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E-MAIL: POP3 on a DOS-only System

Dan Komssromi

Do you need to use Windows for e-mail? No. Even POP3 - basically today's standard - can be used with a DOS-only system.

What's POP3?

POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3) is a protocol which enables you to download your e-mail to your computer and read it offline. It is supported by about every ISP (Internet Service Provider) these days. POP3 is only one half of the game, the half which is required to get the mail from your ISP's server to your machine. SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) is the other half, which takes care of sending outgoing mail from your machine to your provider and on.

For receiving mail with POP3, of course you need a way to connect to your provider's host, but this does not mean that you need to dial into your provider's network. As long as you are connected to the internet, through any provider you like, anywhere in the world, this connection will work.

For sending mail, any host speaking SMTP can be used.

Finding an SMTP host

Nowadays, most of the machines connected to the internet full time, speak an extended version of SMTP, called ESMTP.

The software mentioned in the article below, however, does not speak the extended version, so it is necessary to find a host speaking good old standard SMTP. The article describes to some extent how to go about this. But to find which dialect a particular host speaks, you can use telnet. Port 25 is the SMTP port. If you are on a Unix command line, and want for example to check the host, you would type telnet 25. From Win95, run telnet, chose connect, enter the host and write 25 in the box for the port to use. The machine you are connected to will greet you. And in this greeting you'll see either SMTP or ESMTP, which is the protocol used. After the greeting, simply type quit to disconnect again.

If you really can't find any host using SMTP, send me an e-mail ( and I'll try to help you. But do check yourself first, please.

Kurt Keller

taken from

Setting up Email in DOS with today's ISP using a dialup PPP TCP/IP connection

By Dan Komssromi (


This guide shows you how to setup email in DOS with a dialup connection. While many DOS-based Internet programs are available via FTP sites, most were written prior to 1994 when dialup connections were primarily made using static IP addresses through regular SMTP protocols. Today's Internet Service Providers, however, use dynamic IP addresses and ESMTP, two features that are incompatible with almost all DOS PPP TCP/IP stack dialers and DOS email clients without a significant amount of tinkering.

After much experimentation, I discovered a simple combination of DOS programs that work with dynamic IP addresses and allow you to work around the ESMTP problem. Now you can take that 286 laptop out of your closet and use it to check your email while on vacation. Those using palmtops will be especially interested.

The solution presented here uses three excellent programs: Pegasus Mail for DOS v3.31, PMPOP v1.1, and the current version of PPPSHARE.

Pegasus Mail and its PMPOP extension by David Harris are freeware, while PPPSHARE, a PPP TCP/IP stack dialer by Klos Technologies, Inc. is a fully-functional, no time-limit shareware demo. These programs offer excellent user interfaces and impressive features. Pegasus Mail is an outstanding email client; my personal favorite, available for several operating systems.

You may view screen shots of this software in action.

Special thanks go to Mike Bennett ( for figuring a clever way to send email using common SMTP relays. Otherwise, you would encounter an ESMTP handshaking error while sending mail, and this DOS email setup would not be possible.


Follow these links to download the three DOS-based programs:

PPPSHARE by Klos Technologies, Inc. (187KB)

POP3/SMTP module for Pegasus Mail/DOS (96KB)

Pegasus Mail for DOS v3.31 (813KB)


Create a c:\pppshare directory and execute the self-extracting archive pppshare.exe in this directory.

Run pppmenu. Check and set the following:

Port - I/O Port, Interrupt, and Baud Rate. Set the Connection Type to Auto Dial. The remaining should be left at the default settings.

Modem - Phone Number, Command Strings (if needed).

Scripting - Set the login sequence and response (usually login: userid\r Password: password\r or similar). If you're not sure about the sequence, set the Port/Connection Type to Terminal for the first time for a manual login.

By default the response timeout is set rather low. Set it to at least 30 seconds.

Authentication - Select ID and Password, and enter the information.

Now press ESC a few times and choose to save and write the changes to net.cfg.

Exit PPPSHARE and create a file in the pppshare directory called email.bat using any text editor. It should contain the following:





cd c:\pmail


pmpop -g

pmail -u userid

cd c:\pppshare


ipstub unload

ppp /u

lsl /u

Replace userid with your email username without the domain part.

Add c:\pppshare to the path = statement in AUTOEXEC.BAT so that you can invoke an email session by simply typing the word email at the command prompt.

Create the directory c:\pmail and copy pppwat.exe here. PPPWAT is a very useful utility which automatically updates Pegasus Mail's wattcp.cfg file with your assigned dynamic IP address, netmask, and gateway.

Note: if you need to change the PPPSHARE configuration settings while troubleshooting the dialup process, reboot the computer if you ran the email.bat file. Otherwise, invoking pppmenu will not bring up the configuration menu, rather just the connection menu.


Unzip and to the c:\pmail directory.

Rename the pdpmpop.exe file to pmpop.exe.

4.1. Setting the WATTCP.CFG file

The wattcp.cfg file contains information about your IP address and other server settings. The only information you need are the primary and secondary Domain Name Server (DNS) addresses and your domain name. The rest is dynamic and automatically configured by the pppwat utility every time you establish an email session.

Open wattcp.cfg in a text editor to add or modify the entries shown below in bold. The other entries should exist, but may hold any address value, since pppwat takes care of these for you.

ppp = 1 # Add this entry

my_ip =

netmask =

nameserver = # Primary DNS - replace these 0's with your values

nameserver = # Secondary DNS - replace with your values

gateway =

domainslist = "" # Replace with your domain name

4.2. Configuring Pegasus Mail

Run pmail. Enter your userid - this must be the same as the username you entered as part of the email.bat file. Accept the default home mailbox location and username settings.

Select Preferences, then General Settings. Type your name in the Personal Name section. Choose Y for the "Automatically open new mail:" entry. Press ENTER several times, then Y to accept and continue. Exit Pegasus Mail.

Run pconfig. Select "Configuring Pegasus Mail/DOS," and then "Manage user defined gateways." The POP entry should be highlighted. Press ENTER to edit.

The "Outgoing mail path" should be set to c:\pmail. This is important - the send email function will not work if this is set to another directory, unless you make some additional changes to the program/config file locations. The outgoing mail is deleted once sent, so this will work fine for single-user setups. Your incoming email will have its own directory.

The "Run for outgoing mail" entry should be set to "c:\pmail\pmpop -s" without the quotes.

Check that the "simple message headers" entry is set to "Glue Headers."

The remaining items should be left at their default values.

Press CTRL+ENTER, Y, then CTRL+ENTER to save the changes, then X to save and exit.

4.3. Configuring PMPOP

Run pmpop -c to configure the Pegasus Mail POP3/SMTP extension.

Enter your POP3 server name in the "Get mail from:" section.

Enter your userid and password.

Type c:\pmail\userid (once again, replace userid) for the "Store mail in:" entry.

Choose Y for "delete messages once downloaded" to remove email from the server after it is retrieved.

Enter your full email address in the "From field:".

Type *.msg for the "Search mask:". This is important because Pegasus Mail cannot find queued email without this mask.

Enter the SMTP relay you will be using in the "SMTP mail host:" section. Your service provider's SMTP will work only if it is standard SMTP. An ESMTP relay will result in a handshaking error.

If you get a handshaking error, find a regular SMTP mail relay address by examining the full headers of various email messages. A full header lists all of the relays involved in a particular transmission, both SMTP and ESMTP. You can write a list of these relays and test them until you find one that works, preferably in your geographic region.


You're now ready to start! Reboot your computer for the modified path statement in AUTOEXEC.BAT to take effect.

Simply type email at the command prompt.

Press ESC to exit the PPPSHARE welcome screen. Press ENTER to connect. While a connection is being established, a small box will pop up in the upper right corner of the screen and cycle through various messages. When the connection is ready, it will contain the text "IP Open."

Exit from PPPSHARE. Pegasus Mail will start automatically. Have fun!


AutoPGP is an add on utility which very nicely integrates PGP with Pegasus Mail for DOS in an offline mode. It can provide the automatic signing and encryption of outgoing email as well as decryption and signature checking on incoming email. For more information visit

"PGP (short for Pretty Good Privacy) is a highly secure public key encryption program originally written by Philip Zimmermann. Over the past few years, PGP has got thousands of adherent supporters all over the globe and has become a de-facto standard for encryption of email on the Internet." - StRhole Schumacher (

For more information, go to the The International PGP Home Page at

For an MS-DOS version which also runs on HP x00LX, download


The most commonly encountered problems arise from memory issues. Check your AUTOEXEC.BAT and CONFIG.SYS files. DOS TCP/IP networking is sensitive to memory-hungry device drivers, especially those used by Windows 3.1.

If Pegasus Mail hangs, download an earlier version which uses fewer system resources, Pegasus Mail for DOS 3.22 (811KB):

If the PPPSHARE software does not display "IP Open" after establishing a connection, the most common cause is incorrect scripting and/or modem settings. Be sure that "IP Open" appears prior to exiting the PPPSHARE menu and troubleshooting the Pegasus Mail setup.

TCP/IP communication errors indicate that the WATTCP.CFG file does not contain correct settings, or that the PPPSHARE TCP/IP protocols were changed from their defaults.


Dan Komssromi ( has been published in several computer magazines and commercial software packages and holds a degree in Neuroscience from UCLA. He is available for user-interface design and website design/programming in the Southern California area or via the Internet.

Mike Bennett ( is a member of Level31, a cooperative of Internet/Intranet specialists who work primarily via the net. He resides in the scenic mountains of New Zealand.

© Algorithmica Japonica Copyright Notice: Copyright of material rests with the individual author. Articles may be reprinted by other user groups if the author and original publication are credited. Any other reproduction or use of material herein is prohibited without prior written permission from TPC. The mention of names of products without indication of Trademark or Registered Trademark status in no way implies that these products are not so protected by law.

Algorithmica Japonica

April, 1997

The Newsletter of the Tokyo PC Users Group

Submissions : Editor

Tokyo PC Users Group, Post Office Box 103, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo 150-8691, JAPAN