How to use the DRI Mail/FTP Server

(See also: Overview)

The Digital Resource Institute's Mail/FTP Server can be reached by anonymous FTP at or Alternatively, the server can be reached via electronic mail at "" or "". If your mailer doesn't understand domain addresses, try a nearby gateway like "uunet".

Currently, the archives available are the CCITT Blue Book, plus some miscellaneous software for easy access to these documents.

There are several files available to help you find your way around this server. The file pub/standards/ccitt/conditions.txt describes the conditions under which this archive server operates. The file pub/standards/ccitt/formats explains the formats available for the various standards documents. The file pub/standards/ccitt/1988/ explains the organization of the Blue Book directories and file naming conventions. The file pub/standards/INDEX contains a list of files in the archives (but no description of the various documents). It is about 146k bytes long, so you may want to retrieve the compressed version of this file (INDEX.Z), which is only about 26k bytes long.

We suggest that you start by retrieving conditions.txt and formats, and optionally and/or INDEX.Z.

To access the server via anonymous FTP, login as user "anonymous", and specify your user@hostname for the passwd. You can then change directories using "cd ", and examine files using "get file". There is also a help command in FTP.

The remainder of the current help file contains instructions on how to use the mail server interface.

When the Mail Server receives a message, it reads the mail headers to determine the requester's address. If a "Reply-To:" header is found, the indicated address is used. If not, it uses the address as specified in the "From:" header.

The message body is scanned for server commands. Every line in the message should contain a valid server command. NOTE: All commands are in the body of the message, not in the subject. The Subject: field is ignored by the server.

A report is sent to you by return mail if there are any errors present in the request. Any requests will be handled as soon as the load of the server system permits.

Files larger than 64K will be automatically split into 64K chunks before sending, so mailers don't die. Alternatively, you can use the LIMIT command to specify the maximum size of mail. (Described below).

The mail server is still under development. Things may change in the near future.

Command Syntax

A command consists of a keyword (verb), followed by zero or more arguments, depending on the command. Command verbs may be specified in all upper case letters, lower case or whatever mixed case. In other words: case is not significant in command verbs. Case *IS* significant in command arguments. Empty lines are ignored.

The following commands are understood by the server:


The return electronic mail address used by the server is set to the indicated
. This must be a valid address by which you can be reached. It may contain a domain-based address. Use this command if you are not sure that the return addresses generated by your mail system are reliable.


The remainder of the message is ignored. This can be useful if a .signature is appended to the message.


Sends a listing (including file sizes) of the directories or files specified. Wildcards can be used. If no directory is specified, sends main archive directory. Note: currently does not split long directory listings into multiple mail messages (unlike INDEX command).


Specify the maximum number of bytes which may be sent in a single mail message. Transfers exceeding this amount will be split before sending. The amount may be specified in Kbytes, e.g., "30K". The default value is 64K. NOTE: setting the limit will only affect "send" and "resend" commands following this command. NOTE: due to mail header overhead, it is possible that the size of the mail which reaches you will (slightly) exceed this limit.


The requested items will be uuencoded before sending. (See below about source availability.) NOTE: setting the encoding will only affect "send" and "resend" commands following this command.


The requested files will be encoded using "btoa". Btoa encoded files are smaller than uuencoded files, but the btoa/atob programs are less widely available than uuencode/uudecode. (See below about source availability.) NOTE: setting the encoding will only affect "send" and "resend" commands following this command.

NOTE: binary files (including tar files and compressed files) must be sent with either UUENCODE or BTOA encoding, or else the data will be garbled during transmission. Infosrv knows that it needs to send tar, compressed, and zoo files uuencoded, but encoding must be explicitly requested for other binary files (such as object code).


The specified is looked up in the server archives. If found, it will be sent to you by e-mail. A path of directories is consulted when searching for items, including the top level anonymous FTP directory, the standards directory, and each directory under the standards directory (ccitt, iso, etc.) Therefore, for example, you could request pub/standards/ccitt/conditions.txt using "send pub/standards/ccitt/conditions.txt" or "send ccitt/conditions.txt" or "send conditions.txt".

Multiple items may be specified with one SEND command. NOTE: the names of the s are case sensitive.

RESEND [...]

Re-send the indicated s of this item. This is useful if not all parts of a multi-parts transmission did arrive correctly. When re-transmitting, the encoding and limit used must be identical to those of the original transmission.


This command sends a less detailed description of the commands than the current HELP file.


This command is for testing. No files will be sent if you use this, but a confirmation message will be sent to the return path as determined from the mail headers or the "path" command. You may use this to find out if your address is valid.


There are several pieces of source code available to help unwrap files sent by infosrv. Use "send uudecode.shar" to obtain the uudecode/uuencode programs. Use "send btoa.shar" to obtain the btoa/atob programs. Use "send compress.shar" to obtain the compress/uncompress programs. Use "send unpack" to obtain a "perl" script that automates the process of unpacking and decoding files sent back by this archive server. (It requires Larry Wall's public domain "perl" program.)

Packages sent in "shar" format require /bin/sh to unpack.

Sample Mail Server Usage

Sending: uuencode send conditions.txt and formats INDEX.Z ls ccitt/1988/ascii/3_3* will send conditions.txt and the compressed index, plus a listing (including file sizes) of some of the 1988 CCITT standards documents.


The machine on which this server runs is courtesy of Sun Microsystems, Inc.

This server evolved from the MultiHouse Mail Server, written by Johan Vromans . It was modified by people at SRI International, as well as Mike Schwartz at the University of Colorado.

For questions, information, bug reports, and remarks, contact:

Professor Michael Schwartz

Dept. of Computer Science

Univ. of Colorado - Boulder

Boulder, CO 80309

(303) 492-3902