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Re: using movemail directly in .emacs

From: lee
Subject: Re: using movemail directly in .emacs
Date: Tue, 27 May 2014 03:58:49 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.4.50 (gnu/linux)

Hikaru Ichijyo <> writes:

>> The problem here isn't that spool files are an anarchonism, it's that 
>> they're not made for storing large amounts of mail.
> It seems like most users let gigabytes of mail accumulate in their 
> inbox.

Most of the mail here is from mailing lists.  It never gets into the
inbox because gnus splits it.

Do you seriously want to store over 120k mails from a mailing list in a
single (mbox) file?  Rewrite the whole file *every time* you flag a
message as "read" or "answered"?

> The only messages I leave in mine are active items that still 
> need attention.  Everything else gets moved to a folder as soon as 
> possible.  I never have more than 400 messages in my inbox at its worst.

The anachronism is storing many emails in one file.

That was done in the past because file systems were used the performance
of which would be severely impacted when you had many files in the same
directory.  Without this limitation, it doesn`t make sense to put many
emails into a single file, even if it`s only 10 or 5, other than for
special purposes.  It is a bad idea to do that because the single file
is prone to locking problems and corruption, and it can easily become
unwieldy and very slow to work with.  Using a number of single files
("folders") doesn`t really make it better.

IIRC, maildir supports flags (like read, answered) in the file names,
with, besides efficiency, the advantage that every MUA which supports
maildir can understand the flags.  When you use mbox, you either have to
use some sort of index file to store the flags, or you need to re-write
the whole file when a flag changes, and each MUA may use their own way
for this, not understood by others.  How efficient is that?

Using mbox is as much an anachronism as using a spool file for storing
email:  It`s still a single file.

> Granted, we now store the central user databases in some kind of 
> directory on a central server with something like LDAP rather than 
> having a humongous /etc/passwd, but I work in academic computing, and 
> universities are where big multiuser UNIX-based Internet sites have deep 
> roots, not likely to go away any time soon.

They are not using IMAP on top of maildir, or cyrus?  Do they make the
users` spool files available over the network?

Knowledge is volatile and fluid.  Software is power.

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