[Dovecot] Mail disappearing

Paul Tansom paul at aptanet.com
Wed Aug 10 16:31:40 EEST 2005

Chris Green wrote:
> On Tue, Aug 09, 2005 at 10:46:57PM +0100, Paul Tansom wrote:
>>Please don't scare the wotsits out of me, I've just abandoned Courier
>>IMAP for two reasons:
>>1) it seems incapable of handling subfolders anywhere but below the
>>Inbox and the only help suggested is that I should ask the people
>>writing my mail client to fix it - so that covers Microsoft (x2),
>>Mozilla (x2), Eudora, Evolution and Squirrel mail for starters!
> Of course it can't because it uses the brain-dead convention of
> folders all being files at the same level with '.' separators in the
> filenames indicating folders.
> Thus a folder called 'holidays' is actually a directory called
> 'INBOX.holidays' and a folder called 'holidays/france' is a directory
> called 'INBOX.holidays.france'.  Why any sort of mail server would
> want to construct a folder hierarchy like this I can never understand.
> It's not just Courier either, there are a few maildir based servers
> which do it.
> (I'm not absolutely sure that the directories have the INBOX stuck on
> the front but however it's done they have to be all rooted in the same
> place because of the stupid idea of using '.' in the name rather than
> a really separate directory)

Sorry, I'm not following this one. The file structure behind my new
Dovecot installation is exactly the same as that used behing my Courier
one - and I've rebuilt from scratch on a new box, so the structure has
been created cleanly by Dovecot. This may be related to the way the
Debian package has been configured, I'm not sure.

The key difference is in the display on the client. With Courier it
works on the basis that the Inbox (in my Maildir directory, which
contains the cur, new and tmp subdirectories for it) has all the other
folders below it (stored in physical directories  within the same
Maildir directory, using . seperators for the folder structure as seen
by the client). Dovecot on the other hand, takes all these physical
directories in my Maildir folder and displays them off the root of the
virtual folder tree as seen by the mail client. This to me makes sense,
and although I can see that the NAMESPACE feature is defined to enable
this to be flexible, I don't see an issue with setting the default
action sensibly.

>From the Googling I did, and playing with the settings in the various
mail clients, it seems that they do support automatic setting of the
Namespace - certainly Thunderbird changed this according to the server
it connected to. Now the Namespace setting in the client may not be the
IMAP NAMESPACE RFC setting, I've not actually managed to get my head
around the spec document yet! That said, Courier sets the Personal
Namespace to "INBOX." in the client and Shared Namespace to "shared.",
which matches what it details in its FAQ. Dovecot sets the Personal
Namespace to "" and the Shared Namespace is left blank (as I would
expect not being supported yet). The physical directory structures are

The key difference in physical directory structure is that with Dovecot
folders that are created below the Inbox are actually defined with
.INBOX. at the beginning. Folders off the root are just preceded with a .

Anyway, this may be getting OT a bit. The only issue I currently have is
 that I don't always get an update of the count of messages in folders
that I auto file mail into with Procmail. This could be a client issue
though, I've not yet investigated properly.

Paul Tansom | Aptanet Ltd. | http://www.aptanet.com/

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