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The Answer Guy

By James T. Dennis, tag@lists.linuxgazette.net
Starshine Technical Services, http://www.starshine.org/

(?)Email Alpha-Paging software

How to build a mail to pager gateway

From John DiSpirito on Sat, 18 Apr 1998

Hello Answerguy,

I was wondering if you could help me with something? I was looking for a package that sits on my linux machine and will do email alpha-paging. Im sure you know what this is, but just in case:

A person emails an account: johndoe_page@somemail.com, and it pages them...

I know they are out there, but I dont know where they are. Could you lend some assistance?



There are several ways to do this, as you suspected.

First you could just use the TAP (telephony acces protocol) script that was published in Frank de la Cruz' book on C-Kermit. (The paging can be done as a kermit script and the mail gateway would be a quick procmail script to call it).

That approach requires a little bit of coding but uses tools you hopefully already have around. You can get out of the kermit coding/typing by looking at:

For more specialized tools to do this, I just went to the Linux Software Map search engine at: http://www.boutell.com/lsm/ ... selected the search by "keyword" options and typed in "pager"

I expected this to hit dozens of entries for 'more' 'less' 'most' and other Unix "pagers" (that is, programs for "paging" through a file). However, only Xless showed up under that false hit category.

The first "real" hit was a program by a Joshua Koplik. The LSM entry for it has some typos (or is just out-of-date from some directory restructuring at sunsite) so I had to chase down the real URL with a few judicious clicks:

... gets you to the right directory.

The other few links returned on this search were for 'man' pagers.

Now I'm also sure I recently saw another news article somewhere about telecom/paging software for Linux so I decided to hunt further.

So, I hit my old standby, Yahoo! (most of the answers I give are researched through Yahoo!). I used the string:
"+Linux +pager +alpha"

... and rapidly found a mini-HOWTO on this very topic at:

... by Chris Snell.

Despite, Chris' "disclaimer" (first line of the HOWTO reads "This document sucks.") the directions are very clear and seem to be very complete. I gather that it used to be listed on the LDP mini-HOWTO's and I'd like to see it re-appear there. (There are old, out-of-date mirrors of the LDP pages that have it and the current ones at:

... and at:

don't show it.

In this mini-HOWTO Chris refers to a package called "sendpage" (with URL's).

If you get this, I'd suggest that there are easier ways to configuring 'sendmail' You really don't need to do any of that (writing custom rulesets) with a modern sendmail. Something similar can be done via m4 configuration macros and built-in features (or easily handled with a simple one line procmail script).

Another great set of links is on Celeste Stokely's widely acclaimed "Serial Ports Resources" for Unix:

(which suggests that HylaFax supports pagers in some way!)

It turns out that there is apparently a mailing list devoted to this topic at ixo-request@plts.org. (IXO is one of the other protocols that modems use to talk to alpha pagers -- I don't know the details).

In retrospect I think the recent posting I saw on the subject may have been at the "Linux Weekly News" site (http://www.eklektix.com/lwn/). Hitting their search engine revealed links to:
QuickPage (ftp.it.mtu.edu:/pub/QuickPage) (in a comment to their staff)

... but, oddly, didn't find the paragraph in their previous issue. It turns out that they didn't know about any of the links I've discussed above and were referring readers to a commercial package (of which there are several --- the most well-known being at http://www.spatch.com/).

[I've copied the LWN staff as well. This really wasn't meant to "scoop" them, since I think that LWN is the best thing since Linux Gazette --- and it comes out four times as often! Every LG reader should also check it out! I just can't figure out where they get all the time to work on it.]

Finally the oldest freely available package for this that I know of is a perl scripts called 'tpage' (Tom's Pager) a.k.a. ixobeeper.gz at:


Anyway I hope that helps. Obviously you have plenty of options (which is the PERL motto).

Copyright © 1998, James T. Dennis
Published in Linux Gazette Issue 28 May 1998

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