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Re: unrmail

From: Kevin Rodgers
Subject: Re: unrmail
Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2003 17:26:37 -0600
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; SunOS i86pc; en-US; rv: Gecko/20020406 Netscape6/6.2.2

Jonathan Kamens wrote:

I doubt it's documented anywhere "official".  The UNIX mbox
format was spawned long, long ago, when there was no need for
such documentation because all the people writing software to
use the format sat in the same building, saw each other every
day at work, and went out for beers together afterwards.

And now there are at least 3 variants of the "\n\nFrom " separator;
VM calls them From_ (BSD), From_-with-Content-Length (new SysV), and
BellFrom_ (old SysV) and doesn't even try to parse a sender address
or date following the "From ".

A brief search revealed a man page for the format at
<URL:http://www.threadnet.com/manpage.php3?page=5+mbox>. This man page looks like it might have come from the qmail
distribution, which would mean that it was written long, long
after the mbox format was first defined and used.


When reconstructing the "From " header, software
should make its best guess about that date, e.g., by using
the "Date:" header in the message.

But that's redundant.

It wasn't redundant in its ORIGINAL form, because the "From "
date reflected when the message was RECEIVED, which might be
different from what's in the Date: header.

I think that since the "From " separator is added by the MDA, it should
reflect when the message was delivered (i.e. written to the mailbox).

However, when
reconstructing a "From " line which has been lost, the most
reasonable thing to do is to use the Date: header to achieve
some semblance of normalcy.

The Received: header added by the local MTA would be even closer to

the time the message was actually delivered.

Kevin Rodgers

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