[CentOS] Strange ! characters inserted into emails

David Eckelkamp deckelkamp at gmail.com
Fri Sep 19 02:15:51 UTC 2008


On Thu, Sep 18, 2008 at 11:29 AM, Sean Carolan <scarolan at gmail.com> wrote:

> I have never encountered anything like this before, so thought I'd post
> here and see if anyone can help.
>
> We have a java application that sends out notification emails to
> end-users.  The body of the email is some boilerplate text and HTML that is
> pulled from a database.  When the emails are received there are random
> instances of " !" (that's a space and a bang symbol) inserted into the email
> in various locations.  For example a sentence that is supposed to read like
> this:
>
> The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
>
> ends up looking like this:
>
> The quick b !rown fox jumped over the laz !y dog.
>
> We combed through the source text and didn't find any unusual characters in
> the body of the text.  Somehow these bang symbols are being inserted after
> the mail is handed off to sendmail.  Does anyone have an idea how I can
> troubleshoot this further?  Or maybe you've seen something similar in your
> environment?
>
> thanks
>
> Sean
>
> I have seen this before when the email was generated by a program and being
sent through sendmail as the MTA. As I remember, there is a line length
limit in an SMTP stream. And if sendmail sees a line longer than a certain
number of characters it will insert a "!\n" sequence in the stream.  I
forget whether a receiving sendmail would remove that sequence, but I think
not.

What it means is that the application is most likely not encoding the email
message properly.  If there is going to be a long line, the message would
need to be encoded in base64 or quoted-printable.  Those will allow the
message to be transmitted without those extra exclamation marks.

Do a google search for "sendmail exclamation mark" and you'll find several
posts about it.

DavidE
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