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Multipurpose Internet extensions (MIME) allow email users to exchange non-ASCII textual messages and information in message headers. Click here for detailed information on MIME. We address here just two points poping up in daily life.

How can I extract mail with attachements without having to use pine or a Netscape mailer?

On Unix use the CMU programs "mpack" and "munpack". (Look here for a solution with "metasend" and "metamail"). For mpack on Macintosh, look here .
An example how Alice (alice) writes to Bob ( and sends him a jpg file photo.jpg.

mpack -s "photo for you" photo.jpg
Bob ( unpacks the file by saving Alice's email first in a file "fromalice.tmp" and then uses the command:

munpack fromalice.tmp

to unpack it.

How do I configure Netscape so that it opens a PDF,DVI or PS viewer automatically under Linux or Solaris?

Check the entries in the three files ~/.netcape/preferences.js , ~/.mailcap and ~/mime-types . In ".netcape/preferences.js" you should have among other entries
user_pref("helpers.private_mailcap_file", "~/.mailcap");
user_pref("helpers.private_mime_types_file", "~/.mime.types");

user_pref("",  "application/x-ps");
user_pref("mime.table.extension.pdf.outgoing_default_typ", "application/pdf");
user_pref("mime.table.extension.dvi.outgoing_default_typ", "application/x-dvi");
in ".mailcap", there should be
application/x-dvi;xdvi %s 
application/pdf;gv %s
application/x-ps;gv %s
in ".mime.types", there should be
type=application/x-ps   desc="Postscript Document"        exts="ai,eps,ps"
type=application/pdf  desc="Portable Document Format"   exts="pdf" 
type=application/x-dvi  desc="TeX Dvi file"               exts="dvi"

Simplicity, Clarity, Generality B.W. Kernighan, R. Pike, in "The Practice of Programming".