    and Mail    |          |<-->| File |
   |System|    |          |                |          |    |System|
   +------+    +----------+                +----------+    +------+
   

                Sender-SMTP                Receiver-SMTP

Model for SMTP Use

Figure 1

 

     -------------------------------------------------------------

The SMTP provides mechanisms for the transmission of mail; directly from the sending user's host to the receiving user's host when the

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

two host are connected to the same transport service, or via one or more relay SMTP-servers when the source and destination hosts are not connected to the same transport service.

To be able to provide the relay capability the SMTP-server must be supplied with the name of the ultimate destination host as well as the destination mailbox name.

The argument to the MAIL command is a reverse-path, which specifies who the mail is from. The argument to the RCPT command is a forward-path, which specifies who the mail is to. The forward-path is a source route, while the reverse-path is a return route (which may be used to return a message to the sender when an error occurs with a relayed message).

When the same message is sent to multiple recipients the SMTP encourages the transmission of only one copy of the data for all the recipients at the same destination host.

The mail commands and replies have a rigid syntax. Replies also have a numeric code. In the following, examples appear which use actual commands and replies. The complete lists of commands and replies appears in Section 4 on specifications.

Commands and replies are not case sensitive. That is, a command or reply word may be upper case, lower case, or any mixture of upper and lower case. Note that this is not true of mailbox user names. For some hosts the user name is case sensitive, and SMTP implementations must take case to preserve the case of user names as they appear in mailbox arguments. Host names are not case sensitive.

Commands and replies are composed of characters from the ASCII character set [1]. When the transport service provides an 8-bit byte (octet) transmission channel, each 7-bit character is transmitted right justified in an octet with the high order bit cleared to zero.

When specifying the general form of a command or reply, an argument (or special symbol) will be denoted by a meta-linguistic variable (or constant), for example, "<string>" or "<reverse-path>". Here the angle brackets indicate these are meta-linguistic variables. However, some arguments use the angle brackets literally. For example, an actual reverse-path is enclosed in angle brackets, i.e., "<John.Smith@USC-ISI.ARPA>" is an instance of <reverse-path> (the angle brackets are actually transmitted in the command or reply).

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
 
3 THE SMTP PROCEDURES
This section presents the procedures used in SMTP in several parts. First comes the basic mail procedure defined as a mail transaction. Following this are descriptions of forwarding mail, verifying mailbox names and expanding mailing lists, sending to terminals instead of or in combination with mailboxes, and the opening and closing exchanges. At the end of this section are comments on relaying, a note on mail domains, and a discussion of changing roles. Throughout this section are examples of partial command and reply sequences, several complete scenarios are presented in Appendix F.

 

3.1 MAIL
There are three steps to SMTP mail transactions. The transaction is started with a MAIL command which gives the sender
identification. A series of one or more RCPT commands follows giving the receiver information. Then a DATA command gives the mail data. And finally, the end of mail data indicator confirms the transaction.

The first step in the procedure is the MAIL command. The

         <reverse-path> contains the source mailbox.

MAIL <SP> FROM:<reverse-path> <CRLF>

This command tells the SMTP-receiver that a new mail transaction is starting and to reset all its state tables and buffers, including any recipients or mail data. It gives the reverse-path which can be used to report errors. If accepted, the receiver-SMTP returns a 250 OK reply.

The <reverse-path> can contain more than just a mailbox. The

         <reverse-path> is a reverse source routing list of hosts and
         source mailbox.  The first host in the <reverse-path> should be
         the host sending this command.

The second step in the procedure is the RCPT command.

RCPT <SP> TO:<forward-path> <CRLF>

This command gives a forward-path identifying one recipient. If accepted, the receiver-SMTP returns a 250 OK reply, and stores the forward-path. If the recipient is unknown the receiver-SMTP returns a 550 Failure reply. This second step of the procedure can be repeated any number of times.

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

The <forward-path> can contain more than just a mailbox. The

         <forward-path> is a source routing list of hosts and the
         destination mailbox.  The first host in the <forward-path>
         should be the host receiving this command.

The third step in the procedure is the DATA command.

DATA <CRLF>

If accepted, the receiver-SMTP returns a 354 Intermediate reply and considers all succeeding lines to be the message text. When the end of text is received and stored the SMTP-receiver sends a 250 OK reply.

Since the mail data is sent on the transmission channel the end of the mail data must be indicated so that the command and reply dialog can be resumed. SMTP indicates the end of the mail data by sending a line containing only a period. A transparency procedure is used to prevent this from interfering with the user's text (see Section 4.5.2).

Please note that the mail data includes the memo header items such as Date, Subject, To, Cc, From [2].

The end of mail data indicator also confirms the mail transaction and tells the receiver-SMTP to now process the stored recipients and mail data. If accepted, the
receiver-SMTP returns a 250 OK reply. The DATA command should fail only if the mail transaction was incomplete (for example, no recipients), or if resources are not available.

The above procedure is an example of a mail transaction. These commands must be used only in the order discussed above. Example 1 (below) illustrates the use of these commands in a mail transaction.

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
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      -------------------------------------------------------------

Example of the SMTP Procedure

This SMTP example shows mail sent by Smith at host Alpha.ARPA, to Jones, Green, and Brown at host Beta.ARPA. Here we assume that host Alpha contacts host Beta directly.

 

            S: MAIL FROM:<Smith@Alpha.ARPA>
            R: 250 OK

            S: RCPT TO:<Jones@Beta.ARPA>
            R: 250 OK

            S: RCPT TO:<Green@Beta.ARPA>
            R: 550 No such user here

            S: RCPT TO:<Brown@Beta.ARPA>
            R: 250 OK

            S: DATA
            R: 354 Start mail input; end with <CRLF>.<CRLF>
            S: Blah blah blah...
            S: ...etc. etc. etc.
            S: <CRLF>.<CRLF>
            R: 250 OK

The mail has now been accepted for Jones and Brown. Green did not have a mailbox at host Beta.

Example 1

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

 

3.2 FORWARDING
There are some cases where the destination information in the
      <forward-path> is incorrect, but the receiver-SMTP knows the
      correct destination.  In such cases, one of the following replies
      should be used to allow the sender to contact the correct
      destination.

251 User not local; will forward to <forward-path>

This reply indicates that the receiver-SMTP knows the user's mailbox is on another host and indicates the correct forward-path to use in the future. Note that either the host or user or both may be different. The receiver takes responsibility for delivering the message.

551 User not local; please try <forward-path>

This reply indicates that the receiver-SMTP knows the user's mailbox is on another host and indicates the correct forward-path to use. Note that either the host or user or both may be different. The receiver refuses to accept mail for this user, and the sender must either redirect the mail according to the information provided or return an error response to the originating user.

Example 2 illustrates the use of these responses.

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

Example of Forwarding

Either

 

      S: RCPT TO:<Postel@USC-ISI.ARPA>
      R: 251 User not local; will forward to <Postel@USC-ISIF.ARPA>

Or

 

      S: RCPT TO:<Paul@USC-ISIB.ARPA>
      R: 551 User not local; please try <Mockapetris@USC-ISIF.ARPA>

Example 2

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
 
3.3 VERIFYING AND EXPANDING
SMTP provides as additional features, commands to verify a user name or expand a mailing list. This is done with the VRFY and EXPN commands, which have character string arguments. For the VRFY command, the string is a user name, and the response may include the full name of the user and must include the mailbox of the user. For the EXPN command, the string identifies a mailing list, and the multiline response may include the full name of the users and must give the mailboxes on the mailing list.

"User name" is a fuzzy term and used purposely. If a host implements the VRFY or EXPN commands then at least local mailboxes must be recognized as "user names". If a host chooses to recognize other strings as "user names" that is allowed.

In some hosts the distinction between a mailing list and an alias for a single mailbox is a bit fuzzy, since a common data structure may hold both types of entries, and it is possible to have mailing lists of one mailbox. If a request is made to verify a mailing list a positive response can be given if on receipt of a message so addressed it will be delivered to everyone on the list, otherwise an error should be reported (e.g., "550 That is a mailing list, not a user"). If a request is made to expand a user name a positive response can be formed by returning a list containing one name, or an error can be reported (e.g., "550 That is a user name, not a mailing list").

In the case of a multiline reply (normal for EXPN) exactly one mailbox is to be specified on each line of the reply. In the case of an ambiguous request, for example, "VRFY Smith", where there are two Smith's the response must be "553 User ambiguous".

The case of verifying a user name is straightforward as shown in example 3.

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

      -------------------------------------------------------------

Example of Verifying a User Name

Either

 

            S: VRFY Smith
            R: 250 Fred Smith <Smith@USC-ISIF.ARPA>

Or

 

            S: VRFY Smith
            R: 251 User not local; will forward to <Smith@USC-ISIQ.ARPA>

Or

 

            S: VRFY Jones
            R: 550 String does not match anything.

Or

 

            S: VRFY Jones
            R: 551 User not local; please try <Jones@USC-ISIQ.ARPA>

Or

 

            S: VRFY Gourzenkyinplatz
            R: 553 User ambiguous.

Example 3

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
The case of expanding a mailbox list requires a multiline reply as shown in example 4.

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

Example of Expanding a Mailing List

Either

 

            S: EXPN Example-People
            R: 250-Jon Postel <Postel@USC-ISIF.ARPA>
            R: 250-Fred Fonebone <Fonebone@USC-ISIQ.ARPA>
            R: 250-Sam Q. Smith <SQSmith@USC-ISIQ.ARPA>
            R: 250-Quincy Smith <@USC-ISIF.ARPA:Q-Smith@ISI-VAXA.ARPA>
            R: 250-<joe@foo-unix.ARPA>
            R: 250 <xyz@bar-unix.ARPA>

Or

 

            S: EXPN Executive-Washroom-List
            R: 550 Access Denied to You.

Example 4

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

The character string arguments of the VRFY and EXPN commands cannot be further restricted due to the variety of implementations of the user name and mailbox list concepts. On some systems it may be appropriate for the argument of the EXPN command to be a file name for a file containing a mailing list, but again there is a variety of file naming conventions in the Internet.

The VRFY and EXPN commands are not included in the minimum implementation (Section 4.5.1), and are not required to work across relays when they are implemented.

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

 

3.4 SENDING AND MAILING
The main purpose of SMTP is to deliver messages to user's mailboxes. A very similar service provided by some hosts is to deliver messages to user's terminals (provided the user is active on the host). The delivery to the user's mailbox is called "mailing", the delivery to the user's terminal is called "sending". Because in many hosts the implementation of sending is nearly identical to the implementation of mailing these two functions are combined in SMTP. However the sending commands are not included in the required minimum implementation
(Section 4.5.1). Users should have the ability to control the writing of messages on their terminals. Most hosts permit the users to accept or refuse such messages.

The following three command are defined to support the sending options. These are used in the mail transaction instead of the MAIL command and inform the receiver-SMTP of the special semantics of this transaction:

SEND <SP> FROM:<reverse-path> <CRLF>

The SEND command requires that the mail data be delivered to the user's terminal. If the user is not active (or not accepting terminal messages) on the host a 450 reply may returned to a RCPT command. The mail transaction is successful if the message is delivered the terminal.

SOML <SP> FROM:<reverse-path> <CRLF>

The Send Or MaiL command requires that the mail data be delivered to the user's terminal if the user is active (and accepting terminal messages) on the host. If the user is not active (or not accepting terminal messages) then the mail data is entered into the user's mailbox. The mail transaction is successful if the message is delivered either to the terminal or the mailbox.

SAML <SP> FROM:<reverse-path> <CRLF>

The Send And MaiL command requires that the mail data be delivered to the user's terminal if the user is active (and accepting terminal messages) on the host. In any case the mail data is entered into the user's mailbox. The mail transaction is successful if the message is delivered the mailbox.

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
The same reply codes that are used for the MAIL commands are used for these commands.

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

 

3.5 OPENING AND CLOSING
At the time the transmission channel is opened there is an exchange to ensure that the hosts are communicating with the hosts they think they are.

The following two commands are used in transmission channel opening and closing:

HELO <SP> <domain> <CRLF>

QUIT <CRLF>

In the HELO command the host sending the command identifies itself; the command may be interpreted as saying "Hello, I am

      <domain>".

      -------------------------------------------------------------

Example of Connection Opening

 

         R: 220 BBN-UNIX.ARPA Simple Mail Transfer Service Ready
         S: HELO USC-ISIF.ARPA
         R: 250 BBN-UNIX.ARPA

Example 5

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

      -------------------------------------------------------------

Example of Connection Closing

 

         S: QUIT
         R: 221 BBN-UNIX.ARPA Service closing transmission channel

Example 6

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
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3.6 RELAYING
The forward-path may be a source route of the form
"@ONE,@TWO:JOE@THREE", where ONE, TWO, and THREE are hosts. This form is used to emphasize the distinction between an address and a route. The mailbox is an absolute address, and the route is information about how to get there. The two concepts should not be confused.

Conceptually the elements of the forward-path are moved to the reverse-path as the message is relayed from one server-SMTP to another. The reverse-path is a reverse source route, (i.e., a source route from the current location of the message to the originator of the message). When a server-SMTP deletes its identifier from the forward-path and inserts it into the reverse-path, it must use the name it is known by in the environment it is sending into, not the environment the mail came from, in case the server-SMTP is known by different names in different environments.

If when the message arrives at an SMTP the first element of the forward-path is not the identifier of that SMTP the element is not deleted from the forward-path and is used to determine the next SMTP to send the message to. In any case, the SMTP adds its own identifier to the reverse-path.

Using source routing the receiver-SMTP receives mail to be relayed to another server-SMTP The receiver-SMTP may accept or reject the task of relaying the mail in the same way it accepts or rejects mail for a local user. The receiver-SMTP transforms the command arguments by moving its own identifier from the forward-path to the beginning of the reverse-path. The receiver-SMTP then becomes a sender-SMTP, establishes a transmission channel to the next SMTP in the forward-path, and sends it the mail.

The first host in the reverse-path should be the host sending the SMTP commands, and the first host in the forward-path should be the host receiving the SMTP commands.

Notice that the forward-path and reverse-path appear in the SMTP commands and replies, but not necessarily in the message. That is, there is no need for these paths and especially this syntax to appear in the "To:" , "From:", "CC:", etc. fields of the message header.

If a server-SMTP has accepted the task of relaying the mail and

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

later finds that the forward-path is incorrect or that the mail cannot be delivered for whatever reason, then it must construct an "undeliverable mail" notification message and send it to the originator of the undeliverable mail (as indicated by the reverse-path).

This notification message must be from the server-SMTP at this host. Of course, server-SMTPs should not send notification messages about problems with notification messages. One way to prevent loops in error reporting is to specify a null reverse-path in the MAIL command of a notification message. When such a message is relayed it is permissible to leave the reverse-path null. A MAIL command with a null reverse-path appears as follows:

MAIL FROM:<>

An undeliverable mail notification message is shown in example 7. This notification is in response to a message originated by JOE at HOSTW and sent via HOSTX to HOSTY with instructions to relay it on to HOSTZ. What we see in the example is the transaction between HOSTY and HOSTX, which is the first step in the return of the notification message.

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
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      -------------------------------------------------------------

Example Undeliverable Mail Notification Message

 

         S: MAIL FROM:<>
         R: 250 ok
         S: RCPT TO:<@HOSTX.ARPA:JOE@HOSTW.ARPA>
         R: 250 ok
         S: DATA
         R: 354 send the mail data, end with .
         S: Date: 23 Oct 81 11:22:33
         S: From: SMTP@HOSTY.ARPA
         S: To: JOE@HOSTW.ARPA
         S: Subject: Mail System Problem
         S:
         S:   Sorry JOE, your message to SAM@HOSTZ.ARPA lost.
         S:   HOSTZ.ARPA said this:
         S:    "550 No Such User"
         S: .
         R: 250 ok

Example 7

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

 

3.7 DOMAINS
Domains are a recently introduced concept in the ARPA Internet mail system. The use of domains changes the address space from a flat global space of simple character string host names to a hierarchically structured rooted tree of global addresses. The host name is replaced by a domain and host designator which is a sequence of domain element strings separated by periods with the understanding that the domain elements are ordered from the most specific to the most general.

For example, "USC-ISIF.ARPA", "Fred.Cambridge.UK", and "PC7.LCS.MIT.ARPA" might be host-and-domain identifiers.

Whenever domain names are used in SMTP only the official names are used, the use of nicknames or aliases is not allowed.

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
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3.8 CHANGING ROLES
The TURN command may be used to reverse the roles of the two programs communicating over the transmission channel.

If program-A is currently the sender-SMTP and it sends the TURN command and receives an ok reply (250) then program-A becomes the receiver-SMTP.

If program-B is currently the receiver-SMTP and it receives the TURN command and sends an ok reply (250) then program-B becomes the sender-SMTP.

To refuse to change roles the receiver sends the 502 reply.

Please note that this command is optional. It would not normally be used in situations where the transmission channel is TCP. However, when the cost of establishing the transmission channel is high, this command may be quite useful. For example, this command may be useful in supporting be mail exchange using the public switched telephone system as a transmission channel, especially if some hosts poll other hosts for mail exchanges.

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

 

4 THE SMTP SPECIFICATIONS
 
4.1 SMTP COMMANDS
 
4.1.1 COMMAND SEMANTICS
The SMTP commands define the mail transfer or the mail system function requested by the user. SMTP commands are character strings terminated by <CRLF>. The command codes themselves are alphabetic characters terminated by <SP> if parameters follow and <CRLF> otherwise. The syntax of mailboxes must conform to receiver site conventions. The SMTP commands are discussed below. The SMTP replies are discussed in the Section 4.2.

A mail transaction involves several data objects which are communicated as arguments to different commands. The reverse-path is the argument of the MAIL command, the forward-path is the argument of the RCPT command, and the mail data is the argument of the DATA command. These arguments or data objects must be transmitted and held pending the confirmation communicated by the end of mail data indication which finalizes the transaction. The model for this is that distinct buffers are provided to hold the types of data objects, that is, there is a reverse-path buffer, a forward-path buffer, and a mail data buffer. Specific commands cause information to be appended to a specific buffer, or cause one or more buffers to be cleared.

HELLO (HELO)

This command is used to identify the sender-SMTP to the receiver-SMTP. The argument field contains the host name of the sender-SMTP.

The receiver-SMTP identifies itself to the sender-SMTP in the connection greeting reply, and in the response to this command.

This command and an OK reply to it confirm that both the sender-SMTP and the receiver-SMTP are in the initial state, that is, there is no transaction in progress and all state tables and buffers are cleared.

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
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MAIL (MAIL)

This command is used to initiate a mail transaction in which the mail data is delivered to one or more mailboxes. The argument field contains a reverse-path.

The reverse-path consists of an optional list of hosts and the sender mailbox. When the list of hosts is present, it is a "reverse" source route and indicates that the mail was relayed through each host on the list (the first host in the list was the most recent relay). This list is used as a source route to return non-delivery notices to the sender. As each relay host adds itself to the beginning of the list, it must use its name as known in the IPCE to which it is relaying the mail rather than the IPCE from which the mail came (if they are different). In some types of error reporting messages (for example, undeliverable mail notifications) the reverse-path may be null (see Example 7).

This command clears the reverse-path buffer, the forward-path buffer, and the mail data buffer; and inserts the reverse-path information from this command into the reverse-path buffer.

RECIPIENT (RCPT)

This command is used to identify an individual recipient of the mail data; multiple recipients are specified by multiple use of this command.

The forward-path consists of an optional list of hosts and a required destination mailbox. When the list of hosts is present, it is a source route and indicates that the mail must be relayed to the next host on the list. If the receiver-SMTP does not implement the relay function it may user the same reply it would for an unknown local user (550).

When mail is relayed, the relay host must remove itself from the beginning forward-path and put itself at the beginning of the reverse-path. When mail reaches its ultimate destination (the forward-path contains only a destination mailbox), the receiver-SMTP inserts it into the destination mailbox in accordance with its host mail conventions.

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

For example, mail received at relay host A with arguments

FROM:<USERX@HOSTY.ARPA>
TO:<@HOSTA.ARPA,@HOSTB.ARPA:USERC@HOSTD.ARPA>

will be relayed on to host B with arguments

FROM:<@HOSTA.ARPA:USERX@HOSTY.ARPA>
TO:<@HOSTB.ARPA:USERC@HOSTD.ARPA>.

This command causes its forward-path argument to be appended to the forward-path buffer.

DATA (DATA)

The receiver treats the lines following the command as mail data from the sender. This command causes the mail data from this command to be appended to the mail data buffer. The mail data may contain any of the 128 ASCII character codes.

The mail data is terminated by a line containing only a period, that is the character sequence "<CRLF>.<CRLF>" (see Section 4.5.2 on Transparency). This is the end of mail data indication.

The end of mail data indication requires that the receiver must now process the stored mail transaction information. This processing consumes the information in the reverse-path buffer, the forward-path buffer, and the mail data buffer, and on the completion of this command these buffers are cleared. If the processing is successful the receiver must send an OK reply. If the processing fails completely the receiver must send a failure reply.

When the receiver-SMTP accepts a message either for relaying or for final delivery it inserts at the beginning of the mail data a time stamp line. The time stamp line indicates the identity of the host that sent the message, and the identity of the host that received the message (and is inserting this time stamp), and the date and time the message was received. Relayed messages will have multiple time stamp lines.

When the receiver-SMTP makes the "final delivery" of a message it inserts at the beginning of the mail data a

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
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return path line. The return path line preserves the information in the <reverse-path> from the MAIL command. Here, final delivery means the message leaves the SMTP world. Normally, this would mean it has been delivered to the destination user, but in some cases it may be further processed and transmitted by another mail system.

It is possible for the mailbox in the return path be different from the actual sender's mailbox, for example, if error responses are to be delivered a special error handling mailbox rather than the message senders.

The preceding two paragraphs imply that the final mail data will begin with a return path line, followed by one or more time stamp lines. These lines will be followed by the mail data header and body [2]. See Example 8.

Special mention is needed of the response and further action required when the processing following the end of mail data indication is partially successful. This could arise if after accepting several recipients and the mail data, the receiver-SMTP finds that the mail data can be successfully delivered to some of the recipients, but it cannot be to others (for example, due to mailbox space allocation problems). In such a situation, the response to the DATA command must be an OK reply. But, the receiver-SMTP must compose and send an "undeliverable mail" notification message to the originator of the message. Either a single notification which lists all of the recipients that failed to get the message, or separate notification messages must be sent for each failed recipient (see Example 7). All undeliverable mail notification messages are sent using the MAIL command (even if they result from processing a SEND, SOML, or SAML command).

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

     -------------------------------------------------------------

Example of Return Path and Received Time Stamps

 

      Return-Path: <@GHI.ARPA,@DEF.ARPA,@ABC.ARPA:JOE@ABC.ARPA>   
      Received: from GHI.ARPA by JKL.ARPA ; 27 Oct 81 15:27:39 PST
      Received: from DEF.ARPA by GHI.ARPA ; 27 Oct 81 15:15:13 PST
      Received: from ABC.ARPA by DEF.ARPA ; 27 Oct 81 15:01:59 PST
      Date: 27 Oct 81 15:01:01 PST                                
      From: JOE@ABC.ARPA                                          
      Subject: Improved Mailing System Installed                  
      To: SAM@JKL.ARPA                                            
                                    
      This is to inform you that ...                              

Example 8

 

     -------------------------------------------------------------

SEND (SEND)

This command is used to initiate a mail transaction in which the mail data is delivered to one or more terminals. The argument field contains a reverse-path. This command is successful if the message is delivered to a terminal.

The reverse-path consists of an optional list of hosts and the sender mailbox. When the list of hosts is present, it is a "reverse" source route and indicates that the mail was relayed through each host on the list (the first host in the list was the most recent relay). This list is used as a source route to return non-delivery notices to the sender. As each relay host adds itself to the beginning of the list, it must use its name as known in the IPCE to which it is relaying the mail rather than the IPCE from which the mail came (if they are different).

This command clears the reverse-path buffer, the forward-path buffer, and the mail data buffer; and inserts the reverse-path information from this command into the reverse-path buffer.

SEND OR MAIL (SOML)

This command is used to initiate a mail transaction in which the mail data is delivered to one or more terminals or

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
mailboxes. For each recipient the mail data is delivered to the recipient's terminal if the recipient is active on the host (and accepting terminal messages), otherwise to the recipient's mailbox. The argument field contains a reverse-path. This command is successful if the message is delivered to a terminal or the mailbox.

The reverse-path consists of an optional list of hosts and the sender mailbox. When the list of hosts is present, it is a "reverse" source route and indicates that the mail was relayed through each host on the list (the first host in the list was the most recent relay). This list is used as a source route to return non-delivery notices to the sender. As each relay host adds itself to the beginning of the list, it must use its name as known in the IPCE to which it is relaying the mail rather than the IPCE from which the mail came (if they are different).

This command clears the reverse-path buffer, the forward-path buffer, and the mail data buffer; and inserts the reverse-path information from this command into the reverse-path buffer.

SEND AND MAIL (SAML)

This command is used to initiate a mail transaction in which the mail data is delivered to one or more terminals and mailboxes. For each recipient the mail data is delivered to the recipient's terminal if the recipient is active on the host (and accepting terminal messages), and for all recipients to the recipient's mailbox. The argument field contains a reverse-path. This command is successful if the message is delivered to the mailbox.

The reverse-path consists of an optional list of hosts and the sender mailbox. When the list of hosts is present, it is a "reverse" source route and indicates that the mail was relayed through each host on the list (the first host in the list was the most recent relay). This list is used as a source route to return non-delivery notices to the sender. As each relay host adds itself to the beginning of the list, it must use its name as known in the IPCE to which it is relaying the mail rather than the IPCE from which the mail came (if they are different).

This command clears the reverse-path buffer, the

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

forward-path buffer, and the mail data buffer; and inserts the reverse-path information from this command into the reverse-path buffer.

RESET (RSET)

This command specifies that the current mail transaction is to be aborted. Any stored sender, recipients, and mail data must be discarded, and all buffers and state tables cleared. The receiver must send an OK reply.

VERIFY (VRFY)

This command asks the receiver to confirm that the argument identifies a user. If it is a user name, the full name of the user (if known) and the fully specified mailbox are returned.

This command has no effect on any of the reverse-path buffer, the forward-path buffer, or the mail data buffer.

EXPAND (EXPN)

This command asks the receiver to confirm that the argument identifies a mailing list, and if so, to return the membership of that list. The full name of the users (if known) and the fully specified mailboxes are returned in a multiline reply.

This command has no effect on any of the reverse-path buffer, the forward-path buffer, or the mail data buffer.

HELP (HELP)

This command causes the receiver to send helpful information to the sender of the HELP command. The command may take an argument (e.g., any command name) and return more specific information as a response.

This command has no effect on any of the reverse-path buffer, the forward-path buffer, or the mail data buffer.

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
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NOOP (NOOP)

This command does not affect any parameters or previously entered commands. It specifies no action other than that the receiver send an OK reply.

This command has no effect on any of the reverse-path buffer, the forward-path buffer, or the mail data buffer.

QUIT (QUIT)

This command specifies that the receiver must send an OK reply, and then close the transmission channel.

The receiver should not close the transmission channel until it receives and replies to a QUIT command (even if there was an error). The sender should not close the transmission channel until it send a QUIT command and receives the reply (even if there was an error response to a previous command). If the connection is closed prematurely the receiver should act as if a RSET command had been received (canceling any pending transaction, but not undoing any previously completed transaction), the sender should act as if the command or transaction in progress had received a temporary error (4xx).

TURN (TURN)

This command specifies that the receiver must either (1) send an OK reply and then take on the role of the sender-SMTP, or (2) send a refusal reply and retain the role of the receiver-SMTP.

If program-A is currently the sender-SMTP and it sends the TURN command and receives an OK reply (250) then program-A becomes the receiver-SMTP. Program-A is then in the initial state as if the transmission channel just opened, and it then sends the 220 service ready greeting.

If program-B is currently the receiver-SMTP and it receives the TURN command and sends an OK reply (250) then program-B becomes the sender-SMTP. Program-B is then in the initial state as if the transmission channel just opened, and it then expects to receive the 220 service ready greeting.

To refuse to change roles the receiver sends the 502 reply.

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

There are restrictions on the order in which these command may be used.

The first command in a session must be the HELO command. The HELO command may be used later in a session as well. If the HELO command argument is not acceptable a 501 failure reply must be returned and the receiver-SMTP must stay in the same state.

The NOOP, HELP, EXPN, and VRFY commands can be used at any time during a session.

The MAIL, SEND, SOML, or SAML commands begin a mail transaction. Once started a mail transaction consists of one of the transaction beginning commands, one or more RCPT commands, and a DATA command, in that order. A mail transaction may be aborted by the RSET command. There may be zero or more transactions in a session.

If the transaction beginning command argument is not acceptable a 501 failure reply must be returned and the receiver-SMTP must stay in the same state. If the commands in a transaction are out of order a 503 failure reply must be returned and the receiver-SMTP must stay in the same state.

The last command in a session must be the QUIT command. The QUIT command can not be used at any other time in a session.

 

4.1.2 COMMAND SYNTAX
The commands consist of a command code followed by an argument field. Command codes are four alphabetic characters. Upper and lower case alphabetic characters are to be treated identically. Thus, any of the following may represent the mail command:

 

            MAIL    Mail    mail    MaIl    mAIl

This also applies to any symbols representing parameter values, such as "TO" or "to" for the forward-path. Command codes and the argument fields are separated by one or more spaces. However, within the reverse-path and forward-path arguments case is important. In particular, in some hosts the user "smith" is different from the user "Smith".

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
The argument field consists of a variable length character string ending with the character sequence <CRLF>. The receiver is to take no action until this sequence is received.

Square brackets denote an optional argument field. If the option is not taken, the appropriate default is implied.

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

The following are the SMTP commands:

HELO <SP> <domain> <CRLF>

MAIL <SP> FROM:<reverse-path> <CRLF>

RCPT <SP> TO:<forward-path> <CRLF>

DATA <CRLF>

RSET <CRLF>

SEND <SP> FROM:<reverse-path> <CRLF>

SOML <SP> FROM:<reverse-path> <CRLF>

SAML <SP> FROM:<reverse-path> <CRLF>

VRFY <SP> <string> <CRLF>

EXPN <SP> <string> <CRLF>

HELP [<SP> <string>] <CRLF>

NOOP <CRLF>

QUIT <CRLF>

TURN <CRLF>

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
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The syntax of the above argument fields (using BNF notation where applicable) is given below. The "..." notation indicates that a field may be repeated one or more times.

 

            <reverse-path> ::= <path>

            <forward-path> ::= <path>

            <path> ::= "<" [ <a-d-l> ":" ] <mailbox> ">"

            <a-d-l> ::= <at-domain> | <at-domain> "," <a-d-l>

            <at-domain> ::= "@" <domain>

            <domain> ::=  <element> | <element> "." <domain>

            <element> ::= <name> | "#" <number> | "[" <dotnum> "]"

            <mailbox> ::= <local-part> "@" <domain>

            <local-part> ::= <dot-string> | <quoted-string>

            <name> ::= <a> <ldh-str> <let-dig>

            <ldh-str> ::= <let-dig-hyp> | <let-dig-hyp> <ldh-str>

            <let-dig> ::= <a> | <d>

            <let-dig-hyp> ::= <a> | <d> | "-"

            <dot-string> ::= <string> | <string> "." <dot-string>

            <string> ::= <char> | <char> <string>

            <quoted-string> ::=  """ <qtext> """

            <qtext> ::=  "\" <x> | "\" <x> <qtext> | <q> | <q> <qtext>

            <char> ::= <c> | "\" <x>

            <dotnum> ::= <snum> "." <snum> "." <snum> "." <snum>

            <number> ::= <d> | <d> <number>

            <CRLF> ::= <CR> <LF>

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

            <CR> ::= the carriage return character (ASCII code 13)

            <LF> ::= the line feed character (ASCII code 10)

            <SP> ::= the space character (ASCII code 32)

            <snum> ::= one, two, or three digits representing a decimal
                      integer value in the range 0 through 255

            <a> ::= any one of the 52 alphabetic characters A through Z
                      in upper case and a through z in lower case

            <c> ::= any one of the 128 ASCII characters, but not any
                      <special> or <SP>

            <d> ::= any one of the ten digits 0 through 9

            <q> ::= any one of the 128 ASCII characters except <CR>,
                      <LF>, quote ("), or backslash (\)

            <x> ::= any one of the 128 ASCII characters (no exceptions)

            <special> ::= "<" | ">" | "(" | ")" | "[" | "]" | "\" | "."
                      | "," | ";" | ":" | "@"  """ | the control
                      characters (ASCII codes 0 through 31 inclusive and
                      127)

Note that the backslash, "\", is a quote character, which is used to indicate that the next character is to be used literally (instead of its normal interpretation). For example, "Joe\,Smith" could be used to indicate a single nine character user field with comma being the fourth character of the field.

Hosts are generally known by names which are translated to addresses in each host. Note that the name elements of domains are the official names -- no use of nicknames or aliases is allowed.

Sometimes a host is not known to the translation function and communication is blocked. To bypass this barrier two numeric forms are also allowed for host "names". One form is a decimal integer prefixed by a pound sign, "#", which indicates the number is the address of the host. Another form is four small decimal integers separated by dots and enclosed by brackets, e.g., "[123.255.37.2]", which indicates a 32-bit ARPA Internet Address in four 8-bit fields.

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
The time stamp line and the return path line are formally defined as follows:

 

         <return-path-line> ::= "Return-Path:" <SP><reverse-path><CRLF>

         <time-stamp-line> ::= "Received:" <SP> <stamp> <CRLF>

            <stamp> ::= <from-domain> <by-domain> <opt-info> ";"
                      <daytime>

            <from-domain> ::= "FROM" <SP> <domain> <SP>

            <by-domain> ::= "BY" <SP> <domain> <SP>

            <opt-info> ::= [<via>] [<with>] [<id>] [<for>]

            <via> ::= "VIA" <SP> <link> <SP>

            <with> ::= "WITH" <SP> <protocol> <SP>

            <id> ::= "ID" <SP> <string> <SP>

            <for> ::= "FOR" <SP> <path> <SP>

            <link> ::= The standard names for links are registered with
                      the Network Information Center.

            <protocol> ::= The standard names for protocols are
                      registered with the Network Information Center.

            <daytime> ::= <SP> <date> <SP> <time>

            <date> ::= <dd> <SP> <mon> <SP> <yy>

            <time> ::= <hh> ":" <mm> ":" <ss> <SP> <zone>

            <dd> ::= the one or two decimal integer day of the month in
                      the range 1 to 31.

            <mon> ::= "JAN" | "FEB" | "MAR" | "APR" | "MAY" | "JUN" |
                      "JUL" | "AUG" | "SEP" | "OCT" | "NOV" | "DEC"

            <yy> ::= the two decimal integer year of the century in the
                      range 00 to 99.

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

            <hh> ::= the two decimal integer hour of the day in the
                      range 00 to 24.

            <mm> ::= the two decimal integer minute of the hour in the
                      range 00 to 59.

            <ss> ::= the two decimal integer second of the minute in the
                      range 00 to 59.

            <zone> ::= "UT" for Universal Time (the default) or other
                      time zone designator (as in [2]).

 

 

     -------------------------------------------------------------

Return Path Example

Return-Path: <@CHARLIE.ARPA,@BAKER.ARPA:JOE@ABLE.ARPA>

Example 9

 

     -------------------------------------------------------------

     -------------------------------------------------------------

Time Stamp Line Example

Received: FROM ABC.ARPA BY XYZ.ARPA ; 22 OCT 81 09:23:59 PDT

Received: from ABC.ARPA by XYZ.ARPA via TELENET with X25 id M12345 for Smith@PDQ.ARPA ; 22 OCT 81 09:23:59 PDT

Example 10

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
 
4.2 SMTP REPLIES
Replies to SMTP commands are devised to ensure the synchronization of requests and actions in the process of mail transfer, and to guarantee that the sender-SMTP always knows the state of the receiver-SMTP. Every command must generate exactly one reply.

The details of the command-reply sequence are made explicit in Section 5.3 on Sequencing and Section 5.4 State Diagrams.

An SMTP reply consists of a three digit number (transmitted as three alphanumeric characters) followed by some text. The number is intended for use by automata to determine what state to enter next; the text is meant for the human user. It is intended that the three digits contain enough encoded information that the sender-SMTP need not examine the text and may either discard it or pass it on to the user, as appropriate. In particular, the text may be receiver-dependent and context dependent, so there are likely to be varying texts for each reply code. A discussion of the theory of reply codes is given in Appendix E. Formally, a reply is defined to be the sequence: a three-digit code, <SP>, one line of text, and <CRLF>, or a multiline reply (as defined in Appendix E). Only the EXPN and HELP commands are expected to result in multiline replies in normal circumstances, however multiline replies are allowed for any command.

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

 

4.2.1 REPLY CODES BY FUNCTION GROUPS
500 Syntax error, command unrecognized
[This may include errors such as command line too long] 501 Syntax error in parameters or arguments
502 Command not implemented
503 Bad sequence of commands
504 Command parameter not implemented

211 System status, or system help reply
214 Help message
[Information on how to use the receiver or the meaning of a particular non-standard command; this reply is useful only to the human user]

220 <domain> Service ready
221 <domain> Service closing transmission channel
421 <domain> Service not available,
closing transmission channel
[This may be a reply to any command if the service knows it must shut down]

250 Requested mail action okay, completed
251 User not local; will forward to <forward-path>
450 Requested mail action not taken: mailbox unavailable [E.g., mailbox busy]
550 Requested action not taken: mailbox unavailable [E.g., mailbox not found, no access]
451 Requested action aborted: error in processing
551 User not local; please try <forward-path>
452 Requested action not taken: insufficient system storage 552 Requested mail action aborted: exceeded storage allocation 553 Requested action not taken: mailbox name not allowed [E.g., mailbox syntax incorrect]
354 Start mail input; end with <CRLF>.<CRLF>
554 Transaction failed
 

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
 
4.2.2 NUMERIC ORDER LIST OF REPLY CODES
211 System status, or system help reply
214 Help message
[Information on how to use the receiver or the meaning of a particular non-standard command; this reply is useful only to the human user]
220 <domain> Service ready
221 <domain> Service closing transmission channel
250 Requested mail action okay, completed
251 User not local; will forward to <forward-path>

354 Start mail input; end with <CRLF>.<CRLF>

421 <domain> Service not available,
closing transmission channel
[This may be a reply to any command if the service knows it must shut down]
450 Requested mail action not taken: mailbox unavailable [E.g., mailbox busy]
451 Requested action aborted: local error in processing 452 Requested action not taken: insufficient system storage
500 Syntax error, command unrecognized
[This may include errors such as command line too long] 501 Syntax error in parameters or arguments
502 Command not implemented
503 Bad sequence of commands
504 Command parameter not implemented
550 Requested action not taken: mailbox unavailable [E.g., mailbox not found, no access]
551 User not local; please try <forward-path>
552 Requested mail action aborted: exceeded storage allocation 553 Requested action not taken: mailbox name not allowed [E.g., mailbox syntax incorrect]
554 Transaction failed
 

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

 

4.3 SEQUENCING OF COMMANDS AND REPLIES
The communication between the sender and receiver is intended to be an alternating dialogue, controlled by the sender. As such, the sender issues a command and the receiver responds with a reply. The sender must wait for this response before sending further commands.

One important reply is the connection greeting. Normally, a receiver will send a 220 "Service ready" reply when the connection is completed. The sender should wait for this greeting message before sending any commands.

Note: all the greeting type replies have the official name of the server host as the first word following the reply code.

For example,

220 <SP> USC-ISIF.ARPA <SP> Service ready <CRLF>

The table below lists alternative success and failure replies for each command. These must be strictly adhered to; a receiver may substitute text in the replies, but the meaning and action implied by the code numbers and by the specific command reply sequence cannot be altered.

COMMAND-REPLY SEQUENCES

Each command is listed with its possible replies. The prefixes used before the possible replies are "P" for preliminary (not used in SMTP), "I" for intermediate, "S" for success, "F" for failure, and "E" for error. The 421 reply (service not available, closing transmission channel) may be given to any command if the SMTP-receiver knows it must shut down. This listing forms the basis for the State Diagrams in Section 4.4.

CONNECTION ESTABLISHMENT

               S: 220
               F: 421
            HELO
               S: 250
               E: 500, 501, 504, 421
            MAIL
               S: 250
               F: 552, 451, 452
               E: 500, 501, 421

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
RCPT
               S: 250, 251
               F: 550, 551, 552, 553, 450, 451, 452
               E: 500, 501, 503, 421
            DATA
               I: 354 -> data -> S: 250
                                 F: 552, 554, 451, 452
               F: 451, 554
               E: 500, 501, 503, 421
            RSET
               S: 250
               E: 500, 501, 504, 421
            SEND
               S: 250
               F: 552, 451, 452
               E: 500, 501, 502, 421
            SOML
               S: 250
               F: 552, 451, 452
               E: 500, 501, 502, 421
            SAML
               S: 250
               F: 552, 451, 452
               E: 500, 501, 502, 421
            VRFY
               S: 250, 251
               F: 550, 551, 553
               E: 500, 501, 502, 504, 421
            EXPN
               S: 250
               F: 550
               E: 500, 501, 502, 504, 421
            HELP
               S: 211, 214
               E: 500, 501, 502, 504, 421
            NOOP
               S: 250
               E: 500, 421
            QUIT
               S: 221
               E: 500
            TURN
               S: 250
               F: 502
               E: 500, 503

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

 

4.4 STATE DIAGRAMS
Following are state diagrams for a simple-minded SMTP
implementation. Only the first digit of the reply codes is used. There is one state diagram for each group of SMTP commands. The command groupings were determined by constructing a model for each command and then collecting together the commands with structurally identical models.

For each command there are three possible outcomes: "success" (S), "failure" (F), and "error" (E). In the state diagrams below we use the symbol B for "begin", and the symbol W for "wait for reply".

First, the diagram that represents most of the SMTP commands:

 

                                  1,3    +---+
                             ----------->| E |
                            |            +---+
                            |
         +---+    cmd    +---+    2      +---+
         | B |---------->| W |---------->| S |
         +---+           +---+           +---+
                            |
                            |     4,5    +---+
                             ----------->| F |
                                         +---+
         

This diagram models the commands:

HELO, MAIL, RCPT, RSET, SEND, SOML, SAML, VRFY, EXPN, HELP, NOOP, QUIT, TURN.

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
A more complex diagram models the DATA command:

 

         +---+   DATA    +---+ 1,2                 +---+
         | B |---------->| W |-------------------->| E |
         +---+           +---+        ------------>+---+
                         3| |4,5     |
                          | |        |
            --------------   -----   |
           |                      |  |             +---+
           |               ----------     -------->| S |
           |              |       |      |         +---+
           |              |  ------------
           |              | |     |
           V           1,3| |2    |
         +---+   data    +---+     --------------->+---+
         |   |---------->| W |                     | F |
         +---+           +---+-------------------->+---+
                              4,5

Note that the "data" here is a series of lines sent from the sender to the receiver with no response expected until the last line is sent.

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

 

4.5 DETAILS
 
4.5.1 MINIMUM IMPLEMENTATION
In order to make SMTP workable, the following minimum implementation is required for all receivers:

COMMANDS -- HELO
MAIL
RCPT
DATA
RSET
NOOP
QUIT

 

4.5.2 TRANSPARENCY
Without some provision for data transparency the character sequence "<CRLF>.<CRLF>" ends the mail text and cannot be sent by the user. In general, users are not aware of such "forbidden" sequences. To allow all user composed text to be transmitted transparently the following procedures are used.

 

1 Before sending a line of mail text the sender-SMTP checks
the first character of the line. If it is a period, one additional period is inserted at the beginning of the line.

 

2 When a line of mail text is received by the receiver-SMTP
it checks the line. If the line is composed of a single period it is the end of mail. If the first character is a period and there are other characters on the line, the first character is deleted.

The mail data may contain any of the 128 ASCII characters. All characters are to be delivered to the recipient's mailbox including format effectors and other control characters. If the transmission channel provides an 8-bit byte (octets) data stream, the 7-bit ASCII codes are transmitted right justified in the octets with the high order bits cleared to zero.

In some systems it may be necessary to transform the data as it is received and stored. This may be necessary for hosts that use a different character set than ASCII as their local character set, or that store data in records rather than

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
strings. If such transforms are necessary, they must be reversible -- especially if such transforms are applied to mail being relayed.

 

4.5.3 SIZES
There are several objects that have required minimum maximum sizes. That is, every implementation must be able to receive objects of at least these sizes, but must not send objects larger than these sizes.

 

          ****************************************************
          *                                                  *
          *  TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT POSSIBLE, IMPLEMENTATION  *
          *  TECHNIQUES WHICH IMPOSE NO LIMITS ON THE LENGTH *
          *  OF THESE OBJECTS SHOULD BE USED.                *
          *                                                  *
          ****************************************************

user

The maximum total length of a user name is 64 characters.

domain

The maximum total length of a domain name or number is 64 characters.

path

The maximum total length of a reverse-path or forward-path is 256 characters (including the punctuation and element separators).

command line

The maximum total length of a command line including the command word and the <CRLF> is 512 characters.

reply line

The maximum total length of a reply line including the reply code and the <CRLF> is 512 characters.

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

text line

The maximum total length of a text line including the

               <CRLF> is 1000 characters (but not counting the leading
               dot duplicated for transparency).

recipients buffer

The maximum total number of recipients that must be buffered is 100 recipients.

 

          ****************************************************
          *                                                  *
          *  TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT POSSIBLE, IMPLEMENTATION  *
          *  TECHNIQUES WHICH IMPOSE NO LIMITS ON THE LENGTH *
          *  OF THESE OBJECTS SHOULD BE USED.                *
          *                                                  *
          ****************************************************

Errors due to exceeding these limits may be reported by using the reply codes, for example:

500 Line too long.

501 Path too long

552 Too many recipients.

552 Too much mail data.

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
 
APPENDIX A
TCP Transport service

The Transmission Control Protocol [3] is used in the ARPA Internet, and in any network following the US DoD standards for internetwork protocols.

Connection Establishment

The SMTP transmission channel is a TCP connection established between the sender process port U and the receiver process port L. This single full duplex connection is used as the transmission channel. This protocol is assigned the service port 25 (31 octal), that is L=25.

Data Transfer

The TCP connection supports the transmission of 8-bit bytes. The SMTP data is 7-bit ASCII characters. Each character is transmitted as an 8-bit byte with the high-order bit cleared to zero.

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

 

APPENDIX B
NCP Transport service

The ARPANET Host-to-Host Protocol [4] (implemented by the Network Control Program) may be used in the ARPANET.

Connection Establishment

The SMTP transmission channel is established via NCP between the sender process socket U and receiver process socket L. The Initial Connection Protocol [5] is followed resulting in a pair of simplex connections. This pair of connections is used as the transmission channel. This protocol is assigned the contact socket 25 (31 octal), that is L=25.

Data Transfer

The NCP data connections are established in 8-bit byte mode. The SMTP data is 7-bit ASCII characters. Each character is transmitted as an 8-bit byte with the high-order bit cleared to zero.

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
 
APPENDIX C
NITS

The Network Independent Transport Service [6] may be used.

Connection Establishment

The SMTP transmission channel is established via NITS between the sender process and receiver process. The sender process executes the CONNECT primitive, and the waiting receiver process executes the ACCEPT primitive.

Data Transfer

The NITS connection supports the transmission of 8-bit bytes. The SMTP data is 7-bit ASCII characters. Each character is transmitted as an 8-bit byte with the high-order bit cleared to zero.

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

 

APPENDIX D
 
X.25 Transport service
It may be possible to use the X.25 service [7] as provided by the Public Data Networks directly, however, it is suggested that a reliable end-to-end protocol such as TCP be used on top of X.25 connections.

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
 
APPENDIX E
Theory of Reply Codes

The three digits of the reply each have a special significance. The first digit denotes whether the response is good, bad or incomplete. An unsophisticated sender-SMTP will be able to determine its next action (proceed as planned, redo, retrench, etc.) by simply examining this first digit. A sender-SMTP that wants to know approximately what kind of error occurred (e.g., mail system error, command syntax error) may examine the second digit, reserving the third digit for the finest gradation of information.

There are five values for the first digit of the reply code:

 

            1yz   Positive Preliminary reply

The command has been accepted, but the requested action is being held in abeyance, pending confirmation of the information in this reply. The sender-SMTP should send another command specifying whether to continue or abort the action.

[Note: SMTP does not have any commands that allow this type of reply, and so does not have the continue or abort commands.]

 

            2yz   Positive Completion reply

The requested action has been successfully completed. A new request may be initiated.

 

            3yz   Positive Intermediate reply

The command has been accepted, but the requested action is being held in abeyance, pending receipt of further information. The sender-SMTP should send another command specifying this information. This reply is used in command sequence groups.

 

            4yz   Transient Negative Completion reply

The command was not accepted and the requested action did not occur. However, the error condition is temporary and the action may be requested again. The sender should

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

return to the beginning of the command sequence (if any). It is difficult to assign a meaning to "transient" when two different sites (receiver- and sender- SMTPs) must agree on the interpretation. Each reply in this category might have a different time value, but the sender-SMTP is encouraged to try again. A rule of thumb to determine if a reply fits into the 4yz or the 5yz category (see below) is that replies are 4yz if they can be repeated without any change in command form or in properties of the sender or receiver. (E.g., the command is repeated identically and the receiver does not put up a new implementation.)

 

            5yz   Permanent Negative Completion reply

The command was not accepted and the requested action did not occur. The sender-SMTP is discouraged from repeating the exact request (in the same sequence). Even some "permanent" error conditions can be corrected, so the human user may want to direct the sender-SMTP to reinitiate the command sequence by direct action at some point in the future (e.g., after the spelling has been changed, or the user has altered the account status).

The second digit encodes responses in specific categories:

 

            x0z   Syntax -- These replies refer to syntax errors,
                  syntactically correct commands that don't fit any
                  functional category, and unimplemented or superfluous
                  commands.

            x1z   Information --  These are replies to requests for
                  information, such as status or help.

            x2z   Connections -- These are replies referring to the
                  transmission channel.

            x3z   Unspecified as yet.

            x4z   Unspecified as yet.

            x5z   Mail system -- These replies indicate the status of
                  the receiver mail system vis-a-vis the requested
                  transfer or other mail system action.

The third digit gives a finer gradation of meaning in each category specified by the second digit. The list of replies

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
illustrates this. Each reply text is recommended rather than mandatory, and may even change according to the command with which it is associated. On the other hand, the reply codes must strictly follow the specifications in this section. Receiver implementations should not invent new codes for slightly different situations from the ones described here, but rather adapt codes already defined.

For example, a command such as NOOP whose successful execution does not offer the sender-SMTP any new information will return a 250 reply. The response is 502 when the command requests an unimplemented non-site-specific action. A refinement of that is the 504 reply for a command that is implemented, but that requests an unimplemented parameter.

The reply text may be longer than a single line; in these cases the complete text must be marked so the sender-SMTP knows when it can stop reading the reply. This requires a special format to indicate a multiple line reply.

The format for multiline replies requires that every line, except the last, begin with the reply code, followed immediately by a hyphen, "-" (also known as minus), followed by text. The last line will begin with the reply code, followed immediately by <SP>, optionally some text, and <CRLF>.

For example:
123-First line
123-Second line
123-234 text beginning with numbers 123 The last line

In many cases the sender-SMTP then simply needs to search for the reply code followed by <SP> at the beginning of a line, and ignore all preceding lines. In a few cases, there is important data for the sender in the reply "text". The sender will know these cases from the current context.

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

 

APPENDIX F
Scenarios

This section presents complete scenarios of several types of SMTP sessions.

A Typical SMTP Transaction Scenario

This SMTP example shows mail sent by Smith at host USC-ISIF, to Jones, Green, and Brown at host BBN-UNIX. Here we assume that host USC-ISIF contacts host BBN-UNIX directly. The mail is accepted for Jones and Brown. Green does not have a mailbox at host BBN-UNIX.

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

         R: 220 BBN-UNIX.ARPA Simple Mail Transfer Service Ready
         S: HELO USC-ISIF.ARPA
         R: 250 BBN-UNIX.ARPA

         S: MAIL FROM:<Smith@USC-ISIF.ARPA>
         R: 250 OK

         S: RCPT TO:<Jones@BBN-UNIX.ARPA>
         R: 250 OK

         S: RCPT TO:<Green@BBN-UNIX.ARPA>
         R: 550 No such user here

         S: RCPT TO:<Brown@BBN-UNIX.ARPA>
         R: 250 OK

         S: DATA
         R: 354 Start mail input; end with <CRLF>.<CRLF>
         S: Blah blah blah...
         S: ...etc. etc. etc.
         S: .
         R: 250 OK

         S: QUIT
         R: 221 BBN-UNIX.ARPA Service closing transmission channel

Scenario 1

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
Aborted SMTP Transaction Scenario

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

         R: 220 MIT-Multics.ARPA Simple Mail Transfer Service Ready
         S: HELO ISI-VAXA.ARPA
         R: 250 MIT-Multics.ARPA

         S: MAIL FROM:<Smith@ISI-VAXA.ARPA>
         R: 250 OK

         S: RCPT TO:<Jones@MIT-Multics.ARPA>
         R: 250 OK

         S: RCPT TO:<Green@MIT-Multics.ARPA>
         R: 550 No such user here

         S: RSET
         R: 250 OK

         S: QUIT
         R: 221 MIT-Multics.ARPA Service closing transmission channel

Scenario 2

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

Relayed Mail Scenario

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

Step 1 -- Source Host to Relay Host

 

            R: 220 USC-ISIE.ARPA Simple Mail Transfer Service Ready
            S: HELO MIT-AI.ARPA
            R: 250 USC-ISIE.ARPA

            S: MAIL FROM:<JQP@MIT-AI.ARPA>
            R: 250 OK

            S: RCPT TO:<@USC-ISIE.ARPA:Jones@BBN-VAX.ARPA>
            R: 250 OK

            S: DATA
            R: 354 Start mail input; end with <CRLF>.<CRLF>
            S: Date: 2 Nov 81 22:33:44
            S: From: John Q. Public <JQP@MIT-AI.ARPA>
            S: Subject:  The Next Meeting of the Board
            S: To: Jones@BBN-Vax.ARPA
            S:
            S: Bill:
            S: The next meeting of the board of directors will be
            S: on Tuesday.
            S:                                              John.
            S: .
            R: 250 OK

            S: QUIT
            R: 221 USC-ISIE.ARPA Service closing transmission channel

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
Step 2 -- Relay Host to Destination Host

 

            R: 220 BBN-VAX.ARPA Simple Mail Transfer Service Ready
            S: HELO USC-ISIE.ARPA
            R: 250 BBN-VAX.ARPA

            S: MAIL FROM:<@USC-ISIE.ARPA:JQP@MIT-AI.ARPA>
            R: 250 OK

            S: RCPT TO:<Jones@BBN-VAX.ARPA>
            R: 250 OK

            S: DATA
            R: 354 Start mail input; end with <CRLF>.<CRLF>
            S: Received: from MIT-AI.ARPA by USC-ISIE.ARPA ;
               2 Nov 81 22:40:10 UT
            S: Date: 2 Nov 81 22:33:44
            S: From: John Q. Public <JQP@MIT-AI.ARPA>
            S: Subject:  The Next Meeting of the Board
            S: To: Jones@BBN-Vax.ARPA
            S:
            S: Bill:
            S: The next meeting of the board of directors will be
            S: on Tuesday.
            S:                                              John.
            S: .
            R: 250 OK

            S: QUIT
            R: 221 USC-ISIE.ARPA Service closing transmission channel

Scenario 3

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

Verifying and Sending Scenario

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

         R: 220 SU-SCORE.ARPA Simple Mail Transfer Service Ready
         S: HELO MIT-MC.ARPA
         R: 250 SU-SCORE.ARPA

         S: VRFY Crispin
         R: 250 Mark Crispin <Admin.MRC@SU-SCORE.ARPA>

         S: SEND FROM:<EAK@MIT-MC.ARPA>
         R: 250 OK

         S: RCPT TO:<Admin.MRC@SU-SCORE.ARPA>
         R: 250 OK

         S: DATA
         R: 354 Start mail input; end with <CRLF>.<CRLF>
         S: Blah blah blah...
         S: ...etc. etc. etc.
         S: .
         R: 250 OK

         S: QUIT
         R: 221 SU-SCORE.ARPA Service closing transmission channel

Scenario 4

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
Sending and Mailing Scenarios

First the user's name is verified, then an attempt is made to send to the user's terminal. When that fails, the messages is mailed to the user's mailbox.

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

         R: 220 SU-SCORE.ARPA Simple Mail Transfer Service Ready
         S: HELO MIT-MC.ARPA
         R: 250 SU-SCORE.ARPA

         S: VRFY Crispin
         R: 250 Mark Crispin <Admin.MRC@SU-SCORE.ARPA>

         S: SEND FROM:<EAK@MIT-MC.ARPA>
         R: 250 OK

         S: RCPT TO:<Admin.MRC@SU-SCORE.ARPA>
         R: 450 User not active now

         S: RSET
         R: 250 OK

         S: MAIL FROM:<EAK@MIT-MC.ARPA>
         R: 250 OK

         S: RCPT TO:<Admin.MRC@SU-SCORE.ARPA>
         R: 250 OK

         S: DATA
         R: 354 Start mail input; end with <CRLF>.<CRLF>
         S: Blah blah blah...
         S: ...etc. etc. etc.
         S: .
         R: 250 OK

         S: QUIT
         R: 221 SU-SCORE.ARPA Service closing transmission channel

Scenario 5

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

Doing the preceding scenario more efficiently.

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

         R: 220 SU-SCORE.ARPA Simple Mail Transfer Service Ready
         S: HELO MIT-MC.ARPA
         R: 250 SU-SCORE.ARPA

         S: VRFY Crispin
         R: 250 Mark Crispin <Admin.MRC@SU-SCORE.ARPA>

         S: SOML FROM:<EAK@MIT-MC.ARPA>
         R: 250 OK

         S: RCPT TO:<Admin.MRC@SU-SCORE.ARPA>
         R: 250 User not active now, so will do mail.

         S: DATA
         R: 354 Start mail input; end with <CRLF>.<CRLF>
         S: Blah blah blah...
         S: ...etc. etc. etc.
         S: .
         R: 250 OK

         S: QUIT
         R: 221 SU-SCORE.ARPA Service closing transmission channel

Scenario 6

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
Mailing List Scenario

First each of two mailing lists are expanded in separate sessions with different hosts. Then the message is sent to everyone that appeared on either list (but no duplicates) via a relay host.

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

Step 1 -- Expanding the First List

 

            R: 220 MIT-AI.ARPA Simple Mail Transfer Service Ready
            S: HELO SU-SCORE.ARPA
            R: 250 MIT-AI.ARPA

            S: EXPN Example-People
            R: 250-<ABC@MIT-MC.ARPA>
            R: 250-Fred Fonebone <Fonebone@USC-ISIQ.ARPA>
            R: 250-Xenon Y. Zither <XYZ@MIT-AI.ARPA>
            R: 250-Quincy Smith <@USC-ISIF.ARPA:Q-Smith@ISI-VAXA.ARPA>
            R: 250-<joe@foo-unix.ARPA>
            R: 250 <xyz@bar-unix.ARPA>

            S: QUIT
            R: 221 MIT-AI.ARPA Service closing transmission channel

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

Step 2 -- Expanding the Second List

 

            R: 220 MIT-MC.ARPA Simple Mail Transfer Service Ready
            S: HELO SU-SCORE.ARPA
            R: 250 MIT-MC.ARPA

            S: EXPN Interested-Parties
            R: 250-Al Calico <ABC@MIT-MC.ARPA>
            R: 250-<XYZ@MIT-AI.ARPA>
            R: 250-Quincy Smith <@USC-ISIF.ARPA:Q-Smith@ISI-VAXA.ARPA>
            R: 250-<fred@BBN-UNIX.ARPA>
            R: 250 <xyz@bar-unix.ARPA>

            S: QUIT
            R: 221 MIT-MC.ARPA Service closing transmission channel

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
Step 3 -- Mailing to All via a Relay Host

 

            R: 220 USC-ISIE.ARPA Simple Mail Transfer Service Ready
            S: HELO SU-SCORE.ARPA
            R: 250 USC-ISIE.ARPA

            S: MAIL FROM:<Account.Person@SU-SCORE.ARPA>
            R: 250 OK
            S: RCPT TO:<@USC-ISIE.ARPA:ABC@MIT-MC.ARPA>
            R: 250 OK
            S: RCPT TO:<@USC-ISIE.ARPA:Fonebone@USC-ISIQA.ARPA>
            R: 250 OK
            S: RCPT TO:<@USC-ISIE.ARPA:XYZ@MIT-AI.ARPA>
            R: 250 OK
            S: RCPT
                TO:<@USC-ISIE.ARPA,@USC-ISIF.ARPA:Q-Smith@ISI-VAXA.ARPA>
            R: 250 OK
            S: RCPT TO:<@USC-ISIE.ARPA:joe@FOO-UNIX.ARPA>
            R: 250 OK
            S: RCPT TO:<@USC-ISIE.ARPA:xyz@BAR-UNIX.ARPA>
            R: 250 OK
            S: RCPT TO:<@USC-ISIE.ARPA:fred@BBN-UNIX.ARPA>
            R: 250 OK

            S: DATA
            R: 354 Start mail input; end with <CRLF>.<CRLF>
            S: Blah blah blah...
            S: ...etc. etc. etc.
            S: .
            R: 250 OK

            S: QUIT
            R: 221 USC-ISIE.ARPA Service closing transmission channel

Scenario 7

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

Forwarding Scenarios

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

         R: 220 USC-ISIF.ARPA Simple Mail Transfer Service Ready
         S: HELO LBL-UNIX.ARPA
         R: 250 USC-ISIF.ARPA

         S: MAIL FROM:<mo@LBL-UNIX.ARPA>
         R: 250 OK

         S: RCPT TO:<fred@USC-ISIF.ARPA>
         R: 251 User not local; will forward to <Jones@USC-ISI.ARPA>

         S: DATA
         R: 354 Start mail input; end with <CRLF>.<CRLF>
         S: Blah blah blah...
         S: ...etc. etc. etc.
         S: .
         R: 250 OK

         S: QUIT
         R: 221 USC-ISIF.ARPA Service closing transmission channel

Scenario 8

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

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August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
 
      -------------------------------------------------------------

Step 1 -- Trying the Mailbox at the First Host

 

            R: 220 USC-ISIF.ARPA Simple Mail Transfer Service Ready
            S: HELO LBL-UNIX.ARPA
            R: 250 USC-ISIF.ARPA

            S: MAIL FROM:<mo@LBL-UNIX.ARPA>
            R: 250 OK

            S: RCPT TO:<fred@USC-ISIF.ARPA>
            R: 251 User not local; will forward to <Jones@USC-ISI.ARPA>

            S: RSET
            R: 250 OK

            S: QUIT
            R: 221 USC-ISIF.ARPA Service closing transmission channel

Step 2 -- Delivering the Mail at the Second Host

 

            R: 220 USC-ISI.ARPA Simple Mail Transfer Service Ready
            S: HELO LBL-UNIX.ARPA
            R: 250 USC-ISI.ARPA

            S: MAIL FROM:<mo@LBL-UNIX.ARPA>
            R: 250 OK

            S: RCPT TO:<Jones@USC-ISI.ARPA>
            R: OK

            S: DATA
            R: 354 Start mail input; end with <CRLF>.<CRLF>
            S: Blah blah blah...
            S: ...etc. etc. etc.
            S: .
            R: 250 OK

            S: QUIT
            R: 221 USC-ISI.ARPA Service closing transmission channel

Scenario 9

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

Too Many Recipients Scenario

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

         R: 220 BERKELEY.ARPA Simple Mail Transfer Service Ready
         S: HELO USC-ISIF.ARPA
         R: 250 BERKELEY.ARPA

         S: MAIL FROM:<Postel@USC-ISIF.ARPA>
         R: 250 OK

         S: RCPT TO:<fabry@BERKELEY.ARPA>
         R: 250 OK

         S: RCPT TO:<eric@BERKELEY.ARPA>
         R: 552 Recipient storage full, try again in another transaction

         S: DATA
         R: 354 Start mail input; end with <CRLF>.<CRLF>
         S: Blah blah blah...
         S: ...etc. etc. etc.
         S: .
         R: 250 OK

         S: MAIL FROM:<Postel@USC-ISIF.ARPA>
         R: 250 OK

         S: RCPT TO:<eric@BERKELEY.ARPA>
         R: 250 OK

         S: DATA
         R: 354 Start mail input; end with <CRLF>.<CRLF>
         S: Blah blah blah...
         S: ...etc. etc. etc.
         S: .
         R: 250 OK

         S: QUIT
         R: 221 BERKELEY.ARPA Service closing transmission channel

Scenario 10

 

      -------------------------------------------------------------

Note that a real implementation must handle many recipients as specified in Section 4.5.3.

 

 

Page 64
 
August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
 
GLOSSARY
ASCII

American Standard Code for Information Interchange [1].

command

A request for a mail service action sent by the sender-SMTP to the receiver-SMTP.

domain

The hierarchially structured global character string address of a host computer in the mail system.

end of mail data indication

A special sequence of characters that indicates the end of the mail data. In particular, the five characters carriage return, line feed, period, carriage return, line feed, in that order.

host

A computer in the internetwork environment on which mailboxes or SMTP processes reside.

line

A a sequence of ASCII characters ending with a <CRLF>.

mail data

A sequence of ASCII characters of arbitrary length, which conforms to the standard set in the Standard for the Format of ARPA Internet Text Messages (RFC 822 [2]).

mailbox

A character string (address) which identifies a user to whom mail is to be sent. Mailbox normally consists of the host and user specifications. The standard mailbox naming convention is defined to be "user@domain". Additionally, the "container" in which mail is stored.

 

 

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RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

receiver-SMTP process

A process which transfers mail in cooperation with a sender-SMTP process. It waits for a connection to be established via the transport service. It receives SMTP commands from the sender-SMTP, sends replies, and performs the specified operations.

reply

A reply is an acknowledgment (positive or negative) sent from receiver to sender via the transmission channel in response to a command. The general form of a reply is a completion code (including error codes) followed by a text string. The codes are for use by programs and the text is usually intended for human users.

sender-SMTP process

A process which transfers mail in cooperation with a receiver-SMTP process. A local language may be used in the user interface command/reply dialogue. The sender-SMTP initiates the transport service connection. It initiates SMTP commands, receives replies, and governs the transfer of mail.

session

The set of exchanges that occur while the transmission channel is open.

transaction

The set of exchanges required for one message to be transmitted for one or more recipients.

transmission channel

A full-duplex communication path between a sender-SMTP and a receiver-SMTP for the exchange of commands, replies, and mail text.

transport service

Any reliable stream-oriented data communication services. For example, NCP, TCP, NITS.

 

 

Page 66
 
August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
user

A human being (or a process on behalf of a human being) wishing to obtain mail transfer service. In addition, a recipient of computer mail.

word

A sequence of printing characters.

 

   <CRLF>

The characters carriage return and line feed (in that order).

 

   <SP>

The space character.

 

 

Page 67
 
RFC 821                                                      August 1982
                                           Simple Mail Transfer Protocol

 

REFERENCES
[1] ASCII

ASCII, "USA Code for Information Interchange", United States of America Standards Institute, X3.4, 1968. Also in: Feinler, E. and J. Postel, eds., "ARPANET Protocol Handbook", NIC 7104, for the Defense Communications Agency by SRI International, Menlo Park, California, Revised January 1978.

[2] RFC 822

Crocker, D., "Standard for the Format of ARPA Internet Text Messages," RFC 822, Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Delaware, August 1982.

[3] TCP

Postel, J., ed., "Transmission Control Protocol - DARPA Internet Program Protocol Specification", RFC 793, USC/Information Sciences Institute, NTIS AD Number A111091, September 1981. Also in: Feinler, E. and J. Postel, eds., "Internet Protocol Transition Workbook", SRI International, Menlo Park, California, March 1982.

[4] NCP

McKenzie,A., "Host/Host Protocol for the ARPA Network", NIC 8246, January 1972. Also in: Feinler, E. and J. Postel, eds., "ARPANET Protocol Handbook", NIC 7104, for the Defense Communications Agency by SRI International, Menlo Park, California, Revised January 1978.

[5] Initial Connection Protocol

Postel, J., "Official Initial Connection Protocol", NIC 7101, 11 June 1971. Also in: Feinler, E. and J. Postel, eds., "ARPANET Protocol Handbook", NIC 7104, for the Defense Communications Agency by SRI International, Menlo Park, California, Revised January 1978.

[6] NITS

PSS/SG3, "A Network Independent Transport Service", Study Group 3, The Post Office PSS Users Group, February 1980. Available from the DCPU, National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, UK.

 

 

Page 68
 
August 1982 RFC 821
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol
[7] X.25

CCITT, "Recommendation X.25 - Interface Between Data Terminal Equipment (DTE) and Data Circuit-terminating Equipment (DCE) for Terminals Operating in the Packet Mode on Public Data Networks," CCITT Orange Book, Vol. VIII.2, International Telephone and Telegraph Consultative Committee, Geneva, 1976.

 

 

 


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War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes

Bulletin:

Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law

History:

Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Haterís Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least


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Last modified: 12 September, 2017