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Re: Resolutions to comments on LSB-FHS-TS_SPEC_V1.0

On Tue, 26 Jan 1999, Theodore Y. Ts'o wrote:
> Most Mail User Agents for standard Unix systems look in /var/mail/<user>
> for the user's mailbox.  So if qmail is switching to ~/Mailbox, then
> they have to solve the problem for all of the various MUA's out there,
> and that is really qmail's and mutt's problem.

Generally it's configurable; my .pinerc just says 'inbox-path=Mailbox'
and that takes care of it, and Mutt (along with many other mailers, I'm
told) just pays attention to $MAIL.

There's a file in the qmail distribution called INSTALL.mbox that
explains what to do to switch to the ~/Mailbox convention.

>    So maybe any standard should not say something about the mail spool dir?
> Well, the problem is what happens if a third-party wants to ship a mail
> user agent?  If how you get mail on a system is a distribution-local
> thing, that means that only the distribution-provided mail readers have
> a chance of working correctly.  The whole point of the LSB effort was to
> allow this kind of third-party application provider to be able to work
> across different Linux systems, and not have certain applications that
> only work on RedHat systems, but not Debian systems, or vice versa.

There are several ways to handle this.  You can use DLLs like
Microsoft, you can specify filesystem locations and file formats (which
is the current FHS situation), you can specify environment variables
and file formats (which is the current de facto standard, and the
reason why switching to ~/Mailbox was easy for me).

Setting environment variables like MAIL can be done in the global
profile and csh.cshrc files.

Currently, the FHS only specifies filesystem locations.  This is
considerably more restrictive than the other alternatives; switching to
maildir format is essentially infeasible.

The benefit of only specifying filesystem locations is that it keeps
both the interface and the implementation simple.  If every MTA came
with a DLL to provide access to mailboxes stored in that MTA's format,
I suspect that mailboxes and access thereto would be considerably more
complex and failure-prone.

<kragen@pobox.com>       Kragen Sitaker     <http://www.pobox.com/~kragen/>
Computers are the tools of the devil. It is as simple as that. There is no
monotheism strong enough that it cannot be shaken by Unix or any Microsoft
product. The devil is real. He lives inside C programs. -- philg@mit.edu

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