[clug] Mysterious mbox behaviour

Kim Holburn kim.holburn at anu.edu.au
Fri Nov 14 13:50:22 EST 2003

At 1:28 PM +1100 03/11/14, Pearl Louis wrote:
>I've noticed that my large mbox mailboxes hadn't been decreasing in size
>though I've been going through and pruning messages and I could have sworn
>that I had deleted enough messages to make some difference.
>So thinking there might be something wrong (maybe some corruption or whatever)
>I went and opened the mailbox in a text editor.  First weird thing, found
>some large messages that kmail insists is not anywhere in the mailbox.  I
>deleted them in the text editor, kmail says it needs to redo the index, fine. 
>And all the messages that I've deleted, even some I deleted *over a month
>ago*, suddenly *reappear*.  Now as far as I understand it, when you delete a
>message from a mbox mailbox you just delete that part out of a text file
>essentially.  But obviously what has been happening is that when I delete a
>mail it is disappearing from kmail's mailbox index but not from the mbox file
>itself (and kmail compacts all the mailboxes automatically everytime you exit
>and I always empty the trash).
>Does anyone have any idea of what's going on here?  Is this normal behaviour
>on the type of mbox (if it is it's really stupid - what's the use of deleting
>mail to save space then?!!).  Or is it just kmail acting stupidly?  I have a
>suspicion that it might be kmail because only the message I deleted since I
>started using kmail re-appear.  I guess the question is - should I start
>using maildir mailboxes or should I find a new mail program?

I haven't used kmail but in many mail clients when you delete a message it just marks it as deleted.  (Usually a header like Status: D or some such).  IT is only when you "Compact" or "expunge" the mailbox that deleted messages are really deleted.  So you need to find out what command kmail uses for that.

Your mail client also keeps an index of the messages in the mailbox.  When you really delete a message in a text editor, the client realises the index is out of date and reindexes.  If the deleted message indicator is in the index then you will get all your old deleted messages back.

Kim Holburn 
Network Consultant - Telecommunications Engineering
Research School of Information Sciences and Engineering
Australian National University - Ph: +61 2 61258620 M: +61 0417820641
Email: kim.holburn at anu.edu.au  - PGP Public Key on request

Life is complex - It has real and imaginary parts.
     Andrea Leistra (rec.arts.sf.written.Robert-jordan)

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