Listserv Distribute Protocol (RFC1429)
Original Publication Date: 1993-Feb-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2019-Feb-10
Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)
This memo specifies a subset of the distribution protocol used by the BITNET LISTSERV to deliver mail messages to large amounts of recipients. This memo provides information for the Internet community. It does not specify an Internet standard.
Network Working Group E. Thomas Request for Comments: 1429 Swedish University Network February 1993
Listserv Distribute Protocol
Status of this Memo
This memo provides information for the Internet community. It does not specify an Internet standard. Distribution of this memo is unlimited.
This memo specifies a subset of the distribution protocol used by the BITNET LISTSERV to deliver mail messages to large amounts of recipients. This protocol, known as DISTRIBUTE, optimizes the distribution by sending a single copy of the message over heavily loaded links, insofar as topological information is available to guide such decisions, and reduces the average turnaround time for large mailing lists to 5-15 minutes on the average. This memo describes a simple interface allowing non-BITNET mailing list exploders (or other bulk-delivery scripts) to take advantage of this service by letting the BITNET distribution network take care of the delivery.
Running a mailing list of 1,000 subscribers or more with plain "sendmail" while keeping turnaround time to a reasonable level is no easy task. Due mostly to its limited bandwidth in the mid-80’s, BITNET has developed an efficient bulk delivery protocol for its mailing lists. Originally introduced in 1986, this protocol was refined little by little and now carries 2-6 million mail messages a day. In fact, this distribution mechanism implements a general- purpose delivery service which can be used by any user of BITNET or the Internet. Thus, a simple solution to the "sendmail" turnaround problem is to wrap the message and recipient list in a DISTRIBUTE envelope and pass it to a BITNET server for delivery. This may not be the best possible solution, but it has the advantage of being easy to implement.
In this document we will use the term "production" to refer to the normal operation of the mailing list (or bulk delivery application) you want to pipe through the DISTRIBUTE service. That is, the "production" options are those you should specify once everything is tested and you are confident that the setup is working to your
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RFC 1429 Listserv Distribute Protocol February 1993
satisfaction. In contrast, "test" and "debug" options can be used to experiment with the protocol but should not be used for normal operation because of the additional bandwidth and CPU time required to generate the various informational reports.
Finally, it should be noted that the DISTRIBUTE protocol was developed to address a number of issues, some of them relevant only to BITNET, and has evolved since 1986 while keeping a compatible syntax. For the sake of brevity, this RFC describes only a small subset of the available options and syntax. This is why the syntax may appear unnecessarily complicated or even illogical.
1. Selecting an entry point into the DISTRIBUTE backbone
The first thing you have to do is to find a suitable site to submit your distributions to. For testing, and for testing ONLY, you...