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VMS mail distribution list with SMTP type addresses ?

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Thomas Ritter
Respected Contributor

VMS mail distribution list with SMTP type addresses ?

Does VMS mail have the ability to forward to a distribution list of SMTP style email addresses ?

We are sending mail notifications from one node to another. The receiving node uses Mail's Set foward to a distribution list.

MAIL> show forward
Your mail is being forwarded to SMTP%"distribution_1@TEST01".

where TEST01 is the decnet name of host and distribution_1 is a file called
distribution_1.dis residing in sys$login

Inside distribution_1.dis where have rows of SMTP addresses. For example


Is this doable ?
Joseph Huber_1
Honored Contributor

Re: VMS mail distribution list with SMTP type addresses ?

SMTP%"distribution_1@TEST01" is a TCPIP SMTP address, TEST01 not a DECnet address.
And the distribution list has to be in a TCPIP specific directory (i.e. system-wide).

In DECnet mail the forward destination can't be a distribution list.

Assuming UCX (TCPIP services for VMS):
From the users manual:

Sending to an SMTP distribution list:
SMTP distribution list

* Use an existing .DIS file or create a .DIS file in SYS$SPECIFIC:[TCPIP$SMTP] or, if defined on your system, TCPIP$SMTP_COMMON:.
* Give the list a unique name that is not the same as a local user name.
* To specify comment lines, use an exclamation mark (!) in the first column.
* Include only SMTP addresses.
* Use one address per line.
* To send mail to the people on this distribution list, enter the following command:

To: list_name@host_where_list_resides

So copy your distribution_1.DIS to the tcpip$smtp directory, then it should work.
Honored Contributor

Re: VMS mail distribution list with SMTP type addresses ?

The previous answer is correct and typical and usual.

Forwarding to a distribution list was traditionally (and deliberately) blocked as there was no way to deal with any errors; bounces, syntax or otherwise in the old Mail-11 protocol. If you're interested, some details of the old Mail-11 protocol are here:


My preferred solution for cases such as yours is a mailing list server; these are available for OpenVMS and for other platforms. There's a Majordomo port around, and there's the Listserv package, and likely others. A mailing list server allows you to manage stuff remotely; it gets you out of maintaining the list itself. Folks can sign off and on themselves, or the moderator can delegate or manage the list remotely.) This is how active and major (and majorly active) mailing lists are managed.

And as for hacks and alternatives, the DELIVER tool on the OpenVMS Freeware can also be pressed into service here.

Stephen Hoffman
HoffmanLabs LLC
John Gillings
Honored Contributor

Re: VMS mail distribution list with SMTP type addresses ?


Many years ago MAIL (accidently) let forwarding to distribution lists "work". I think it was pre V5.0. There were many different issues, with conflicting potential fixes. The easiest solution was to go with the documentation and prohibit forwarding "fan out".

That said, most mail servers implement some kind of distribution list mechanism, so you could forward to (say) "mylist@company.com". VMS just sees an email address. The fan out is done by the mail server.
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