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Re: Rmail and its limitations

From: Antoine Kalmbach
Subject: Re: Rmail and its limitations
Date: Wed, 09 Sep 2020 16:39:35 +0300

"Philip K." <philipk@posteo.net> writes:

> Unless I'm missing something, configuring rmail-primary-inbox-list the
> way you did, copies the messages from the maildir directory into a mbox
> file, that is then opened by Rmail, right? But does this also ensure
> that messages are marked as read on the server?

Yes, but this relies on two things (a) offlineimap's syncing is bidirectional
and (b) Gmail gives special treatment for deletions over IMAP. (I use Gmail as 
mail provider.)

What (a) means is that if rmail-preserve-inbox is nil, any new mail gets deleted
from the maildir that offlineimap is synchronizing. This in turn, leads to
offlineimap syncing the deletion itself towards Gmail, so the mail is deleted
from Gmail's inbox as well. This leads to (b) that when messages are deleted
over IMAP in Gmail, the message is not deleted for good, but it's actually moved
into the archive. This preserves the mail on Gmail's servers should anything
happen to my local maildir (which is actually synced over Dropbox). I'm not sure
most email providers have this feature with IMAP access, once messages are
deleted, they are deleted.

Rmail does support IMAP these days via movemail, the same way it is able to
support maildir (Rmail doesn't support that natively IIRC), but the problem with
that was mairix. Mairix can index over IMAP but my guess is that it's a lot
slower than indexing a maildir. So that way both Rmail and mairix are able to
access the same maildir that the syncing tool is synchronizing, so the set up is
very fast. I used IMAP directly via Rmail for a bit, but started using maildir
for this very reason.

Hope this explains it!

> P.S. Have you considered isync[0] as an alternative to offlineimap. As
> far as I remember, it was lighter and therefore faster.
> [0] https://isync.sourceforge.io/

No, I haven't. Thanks for the tip -- offlineimap wasn't nearly as simple as mpop
to configure (I wish Martin Lamber wrote something like "mimap"), I have to run
a custom script for it to be able to get passwords from the system
keyring. Maybe isync has support for that natively.

Antoine Kalmbach

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