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Re: using movemail directly in .emacs

From: Robert Thorpe
Subject: Re: using movemail directly in .emacs
Date: Thu, 05 Jun 2014 23:21:44 +0100

lee <address@hidden> writes:

> So you have like 1GB mbox and another 1GB mbox~ and copy that every time
> you change a flag, like read, and perhaps you do that over the network
> on a centralised storage or over a VPN connection using a modem.  In any
> case, it`s horribly inefficient.

I don't have any 1GB mbox files.  I file emails by subject.  The biggest
one I have is ~150MB.  I'll probably archive that one and start another
one soon.

I expect if I was using a VPN connection I would have a problem as you
say, but I don't.  (If I did have to use remote access I'd do it another
way).  Writing a big mbox file isn't really a problem because the OS
caches writes.  The delay of reading it is the real problem.

>> I've never lost any email because of this type of problem.  (I have lost
>> it using Microsoft PST files though).
> Those are particularly awful.  Microsoft doesn`t have any MUA which
> could handle more than a handful of mails per day, if even that much.

Outlook can handle far more than that, at a previous job I used to get
hundreds per day sometimes.  PST files aren't good though, they're pretty
much impossible to fix once broken.

>> It asks a lot of the filesystem.
> It merely asks of it what it was made for.

That's a rather philosophical point of view.  Practical filesystems have
limitations and sometimes we have to live with them.

>> Some filesystems can't handle long path and some can't handle certain
>> characters in filenames.
> Characters in file names aren`t a problem with maildir.

The colon ':' is on MS Windows because it doesn't support colons in filenames.

>> Some behave quite slowly if a lot of directories are being checked.
> Like which ones?  IIRC, extfs would slow down considerably with many
> files in a directory, ext2 didn`t.  Using ancient file systems with mbox
> doesn`t seem to be a good idea either, considering the increase of the
> amounts of data they were designed to deal with and the amounts of data
> we are dealing with nowadays.

I don't know much about the subject.  But, when I read about Maildirs
online there's often lots of discussion about the right filesystem to
use, and setting up it's parameters.

>> The minimum file size is quite large on many systems, so if you have
>> lots of small emails then it wastes a lot of space.
> I`ve investigated this problem quite a while ago with the actual mail
> storage I have.  I found that most of the mails are between a little
> over 2kB and below 4kB, so a minimum size of 4kB is fine.  If you use
> anything larger for minimum size, you probably have rather special
> requirements which may be suited better by a different file system.

You've persuaded me on that.

>> If I keep backup files that waste more space, but I can always delete
>> a few of them if file length is an issue.  I can just copy a mbox file
>> to a USB key, or download one from a website (such as the GNU mailing
>> list archives).
> You can always turn a maildir into a single file with tools like tar, or
> copy it to an USB stick.  For archives, mbox can be a good thing to use.


>> However, I don't think that Maildirs or MH are bad systems.  My mail
>> point here is that mbox files aren't bad either.  The whole debate is
>> about a few details that aren't really that important.
> Well, I find reliability and efficiency important, and maildir and nnml
> have advantages in that.

I agree that maildirs can be reliable and efficient.  What I don't see
are the problems you bring up with mboxes.  If a user were to keep all
their mail in one big file then I'd agree.  Generally though people need
to file things.

Anyway, this is no longer very related to Emacs, so I'm going to stop now.

Robert Thorpe

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