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The Case Against MIME

1997-11-19 08:13:57


There seems to be several members that are in favor of dropping Ascii
Armour, and MIME formatting all PGP messages. 

I would like to present the case that this is not necessary nor even

The majority of PGP users are using 2.6.x and will be for a long time to
come. This is fact regardless of wether one likes it or not. Switching
formats for the sake of some MIME "purity" at the expense of compatibility
is a foolhardy gesture.

BEGIN PGP MESSAGE, PART X/Y used for multi-part messages, where the
armor is split amongst Y parts, and this is the Xth part out of Y.

BEGIN PGP MESSAGE, PART X used for multi-part messages, where this is
the Xth part of an unspecified number of parts. Requires the MESSAGE-ID
Armor Header to be used.

These formats for multi-part messages are not re-inventing the wheel, they
are the wheels that all current versions of PGP ride on.

I highly doubt that the MIME Message/Partial subtype is widely implemented
among the current crop of MIME "compliant" Mua's (considering that Mua's
like Netscape & Eudora do not make use of multipart/alternative it is
doubtful that few if any make use of Message/Partial).

There are still a large number of users who do not use MIME Mua's at all.
In all reality MIME is quite over-rated and is not needed for the majority
of e-mail messages! Why jump through the hoops of MIME formatting if it's
not needed?? (I still get a laugh when I see a plain text message MIME

This is not to say that there is not a place for MIME just that one should
use the right tool for the right job. If a particular situation calls for
MIME formatting of a PGP message then RFC 2015 should be followed but I do
not think that the Open-PGP specs should push the developer in the
direction that ALL messages should be in that format.

In my current 2015 implementation the default action is to only MIME
format PGP messages if the message before signing/encrypting is in MIME
format (the user has 3 settings options Never use MIME, MIME on MIME
messages [default], always use MIME).

I am also STRONGLY against using Base64 encoding of PGP packets. IMNSHO it
should be allowed for special case implementations but SHOULD NOT be used
in general e-mail applications. All this servers to do is break all
existsing PGP implementations without any added benefit.

- -- 
- ---------------------------------------------------------------
William H. Geiger III
Geiger Consulting    Cooking With Warp 4.0

Author of E-Secure - PGP Front End for MR/2 Ice
PGP & MR/2 the only way for secure e-mail.
OS/2 PGP 2.6.3a at:                 
- ---------------------------------------------------------------

Version: 2.6.3a
Charset: cp850
Comment: Registered_User_E-Secure_v1.1b1_ES000000


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