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Running Linux, Fourth Edition by Lar Kaufman, Terry Dawson, Matthias Kalle Dalheimer, Matt Welsh

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Electronic Mail

Electronic mail (email) is one of the most desirable features of a computer system. You can send and receive email on your Linux system locally between users on the host and between hosts on a network. You have to set up three classes of software to provide email service. These are the mail user agent or mailer, the mail transport agent (MTA), and the transport protocol.

The mailer provides the user interface for displaying mail, writing new messages, and filing messages. Linux offers you many choices for mailers. They are always being improved, and a particular mailer may provide certain features, such as the ability to serve as a newsreader or to serve as a web browser. Mailers tend to differ in terms of their MIME support. (MIME stands for Multimedia Internet Mail Extensions. It is really not multimedia-specific, but more a general standard for describing the contents of email messages.) Some do it better than others. It’s difficult to give a recommendation here, though, since all mailers are continually moving toward better MIME support.

The mailer relies on the MTA to route mail from one user to another, whether locally or across systems. The MTA in turn uses a transport protocol, usually either Unix-to-Unix Copy (UUCP) or Simple Mail Transport Protocol (SMTP), to provide the medium for mail transfer.

There are a number of possible scenarios when using email on a Linux system, and depending on those scenarios, you will have to install a different set of software ...

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