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Re: Change default MTA was Re: Fedora Core 2 wishlists

Chris Ricker wrote:
On Wed, 10 Dec 2003, Dax Kelson wrote:

MBOX would've have corrupted itself ten times over, turned the hard
drives into molten hunks, and gobbled up RAM by the buckets.


[kaboom redfish kaboom]$ du Mail
329248  Mail/storage
1675579 Mail
[kaboom redfish kaboom]$

that's my mbox format email directory. No gobbled RAM, no molten hard drives, no corrupted mailboxes in ~8 years of reading email out of that directory, no need for hyperbole.

OK, you haven't seen corruption. I'd wager that's because the system is not a large, multi-user system and completes individual deliveries quickly.

In any case, your evidence is anecdotal, not proof. It doesn't mirror my own experience. I've moved two companies to Maildir style delivery. Both were previously using Slackware/Linux 2.0/sendmail/procmail. This combination was not only corrupting mailboxes, but corrupting the entire file system that the spools were on. (Damn Linux 2.0... Damn it to hell)

The scalability problem with mbox is that any operation on the individual messages (deleting one, for instance) requires that the entire mbox be rebuilt. That means if you have a 300MB spool and you delete a message, 300MB of data is read off the disk and then written back. Get just a few hundred users doing this and you disk bandwidth is maxed out.

Because of that, I think that mbox is highly inappropriate for volume servers.

Single user desktops aren't such a big deal. I can't think of any compelling advantage one way or the other. Maildir certainly scales down better than mbox scales up, though. It seems to me that the defaults should suit the largest group of users possible. Defaulting to mbox only helps a minority of users who use very old software which doesn't support the Maildir format. Those users certainly are going to know how to configure their systems to use mbox if they see advantages in it. I think that defaulting to Maildir, but doing nothing to remove support for mbox, is clearly the best way to go.

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