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How Dave Does It: Troubleshooting GroupWise Internet Agent and SMTP Issues with Telnet

Novell Cool Solutions: Trench
By Dave Muldoon

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Posted: 5 Feb 2004

In the email industry, we're seeing a shift in the way organizations classify and use email. This has resulted in a whole new set of business needs and new applications for enhancing and securing email. These products and needs range from SPAM filtering, Internet-class mail distribution systems, SMTP integration with third party applications and firewall rules for securing the whole package. Most times when converting or adding these new business requirements, testing SMTP communication prior to implementation is a must. After all, who's allowed to put something on the network that breaks email - right?

Of course, pre-implementation testing is not the only use for Telnet. It can also be a great tool for troubleshooting when working with SMTP gateways, firewall rules and web server or application server SMTP integrations. As you may be aware, Telnet is a relatively simple utility. And when connecting to an SMTP gateway via Telnet, as long as you know a few manual SMTP commands, it's an invaluable tool. I'll cover six basic steps and once you know them (five basic SMTP commands) you can do some quick testing directly on the gateway. And for those who strive to know everything, there are also more advanced commands that I'll cover which explain how to generate a message that has the look and feel of an authentic message.

Six Easy Steps to Telnet

Most PCs have the Telnet utility on them already. Each operating system seems to have a different "flavor" of telnet; some are GUI, and some are run through a DOS-type shell. I'm going to cover the GUI version, but almost everything I mention can be done in the DOS-type version as well. SMTP commands are standard and will work regardless of the utility you have. (Note: you can copy the Telnet application from one OS version to another and have it work most of the time, as long as, you are using the same OS vendor).

To get started, all you have to do is Start - Run - and type telnet into the target field. This will launch the version installed on your PC or allow you to execute the GUI application window. From the GUI application you may want to change some of the application preferences, most often you'll need to turn on the local echo, which allows you to see what you are typing when connected to a device, in our case a GWIA.

  1. From the Connect menu, select the Remote System option. Then in the new window that appears enter the IP Address or DNS name of your GWIA server and fill out the port field as 25 (SMTP) and hit the connect button. You should then see a "Service Ready" message like the following:
    220 GroupWise Internet Agent 6.0.5 (C)1993, 2001 Novell, Inc. Ready
    The above line indicates that communication from your physical location on the network is able to get to the GWIA server via port 25 (SMTP). Just this simple test proves some firewall rules are working and some of the GWIA configuration is setup properly. From the ready prompt you can continue to enter some basic commands that will actually generate and send a message.

  2. Start with the Hello command - "HELO" and hit enter.

    You should get a response of "250 Ok".

  3. The next command to enter is who you are - "MAIL FROM:" line and hit enter. For example: MAIL FROM:

    Again, you should get a response of "250 Ok". At any point that you don't get a positive response you will see a different error code (generally in the 500 range) with a hint at what may be wrong.

  4. The third command that you type is the who are you sending to - "RCPT TO:" and hit enter For example: RCPT TO:

    Again, you should get a response of "250 Ok".

  5. The fourth command to enter is "DATA", that's it - just data and then hit enter.

    You should get a response of "354 Enter mail, end with "." on a line by itself" and your cursor should be a line by itself. At this point you can type your message. You can type anything on the screen and the application will wrap the text for you. When you've completed typing the message start a new line and just type a period (".") and hit enter. Which will again respond with a "250 OK" message and at that point send the item.

  6. To disconnect from the GWIA you can type "Quit" and hit enter or from the drop-down you can select disconnect.

That's it! A few simple steps that allow you to verify many things, such as delivery of the message that was created (either inside or outside your network), firewall rules, SMTP Access Control rules and so on including things like SPAM or content filters.

Let's Make It Look Good

Now that you understand the basics you can try your hand at configuring something that doesn't look as if it's been BC'd, along with populating other fields of a message. If you've been experimenting as you're reading you've noticed that typing exactly what you want is crucial to a successful message. When working with the advanced features it's even more critical and there's much more to type.

In the message data you can actually enter an advanced set of parameters that an SMTP engine will parse and format into the message header. Which in GroupWise this then shows as the "to", "cc" and "subject" fields.

To add more information to the message, making it appear more authentic you can use these commands in the "data" section of the message.

After this is entered in the data section, type the person who the message is coming from and hit enter.
For example:
FROM: John Smith

After this is entered in the data section, type the person in which you want to display in the "to" field in the email and hit enter.
For example:
To: John Smith

After this is entered in the data section, type the person that you want to display in the "cc" field in the email and hit enter.
For example:
CC: John Smith

After this is entered in the data section, type the text that you want to display as the subject of the message and hit enter.
For example:
SUBJECT: Test Message

Brackets < >
You can use brackets after the "from", "to" and "cc" sections to display information exactly as it's typed. This can be used to show the Internet email address.
For example:
FROM: John Smith

Of course, once you know these commands you can have some fun with friends and co-workers, but be aware that the response to those messages you generate in this can be replied to.

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be
- Kurt Vonnegut Jr.


There are so many utilities out there for working with our industry, some are free, some you pay for and some just require some creative thinking and/or further research to see what they can do for you. Try out these tips and see how else you can apply them, maybe you can avoid some project implementation pitfalls. And if you can't do that, you can at least send some prank messages to your friends.

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Watch for more articles by Dave Muldoon, under the resources link on GroupWise Cool Solutions -

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