[Dovecot] Icedove (Thunderbird) crashes when reading IMAP messages

cam at ellisonpsychology.ca cam at ellisonpsychology.ca
Fri Apr 4 08:15:58 EEST 2008

> A mail client that crashes when reading mail is either broken is
> running on a broken system, and fixes *to what is broken* are the
> right way to prevent that even if there happens to be something odd
> and/or wrong on the server side that is triggering the crash.  This
> is not a Debian testers or Icedove list, so you are likely to not get
> a fix for your problem here.  <snip> Even in that case the fix
> would not be in Dovecot.

I have thought so from the beginning, but lacking full knowledge, I wanted
to eliminate as much as I could from consideration.
> Dovecot rawlogs come in pairs: the <date>-<time>-<pid>.in files are
> what the client sent in, the <date>-<time>-<pid>.out are what the
> server sent out as  response. Each of those pairs of files is from
> one session between the client and the server, and IMAP clients will
> often run multiple sessions in parallel. They also sometimes hold a
> session open in IDLE mode, waiting to be notified by the server of a
> change to a mailbox.

That seems to be the case - once I paired the log statements, it was clear
that the communication between the two was OK.  In fact, Dovecot was in
IDLE mode when Icedove crashed, consistently.

> Many people on this list speak IMAP and could help explain the chat
> between the client and server if you need a deep explanation, but in
> all likelihood the real  use of those logs would be in the bug report
> opened with the Icedove and/or Thunderbird developers. Just the tails
> of a pair of logfiles that are from a session where Icedove crashed
> should be adequate to show what Icedove was asking for and what
> Dovecot was sending back when Icedove crashed, although a clear path
> to *why* it crashed probably isn't in those logs.

Well, they're definitely going to come in handy.  :-)
> You haven't mentioned any memory-relevant details about your system,
> but the phrase 'folder is too large for memory' sounds a bit
> suspicious. How many messages would that be?

A couple of thousand.  Actually, the memory thing was a red herring, and I
should not have mentioned it.  My laptop, which I use only when away from
the office, has half a gig.  Squirrelmail tries to read everything into
memory, and there's a point past which it won't go.

> You also mentioned that
> fiddling with the Icedove configuration caused trouble in KDE,
> specifically KMail, and that does not make a lot of sense either
> *unless* you have a deeper problem on your system like simple memory
> starvation.

The KMail problem was solved by careful upgrading - I say "careful"
because it meant avoiding bugs in related software.  It now works fine,
except that it can't cope with sending email either through my ISP or
through Exim.  Another problem to solve.  The ISP is having problems of
its own, with regard to mail.

Anyway, I purged Icedove, installed Tbird from scratch, and though the
crashes no longer occur, I cannot send from it either, so it's back to

Thank you for the insight, and depth of discussion.  At least I know more
than I did 3 hours ago,


Cam Ellison, PhD RPsych (BC #01417)
Cam Ellison & Associates Ltd.
3446 Beach Avenue
Roberts Creek BC  V0N 2W2
Phone 604.885.4806
Fax 694.885.4809
Cell 604.989.0635

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