Finally using Maildir

Submitted by dag on Thu, 2008/07/31 - 00:39

I always am much more critical when I am showing off something to someone else, whether it is a new exciting application, a beautiful song or how slow my MUA is performing a task.

Normally I fill the waiting by doing something else, but when you are bragging how well UMTS works using putty and alpine on the new Symbian smartphone and tagging a single mail as spam takes more than 20 seconds to complete on my huge inbox, well, then it becomes the first thing to fix when I have some spare time :-)

And so I did, after discussing the Alpine maildir patch with Eduardo Chappa (aka. the author) and some risk-assessement about the future of Alpine, I made some new builds, tested them and finally released them. The conversion was pretty simple and the nice thing about moving from mbox to maildir is that the migration can take place while new mail is being delivered.

For those interested, a migration of a single mail folder looked like:

mv ~/mail/archive ~/mail/mbox/archive
perl -pi 's|^archive$|archive/|' ~/.procmailrc
mailutil copy ~/mail/mbox/archive \#md/mail/archive
bzip2 ~/mail/mbox/archive

and delivery happily continued... Some of the larger mailboxes took 10 minutes though. Also the fact that the hash-sign (#) required escaping caught me by surprise, duh :-)

Now maildir operations happen almost instantly, and so I looked at some of my other wishlists for Alpine:

  • On my smartphone with the smaller fonts, bold is not visible so selecting mails or folders would go unnoticed. So I patched Alpine to both select by using 'X' as well as using bold. Perfect for use in a screen on both the smartphone and an xterm !
  • When tagging a few mails as spam, having to select them, then apply a rule and type the name of the spam folder always felt so complicated. Thanks to the rules patch you can now create your custom key shortcuts.

On a smartphone I am enjoying the enable-arrow-navigation option, to intuitively browser folders and mails, even more than on my laptop.

Another happy Alpine user that is grateful for Mark Crispin's work and I wish him the best for the future.

Maildir/ rules!

I migrated from mbox to Maildir/ a couple of years ago too (2002, according to the timestamps of some archives). The format really is much (much!) better suited than mbox.

And no more repairing corruption in Gbyte-size files!

Maildir is now with

Move you mbox files to maildir format:

It's a minute away from you...