Written by Martin Wendel, ITS, Uppsala university.


There are several ways of using Emil. You may choose to use Emil as an independant program or you may choose to integrate Emil into your message delivery system. Using the capabilities specified below there is no restriction on how you can use Emil.

Emil can take its input in two ways: You can pipe a message to the stdin of Emil or you can place the message in a file and tell Emil to use that file for input.

Emil can produce its output in three ways: To a file, to the stdout or to an SMTP stream (Emil includes an SMTP client and can send the message to a remote host using SMTP).

Emil can also fork off another program and send the output to the stdin of that process.

If you intend to use Emil as an indepentant program feel free to experiment on how you can use Emil. If, on the other hand you want to integrate Emil into your message delivery systems there are a few things that need considering. There are three main approaches: Input filtering, output filtering and intermediate filtering.

Input filtering

This is applying Emil before the MTA receives the message and making Emil call the MTA after conversion is completed. The one big disadvantage of this method is that there is no way to apply Emil on a network input. This is because Emil has no network daemon facilities. It is however possible to use Emil as an input filter to sendmail on locally sent messages. This can be done by installing Emil on the path of the sendmail program and move sendmail to another place (sendmail must of course still be up and running as a daemon). Emil can then be made to call sendmail and send the converted messages to the stdin of sendmail. This is the general, and ugly, method of using Emil as an input filter. Another way is restrict usage to specific programs that need to have their messages converted. This, of course, means changing the programs to call Emil instead of sendmail. This can be fairly useful, for instance in a news-to-mail program that gateways a news group to a mailling list. (The opposite is also possible, using Emil in a mail-to-news program.)

Output filtering

This is letting the MTA apply Emil on it's output and is perhaps the most useful method of using Emil. The most powerful way to implement output filtering in sendmail is to change the mailer definitions in Emil includes an SMTP client and can be made to fork off other programs and redirect its output to them. Therefore it is possible to replace sendmail's TCP mailer and the external mailers like the local mailer, uucp mailer etc with mailers calling Emil. This is a total solution excluding only those internal mailers that are not SMTP based. It is also possible to implement conversion in a more restricted way using output filtering

Intermediate filtering

The only way to implement intermediate filtering using sendmail is to combine output and input filtering in a loop back fasion letting Emil receive the message from sendmail and redirect it back to sendmail again. This is the method suggested in previous versions of Emil 2. The main advantage is that this method is more general than any of the others. The main disadvantages are that it is difficult to make the changes to correctly and that all message actually will be processed by sendmail twice, spooled twice et cetera.

If, on the other hand, you set up Emil to swap sender and recipient address before calling sendmail, you have constructed a mail conversion robot that will convert messages sent to it and return the result back to the sender. This can be a solution for sites that wants ocasional conversion; instead of teaching users how to use Emil you set up a server that handles the configuration syntax.

March 1996

ITS Uppsala university
Box 887
751 08 Uppsala

Martin Wendel E-Mail: