Man Linux: Main Page and Category List


       makemime - Create MIME-formatted messages


       makemime [options...]

       makemime [@filename]


       makemime creates MIME-formatted messages of arbitrary complexity.
       makemime reads one or more individual files, MIME-encodes them, adds
       basic MIME headers, and adds any additional headers specified bye
       command line options. The result is saved to another file or standard
       output. Complex MIME-formatted messages are created by piping together
       multiple instances of makemime. Advanced options direct makemime to
       fork() itself, and handle the details of setting up all the pipelines.

       In most cases, options for makemime come directly from the command
       line. @filename reads the options from a file. "@&n" reads options from
       a pipe on file descriptor #n. "@-" is a shortcut for "@&0", which reads
       options from standard input.

       When options are read from a file or a pipe, each option must be on a
       line by itself. If an option requires an argument, the argument must
       follow on the next line.

       For readability, leading whitespace is deleted when options are read
       from a file or a pipe. Empty lines are also ignored, as well as lines
       that begin with the ´#´ character.

       Options and their arguments may contain characters that are special
       characters to the shell, such as ´(´ and ´)´. These characters must be
       backslashed when specified on the command line, to avoid their special
       meaning to the shell. These characters MUST NOT be backslashed when
       options are read from a file or a pipe. Similarly, the contents of most
       headers nearly always include spaces. Therefore they must be quoted
       when specified on the command line. Header contents MUST NOT be quoted
       when options come from a file or a pipe.

       makemime reads the content to be formatted as a MIME message from some
       other file. The files can also be a pipe. It is possible to supply both
       the options and a file from the same pipe, by terminating the options
       list with a line containing the single character "-". The remainder of
       the pipe will be available to be used as an input file (which must be
       explicitly specified by one of the options). Of course, only one input
       file can come from a single pipe.

   MIME overview
       A MIME-formatted message contains one or several MIME sections. MIME
       headers specify how multiple MIME sections are to be interpreted as a
       whole (whether they are attached together; whether they are alternative
       representations of the same content; or something even more esoteric).
       This manual page gives a very brief, terse, overview of basic MIME
       concepts. The description is biased towards describing the
       functionality of the makemime utility. See RFC 2045[1], RFC 2046[2],
       RFC 2047[3], RFC 2048[4], and RFC 2049[4] for a formal definition of
       MIME-formatted messages.

       Each file in a MIME message is encoded as a single MIME section. A MIME
       section consists of at least one header line, "Content-Type:". The
       "Content-Type:" header gives the type of the data ontained in the file.
       Other header lines may also be present. Their relative order does not
       matter. MIME headers are followed by a blank line, then the contents of
       the file, encoded appropriately. All MIME sections generated by
       makemime will always contain another header,
       "Content-Transfer-Encoding:". This header gives the encoding method
       used for the file; it is an optional header, but makemime always
       creates it.

       The MIME encoding method defaults to "7bit" if this header is absent.
       7bit encoding is only suitable for plain text messages in the US-ASCII
       character set. The "8bit" encoding method is used by plain text
       messages in other character sets that use octets with the high bit set.
       An alternative to 8bit encoding is "quoted-printable". The "base64"
       encoding method is used for files containing binary data (anything
       other than plain text).

       MIME sections that contain text messages have their "Content-Type:"
       header set to "text/plain"; or "text/html" for HTML messages. There are
       also several other, rare, content types that can be used. MIME sections
       that contain other kinds of data will use some other, appropriate
       "Content-Type:" header, such as "image/gif", or "audio/x-wav".

       MIME sections that contain textual content may also use the base64
       encoding method, they are not required to use 7bit, 8bit, or
       quoted-printable. "text/pdf" sections, that contain PDF files,
       typically contain binary data and must use the base64 encoding.
       Consequently, MIME sections that typically contain binary data, such as
       image/gif and audio/x-wav, are free to use encodings other than base64,
       as long as all the data can be represented by printable characters
       (but, in practice, that never happens).

       MIME sections may also contain other, optional, headers such as
       "Content-Disposition:", "Content-ID:", and "Content-Name:". Consult the
       appropriate RFCs for the specific usage of these headers. These headers
       can be added by makemime by using the -a option, as described below.
       These headers play no part in creating the overall structure of a
       MIME-encoded message, and makemime does not care much about these
       headers. It simply includes them, and their content, upon request.

       Multiple files are formatted as a single message MIME message in two
       steps: first, by creating a MIME section for each file; and then
       creating a single MIME section that contains other MIME sections. A
       "multipart/mixed" MIME section contains a collection of MIME sections
       that represent different objects, attached together. A
       "multipart/alternative" MIME section contains a collection of MIME
       sections which are alternative representations of the same object, such
       as an HTML and a plain text version of the same message. Other
       "multipart" MIME sections also exist, and their usage is defined by
       their respective RFCs.

   Creating a single MIME section
       makemime {-c "type"} [-e "encoding"] [-o outputfile] [-C "charset"]
                [-N "name"] [-a "header: value"...] {filename}

       The -c option reads filename, encodes it appropriately, adds the
       "Content-Type: type" and "Content-Transfer-Encoding:" MIME headers,
       then writes the result to standard output.  type can be any valid MIME
       type, except for multipart. Setting filename to "-" reads from standard
       input. Setting filename to "&n" reads from file descriptor #n.

       The -C option sets the MIME charset attribute for text/plain content.
       The -N option sets the name attribute for Content-Type:.

       encoding argument should be specified. It´s more efficient to do so.
       encoding must be one of the following: 7bit, 8bit, quoted-printable, or

       If encoding is not specified, makemime reads the filename twice - once
       to figure out the best encoding method, and the second time to encode
       filename. If filename is a pipe makemime creates a temporary file,
       which is not very efficient if filename is large. However letting
       makemime pick the encoding method is more convenient if filename is
       relatively small.

       Another possibility is to omit encoding and set type to auto. This
       combination sets "Content-Type:" to either text/plain, or
       application/octet-stream, based on the selected encoding.

       By default the encoded MIME section is written to standard output. The
       -o option writes the MIME section to outputfile.  outputfile may be
       "&n", which writes the MIME section to a pipe on file descriptor #n.

       makemime does not generate any other headers. Particularly, the
       "Mime-Version:" header is required for MIME-formatted E-mail messages.
       Additional headers are specified by the -a option, which may be used
       multiple times to insert multiple headers.  makemime doesn´t do
       anything with them except to insert the headers into the generated MIME

       Note that "Mime-Version:" is only required for the top level MIME
       section. This header is not required for individual MIME sections that
       are later combined into a multipart MIME collection.

       The -c option must occur listed first, the remaining options must
       follow the -c option.

   Creating a multipart MIME collection
       makemime {-m "multipart/type"} [-e "encoding"] [-o outputfile]
                [-a "header: value"...] {filename}

       The -m option is identical to the -c option, except for three

       type must be either "multipart/mixed", "multipart/alternative", or some
       other MIME multipart content type. Additionally, "encoding" can only be
       "7bit" or "8bit", and will default to "8bit" if not specified. Finally,
       filename must be a MIME-formatted section, NOT a regular file. Usually
       filename is created by a previous invocation of makemime (it can also
       be a pipe, like the -c option), but it can be created via any other

       The -m option creates an initial multipart MIME collection, that
       contains only one MIME section, taken from filename. The collection is
       written to standard output, or the pipe or to outputfile.

   Creating a multipart MIME section
       makemime {-j file1"} [-o outputfile] {file2}

       This option adds a MIME section to an existing MIME collection.  file1
       must be a MIME collection that was previously created by the -m option.
       file2 must be a MIME section that was previously created by the -c
       option. The -j options adds the MIME section in file2 to the MIME
       collection in file1. The result is written to standard output or to

       file1 and/or file2 may be "@&n" which reads from file descriptor #n.
       The outputfile may also specify a file descriptor.

       file1 and file2 should ideally be created by makemime as well. It´s
       also possible to use MIME-formatted files created by other software,
       but with some degree of care.  makemime is not intended to be a MIME
       parser, but a MIME generator. However some amount of MIME parsing is
       necessary to append a MIME section to an existing MIME collection.
       makemime´s parsing is sufficient for appending a new section to a MIME
       collection, as long as the MIME headers in the MIME collections are
       straightforward. Very convoluted MIME headers may confuse makemime, and
       it may not be able to handle them.

   Recursive MIME collections
       MIME collection may contain other MIME collections as well as MIME
       sections. The -m and the -j options may use a multipart MIME collection
       in place of a MIME section automatically because a multipart MIME
       collection is just a special type of a MIME section. The following
       example encodes a text message that can be alternatively represented as
       HTML or plain text, with some additional attachments:

       1. Create a MIME collection that has a text/plain and a text/html MIME

       2. Create a MIME collection consisting of the MIME section generated in
       step one, plus additional MIME sections containing other attachments.

       For example:

           # Take two files containing the text and the html version of a message, and
           # add MIME headers to them.

           makemime -c "text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1" -o tmp1.txt msg.txt
           makemime -c "text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" -o tm.html msg.html

           # Combine the result into a multipart/alternative collection

           makemime -m "multipart/alternative" -a "Content-Disposition: inline" \
                                               -o tmp.ma1 tmp1.txt
           makemime -j tmp.ma1 -o tmp.ma2 tm.html

           # Add MIME headers to an image attachment.

           makemime -c "image/gif" -a "Content-Disposition: attachment" \
                                   -o tmp2.gif attachment.gif

           # Create the final multipart/mixed collection

           makemime -m "multipart/mixed" -a "Mime-Version: 1.0" \
                                         -o tmp.mm1 tmp.ma2
           makemime -j tmp.mm1 -o output.msg tmp2.gif

       output.msg now contains the complete MIME collection. Just add the
       Subject:, From:, and To: headers (can also be done by additional -a
       options, of course), and send it on its way.

   Building complex MIME encodings
       There are several different ways to build complete MIME encodings from
       multiple MIME sections. One way is to use temporary files to create
       MIME sections, then combine them together into a single MIME
       collection. A slightly more complicated approach involves setting up
       pipes between multiple makemime processes, in order to avoid using
       temporary files.

       This can be done manually, by hand. It is also possible to have
       makemime do this automatically.  makemime will set up these pipes and
       run multiple instances of itself to create a single MIME collection,
       with multiple attachments of complexity limited only by your system´s
       limit on the maximum number of open files and pipes.

       Any file that´s read by the -c, -m, and -j options ( -o specifies a
       file to create, and doesn´t count) may be replaced by a single argument
       containing a left parenthesis, additional options, then a single
       argument containing a right parenthesis. A single invocation of
       makemime can only use one -c, -m, or -j option. However, another -c,
       -m, or -j option may be specified inside the left and the right
       parenthesis, and its output is used in place of the file it replaced.
       In the previous example the third and the fourth invocation of makemime
       can be replaced with the following command:

           makemime -j \(                                           \
                          -m "multipart/alternative"                \
                          -a "Content-Disposition: inline" tmp1.txt \
                        \) -o tmp.ma2                               \

       Note that the parenthesis must be backslashed, to avoid their special
       meaning to the shell. An equivalent argument file would have the
       following contents:

                     Content-Disposition: inline

       These constructs can be arbitrarily nested, and are limited by the
       amount of available memory and resources. The entire sequence in the
       previous section is equivalent to the following command:

           makemime -j                                                 \
                    \(                                                 \
                       -m "multipart/mixed"                            \
                       -a "Mime-Version: 1.0"                          \
                       \(                                              \
                           -j                                          \
                           \(                                          \
                              -m "multipart/alternative"               \
                              -a "Content-Disposition: inline"         \
                              \(                                       \
                                 -c "text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1"   \
                                 msg.txt                               \
                              \)                                       \
                           \)                                          \
                           \(                                          \
                               -c "text/html; charset=iso-8859-1"      \
                               msg.html                                \
                           \)                                          \
                       \)                                              \
                    \)                                                 \
                    -o output.msg                                      \
                    \(                                                 \
                       -c "image/gif"                                  \
                       -a "Content-Disposition: attachment"            \
                       attachment.gif                                  \

       An equivalent argument file would be:

                  Mime-Version: 1.0
                          Content-Disposition: inline
                              text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1
                          text/html; charset=iso-8859-1
                  Content-Disposition: attachment


       maildrop(1)[5], maildropfilter(5)[6], reformail(1)[7], reformime(1)[8],
       egrep(1), grep(1), courier(8)[9], sendmail(8), RFC 2045[1], RFC
       2046[2], RFC 2047[3], RFC 2048[4], RFC 2049[4].


        1. RFC 2045

        2. RFC 2046

        3. RFC 2047

        4. RFC 2048

        5. maildrop(1)

        6. maildropfilter(5)

        7. reformail(1)

        8. reformime(1)

        9. courier(8)