Moving old VAX e-mail to the Domino system
© 1998 Kevin Cole

[This is a work in progress. Not my best piece of writing, by any stretch...]

A few years ago I learned that there was a nice way to move old VAX mail from GALLUA and GALLUK to different systems, while preserving the From, To, and Subject information. (I used this to move messages to GALLUX.) As it turns out, the method also works for moving messages to the Domino system.

What follows is a revised version which will help you move old messages to the Domino system. You'll probably do best to print this out and read the entire thing once, slowly before trying it. This looks tougher than it really is. Just unplug your phone, and go slowly, and remember to breathe... ;-) (Sorry 'bout the length of this.)

Those of you who have sold your souls to the Evil Empire, and use Microsoft Outlook instead of Netscape to read your mail, cannot use the method outlined here. You can follow this link to use a somewhat less satisfactory method.

A quick summary of the steps (details with examples follows):

  1. Review and organize the messages you wish to move to the new (Domino) e-mail system. Use the "Taming the Wild E-Mail" tutorial.
  2. Create a subdirectory on the old (VAX) e-mail system for all messages to be moved.
  3. Use a special feature of the old (VAX) e-mail system to select and extract messages, creating special files on the VAX. Optionally, delete the messages from within e-mail at this time.
  4. Determine which subdirectory on your PC is used by Netscape to hold message folders. Jot it down on a piece of paper somewhere.
  5. Transfer the special files from the VAX to your PC, into the Netscape message folder subdirectory.
  6. Delete the special files on the VAX, and if you haven't already done so, delete the messages from within e-mail.
  7. Rename Netscape's message folders.

The images included here originally were from the Linux version of Netscape. However, as promised way back, I've finally added the Windows images.

The steps in detail:
Step 1: Read "Taming the Wild E-mail", which you'll find at
This will show you a few commands for organizing your mail better before you actually move it.
Step 2: Login to the VAX, and type (at the $ prompt):
This will create a subdirectory that will simplify later steps.
Step 3: Type (starting at the $ prompt):
You have 1 new message.
4 messages selected
yourdisk:[yourdirectory.MOVE]newfolder.TXT;1 created
(The DELETE/ALL is optional...) Be careful. It will help you save space, but once you've typed EXIT, those messages will ONLY exist in the the newfolder file, and will no longer be readable by GALLUA's MAIL system. If you have lots of disk space to spare, you can complete all the other steps first, then login later and delete the folder when you're satisfied that you've moved your messages successfully.
This creates a file in your VAX directory that is formatted for the new e-mail system. This file can be quite large, and so I suggest using some of the many options for the SELECT line to limit the number of messages included in each batch. These options are covered in detail in my "Taming the Wild E-mail" article mentioned above.
If you don't have messages organized in any fashion that allows you to extract in bulk, you can extract piecemeal, by replacing the SELECT line above with the following 3 lines:
EMAIL> MARK message, message, message...
Substitute "message, message, message..." the message numbers of each message you want grouped together (e.g. MARK 5,14,245,300 would mark four messages that will be selected together. Then continue with the commands following the SELECT shown above.
Note: Even if you only have one message that you wish to save, if it is not in its own folder, you must use the MARK, SELECT/MARKED and EXTRACT/ALL/MBOX commands. Extracting a single message from a folder with multiple messages any other way results in a file that Netscape cannot handle.
Note: The "newfolder" in the above command should be approximately the name that you would like for the folder after it is moved. However the name must not contain spaces. For example: "ARCHIVE_TO_DO.TXT" or "ARCHIVE_AGENDA.TXT" or "ARCHIVE_VPAA.TXT" would be good names for classifying the folders. Don't forget to add the period before "MOVE]" and after "newfolder".
(If you have the disk space, you can repeat the MARK, SELECT, EXTRACT, and DELETE as many times as you like, creating several folders at once.)
Step 4: Start up Netscape. If you're running a newer Netscape (as I assume most are), choose the menu item "Edit" and then at the bottom "Preferences". We're not changing any preferences or options, just checking on one of them. (If you are using an old Netscape you'll see a menu item named "Options", with a "Mail and News Options" choice in its pull-down menu. Choose that instead.)
[Screen shot of the Edit pull-down menu]
Choose "Mail & Groups" (or "Mail and News preferences" for the older Netscape) browser. Click on the "+" box that appears to the left of "Mail & Groups" if you see one. Now choose "Mail Server". NOTE: Older versions of Netscape have a "More Options" button in the lower right portion of the window. If you see one, click it.
[Screen shot of the Preferences window]
What you're looking for is something called "Local Mail Directory". Write down EXACTLY what you see and close the menu by clicking "Cancel". Click the "Cancel" a second time if it appears on the screen. NOTE: The directory name often is larger than the actual window on your screen. The start of the line should be a single letter, followed by a colon and a backslash. The end of the line should typically be "mail". So you should see something like "C:\...\mail" unless you have a non-standard setup. In order to see the entire text on the line, click once inside the text box, and use your right and left arrow keys to move around in the line. Be careful not to change the text! The average user should see something very close to:
C:\Program Files\Netscape\Users\e-mail username\mail
where the "e-mail username" is something you typed in when setting up Netscape.
Step 5: Either type in Netscape's Location box at the top or use the "File/Open Page" menu choice. Give it the URL (web address):
Use your VAX (GALLUA or GALLUK, not Domino) username in place of "username" above. It should ask for your password. Give it your VAX (not Domino) password.
Step 6: Almost done! You should see a list of folder names that you created with the EXTRACT command in Step 3. Use the RIGHT mouse button, and click on a folder name to move. A short menu list should appear at your mouse's position. Choose the menu item: "Save link as..."
Step 7: A window should appear on the screen, showing you a list of files and directories. Near the bottom, there's a box labled "Filename:" which should have the name of the file you clicked on.
[Screen shot of the Save As dialog box]
Type in this box EXACTLY what you wrote down in step 4, and end it with a backslash followed by the filename. The end result should look something like:
C:\Program Files\Netscape\Users\yourname\mail\newfolder.TXT
Click "Save". That's it. You're done. Now, when you read your mail, you should find a folder named "newfolder.TXT" with all your old VAX mail in it. (You can then rename it to whatever you like, or move messages in and out of it.)
Step 8: Repeat Steps 6 and 7 for each folder that you want to move.
Step 9: Renaming the folder...
It was only a matter of time before someone asks "How do I rename a folder?" So here's how.
First, click on the Communicator menu in Netscape:
[Screen shot of the Communicator pull-down menu]
Choose Message Center.
[Screen shot of the Message Center window]
Message Center should show you a list of all your folders. Find the folder you want to rename and click the RIGHT mouse button (not the left button) on the foldername. You should get a small pull-down menu that looks sorta like this:
[Screen shot of the Rename folder pull-down menu]
Now just rename the folder to whatever you want.
Step 10: Clean-up. If you're satisfied with what you have, you can go back to the old (VAX) e-mail system, and delete the old messages from mail (if you didn't do that when you were first extracting messages), and finally, delete the extracted special folder files you created.
You have 1 new message.
EMAIL> SELECT folder 1
4 messages selected
EMAIL> SELECT folder 2
297 messages selected
EMAIL> SELECT folder 3
39 messages selected
EMAIL> ...
...ARCHIVE_VPAA.TXT;1 deleted
...ARCHIVE_TO_DO.TXT;1 deleted
...MOVE.DIR;1 deleted

Good Luck!