File: mbox.5

package info (click to toggle)
qmail 1.01-5
  • links: PTS
  • area: non-free
  • in suites: hamm
  • size: 2,188 kB
  • ctags: 1,711
  • sloc: ansic: 13,993; makefile: 1,914; perl: 448; sh: 377
file content (235 lines) | stat: -rw-r--r-- 4,788 bytes parent folder | download | duplicates (11)
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
97
98
99
100
101
102
103
104
105
106
107
108
109
110
111
112
113
114
115
116
117
118
119
120
121
122
123
124
125
126
127
128
129
130
131
132
133
134
135
136
137
138
139
140
141
142
143
144
145
146
147
148
149
150
151
152
153
154
155
156
157
158
159
160
161
162
163
164
165
166
167
168
169
170
171
172
173
174
175
176
177
178
179
180
181
182
183
184
185
186
187
188
189
190
191
192
193
194
195
196
197
198
199
200
201
202
203
204
205
206
207
208
209
210
211
212
213
214
215
216
217
218
219
220
221
222
223
224
225
226
227
228
229
230
231
232
233
234
235
.TH mbox 5
.SH "NAME"
mbox \- file containing mail messages
.SH "INTRODUCTION"
The most common format for storage of mail messages is
.I mbox
format.
An
.I mbox
is a single file containing zero or more mail messages.
.SH "MESSAGE FORMAT"
A message encoded in
.I mbox
format begins with a
.B From_
line, continues with a series of
.B \fRnon-\fBFrom_
lines,
and ends with a blank line.
A
.B From_
line means any line that begins with the characters
F, r, o, m, space:

.EX
     From god@heaven.af.mil Sat Jan  3 01:05:34 1996
.br
     Return-Path: <god@heaven.af.mil>
.br
     Delivered-To: djb@silverton.berkeley.edu
.br
     Date: 3 Jan 1996 01:05:34 -0000
.br
     From: God <god@heaven.af.mil>
.br
     To: djb@silverton.berkeley.edu (D. J. Bernstein)
.br

.br
     How's that mail system project coming along?
.br

.EE

The final line is a completely blank line (no spaces or tabs).
Notice that blank lines may also appear elsewhere in the message.

The
.B From_
line always looks like
.B From
.I envsender
.I date
.IR moreinfo .
.I envsender
is one word, without spaces or tabs;
it is usually the envelope sender of the message.
.I date
is the delivery date of the message.
It always contains exactly 24 characters in
.B asctime
format.
.I moreinfo
is optional; it may contain arbitrary information.

Between the
.B From_
line and the blank line is a message in RFC 822 format,
as described in
.BR qmail-header(5) ,
subject to
.B >From quoting
as described below.
.SH "HOW A MESSAGE IS DELIVERED"
Here is how a program appends a message to an
.I mbox
file.

It first creates a
.B From_
line given the message's envelope sender and the current date.
If the envelope sender is empty (i.e., if this is a bounce message),
the program uses
.B MAILER-DAEMON
instead.
If the envelope sender contains spaces, tabs, or newlines,
the program replaces them with hyphens.

The program then copies the message, applying
.B >From quoting
to each line.
.B >From quoting
ensures that the resulting lines are not
.B From_
lines:
the program prepends a
.B >
to any
.B From_
line,
.B >From_
line,
.B >>From_
line,
.B >>>From_
line,
etc.

Finally the program appends a blank line to the message.
If the last line of the message was a partial line,
it writes two newlines;
otherwise it writes one.
.SH "HOW A MESSAGE IS READ"
A reader scans through an
.I mbox
file looking for
.B From_
lines.
Any
.B From_
line marks the beginning of a message.
The reader should not attempt to take advantage of the fact that every
.B From_
line (past the beginning of the file)
is preceded by a blank line.

Once the reader finds a message,
it extracts a (possibly corrupted) envelope sender
and delivery date out of the
.B From_
line.
It then reads until the next
.B From_
line or end of file, whichever comes first.
It strips off the final blank line
and
deletes the
quoting of
.B >From_
lines and
.B >>From_
lines and so on.
The result is an RFC 822 message.
.SH "COMMON MBOX VARIANTS"
There are many variants of
.I mbox
format.
The variant described above is
.I mboxrd
format, popularized by Rahul Dhesi in June 1995.

The original
.I mboxo
format quotes only
.B From_
lines, not
.B >From_
lines.
As a result it is impossible to tell whether

.EX
     From: djb@silverton.berkeley.edu (D. J. Bernstein)
.br
     To: god@heaven.af.mil
.br

.br
     >From now through August I'll be doing beta testing.
.br
     Thanks for your interest.
.EE

was quoted in the original message.
An
.I mboxrd
reader will always strip off the quoting.

.I mboxcl
format is like
.I mboxo
format, but includes a Content-Length field with the 
number of bytes in the message.
.I mboxcl2
format is like
.I mboxcl
but has no
.B >From
quoting.
These formats are used by SVR4 mailers.
.I mboxcl2
cannot be read safely by
.I mboxrd
readers.
.SH "UNSPECIFIED DETAILS"
There are many locking mechanisms for
.I mbox
files.
.B qmail-local
always uses
.B flock
on systems that have it, otherwise
.BR lockf .

The delivery date in a
.B From_
line does not specify a time zone.
.B qmail-local
always creates the delivery date in GMT
so that 
.I mbox
files can be safely transported from one time zone to another.

If the mtime on a nonempty 
.I mbox
file is greater than the atime,
the file has new mail.
If the mtime is smaller than the atime,
the new mail has been read.
If the atime equals the mtime,
there is no way to tell whether the file has new mail,
since
.B qmail-local
takes much less than a second to run.
One solution is for a mail reader to artificially set the
atime to the mtime plus 1.
Then the file has new mail if and only if the atime is
less than or equal to the mtime.

Some mail readers place
.B Status
fields in each message to indicate which messages have been read.
.SH "SEE ALSO"
maildir(5),
qmail-header(5),
qmail-local(8)