DOS and Internet: NTPMAIL for NETTAMER


NTPMAIL was mainly written to enable a continued use of Nettamer for handling email when upgrading from a phone (dial-up) internet connection to a network environment or (A)DSL modem. It can also be used if the SMTP server requires authentication.

DOS internet connectivity is mostly WATTCP based, with a few exceptions, like the built-in dialer of Nettamer. Although this built-in dialer actually functions quite well, it inhibits a smooth transition from phone to network or (A)DSL.

As many WATTCP-based mail transport utilities are available for pmail, I decided to write NTPMAIL, a Nettamer to PMAIL converter. Incoming email is - after POP3 download - converted from pmail to Nettamer format; outgoing email is - before SMTP upload - converted from Nettamer to pmail format.

Most of the documentation can be found in NETWORK.KEY (included in the zip file), a plain text file that can be viewed with any text editor and also from within Nettamer, using the F1 (help) key. NTPMAIL /? provides some additional information.

Note: NTPMAIL only provides a solution for the *email* functionality of Nettamer. Nettamer FTP, Telnet and HTTP functionality cannot be used without the built-in dialer! This is not a real limitation as there are many WATTCP-based DOS programs that can do HTTP (LYNX or Arachne; download here Lynx 2.8.5/Arachne 1.46b), Telnet, and FTP (MiniTerm Telnet and an FTP client can be found here). After installing NTPMAIL, the built-in dialer can still be used. Hence, network/(A)DSL and phone can be used alternately.

Note: When running NTPMAIL in POP3 mode, the operating system will report several "errors" (like "rename: permission denied" and "file not found: *.cnm"). These "errors" are just a consequence of the way NTPMAIL handles incoming mail and should be disregarded. Errors reported when running NTPMAIL in SMTP mode, however, may not be ignored!

NTPMAIL was tested in FreeDOS 1.0 and in a Windows XP DOS box.


In addition to Nettamer itself and NTPMAIL, Nettamer email via WATTCP requires two more steps: (1) a pmail compatible mail transport utility and (2) appropriate hardware and a packet driver.

a pmail compatible mail transport utility

There are many mail transport utilities available for pmail. Batch files POP3.BAT and SMTP.BAT (both included in the zip file) assume the presence of TCPMAIL (also included in the zip file), a utility written by James Chapman.

Some other mail transport utilities (like PMSMTP written by Fred Macall) allow, or even require, a personal name added to the sender email address in the "$$" and "From:" fields in $??.msg. This can be feed into NTPMAIL by adding a personal name to the command line:

  NTPMAIL personal name

which will appear in *.msg as: "Personal Name" <>.

If the SMTP server requires authentication, FDSMTPOP written by John Zappe and Yury Semenov has to be used for mail upload.

Obviously, you have to edit SMTP.BAT if you want to use another mail transport utility for outgoing email.

appropriate hardware and a packet driver

WATTCP via a phone (dial-up) connection will not be addressed here. After all, if you have a phone connection, the built-in dialer of Nettamer is the best solution and NTPMAIL/TCPMAIL are not needed.

With appropriate hardware, setting up a (A)DSL modem/network internet connection in DOS is surprisingly simple. No USB rubbish, but a real "mulpti-PC modem" (ADSL modem with built-in router) connected to a ethernet card in your computer. Use a Windows/Linux/Mac computer to configure the modem (needed only once).

Once the hardware is ready, only the loading of a packet driver is left. Each ethernet card has its own packet driver. This is a small .COM file (e.g., RTSPKT.COM for ethernet cards with RTL8139 chip). To load the packet driver, type (or put this single line in a batch file):

  rtspkt 0x60

and to unload the driver:

  rtspkt -u

That's all! Obviously, replace "rtspkt" by the name of the appropriate driver. All WATTCP-based internet applications require a configuration file WATTCP.CFG. A file with a single line in it is sufficient:


With TCPMAIL, and also with some other internet applications (like recent versions of ARACHNE, 1.6x and 1.70, but not with 1.4x), sometimes the error "rejecting zero address" occurs. Ctrl-C followed by a second attempt is a way to get around this error. For that reason I added the line "call tcpmail /q username@pop3server password" to the batch files POP3.BAT and SMTP.BAT just before the real call.

These ethernet cards and corresponding drivers were succesfully applied by myself:

    ethernet card               driver
   Various, with RTL8139      RTSPKT.COM (latest version!)
   SMC 8416BT                 PKT8000.COM
   SMC 9432TX                 PKT9432.COM
   Intel PRO 10/100           E100BPKT.COM

Other drivers can be found here and here.

last update: 11-1-2010