RFC 1429 (rfc1429) - Page 1 of 8

Listserv Distribute Protocol

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Network Working Group                                          E. Thomas
Request for Comments: 1429                    Swedish University Network
                                                           February 1993

                      Listserv Distribute Protocol

Status of this Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard.  Distribution of this memo is


   This memo specifies a subset of the distribution protocol used by the
   BITNET LISTSERV to deliver mail messages to large amounts of
   recipients.  This protocol, known as DISTRIBUTE, optimizes the
   distribution by sending a single copy of the message over heavily
   loaded links, insofar as topological information is available to
   guide such decisions, and reduces the average turnaround time for
   large mailing lists to 5-15 minutes on the average. This memo
   describes a simple interface allowing non-BITNET mailing list
   exploders (or other bulk-delivery scripts) to take advantage of this
   service by letting the BITNET distribution network take care of the


   Running a mailing list of 1,000 subscribers or more with plain
   "sendmail" while keeping turnaround time to a reasonable level is no
   easy task. Due mostly to its limited bandwidth in the mid-80's,
   BITNET has developed an efficient bulk delivery protocol for its
   mailing lists. Originally introduced in 1986, this protocol was
   refined little by little and now carries 2-6 million mail messages a
   day. In fact, this distribution mechanism implements a general-
   purpose delivery service which can be used by any user of BITNET or
   the Internet. Thus, a simple solution to the "sendmail" turnaround
   problem is to wrap the message and recipient list in a DISTRIBUTE
   envelope and pass it to a BITNET server for delivery.  This may not
   be the best possible solution, but it has the advantage of being easy
   to implement.

   In this document we will use the term "production" to refer to the
   normal operation of the mailing list (or bulk delivery application)
   you want to pipe through the DISTRIBUTE service. That is, the
   "production" options are those you should specify once everything is
   tested and you are confident that the setup is working to your


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