Rich Freeman on 26 Sep 2016 17:37:26 -0700

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Re: [PLUG] Top-posting

On Mon, Sep 26, 2016 at 5:06 PM, Rich Kulawiec <> wrote:
> However: I think it's critical to separate functionality here, in keeping
> with the "Software Tools" concept (and the foundations of Unix)
> that a tool should do one thing and do it well.  Mail really, really
> should be kept in mbox format (it's served us well, it's simple, and
> a LOT of tools exist to work with it) and search really, really should
> be separated from it, not integrated with it, because it would be
> architectural error to do the latter.

Honestly, the on-disk storage format of the mail and index data
doesn't really concern me because email clients shouldn't ever look at
that stuff.  They should be talking to the mail server and giving it

The problem is IMAP really seems inadequate to this task.  If I want a
list of the first 20 headers with the tag "PLUG" how do I do that with
IMAP?  I don't know if IMAP actually supports anything like cursors,
and it doesn't have much in the way of search capability to my
knowledge.  Or at least, the FOSS servers out there don't have it.

The storage can be in whatever format works well.  Getting my mail out
in mbox format is useless if it doesn't still have the tags applied,
though there is no reason you couldn't export in that format if it
isn't the native format.  I'm not convinced that a huge sequential
text file with indexed byte offsets is the best solution for what
amounts to a key/value storage system.  But, whatever, the storage
isn't the problem here; the protocol is the problem as far as I can
tell.  And of course the clients also would need to support this
protocol, and not think in terms of folders (or at least not be
limited to these; a UI that wastes a segment of screen to tell me that
I'm always in my "INBOX" folder in IMAP does me no good).

If IMAP could properly support tags I'm sure GMail's IMAP interface
would already be using these features.  They just map tags back to
"folders" and make an email appear in multiple folders at the same
time.  That really isn't a solution if you want to use your mail
client as anything other than a one-off solution that isn't regularly

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