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5. Using Cyrillic with mail and news

Setting up your mail and news software to recognize Cyrillic text is not very difficult, although you have to possess some knowledge of principles, mail and news work by.

Internet electronic mail software generally consists of two parts: MUA (Mail User Agent) and MTA (Mail Transfer Agent). MUA is the program you use to read, compose, and send mail. However, MUA doesn't transfer mail messages by itself. Instead, it calls the MTA, which is reponsible to send message using an appropriate protocol to the appropriate direction. For example, your MUA may be Pine and MTA - qmail.

Until quite recently, both MTA and MUA weren't 8-bit clean by default. Therefore, whenever you sent your message from say America to Russia, you were never sure, that some intermediate MTA won't strip the 8th bit from each character of your message. Therefore, a set of protocols was developed, which allowed encoding various kinds of data using only printable characters from 7-bit ASCII. This family of protocols is called MIME (MultimedIa Mail Encoding).

Since MIME is usually pre-configured to reasonable defaults, we won't describe it here. We will talk more about MIME when we provide a backward compatibility with other Cyrillic encodings (section mime).

Meanwhile, we start MUA setup, because it is usually up to an end-user. Then, we will describe the basic priciples of the MTA configuration for Cyrillic.

5.1 Setting up Mail User Agents

Emacs-based mail readers

Basically, you don't need any special setup for Emacs-based readers, geivedn, that you've already configured the emacs itself (see section emacs).


Set the following directive in ~/.pinerc for personal configuration, or in /usr/lib/pine.conf for a global one:


5.2 Configuring your MTA

There are a number of MTAs available now. These include sendmail, qmail, smail, exim, and others.


So far, sendmail is much more popular than other MTAs, because it's long history and widespread use. Personally, I hate this program - it is a perfect example of a completely moronic design and even it's "improvements" with the passion of time show, that this approach is not going to cease. Any system administrator shudders, when he hears the ominous "" name...

As of now, sendmail doesn't strip the 8th bit anymore. However, it may encode the 8-bit data using a special base64 encoding. Although most MUAs are supposed to recognize it and decode it back to a regular data, you may want to start with sending raw 8-bit text to make sure everything works.

As of version 8, sendmail handles 8-bit data correctly by default. If it doesn't do it for you, check the EightBitMode option and option 7 given to mailers in your /etc/ See "Sendmail. Operation and Installation Guide" for details.

Other MTAs

I don't know much about other MTAs. If you know something, which may be important for Cyrillic setup, please inform me.

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