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To: "A. Lester Buck III" <>
From: Tony Nugent <>
X-Mailer: mh-6.8.3
Subject: Re: question for procmail guru 
In-Reply-To: message-id <>
	 of Mon, Jan 06 11:34:59 1997
On Mon Jan 06 1997, "A. Lester Buck III" wrote:
> Dear Tony,

> You are very knowledgeable about procmail, so I was wondering if you could answer my question before I blurt out a FAQ on the mailing list.

Hey, I'm no guru - in fact I'm just a newbie with procmail! I started using it in November... but I must admit that I'm now able to use it with some good effect. :)
> I would like to filter email and then put it back in the mail stream.
Absolutely simple to do. For example, this is a procmail recipe to strip out trailing spaces on every message:
# --- strip all trailing spaces ---
| sed -e 's+ *$++'
Here's a more complex one that filters any Quoted-Printable messages to turn them into ordinary 8bit...
# --- do mime filtering if it is quoted-printable ---
* ^Content-Transfer-Encoding: QUOTED-PRINTABLE
| emil -f 2 -l 2 -u -C ISO-8859-1 -F RFC822 -H 8bit -T 8bit
	:0 Afhw
	| formail -I "Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit" \
		  -I "X-Converted: Quoted-Printable to 8bit"
The actual mechanics of how `emil' works is not really relevant here, but it does show you how it is done... any message with that Content-Transfer-Encoding line will get sent though the filter (and then to formail to add the extra header lines). Neither of them are delivery recipes, so procmail will continue to process the messages after this point.

Here's another that I do for every incoming mail...

# --- strip out ugly PGP stuff ---
| sed -e 's+^- -+-+' \
	:0 Afhw
	| formail -I "X-PGP: PGP Signature stripped"
Do you get the general idea?

(Note the `b' flag... it only filters the body of the message).

> procmail is the local delivery agent for my sendmail on Linux, so it is being called (without any rc file) on every piece of mail anyway.
Cool. All you have to do to get procmail to start filtering is to create a ~/.procmailrc file and create recipes like these in it.
> I would like to do things like delete excessive email signatures
Difficult to do "generically"... what sort of reliable criteria can you use to detect such sigs, and how do you go about removing just the .sig part reliably?
> and automatically add X-No-Archive: yes for certain privacy-concerned members of a mailing list I own.
Adding headers is one of the things formail is useful for. Both of the above recipes filter the messages though formail depending on what the result of the immediately preceding recipe is. (See the man pages).

The real secret is understanding exactly what the flags are for, and what you are able to do with them. (Eg, lookup :0fBw and :0Afhw in the procmailrc man page).

> I see how to get things flowing into the filter (sed or whatever).
If the message isn't delivered by a recipe, then it will continue to be processed.
> I am totally lost how I get it going back into the default mailbox.
Use the `c' flag. Well, use it on a deliver recipe when you still want a copy of the message to continue to be processed.

After all the filtering occurs and there are no more recipes to be processed, if the message hasn't been delivered, then procmail will put the message into the default mailbox file. (And you have control over what that is by setting the appropriate environment varialbes for procmail in the ~/.procmailrc file - again, see the man pages).

A delivery recipe can be as simple as this:

* ^From( |: ).*procmail
which will (in general) put all mail matching a From: or From_ line that has come from the procmail list, and append it into a file called `procmail'. Note the second colon after the :0: - it signifies that a lockfile should be used. Lockfiles are, in general, not needed for filtering recipes.

If all that is needed to be matched in such a recipe is a header line, then you can make things more specific by adding a `H' flag, eg:

* ^From( |: ).*procmail
This will look for the specified match only in the header of the message, rather than the entire message. You can do similar things with the body using `B'.
(The implied default is `H'. Use `HB' to search both header and body. // era)

If you still want to process the message from here even if the file has been delivered somewhere, then add a `c' flag, eg, :0c: I use such a recipe for detecting and placing aside any duplicate messages (eg, the same message delivered to me as Cc to two lists I'm subscribed to, or Cc'ed to me AND a mailing list)...

# --- handle duplicate email ---
:0 Whc: $MESG_ID.lock
| formail -D 196608 $MESG_ID
	:0 a:
See how the `c' flag is used? Here's a more explicit example...
At this point, procmail will unconditionally put a copy of any message it is processing into a file called IN.backup, but also continue to process the message for any further action.
> Also, somehow procmail divides the mail into a header piece and a body piece. I am unclear how a filter works on one or the other, and how the two pieces get put back together when the filter is done.
You use the flags `H', `h', `B' and `b' for doing that, like I mentioned above.
> Would you have any example of how to get that to work for the procmail as the system's local mail delivery agent? This is probably in the documentation, but I don't see it. :-(
It's there alright...

If sendmail is using procmail as the local deliver agent, then you tell procmail what to do on a per-user basis with the user's ~/.procmailrc file... procmail will look for such a file and start to read it automatically.

On a system-wide basis (before delivery to any user), you use the /etc/procmailrc [whatever] files (see the man pages) - but I haven't got procmail set up to use any system-wide files myself, just per-user. Check the man pages for more details.

Once again, I can't stress enough that it is the flags you specify for any individual recipe that will largely determine what procmail will do as a result of executing it. So check the procmailrc man page carefully for what these do. Sooner or later the penny will drop and it will start to make sense.

Experiment by sending "dummy" messages to procmail with VERBOSE=yes, and see what happens. EG..

% formail -s procmail < mailbox
formail will break the mailbox file up into separate messages for procmail to act on. Procmail will execute, by default, the ~/.procmailrc file.
% formail -s procmail -m experimental.rc
This will do the same thing, but will use the file `experimental.rc' as its rc file instead of ~/.procmailrc. You can specify the procmail log file in the rc files and set VERBOSE=yes. Then you can use the `tail -f' command to watch what's going on....
% tail -f ~/.procmail.log &
This is a very useful thing to do... `tail -f' will continue to read a file and display it as it is being added to, and by sending the process into the background you can get it to continue to do that while you test things out using the same shell and tty/console. Neat trick (I use it a lot for following what's happening to certain system log files).

Hope this helps.