[Dovecot] Mail disappearing

Paul Tansom paul at aptanet.com
Wed Aug 10 19:36:27 EEST 2005

Chris Green wrote:
> On Wed, Aug 10, 2005 at 02:31:40PM +0100, Paul Tansom wrote:
>>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).
> I thought (it is a while ago though) that Courier IMAP's maildirs had
> *directory* names like:-
>     fola.folb
>     fola.folb.folc
>     fola.fold.fole
> and that all these directories were rooted in the same place.  There
> was no actual hierachy at all. The folders just had long names with
> dots in that the Courier IMAP server fed to the client such that they
> looked like real directories.
> For a remote IMAP client this makes little difference except that of
> having them all rooted in the same place.  For a local MUA it can be a
> significant issue.
> I really have never understood why any maildir server (IMAP or
> otherwise) would want to do this.  It's not how qmail does it.

Yes, that's exactly the way it works, but then that is exactly the way
Dovecot works too - not that I'm speaking from a position of authority,
just from my two recent installations from the Debian Sarge packages.

I have to admit it seemed a bit strange to me too, but when using Mutt
for local mail access I've found there is little difference between
typing a / and typing a . when separating the directory locations.

I'd assumed (well, such as I'd really considered it much) that this was
a standard way of doing things (either documented or undocumented), but
that is clearly a rash assumption. I've not had much experience of
qmail, I did have an installation to work with once and found the
bizarre way it stored its configuration files as multiple hidden . files
in the /var directory structure (iirc) to be such an odd and annoying
way of working that I never really considered it as an option for my own
installations. A bit like Cyrus IMAP where it has its own way of
configuring something (I really can't remember what now) that meant it
wasn't suited to any form of local server based mail access - as an
aside I see that this too uses the . separator for the folder hierarchy.

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

More information about the dovecot mailing list