Dovecot mbox & other programs

Pali Rohár pali.rohar at
Mon Jun 8 12:57:33 UTC 2015

On Monday 08 June 2015 13:42:53 Tom Hendrikx wrote:
> On 06-06-15 19:01, Pali Roh?r wrote:
> > Hello,
> > 
> > I want to use dovecot as imap server with mbox storage format
> > (described at [1]) but I also want to access (and modify!) those
> > mbox files which are stored on server (and used by dovecot).
> > 
> > What is correct way to read those mboxes? From wiki page [1] I read
> > that I should ignore first message in mbox (which contains
> > X-IMAPbase header) and mbox file is in mboxcl2 format.
> > 
> > And what is correct way to modify that mbox file (which is used by
> >  dovecot imap)? I would like to configure mutt on server to
> > directly access those mbox mailboxes without need to use imap
> > protocol (over localhost). It is possible without any data/message
> > damage?
> Just out of curiosity: why are you interested in handling the files
> manually when dovecot and IMAP protocol can already do that for you?

Because I have direct access to files and so I would not use another
indirect and slower access to them if I'm not forced. And also IMAP
protocol is not implemented properly in any application and direct file
access via open/read/write/... unix calls is easier as implementing and
using too complicated IMAP protocol. If I want to download all emails as
fast as possible I just rsync those mboxes. Using IMAP connection for
this operation is slow, hard and I think also stupid.

> Even when accessing the files directly from the server, dovecot will
> handle possible file correction, access control, file permissions etc
> all for you. Using IMAP to localhost with mutt still gives you all of
> the above, maybe including other nice IMAP-related benefits such as
> FTS etc.
> Tom

I do not want to have one message stored N times, just because every
IMAP client store message locally and message is stored also on IMAP
server. If I use IMAP over localhost it means that I have to wait for
IMAP protocol until client download all headers/body/etc... then do
magic and show me emails.

But I do not want to spend lot of time with writing philosophical
problems of IMAP and their clients...

I just want to know: How to correctly read dovecot mboxes and how to
correctly write to them. Thats all. In your email I did not find this
information :-(

PS: I'm not subscribed to this list, so please CC me!

Pali Rohár
pali.rohar at

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