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Old 24th June 2009
J65nko J65nko is offline
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Default matts: a sh script to mail files as attachments from the command line

matts: a sh script to mail files as attachments from the command line

  • 1.1 Introduction
  • 1.2 Investigating a MIME mail message
  • 1.3 The mailing attachment(s) script 'matts'
  • 1.4 Man page


1.1 Introduction

Mailing output of commands or contents of files in-line is not difficult to do from within the shell. Some examples:
  • A listing of all files with the '*.txt' extension:

    Code:
    $ ls -l *.txt | mail -s "My text files" xyz@gmail.com
  • Sending "dmesg" output:

    Code:
    $ dmesg | mail -s "dmesg of host zeno" t.blair@xyzz.com
  • Contents of a file in-line

    Code:
    $ mail -s "The costs of Vista" abc@gmail.com < vista_cost.txt

However, sending an attachment using the MIME standard cannot be done easily from the command line. In the following section we will take a detailed look at a MIME mail message containing an attachment and then you will understand why.


1.2 Investigating a MIME mail message

The MIME acronym stands for Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions. These extensions add support for single or multiple non-text attachments. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIME.

The MIME part of a mail message:

Code:
 1  MIME-Version: 1.0
 2  Content-Type: multipart/mixed;
 3      boundary="===========N=E=X=T===5facb5052688c84e499c086252c902db========" 
 4  Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit 
 5  
 6    This message is in MIME format. If you see this,
 7    then your mail reader is not MIME-aware 
 8  
 9  --===========N=E=X=T===5facb5052688c84e499c086252c902db========
10  Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1 
11  Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit 
12  
13  Find attached the following file: backup.tgz
14  -rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel  2022 Feb 27 04:13 backup.tgz
15  
16  The MD5 checksum: MD5 (backup.tgz) = 1c03908b6ba8414a86f98410e4a9cbdf
17  
18  --===========N=E=X=T===5facb5052688c84e499c086252c902db========
19  Content-Type: application/octet-stream; name="backup.tgz"
20  Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64
21  Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="backup.tgz"
22  
23  H4sIAAAAAAAAA+1XbXfaVhLO1+pXTDE+mFPLhsQvKQ7dyEa2lQLyIjltsmdPjpAuoEYvVC+22Tb/
24  fZ+5kjD28XrTD+1+WM0HkLh3npm588zcwckyx12EIsrUTNxlL/4M6XQ7nePD7otOIY+/jw8Pjl50
25  [snip away many lines]
26  l2yeELKMa9XBzBXxnDLj668sTmgX6W+tG2qLp1207NzNqoRUY3BxDSnK//pffi211FJLLbXUUkst
27  tdRSSy211FJLLbXUUkst/2/yb0AcgmMAKAAA
28  
29  --===========N=E=X=T===5facb5052688c84e499c086252c902db========--
Let us have a look at the different parts.

Code:
 1  MIME-Version: 1.0
 2  Content-Type: multipart/mixed;
 3      boundary="===========N=E=X=T===5facb5052688c84e499c086252c902db========" 
 4  Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit 
 5  
 6    This message is in MIME format. If you see this,
 7    then your mail reader is not MIME-aware 
 8  
 9  --===========N=E=X=T===5facb5052688c84e499c086252c902db========
In line 1, we see that the MIME-version is "1.0". This version is the only one, that has been defined up to now.

Lines 2-3 define the "Content-Type" as "multipart/mixed" and specify an unique boundary, "===========N=E=X=T===5facb5052688c84e499c086252c9 02db========", as end of part marker.

The "Content-Transfer-Encoding" is set for 7 bits.

Line 5-8 contain a message in case the mail reader program does not know anything of MIME. A MIME-aware mailer will just skip this message.

In line 9, for the first time, we meet the unique boundary. Please note, and this is important, the '--' in front.

Code:
 10  Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1 
 11  Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit 
 12  
 13  Find attached the following file: backup.tgz
 14  -rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel  2022 Feb 27 04:13 backup.tgz
 15  
 16  The MD5 checksum: MD5 (backup.tgz) = 1c03908b6ba8414a86f98410e4a9cbdf
 17  
 18  --===========N=E=X=T===5facb5052688c84e499c086252c902db========
Lines 10-11 form the lead-in of the first real useful MIME section, with a text part in lines 12-17 and again followed by the unique separator, prefixed with a '--'.

Code:
 19  Content-Type: application/octet-stream; name="backup.tgz"
 20  Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64
 21  Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="backup.tgz"
 22  
 23  H4sIAAAAAAAAA+1XbXfaVhLO1+pXTDE+mFPLhsQvKQ7dyEa2lQLyIjltsmdPjpAuoEYvVC+22Tb/
 24  fZ+5kjD28XrTD+1+WM0HkLh3npm588zcwckyx12EIsrUTNxlL/4M6XQ7nePD7otOIY+/jw8Pjl50
 25  [snip away many lines]
 26  l2yeELKMa9XBzBXxnDLj668sTmgX6W+tG2qLp1207NzNqoRUY3BxDSnK//pffi211FJLLbXUUkst
 27  tdRSSy211FJLLbXUUkst/2/yb0AcgmMAKAAA
 28  
 29  --===========N=E=X=T===5facb5052688c84e499c086252c902db========--
Line 19 specifies "application/octet-stream" as "Content-Type" and the filename as "backup.tgz". Because a gzipped (compressed) tar file, is a binary stream of data, it needs to be encoded, or mapped to the normal range of readable characters. The "base64" encoding takes care of this. The "Content-Transfer-Encoding" of line 20 specifies this encoding.

Line 21, the "Content-Disposition" defines it as an attachment with "backup.tgz" as filename. The base64 encoded data, not completely shown here, is in line 23-27, and is followed by the last boundary. To signal this boundary as the last one, it not only has an "--" at the start, but also at the end.

As mentioned before the structure of a MIME message with a normal text part and an attachment part, is not really too complicated.


1.3 The mailing attachment(s) script 'matts'

Features:
  • Command line options allow specification of the following:

    • "From:" (required)
    • Recipient (required) using at least one of the following "To:", "Cc:" or "Bcc"
    • "Subject:" (required)
    • Plain message text (optional)
  • Supports multiple files to be attached.
  • Automatic generation of a MD5 checksum file for all attached files.
  • Preview of the generated mail message
  • An ISC style license, as used by the OpenBSD project.

Examples of usage:
  • Getting help

    Code:
    $ matts -h
    ---- Usage of ./matts ------------
    -f      : set From:
    -t      : set To:
    -s      : set Subject:
    -c      : set Cc:
    -b      : set Bcc:
    -m      : message text 
    -n      : do NOT send, just show 
    -h      : help, show this message
  • Using simple mail addresses:

    Code:
    matts -f "john@a89-226-158-99.adsl.xs4all.nl" -t john884@gmail.com \
         -s "Backup of my XML articles" RCSarticles.tgz
  • Full mail addresses.

    Code:
    matts -f "John van Mierlo <john@a89-226-158-99.adsl.xs4all.nl>" \
     -b "John van Mierlo <john884@gmail.com>, J. van Mierlo <john1024@yahoo.com>" \
     -s "Xorg configuration Backup" /etc/X11/xorg.conf /var/log/Xorg.0.log
  • Using the "-n" option:

    Code:
    $ matts -f j65nko -t j65nko@xxxx.xxx -s 'The latest matts' -n matts
    Message-Id: <20090624003430-archiver@hercules.utp.xnet>
    Date: Wed Jun 24 02:34:30 CEST 2009
    From: j65nko
    Subject: The latest matts
    To: j65nko@xxxx.xxx
    X-Generator:  matts,v 1.10 2009/06/23 22:26:38 j65nko Exp 
    MIME-Version: 1.0
    Content-Type: multipart/mixed;
        boundary="=======N=E=X=T===e7c27321ce16ef2e13c9c7b435d3a845==" 
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit 
    
      This message is in MIME format. If you see this,
      then either your mail reader is not MIME-aware or
      the goondo shell scripter did something wrong ;)
    
    --=======N=E=X=T===e7c27321ce16ef2e13c9c7b435d3a845==
    Content-Type: application/octet-stream; name="MD5"
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64
    Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="MD5"
    
    TUQ1IChtYXR0cykgPSBkYTIyNjU1YmIzZDI5NThiNzNiY2RkNjA0MzA1MDBmNgo=
    
    --=======N=E=X=T===e7c27321ce16ef2e13c9c7b435d3a845==
    Content-Type: application/octet-stream; name="matts"
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64
    Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="matts"
    
    IyEvYmluL3NoCiMgJElkOiBtYXR0cyx2IDEuMTAgMjAwOS8wNi8yMyAyMjoyNjoz
    OCBqNjVua28gRXhwICQKIyBtYXR0czogIE1haWwgQVRUYWNobWVudFMKCiMgQ29w
    [snip]
    ZTY0IGVuY29kZWQgZGF0YSBjYW4gYmUgZm91bmQgaW4gdGhlCiMgIE1JTUUgJ2Zp
    bGVuYW1lPScgY29uc3RydWN0CiMgLS0tIEVORAoK
    
    --=======N=E=X=T===e7c27321ce16ef2e13c9c7b435d3a845==--


1.4 Man page

The man page can be copied to the man directory. For example on OpenBSD:

Code:
# cp man.1 /usr/local/man/man1
$Id: mail-attachments.xml,v 1.3 2009/06/24 01:36:24 j65nko Exp $
$Id: vbul-html.xsl,v 1.14 2008/09/12 03:44:16 j65nko Exp $
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