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lynx-dev HTTP continuation lines

From: David Coles
Subject: lynx-dev HTTP continuation lines
Date: Thu, 4 Feb 1999 14:59:45 +0000

Hi all,

think I have found a bug in the implementation of the HTTP protocol:

If I have interpreted the W3C HTTP spec correctly, a header line beginning
with a space is a continuation of the previous line, so if an incorrectly
written cgi script produced:

HTTP/1.0 200 OK
Date: Thu, 04 Feb 1999 14:45:34 GMT
Server: Apache/1.1.3
Content-type: text/plain
Set-Cookie: Apache=banks6086918139534767; path=/
 Content-Type: text/html                        

The content type of the document should be text/plain (as introduced by
the web server as a default). The script is incorrect in that the person
who has written it has used a here document and indented it to make it
look pretty - what he wanted was to produce an HTML doc, but he's ended up
with a plain text doc - according to the HTTP spec anyway...

If I look at this document in lynx, it gives me an HTML document. I
believe this to be wrong.

As something to support this, if I set Lynx up to go through an Apache
proxy server, Apache tries to be helpful by catenating the continuation
line onto the end of the previous line, so the header looks like:

HTTP/1.0 200 OK                                                                 
Date: Thu, 04 Feb 1999 14:52:06 GMT                                             
Server: Apache/1.1.3                                                            
Content-type: text/plain                                                        
Set-Cookie: Apache=banks6709918139926328; path=/ Content-Type: text/html        

which lynx then correctly interprets as a plain text document.

If it's any consolation every other browser I know of has this problem,
which made me think I was going mad for a while, but then I thought they
must all be using the same reference code from W3C - so perhaps that is

The address for an example of this is

please let me know what you think. I'm quite willing to believe I have
made a mistake here, but no-one I have talked to about it could point it
out to me.


--David Coles                   System Administrator, Southern Studios

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