Electronic Mail in Russian

Well, well... This was once a most touching part of the whole russification affaire. Mail on the net was mostly transported with an MTA (Mail Transport Agent) called sendmail which lives under OS Unix. At those dark ages, there were many "bad" versions of sendmail that did not handle 8bit traffic correctly. I remember the fights with ignorant system administrators who knew nothing about that utility: it is considered one of the most complicated things in the Unix World. These people were afraid to touch anything related to the sendmail, so they did not want to upgrade to the normal 8bit clean agent.
The life is much better now. I believe, the times of horror have mercifully passed away. I would claim that all Internet is 8bit safe these days, so most of my discussion will be about the applications. One general point is always applicable: you have to pass 8bit text "as is". Do not, I repeat, do not warp it with some sort of bizzare algorythm! If you somwhow run into a problem with the high bit stripped, the first thing to check is whether you (or your ISP) has a V8 sendmail. If it is not the case, your environment REALLY needs to be upgraded, and not only because of the high bit issue. There are many security patches in V8 as well. If you do have V8 but the bit is still stripped, check sendmail.cf to make sure you have few things in the right place: Once this is all in place, check your application program.


You need to make sure it knows about the fonts. Keyboard issues are general for X. Make sure you add "koi8-r" to *mimeCharsets in your .exmh-defaults and also add this (presumably you have Cronix family installed):
	*mime_koi8-r_registry:       koi8
	*mime_koi8-r_encoding:       r
	*mime_koi8-r_plain_family:              courier fixed
	*mime_koi8-r_fixed_family:              fixed
	*mime_koi8-r_proportional_family:       helvetica times
	*mime_koi8-r_title_family:              times
	*Text*font:      -cronyx-courier-medium-r-*--12-*-*-*-*-*-koi8-r
	*Ftoc*Text*font: -cronyx-courier-medium-r-*--12-*-*-*-*-*-koi8-r
	*seditCharset:   koi8-r


Because Pine runs within the XTerm, font and keyboard issues are the same as for XTerm itself. However, you must make sure that the following attributes in the Pine configuration are set. Go to "SETUP" and "Configuration". Set the following:
	[X]  enable-8bit-esmtp-negotiation
	[X]  enable-8bit-nntp-posting
	[X]  pass-control-characters-as-is
character-set            = koi8-r
Notice that some old versions of Pine (for example, 3.91) do not have the most important option, pass-control-characters-as-is. Without it, the client will warp 8bit characters into ASCII set using BASE64 algorythm. It will be OK if the person you are writing to has MIME aware client (Netscape, Exmh, etc.) but you can not guarantee that. 8bit characters should be sent "as is"!!

Netscape (all species)

Make sure you turn 8bit (and turn off MIME) in the "Mail" part of the preferences.

Eudora for Windows

Same logic is also applicable to Eudora: old versions behaved much like those of Pine (see above). In the newer ones you also have to turn off BASE64 warping. The best solution is to install a KOI-8 plug-in (this page is in Russian and using koi8-r encoding). You DO NOT need special koi8-r fonts or keyboard layouts and it rewrites the headers correctly. Everything is in there. This piece of software is written by Eugene Surovegin, so all the questions have to be mailed to him. You can ftp the plug-in here from sunsite or get it directly from Eugene's pages.