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Re: What are advantages and disadvantages of RMAIL and mh-rmail ?

From: Eli Zaretskii
Subject: Re: What are advantages and disadvantages of RMAIL and mh-rmail ?
Date: Sat, 28 Sep 2013 12:26:17 +0300

> From: Emanuel Berg <address@hidden>
> Date: Sat, 28 Sep 2013 10:59:33 +0200
> shell access to the mails (instead of that T-Rex RMAIL file)

There's nothing wrong with Rmail in this respect, it's your usage of
it that was broken or at least sub-optimal.  E.g., I use Rmail for the
last 20 years, and don't have any "T-Rex RMAIL file" problem with my
mail archives.

For the benefit of others who might be misled by your messages, here's
how I suggest to avoid too large Rmail files:

 . Use the 'o' command in Rmail to file messages you want to keep in
   folders, one folder for each topic.  E.g., I have an 'EMACS.rmail'
   folder for Emacs-related discussions, 'BIDI.rmail' folder for
   issues related to bidirectional scripts, 'PORTS.rmail' for ports of
   GNU/Free software to MS-Windows, etc.  After I read a message, if I
   think it's worthy of being archived, I immediately press 'o'.  You
   can customize the value of rmail-output-file-alist to make Emacs
   guess the best folder for filing a message, by matching it with
   some regular expressions.  If Emacs guesses correctly, you don't
   even need to type the folder name, just press RET.

 . Periodically use the 'x' command in Rmail to expunge deleted and
   filed messages from the inbox file.  This keeps the inbox size on
   disk at bay.  I expunge my inbox once a week.

 . Use the FCC facility to output every message you send to a separate
   sent-mail folder.

 . Each Rmail "folder" is actually an mbox file.  To keep these files
   from becoming too large, I rotate them from time to time: FOO.rmail
   becomes FOO.rmail.NNNN-MMMM, where NNNN-MMMM are the years covered
   by the file's contents.  (The sent-mail folder should probably be
   rotated at least once a year.)

 . To look up past discussions in my mail archives, I use the mairix
   utility, which has an Emacs front end, is very fast when searching
   the archives, and searches all the folders together, including
   inbox and the sent-mail folder.  My single gripe about mairix is
   that it only supports the current locale's non-ASCII characters
   when searching, but if most of your mail archives are in English,
   that won't be a problem.  mairix can also be used from the shell,
   although I consider this usage sub-optimal, as the best way of
   formatting the search results is to produce another mbox file,
   which is then visited by Emacs for reading in Rmail.

I realize that Gnus is much more powerful than Rmail, and also
supports newsgroups, which Rmail doesn't.  But those of you who find
Rmail "good enough" should not be fooled into thinking that you cannot
organize your mail archives for fast and efficient management and

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