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Any progress on porting gmail (or any email) to our 68K Macs?


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Hi folks....

 

I have a Color Classic Mystic.  I am using a LC 575 board, the 640 X 480 mod, and running a CF card for a hard drive. I am running 8.1 as well as 7.6. I have a network card installed and it goes directly to my modern Linksys WiFi router via ethernet.  I can pull up a browser and surf old time web pages that support http (but not https) and no fancy stuff.  May hobbyists like some of us, are running web pages that we can access and they display perfectly.  Here is an example:

 

https://obsolete.macfixer.com/vintage-software/

 

I still have this fantasy that someone will find a way so that I can read and respond to my gmail on my Mystic.  A few years ago here, someone was developing a raspberry pi, and some software to do this.  It was sort of working, but as I understand it, it was never finished.    I may have missed other attempts.

 

Is anyone working on this?  Or has someone found a solution? 

 

I enjoy the speed of my Mystic and do use it often.  If I could get email working on it, it would work well for a daily driver for me.

 

Anyone have any suggestions, or pointers to web sites for more info on this issue?

 

Thanks so much,

 

mraroid

 

 

 

 

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To the best of my knowledge, there's nothing straightforward right now. It would require you either run your own server to rehost your mail, use an SSH client and a text-mode email client on a modern computer or run some SSL bridges. I believe @BacioiuC was working on this but I forgot where he got.

 

In addition, you'd need to be receiving mail simple enough for a version for web browser to display, so modern email that expects you to be looking at your mail in Chrome/Chredge won't work well or look good.

 

I've set up a vintage-compatible server at http://vtools.68kmla.org/ and my intent was to provide no-SSL vintage compatible email through it, as sort of a "hey look" thing, but I haven't migrated to 10.4 server and ASIP6 handles email very poorly at this point, so it's currently disabled.

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E-mail works and can be actively used, sadly not gmail as it requires HTTPS by default. However, I have it working via a combination of MailDrop (client) + Mail Baton (acts as a local SMTP redirection server) since a lot of early mail clients defaulted to a single SMTP port.

 

But let me repeat, SSL only mail services will not work unless you setup a proxy locally which, from all my attempts so far, I never managed to achieve. You can get around this by getting a custom domain and host from a service that offers e-mail and SSL-less ways of connecting to it (eg. namecheap). You can then re-direct gmail mail to the private domain and have it accessible on your 68K email client.

 

It's a lot to setup but kinda worth it. I like getting e-mails on my SE/30. 

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Thanks everyone for the reports.   I used Eudora for any years. I may still have the original disks for several versions.

Very interested in your work Dog Cow.  Please keep us posted.

 

mraroid

 

 

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On 4/8/2021 at 2:09 AM, karrots said:

Gmail supports IMAP4 you could use Eudora.

 

Will any Eudora versions for classic mac connect or would you still need to pipe it through an SSL stripping tunnel? Most 8/9 era software (some of which works fine in system 7, like eudora and netscape4/ie-oe4) support imap, but have bad or no SSL support.)

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That's about what I thought.

 

In my experience, gmail stopped working directly on vintage Mac clients several years ago.

 

However, I did notice this earlier today:
 

 

If the protocols are otherwise the same, then this or this plus maybe baton (which IIRC does authentication on behalf of other software) may net a working setup.

 

Although you still have the problem of: Email is now too visually/code complex to be practically displayed on a vintage Mac.

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20 hours ago, Cory5412 said:

Although you still have the problem of: Email is now too visually/code complex to be practically displayed on a vintage Mac.

 

Isn't that because of HTML in mail?  I keep HTML mail disabled in my eMail client, so I just receive the text version.  Wouldn't vintage Macs still be able to receive the text version?

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Yes, it would be because of HTML, large images, tracking things, javascript, etc etc.

 

If email comes with a plain text view then yeah, that'd work.

 

The severity of this problem depends a lot on what account it is and what you're looking at. An account where you send/receive emails to other individual humans would probably not be that much of an issue to handle. An account where you primarily receive newsletters and sales adverts would be nearly unusable.

 

It also depends on how you have your account set up. My main gmail and stenoweb.net accounts now have more total content than most of my 68k Macs have avaialble storage space, so if you IMAP in an entire account you're in for a bad time.

 

Plus, I recommend against POP unless it's a play/test account and/or you're super 100% sure about the client you're using, because that deletes mail on the server side.

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On 4/14/2021 at 5:35 PM, Cory5412 said:

Although you still have the problem of: Email is now too visually/code complex to be practically displayed on a vintage Mac.

That's not a big problem. HTML emails are not a problem. First of all, they're often multipart MIME with a plaintext component (as you said in your post above). I can't say that all HTML emails are sent this way, but enough of them do indeed contain a plaintext MIME part.

 

Furthermore, IMAP allows you to download just about any part of the message you want. It's a powerful protocol for message retrieval. (Actually, POP3 and IMAP are conceptually both file transfer protocols when you think about it, as is SMTP. At its core, electronic mail is merely a specialized form of file transfer.)

 

In any case, an HTML scrubber is trivial to write. My webmail at Mac GUI has an HTML scrubber.

 

 

Quote

Plus, I recommend against POP unless it's a play/test account and/or you're super 100% sure about the client you're using, because that deletes mail on the server side.

Yes, I agree with your remark about being confident in the client. But that's not mandatory in the protocol. That's dependent upon server and client configuration. I would wager that a large number of POP3 servers, a majority, are configured never to delete messages unless the client commits to a DELE command, or the inbox hits a quota. And clients these days come with a setting that will never delete messages from the server unless the user specifically hits the delete button on a message.

 

The combination of the unique-ID tag and UIDL command ensure that a client can maintain its own message database and only download messages from the POP3 server which it does not have in its database, and never explicitly delete any messages from the server.

Edited by Dog Cow
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Good to know, and fair point.

 

This leads to a question, in general: What's the goal for email on a vintage Mac? I think that's something that will have an individual answer.

 

For my own part, I get hundreds of emails a day, 99.9% of which are either bacon that I don't really want to look at (newsletters, sales ads) or a prompt to go to a web site to do some action. (e.g. ticketing system at work, Patreon or this forum for my hobby stuff, bill paying in my home life, etc etc.)

 

This is kind of why when people want vintage email, my thought process is that it would be better to have a dedicated vintage account, whether that's on gmail, self hosted, or a vintage-oriented email server (vtools, etc etc). In a very real way, it won't be exciting to, say, get your forum notifications on your Color Classic because you can't, really, do anything with those notifications on that machine.

 

Now, not that there's nothing applicable. LEM still runs email lists that would probably be fun, and as you mentioned, emails from normal people typically have a plain text component generated by the email client. (Granted, like, Outlook/Gmail are way more likely to produce HTML that Netscape 3/4 can use than, say, a store newsletter, so HTML may even be fine in that case.

 

To be honest, if I had to guess, it would be really unwise to point a vintage computer at your modern email account. if you're anything like me, you receive dozens if not hundreds of emails per day. I rarely handle messages on my work email fewer than twenty or thirty at a time.  To be honest, modern email systems are so focused on high quota and unlimited searching that I don't even "file" messages in my personal gmail any more, I stopped doing that in 2016 and have received roughly 37,000 emails since then. (Which, yes, I realize works out closer to 20/day than a hundred, but that's a personal account-- my workplace "2021-in" folder has 9600 messages just so far this year, which is 92/day, not counting stuff I haven't put in that folder yet and things that were filed as infomercials or spam.)

 

 

 

So I suppose my question in general is, what's everyone's vision for what email on a vintage computer would look like? Especially people who want gmail. My own gmail account has 4.5 gigs of messages in it. I'm not actually confident any email client that runs on Classic Mac OS can handle that amount of data, let alone things like that 7.6.1 on an '030 w/ SCSI has a 4-gig filesystem limit. If nothing else, that is a pretty severe logistical problem.

 

There's three or four active "email on old mac" threads going right now, perhaps a single generic Lounge thread may serve to help conceptualize what there's interest in so we can figure out what the real problems there are to solve. Because, getting coryw@vtools.68kmla.org or coryw-vintage@gmail.com on a vintage Mac is a meaningfully different matter than getting my main gmail/stenoweb/work email accounts running there.

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On 4/14/2021 at 11:10 PM, Cory5412 said:

So I suppose my question in general is, what's everyone's vision for what email on a vintage computer would look like? Especially people who want gmail. My own gmail account has 4.5 gigs of messages in it. I'm not actually confident any email client that runs on Classic Mac OS can handle that amount of data, let alone things like that 7.6.1 on an '030 w/ SCSI has a 4-gig filesystem limit.

These questions and others in your post are points that I've been thinking about a lot since last fall, as I'm planning and designing a new email client. In the past few weeks I've come to the conclusion that the vintage Mac just can't handle all that data, so don't expect it to. Or just let the user's disk space be the limiter. Maybe you only see the latest 50 or 100 or 400 messages in your Inbox because that's all the disk space you've got for 'em.

 

Or you just download the headers, and don't download the body of the message unless the user opens it. I've been taking a lot of design hints from Apple's MobileMail for iOS.

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I like the idea of selective syncing a lot, especially if this is an imap/gmail/activesync type of client that works based on the modern expectation that the mail stays on the server.

 

Hmm, I don't know how practical this is but on Windows, Microsoft Outlook does almost exactly what you're describing, except for that it's done on a time limited basis. The idea is that Exchange Server will happily (well, it might not be that happy) handle a 50-gig mailbox, but a few-years-old laptop might only have a 120 gig boot SSD, some of which needs to go to programs and perhaps a few critical documents.

 

Outlook only does it based on time, I think that setting a local cache disk limit or just pick "number of most recent messages" as well as maybe selective folder sync is a great idea.

 

Notably, all mobile clients also do both of these things: by default only inbox/drafts/sent and maybe one or two other things are sent and by default they only sync two weeks of email.

 

I don't know how practical this is in the context of IMAP but an option MS Exchange server users have with Outlook is to work exclusively "online", which is actually now how I'm using my stenoweb.net email, because I am in that 120-128-gig boot SSD scenario on a couple of my systems. (though my mailbox is only 4 gigs, it's 4 gigs that I can reclaim and use for something else.)

 

 

For mildly interesting scale reference, AppleShare IP 6, which first shipped in 1998 and remained a currently available product to education into 2003, has a pretty hard on-disk capacity limit of 4 gigs -- for the whole server -- the only relief from this was that you could run more than one server in an organization if you wanted to (e.g. mail1.stenoweb.net/mail2.stenoweb.net, I don't know how common that was to do, but I'm absolutely imagining just an absolute pile of Beige G3 desktops in a computer room). The expectation that people were POPping mail onto their own hard disks and then archiving it out onto removable media.

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