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Webmail - considerations...

We are going to develop web-mail system, that's capable of handling
relatively high loads. I know, there are many open source web-mail systems
, but they doesn't satisfy me. Almost every  falls into one of two
cateogries: php based, using imap; perl cgi based, using IMAP or direct
filesystem access...

I'd like someone experienced with such systems help me with the following:

1. Almost every available webmail system uses the following way of
handling (rreceiving, in this example) attachements: load the whole
message body from IMAP server or message file, decode it and send to the
The _whole_ attachement gets loaded into server's RAM. Isn't it waste of
resources/ killing the server ? 
I think it should read/decode/send the attachement on a line-by-line (or
part-by-part generaly) manner. Am I right ?

2. Which one is better - accessing maildirs directly, or using IMAP ?
 I can see that IMAP seems to be more scalable / universal... Maildirs
probably can be much faster to work with directly, but probably less
Any other pros/contras ?

3. I'm going to develop the front-end  using Apache::ASP or php, not
decided yet, and access the mails through the middle-tier daemon.
The question is - is it a good way to use persistent IMAP connections ? If
so, there will be no overhead of authentication on every operation, but
there can be many open IMAP connections to the local imap server
(probably Courier-IMAP) at the same time.
Which strategy is better ?

4. Are there any libraries similar to c-client, maybe some C++ ones ?

5. Does c-client library allow to retrieve the message body
(attachements) partialy  (see 1) ? 
I've seen some /tmp access in its source code - does it dowload whole
message to /tmp ?

Hmm, that's all for now...



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