Minimal skills

Polytropon freebsd at
Fri Jun 5 00:35:11 UTC 2020

On Thu, 4 Jun 2020 18:07:57 -0600, Brandon helsley wrote:
> I can configure thunderbird to cache mail in Maildir?

I think it's the default already. Or did it use mbox? At the
moment, I have no reference system at hand to check; I just
know that Sylpheed uses MailDir locally.

> Never heard of Maildir though.

It's one of the two standard mail storage formats in use today.
Here is a short and simplified comparison:

mbox format:	a message is	- a portion of a file
		a mailbox is	- a file
		an account is	- a directory with files

Example: ~/mail/inbox is a file that contains all messages
received so far.

MailDir format:	a message is	- a file
		a mailbox is	- a directory with files
		an account is	- a directory with directories

Example: ~/mail/draft/4 is a file contains the 4th message

Both have advantages and disadvantages. To the MUA, it doesn't
actually matter - the visual representation is the same.

You can find more information here:

> My original plan was to have fetchmail and postfix and imap
> program configured to work with mbox. mbox is just default
> MUA though and I can replace it with thunderbird which is
> MUA also.

No, bmox is not a MUA, it's a concept of storing email messages
(see above). However, Thunderbird can import from and export to
mbox format, so there is compatibility.

Try to get a better understanding of "what is what" and "what
does what": fetchmail reads messages via POP3 or IMAP from your
account, provided by and hosted at, say, ""; postfix
is a mail server to route and deliver mails.

Here you can find a nice summary:

> But if I want to use command line MUA like mutt do I still not
> need these programs to poll mail?

No, mutt has this already built in: it supports both mbox and Maildir,
and it can access IMAP accounts without additional software. So
you don't need anything else.

> What is the difference between cacheing mail in Maildir vs using
> mutt and polling mail however it is that you do so?  

Caching messages is optional, but useful: You can have a local
copy of your messages (received and sent ones, templates and
so on) without requiring an Internet connection - you only
need it when you (a) receive new messages and (b) send out
messages; for reading and editing, you can use the locally
cached files. This is the exact opposite of, for example, a
typical web mailer where you _always_ need an Internet
connection _and_ it has to run the web browser.

The idea if IMAP is that you can store your messages on the
server, in your example, provided by "", and you
can use your local installation to "remotely manipulate them".
So even if you wipe your hard disk, your messages will still
be on the server, and their attribues (read, not read) are
also there. The IMAP-based MUA is just an interface to the
IMAP server that handles your messages and which also takes
care of when you send out messages, or messages are sent to
you - nothing you need to do.

In the past, before IMAP, it was common to read messages from
the server and delete them from the server (!), often due to
size limitations, using POP3. So your mailboxes would grow
on your local machine, and you had to backup them. Note that
fetchmail does support both IMAP and SMTP, and it can be used
to "copy messages" (download, mark as read), and "move messages"
(download, delete from server).

> Thanks for the formatting of the message. To explain why my
> messages are formatted this way, I'm trying to copy the
> format of these messages by adding  >  wherever there is a
> new paragraph and indentation.

This is what your MUA should do. It's important that paragraphs,
consisting of several lines, need a "> " (note the space!) for
every line. This is nothing you should do manually. When you
select "reply" in any halfway decent MUA, you get a composer
window, with the original message prefixed with some hind of
header ("On so and so, that person wrote:"), and a "> " infront
of every line. A good MUA removes existing signatures after
the "-- " delimiter (also note the space!), but it's no big
deal to remove it yourself.

Have a look at the messages in this thread so far to see the
desired "design". ;-)

> At first I thought this was all that proper bottom posting was.
> Now I see that most MUA 's have automatic formating. I'll check
> it out and see if I can enable these settings if they are not
> already.

Yes, definitely check your MUA's setting, maybe it's possible
to configure it properly. Additionally, as you already have a
FreeBSD machine, why not install mutt, setup your IMAP access
credentials, and use that instead? It will be much easier.

In general, bottom posting means:

1. Quote message parts properly that you reply to.

2. Remove anything you don't need.

3. Make sure it's easy to read: use newlines and indentation
   as needed.

Again, the mailing list archives provide good examples of how
this should be done.

Magdeburg, Germany
Happy FreeBSD user since 4.0
Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, ...

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