[haiku-development] Re: [GSoC proposal] IMAP FS - An outsider's thoughts

On Fri, Apr 15, 2011 at 09:35:16AM +0200, Stephan Aßmus wrote:
> Am 15.04.2011 01:29, schrieb Donn Cave:
> >See, to me, a filesystem is a way that you can do everything with cat.
> >
> >If we already have a mail daemon, and we are going to need a mail app
> >anyway to make anything happen with special ioctls, we might as well
> >use BFS and just assign a mail application to manage the files in the
> >way you describe, with a scripting interface for any external applications
> >that might want to be involved.  Not much extra value added by making it
> >a special filesystem.
> 
> Exactly. I think there is no advantage in doing IMAP as an FS if a 
> special ioctl is needed. In my other reply I have tried to explain why I 
> think it's a better idea to deal with possible delays in the clients.
> 
 I've been following this discussion, but haven't commented because
I've never delved into the area much.  However, I'm beginning to think
that something basic is being missed... [Or maybe it's just me that's
missing something (:-/)]

To me, the advantage of a 'file' as it's known to most FSs is that it
is just a linear bunch of bytes.  Any structure to the data in the file
is provided by the app(s) that handle that particular type of file.

A mail message, though, *does* have a particular structure (header,
text body and possible attachments), so it's always going to need
specific apps to handle it.  Exposing entire mail messages in a
file-system seems to me to have no advantage (over a daemon approach),
as it will be useless to anything except the apps that understand mail.

I do have one slightly radical suggestion though, that might make
a FS more generally useful.  Make each message its own *folder*!
The main text and any attachments would then become files in that
folder, with appropriate mime-type.  Perhaps the header itself
could actually be an attribute of the folder.  The 'files' in the
folder would of course be empty until a read was requested of that
particular one.  Base64 decoding or whatever would also be done
at that point, so if the attachment is a jpeg, you would get a
displayable image.

What d'you think?

        -- Pete --


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