Send Mail to an Email List with REXX, SMTP and Sockets

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Written by Dave Briccetti

This tip demonstrates sending email to a list of addresses using REXX, SMTP, and TCP Sockets.

If you are a REXX, SMTP, or Sockets expert and you see any errors or possible improvements to this tip, please share your knowledge with me.

When the OS/2 Bay Area User Group lost its automated email mailing list server in November, 1995, I was forced to find another way to notify our members about our meetings. I had the email addresses in an ASCII file, dumped from our member database.

First I wrote a simple REXX command to call sendmail for each address in the list:

arg MailingList
do while lines(MailingList)
  rec = linein(MailingList)'sendmail -Ce:\mptn\etc\sendmail.uml -af msg
  -f "',|| rec || '"'

This method was very slow, as long as a minute or more for each address, because:

  • sendmail was doing a great deal of domain name service activity, which generated a lot of traffic over my 28.8K bps modem to the domain name server at my Internet service provider
  • sendmail actually connected with each recipient's mail system, and often there were delays in connecting

OS/2 email programs such as Post Road Mailer and PMMail very quickly send the mail to an intermediary which actually delivers the mail. To send the mail these OS/2 email programs use the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP). To create a communication channel, these programs use TCP Sockets, probably from C or C++ language.

I decided to use the same approach, but since I had recently discovered the REXX Sockets interface, I thought I'd give it a go with REXX.

Here's the result of running the program with only a single user email address in the mailing list file, with commentary interspersed. The lines in the larger font are the SMTP commands we are sending. Sendmail 8.6.12/8.6.5 ready at Thu, 16 Nov 1995 02:57:09 -0800220 ESMTP spoken here

This is what the mail server says when we connect to it. The 220 code tells us that all is well and we can continue.


This is the extended SMTP Hello command which starts the protocol and identifies us. Hello [], pleased to meet you250-SIZE250 HELP

This response (code 250) tells us that the server supports extended SMTP, including the two extensions, SIZE and HELP.


We begin a mail message, identifying the sender, and providing the size of the message. The SIZE parameter is an SMTP extension, and we are supporting it because the server supports it.

250 Sender ok

Again the 250 tells us things are going well.


We specify the recipient.

250 Recipient ok

All still ok.


We indicate we're ready to send the body of the message.

354 Enter mail, end with "." on a line by itself

The 354 tells us to send the data.

250 CAA19942 Message accepted for delivery

It worked.


We're done with the SMTP conversation.

221 closing connection

And so is the server.

Rexx Script

The complete REXX program follows. You can also get it in zipped form.

 /* ============================================================================
 Send Email Message to a Mailing List Via SMTP, Using the REXX Socket Interface
 Written by a novice REXX programmer
 Dave Briccetti, November 1995,
 May be used for any purpose
 Thanks to REXX expert Charles Daney
 and internet expert David Singer for looking over the code
 ============================================================================ */

parse arg MailingList           /* The name of the file containing one
                                   email address per line */
MailingList = strip(MailingList)

call SetConstants

/* Load the REXX Socket interface */
call RxFuncAdd 'SockLoadFuncs', 'rxSock', 'SockLoadFuncs'
call SockLoadFuncs

if EstablishProtocol() = FALSE then

/* The protocol initiated, we'll now send the message to each
   recipient */

call SendMsgToEachRecipient

/* QUIT ends the protocol */
CmdReply = TransactSmtpCommand(socket, 'QUIT', 1)

/* Close the socket */
call SockSoClose socket


/* ========================================================================= */
/* ========================================================================= */

MessageFile = 'msg'             /* The name of the file containing the
                                   message to send */
SendingHost = ''    /* Host of the sender */
SendingUser = 'yourid'          /* User name of the sender */
MailServer  = ''  /* Mail server */

CRLF                    = '0d0a'x
TRUE                    = 1
FALSE                   = 0

REPLYTYPE_OK            = '2'   /* SMTP reply code first byte */
REPLY_START_MAIL_INPUT  = '354' /* SMTP reply code */


/* ========================================================================= */
/* ========================================================================= */

socket = ConnectToMailServer(MailServer)   
if socket <.= 0 then
    say 'Could not connect to mail server'
    return FALSE

CmdReply = GetCmdReply(socket)

if left(CmdReply, 1) \= REPLYTYPE_OK then
    say 'Could not establish protocol'
    return FALSE

/* Send the extended hello, in case this SMTP server supports
   SMTP extensions */
CmdReply = TransactSmtpCommand(socket, 'EHLO', 1)
if left(CmdReply, 1) = REPLYTYPE_OK then
    /* That worked, so enable extended SMTP processing.  If
       the response to the EHLO indicates support for SIZE,
       enable our use of that feature */
    SmtpExtensionsSupported = TRUE
    if pos('250 SIZE', CmdReply) >. 0 | pos('250-SIZE', CmdReply) >. 0 then
        SizeExtensionSupported = 1
    /* The server didn't recognize the EHLO so we'll go with
       the regular HELO */
    SmtpExtensionsSupported = FALSE
    SizeExtensionSupported  = FALSE
    CmdReply = TransactSmtpCommand(socket, 'HELO', 1)

if left(CmdReply, 1) = REPLYTYPE_OK then
    return TRUE
    return FALSE

/* ========================================================================= */
/* ========================================================================= */

/* DATA tells the server that the body of the message is coming.  It
   should reply with a code meaning "go ahead." */

CmdReply = TransactSmtpCommand(socket, 'DATA', 1)
if substr(CmdReply, 1, 3) = REPLY_START_MAIL_INPUT then
    /* Send the data, followed by a '.' on a line by itself to
       indicate the end of the message */
    CmdReply = TransactSmtpCommand(socket, MsgFileContents || CRLF || '.', 0)


/* ========================================================================= */
/* ========================================================================= */

MsgFileContents = charin(MessageFile, 1, chars(MessageFile))
call stream MessageFile, 'c', 'close'
MsgFileContents = strip(MsgFileContents, 't', '1a'x)  /* Strip EOF */
/* MAIL FROM identifies the sender.  The SIZE= extension
   provides the size of the message, to allow the
   server to quickly refuse messages bigger than it wants. */
MailFromCmd = 'MAIL FROM:' || SendingUser || '@' || SendingHost

if SizeExtensionSupported then
    MailFromCmd = MailFromCmd 'SIZE=' || length(MsgFileContents)
CmdReply = TransactSmtpCommand(socket, MailFromCmd, 1)

if left(CmdReply, 1) = REPLYTYPE_OK then       
do while lines(MailingList)

    /* Read the recipient's email address from the mailing list file */
    RecipientEmailAddress = linein(MailingList)
    if RecipientEmailAddress \= '' then
        /* RCPT identifies the intended recipient of the message */
        CmdReply = TransactSmtpCommand(socket,,
            "RCPT TO:" || RecipientEmailAddress, 1)

call SendMsgBody


/* ========================================================================= */
ConnectToMailServer: procedure
/* ========================================================================= */

parse arg MailServer
socket = 0

/* Open a socket to the mail server.  (The Sock* functions are
   documented in the REXX Socket book in the Information folder
   in the OS/2 System folder */

call SockInit
if SockGetHostByName(MailServer, 'host.!') = 0 then
    say 'Could not get host by name' errno h_errno
    socket = SockSocket('AF_INET','SOCK_STREAM',0)
    address.!family = 'AF_INET'
    address.!port = 25          /* the standard SMTP port */
    address.!addr = host.!addr
    if SockConnect(socket, 'address.!') = -1 then
        say 'Could not connect socket' errno h_errno
return socket

/* ========================================================================= */
GetCmdReply: procedure
/* ========================================================================= */

parse arg socket

CRLF = '0d0a'x

/* Receive the response to the SMTP command into a variable.  Use
   more than one socket read if necessary to collect the whole
   response. */
if SockRecv(socket, 'CmdReply', 200) <. 0 then do
    say 'Error reading from socket' errno h_errno

ReadCount = 1
MaxParts = 10

do while ReadCount <. MaxParts & right(CmdReply, 2) \= CRLF 
    if SockRecv(socket, 'CmdReplyExtra', 200) <. 0 then do
        say 'Error reading from socket'
    CmdReply = CmdReply || CmdReplyExtra
    ReadCount = ReadCount + 1

say CmdReply   
return CmdReply

/* ========================================================================= */
/* ========================================================================= */

parse arg socket, Cmd, SayCmd

/* Send a command to the SMTP server, echoing it to the display
   if requested */

if SayCmd then
    say Cmd
rc = SockSend(socket, Cmd || CRLF)
return GetCmdReply(socket)