descriptionA mail processing system intended to provide the functionality of the POSIX mailx(1) command
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last changeThu, 20 Jul 2017 17:24:38 +0000 (20 19:24 +0200)
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W e l c o m e  t o  S - n a i l / S - m a i l x

S-nail (later S-mailx) provides a simple and friendly environment for
sending and receiving mail.  It is intended to provide the functionality
of the POSIX mailx(1) command, but is MIME capable and optionally offers
extensions for line editing, S/MIME, SMTP and POP3, among others.
S-nail divides incoming mail into its constituent messages and allows
the user to deal with them in any order.  It offers many commands and
internal variables for manipulating messages and sending mail.  It
provides the user simple editing capabilities to ease the composition of
outgoing messages, and increasingly powerful and reliable
non-interactive scripting capabilities.

Please refer to the file INSTALL for build and installation remarks,
and to NEWS for release update information.  The file THANKS mentions
people who have helped improving and deserve acknowledgement.

This software originates in the codebase of Heirloom mailx, formerly
known as nail, which itself is based upon Berkeley Mail that has
a history back to 1978 and which superseded Unix mail, a program that
already shipped with First Edition Unix from 1971 -- M. Douglas McIlroy
writes in his article "A Research UNIX Reader: Annotated Excerpts from
the Programmer's Manual, 1971-1986":

  MAIL (v1 page 21, v7 page 22)
    Electronic mail was there from the start. Never satisfied with its
    exact behavior, everybody touched it at one time or another: to
    assure the safety of simultaneous access, to improve privacy, to
    survive crashes, to exploit uucp, to screen out foreign freeloaders,
    or whatever. Not until v7 did the interface change (Thompson). [.]

1. Where?
2. Repository layout
3. Security record
4. Authors

1. Where?

Our latest release can be downloaded at [1], and the fully cross-
referenced manual can also be viewed as HTML online[2].
There are browsable git(1) repositories at[3] (use [4] for
cloning purposes), with mirrors at Sourceforge[5] and[6].

  [1] https?://{gz,xz}{,.asc}
  [2] https?://
  [3] https?://
  [4] https?://

We have a mailing list[7] with moderated unsubscribed posting
possibilities; subscriptions can be managed via web interface[8]; Gmane
added the ML their NNTP archive[9], and The Mail Archive archives
a browser-accessible and searchable web version[10] -- thank you!
Commits to the [master], [release/*] and [stable/*] branches will be
posted to [11], and announcements will also be posted to [12], both are
receive-only mailing-lists.


Our heraldic animal snailmail.jpg has been found at [+1].
Thank you!


2. Repository layout

- [release/*]
    A new branch within release/ is created for every release, e.g.,
    [release/v14.8.10].  History won't be rewritten.

    These branches consist of one commit, and that commit is signed with
    an OpenPGP key and used for the signed release tag, (.ar for "archive").  The commit as such
    covers the data modifications that make up a release, i.e., release
    date fixation, manual preprocessing, removal of data which doesn't
    make sense in release tarballs, etc.

    (Whereas all this is not true for older releases, the new repository
    layout was introduced after v14.8.10, and used [timeline] as
    a source for most references, therefore the signed tag
    protects all elder references within [release/]:

      $ git describe --contains heads/release/v1.3.0

- [release/latest] and [release/stable]
    "Symbolic links" to the latest and stable, respectively, release

- [stable/*]
    A new branch within stable/ will be created for each new minor
    version, e.g., [stable/v14.8].  History won't be rewritten.

    These are the de-facto [master] branches for their respective minor
    release, which extend for the full lifetime of the said, e.g., the
    branch [stable/v14.7] has been created once the v14.7.0 release was
    made, and it extends until the release of v14.7.11, the last v14.7
    update release made.

    Once the time for a new release has come, the head of such a stable
    branch will gain a signed commit and a signed stable tag,
    vMAJOR.MINOR.UPDATE, and then be used as the source for a new branch
    in release/.

- [stable/latest] and [stable/stable]
    "Symbolic links" to the latest and stable, respectively, stable

    These are possibly what users should track which want to have the
    newest non-release bugfixes and stable, backward-compatible commits.
    See below for examples how to accomplish that.

- [master]
    Rooted on top of [heirloom].  It gains only stable, but possibly
    backward-incompatible changes (usually mentioned on the ML), and
    will be used to create new entries in stable/.  It may gain signed
    commits for sealing purposes from time to time.
    History won't be rewritten.

- [next]
    Rooted on top of [master], this consists of a furious mixture of
    commits that eventually end up in [master].  Daring users may give
    this branch a try, but bugs and temporary nonstarters have to be
    dealt with, then.

- [crawl]
    Developer chaos (distributed horror backup - don't use!).

- [test-out]
    This branch contains the test output files.  The test itself only
    tests checksums, the full output is for development reference
    purposes only.

- [unix-mail,bsd-Mail,timeline]
    Sketchy efforts to collect the complete history of Unix mail and
    its successor, BSD Mail.  Anything from the pre-nail era has been
    taken from CSRG and TUHS, for nail and Heirloom mailx i have used
    release balls.

    The [timeline] branch was the original effort, and it will be
    continuously be extended whenever new releases will be made, but its
    history won't be rewritten, which is why it is a sketchy effort.
    The [unix-mail] and [bsd-Mail] branches have been added later, and
    will hopefully offer the most complete picture possible as time goes
    by (not taking into account the "nupas" effort of Research Unix,
    though) -- this means their history may change, but all commits are
    signed with an OpenPGP key.

- [heirloom]
    A full git(1) cvsimport of the Heirloom mailx(1) cvs(1) repository.

To create a full clone of the repository, with all the data and history:
  $ git clone

With a newer git(1), and only tracking the latest stable branch:
  $ git clone --single-branch --branch=stable/latest \

Or, being selective, also with older git(1)s:
  $ mkdir s-nail.git
  $ cd s-nail.git
  $ git init
  $ git remote add origin -t 'release/*' -t stable/stable -t master \
  $ git fetch -v

And then, assuming the last had been done:

  $ # Show all releases
  $ git log --no-walk --decorate --oneline --branches='release/*' --
  $ # Check out the latest release, and verify the signature
  $ git checkout release/latest
  $ git log --oneline --show-signature --max-count=1 HEAD
  $ make all && sudo make install

3. Security record

- CVE-2004-2771, and CVE-2014-7844.
  Fixed in: v14.7.9 (on day after announcement on oss-sec)

  Affected all BSD Mail-based codebases.

- CVE-2017-5899.
  Credits: wapiflapi.
  Fixed in: v14.8.16 (on day of disclosure)

    > vulnerability in the setuid root helper binary

    > The problem is that an O_EXCL file is created with a user controlled
    > path because the di.di_hostname and di.di_randstr are never checked.
    > This means that using s-nail-privsep a normal user can create a file
    > anywhere on the filesystem, which is a security problem.

4. Authors

Unix mail seems to have been written mostly by Ken Thompson.

Berkeley Mail was (according to def.h) developed by Kurt Shoens, dated
March 25, 1978.  According to the CSRG commit log authors of BSD mail in
the time span 1980-10-08 to 1995-05-01 were, in order of appearance
(commit count): Kurt Shoens (379), Kirk McKusick (50), Carl Smith (16),
Bill Bush (2), Eric Allman (6), Craig Leres (43), Sam Leffler (51),
Ralph Campbell (21), Serge Granik (28), Edward Wang (253),
Donn Seeley (1), Jay Lepreau (3), Jim Bloom (1), Anne Hughes (2),
Kevin Dunlap (34), Keith Bostic (253), Mike Karels (1), Cael Staelin (6)
and Dave Borman (17).  One commit by Charlie Root, 36 by "dist".

Official BSD Mail development ceased in 1995 according to the CSRG
(Berkeley's Computer Systems Research Group) repository.  Mail has then
seen further development in open source BSD variants, noticeably by
Christos Zoulas in NetBSD.

Gunnar Ritter reused that codebase when he started developing nail in
February 2000, and incorporated numerous patches from OpenBSD, NetBSD,
RedHat and Debian.  He added MIME code, network protocol support, and
POSIX conformance improvements. In March 2006, he integrated that
program into the Heirloom project, renaming it to Heirloom mailx, the
development of which ceased in 2008.

In 2012 Steffen (Daode) Nurpmeso adopted the codebase as S-nail.
We try to end up as S-mailx.

# s-ts-mode
43 hours ago Steffen (Daode... n_go_input(): fix n_PS_READLINE bit in TTY case thus... masterstable/lateststable/stablestable/v14.9
3 days ago Steffen (Daode... INSTALL: i am still cleaning up v14.9.0 mess
4 days ago Steffen (Daode... NEWS: fix more v14.9.0 mess
5 days ago Steffen (Daode... NEWS: fix v14.9.0 mess
5 days ago Steffen (Daode... Bump S-nail v14.9.0 ("Long-tailed tit"), 2017-07-16v14.9.0
5 days ago Steffen (Daode... NEWS: v14.9.0 ("Long-tailed tit")
5 days ago Steffen (Daode... nail.1: last fixes
5 days ago Steffen (Daode... TODO: Rattus Norvegicus
5 days ago Steffen (Daode... gen-okeys.h: regenerate
5 days ago Steffen (Daode... nail.1: review
5 days ago Steffen (Daode... a_go_evaluate(), c_commandalias(): reserve "u" as comma...
5 days ago Steffen (Daode... install: ignore chown error..
5 days ago Steffen (Daode... main.c: support $COLUMNS/$LINES in non-interactive...
5 days ago Steffen (Daode... termcap.c, tty.c: Some does not's
5 days ago Steffen (Daode... MLE: fix ^D / *ignoreeof* handling
5 days ago Steffen (Daode... fix OPT_AMALGAMATION, broken since...
5 days ago Bump S-nail ("Long-taile...
5 days ago v14.9.0 Bump S-nail v14.9.0 ("Long-tailed...
2 weeks ago v14.9.0-rc1 Bump S-nail v14.9.0-rc1, 2017-07-01
3 months ago v14.9.0-pre4 Bump S-nail v14.9.0-pre4, 2017...
5 months ago Bump S-nail ("Copris...
5 months ago v14.8.16 Bump S-nail v14.8.16 ("Copris lunar...
6 months ago Bump S-nail ("Scarabaeu...
6 months ago v14.8.15 Bump S-nail v14.8.15 ("Scarabaeus...
6 months ago v14.9.0-pre3 Bump S-nail v14.9.0-pre3, 2016...
7 months ago steffen-pgp-pub My OpenPGP key: steffen@sdaoden...
8 months ago v14.9.0-pre2 Bump S-nail v14.9.0-pre2, 2016...
9 months ago Bump S-nail, 2016-10-20
9 months ago v14.8.14 Bump S-nail v14.8.14, 2016-10-20
9 months ago Bump S-nail, 2016-10-19
9 months ago v14.8.13 Bump S-nail v14.8.13, 2016-10-19
9 months ago Bump S-nail, 2016-10-05
22 hours ago crawl
22 hours ago next
43 hours ago stable/v14.9
43 hours ago stable/stable
43 hours ago stable/latest
43 hours ago master
5 days ago timeline
5 days ago release/v14.9.0
5 days ago release/stable
5 days ago release/latest
12 days ago test-out
4 weeks ago stable/v14.8
3 months ago bsd-Mail
3 months ago unix-mail
5 months ago release/v14.8.16
6 months ago release/v14.8.15