SUMMARY: Setting up mail gateway between Sun & Microsoft mail on PC

Date: Wed Nov 10 1993 - 05:22:30 CST

    My original question was:

> Does anyone have any experience of setting up a gateway between
> a sun network and Microsoft mail running under Windows for Workgroups
> on a PC network. Both networks are on the same ethernet. I've read
> the Microsoft Mail admin manual (it was painful), and it seems to suggest
> that we will need:
> a) a dedicated PC to run the externalMail program
> b) their SMTP gateway.
> The person responsible for the PC network has not had much luck
> in getting information out of Microsoft (like blood out of a stone).
> We also have a few other PC's running PC-NFS 5.0 and SelectMail 2.1 for DOS.
> As we have a spare license for this, perhaps we could use elements of
> it to talk to the Microsoft mail system? Or am I barking up the wrong tree
> here?

I had a number of responses from both uk-sun and sun-managers, with
several people wishing to do the same thing, but wanting more info.

The main gist was:

The Microsoft SMTP gateway is "sh!t", and very buggy.
The Microsoft SMTP gateway is VERY expensive (~$5000).
Microsoft support is non-existant; they don't appear to want to fix the bugs.
It needs a dedicated PC to run on.
Administration is a pain.
And so on.

A few people did say that it was easy to install and worked ok, but
they were outnumbered!

The main suggestion was to expand the use of Sun SelectMail & PC-NFS onto
the other PC network and not bother with Microsoft mail full stop.

Two questions arise from this:
1. How good is Sun SelectMail for Windows at accepting files from other
   tools (e.g. Microsoft Word, Excel etc). We currently use SelectMail
   for DOS on our PC's, but this wouldn't be acceptable for the other
   PC users, so I don't know.
2. I assume PC-NFS must be installed on every machine that needs to run

Another option was to look at a PD smtp mailer for DOS called charon.
I had a quick look for this on the uk archive, but couldn't find it (always
tricky trying to look for things using ftpmail).

Thanks to all who responded (apologies for including so much, but
I had a large number of people who wanted detailed summaries):

I have run MSMail with the SMTP gateway. Unless you need to talk to another
MSMail system via a phone or similar serial link, you can forget the
external mail gateway. You need a PC to run the SMTP gateway. It doesn't
need two Ethernet cards (though it can have) and it will access MSMail mail
from the postoffice on the same network, and receive and send messages using
SMTP to talk to the rest of the world. It will always send external mail to
a particular SMTP host (a "smart mailer" essentially) but can receive SMTP
from anywhere.

These are the only mail "protocols" it understands (unless you buy another

| Max Caines | M.B.Caines@CCUB.WLV.AC.UK |
| Technical Services Manager | JANET: M.B.Caines@UK.AC.WLV.CCUB |
| Computer Centre | Phone: 0902 322245 |
| Wolverhampton University | Fax: 0902 322777 |
Sequent have done this in house - obvisouly between Sequents and MS mail.
There would be no difference for Suns.

You need a dedicated PC running the (very expensive) SMTP MS mail gatewat
from Microsoft (about 5000 I think). It works, but the gateway isn't
completely bugfree. Pretty good though.

Phill Everson
Sequent UK
Yes, We have the same sort of set up. We opted for Sun Selectmail rather
than go through the pain of trying to get this to work. The addition of
specialized PCs as gateways worries me from previous experience.

Kerry Duke
The microsoft SMTP gateway is a load of sh!t. It is one of the buggiest
pieces of software I have evcer come across. The local Microsoft people
acknowledge that it is a bug in their software but there has been no
updates or patches forthcoming.

Typical symptoms are that the dedicated pc will just stop accepting
smtp connections from the sun, you can still ping it ok but mail
doesn't flow. Also sometimes it just drops mail, no bounces, no
messages, it just disappears.

Unfortunately there doesn't appear to be any alternatives if you want
to use microsoft mail with the suns.

Glenn Satchell ******************************************************************************
We do have MSMail but on Macintosh and the Server can have a"gateway"
function , that we use with a 3rd party SW for SMTP and X.400 .

We also had similar problems with other stock exchanges , where they
used the MS gateway for X.400 and their machines crash when they send
messages to us -- 3 month and no answer from them !!

Rogerio Rocha BVL - Lisbon Stock Exchange Information Systems
Umm, your timing is wonderful. I have just spent the last few hours doing
some stats on the MSMail gateway at one of the sites I have done sendmail
configuration for.
Basically the MSmail SMTP gateway product is a crock. It plain does not work.
At present it has ~82% availability, which in most operational environments
is unacceptable. Some of it's more curious traits:

* it loops on external SMTP mail at regular intervals. Over one weekend it spat
out some 285M of the same 30k email to one poor user.

* it rejects valid addresses as 'service unavailable' & 'user unknown'
when it feels like doing so. at one stage the gateway accepted every single
incoming smtp mail as 'service unavailable', sending a bounce to the sender
in the smtp world & delivering the mail to the msmail user. The SMTP sender
would then resend, receive another bounce... meanwhile the MSmail user
receives multiple copies of the same email. You try explaining

* it just stops working, we now have a dedicated SNM agent which reports
when the gateway stops accepting mail.

Microsoft don't appear particularly interested in fixing any of the bugs

In my opinion the MS mail SMTP gateway product is to be avoided at all costs.
The site in question is large & has numerous postoffices. The problems do
appear to be load related. If you have a smaller site you may not run into
these difficulties.
I have some collections of postings from comp.mail.sendmail which are
far more vitriolic on the subject than my email. I can pass them on if
you wish.

At the moment we're looking into various options, one of which is charon.
It's a PD smtp mailer for DOS. I have yet to investigate it thoroughly,
though I can pass on info if you can't find it in archie.
Again it requires a dedicated PC, but from all reports I've heard it's reliable.
Current version is charon40.

Pauline van Winsen

Yep, this is it--and I believe I've heard the price of US$5,000 for the

Nope. Microsoft's got you by the short ones.

Tim Evans
I believe you're barking up the wrong tree with the WFW mail solution. For ease of administration and reliability, I suggest you "grow" your SelectMail
solution. With SMTP outbound and POPmail inbound, you eliminate a real weak
link - the dedicated PC/GW. It will be a maintenance headache. My experience
with WP mail and Microsoft Mail is not good. Finding anyone to address mail problems outside their "domain" will be difficult at best.

If you're strictly going with Windows on the desktop, your decision is made
easier and looks like you're already using PC-NFS, another good choice. I have
lots of customers facing these decisions. The bottom line is getting the tools
to the users and not killing yourself administratively.

Dave Brewer SolTech Systems Corporation
 Anyway, we are running SunOS 4.1.3 on our Sun boxes, and FTP's TCP/IP and Microsoft mail on
our PCs with an SMTP gateway between them. I didn't install the gateway or the MS Mail but I
can give you an overview of how we implemented it.

The MS Mail executables and mail database live on a Sun server which is running pcnfsd, and
the DOS boxes mount that mail directory to their PCs.

The gateway product does require a dedicated PC ( I reccomend at least a 386 with 4MB of RAM ).
The gateway PC needs to point to a "smart mailhost" on the unix side which should be your
unix mail server, i.e. it should know how to route messages to the appropriate users on a
given host. The MS Mail software might refer to this Unix mail server as the "smtp router".

All of the MS Mail users will be setup in a "local" postoffice within MS Mail. The Unix
users can be made known to MS Mail through the Gateway setup menu which has a section for
adding external (SMTP) addresses.

The software works fairly well and it doesn't seem to be too difficult to install. MS support
does leave something to be desired however.

Saul Pliuskonis e-mail address:
I think JP Morgan is using a Retix Mail Gateway between Microsoft Mac MAil
and SMTP.

      -- Joel


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