Elm - Overview File

An Overview of the Elm Mail System


This file discusses the functionality of the Elm mail system and explains some of the motivation behind the various features.

1. What is Elm?

Currently on UNIX, there seems to be a preponderance of line-oriented software. This is most unfortunate as most of the software on UNIX tends to be pretty darn hard to use! I believe that there is more than a slight correlation between the two, and, since I was myself having problems using "mailx" with high-volume mail, I created a new mail system.

In the lingo of the mail guru, Elm is a "User Agent" system, it's designed to run with "sendmail" or "/bin/rmail" or any other UNIX Mail Transport Agent (according to what's on your system) and is a full replacement of programs like "/bin/mail" and "mailx". The system is more than just a single program, however, and includes programs like "frm" to list a 'table of contents' of your mail, and "printmail" to quickly paginate mail files (to allow 'clean' printouts).

2. What's New about Elm?

The most significant difference between Elm and earlier mail systems is that Elm is screen-oriented. Upon further use, however, users will find that Elm is also quite a bit easier to use, and quite a bit more "intelligent" about sending mail and so on. For example, say you're on "usenet" and receive a message from someone on the Internet. The sender also "cc'd" another person on Internet. With Elm you can simply G)roup reply and it will build the correct return addresses.

There are lots of subtleties like that in the program, most of which you'll probably find when you need them.

3. What systems does it work on?

The Elm development group uses almost every UNIX system out there between all of its volunteers. Elm runs on USL System V, BSD, SunOS, Apollo, UTS, Pyramid and Xenix and should run on almost any UNIX systems without any modifications (if there turn out to be modifications, please notify the Elm Development Group as soon as possible).

4. Does it obey existing mail standards?

Yes! That's another of the basic reasons the program was originally written! To ensure that the date field, the "From:" line and so on were all added in the correct format. The program is 100% correct according to the RFC-822 electronic mail header protocol guide.

5. What were the main motivating factors for Dave to write Elm?

The first two I've already mentioned, but here's a (somewhat partial) list;

6. Is it reliable?

The mailer, in various incarnations, has logged literally thousands upon thousands of hours without any problems that aren't now corrected. As new problems arise they're dealt with in as rapid a manner as possible...

7. Disclaimers

The author of this program will deny all liability for any damages, either real or imagined, due to the execution of this program or anything related to either the software or the system. Furthermore, the entire system and all source within, including the presentation screens and commands, are legally copyrighted by the author, and while they can be used, and abused, for public domain systems, it will be in violation of the law if used in systems or programs sold for profit.

By installing the mailer or even extracting it from the network, you are agreeing to the above disclaimer.

8. Finally

I think it's a good program, and I can cite at least 75 people who would (begrudgingly, I'm sure) agree. You should most certainly install the program and try it!!

Dave Taylor / taylor@intuitive.com
Syd Weinstein, Coordinator / Elm Development Group / elm@myxa.com

Original: March 13th, 1986
Modified: October 3th, 1992, Syd Weinstein, Coordinator, Elm Development Group

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