The lady who wrote biff now works here at Pixar. Biff was named after
her dog (long dead).
Biff set an otherwise-unused execute permission bit on your terminal
device (/dev/tty??) which told comsat that you wanted to be informed
about new mail. Comsat did all of the work. I think that comsat just
ran stat(2) on your mailbox every minute or so, and if the mailbox had
been written since it had last been read it looked at the start of the
new data, parsed the message, and told you about it. It did not need to
interact with the mail delivery system at all except to read the spool
Biff has long been obsolete. One of the various ways of starting a program
in response to a mail message (procmail or mailagent can help with this)
can be used to perform its function.
Bruce Perens K6BP Bruce@Pixar.com 510-215-3502
Finger bruce@master.Debian.org for PGP public key.
PGP fingerprint = 88 6A 15 D0 65 D4 A3 A6 1F 89 6A 76 95 24 87 B3