Quick Thunderbird Tip: Repairing Mail Summary Files

English: Mozilla Thunderbird (SuSe Linux 9.3/K...
Mozilla Thunderbird (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Couple of weeks ago, my Thunderbird mail client stopped connecting to Yahoo Mail. It would log in to the service, start downloading Message 1 of X — and hang. When it snapped back to normal, it reported there was no mail to download. Hmm…

After a few false starts, I found an old MozillaZine forum post that pointed to the Mail Summary File as the culprit. The MSF generates the list of emails on your Inbox, with date, time and read/unread status. The forum post said Go to your profile and find any files with an *.msf extension. Delete them, it said. So I did.

This turned out half-right. See, I like to think I’m pretty well-organized, with a bunch of topic-based folders and filters that move mail into those folders. Thunderbird (rightly) produces MSF files for each of these folders. When you delete them all, Thunderbird has trouble downloading into possibly nonexistent folders and it complains intensely.

For this reason, more recent versions of Thunderbird has a Repair function in the Properties of each folder. This tool reconstructs the Mail Summary File without having to drop the original. How do you do that?

  1. Right-click your Inbox and choose Properties from the menu.
  2. Click Repair Folder. The folder display switches to the cover page while the Repair tool is active. Depending on the size of the folder (and/or what the problem might be), this can take some time. Don’t try clicking on the folder until the repair is done.
  3. When the repair is complete, you’ll return to the message list, with the proper number of Unread messages counted on the left side. You can then click OK to close out the Folder Properties table.

If you still have trouble with downloading mail, or processing filters, try running this Repair tool on other folders.

Hope this is helpful.

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Notepad++: A Very Special Software Update

I opened my Notepad++ text editor and got a most interesting surprise. It told me there was an update available, and did I want it? That’s not unusual; but what happened next certainly was.

The software quickly updated, and (again as usual) asked me if I wanted to run it. When it opened, the following text magically typed itself into a fresh file:

Notepad++ Je Suis Charlie ediiton
Notepad++ Je Suis Charlie edition

Pretty darn cool. I salute the Notepad++ team, and all who have taken a stand for free speech, free press and free expression.

Apparently the Notepad++ developers paid a small price for this tiny bit of courage. Read the linked article and the Related Articles below.

Linux Magazines: Something About England

Tux, the Linux penguin
Tux, the Linux penguin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

UPDATE 12/11/2013: Linux Voice has reached its goal, and will be published! I’ve signed up for a digital sub, and all the other perks are still available at the Indiegogo site until December 23.

For some reason, print magazines continue to thrive in Great Britain. Aside from WIRED, practically all the print magazines my wife and I read fly across the Atlantic to my living room (either by mail or book/magazine shop): Doctor Who Magazine, Prog, Linux Pro (which is technically German, but printed in English).

Linux Format is another of those successful magazines based in the United Kingdom, at least until the recent departure of its core editorial staff. Monday, those guys announced their new magazine project, called Linux Voice.

Several things make this project stand out:

  • They are crowdsourcing the funding at Indiegogo (exactly like the Ubuntu Edge, but with a far lower goal).
  • They intend to give half their profits to worthy free software projects (selected by the magazine readers).
  • They will work with their writers to make all the magazine’s content (especially the how-to material) available online nine months after publication.

Those of us in the states have been modestly spoiled by the amount of useful free Linux content at LinuxJournal.com, and other online versions of print magazines. One look at the current Linux Format website, and aside from the TuxRadar podcast, you’re hard pressed to find any content at all!

Brian Fagioli of BetaNews interviewed Ben Everard of Linux Voice, where many interesting things were said. My favorite quote?

It will target the same blend of content and level of difficulty, and it’ll be written mostly by the same team of writers. However, we won’t be hamstrung by a corporate system that puts squeezing out every drop of profit ahead of creating an awesome magazine and supporting the community. In short, Linux Voice will be like Linux Format done properly.

At Indiegogo, would-be print subscribers in the US can sign up for £90 for the first year ($143.14 according to Google). Digital subscribers get in for £35 ($55.66). Other levels are available, with the usual assortment of perks.

Larry the Free Software Guy also likes the project. Larry is something of a free-software purist (which is not to say he’s a bad person), so his support means something. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Linux Voice plans to feature Larry’s favorite distribution in its first issue.

I think this is a worthy endeavor, and hope to squeeze some cash out of my budget to support this.

You can follow the project’s progress on Indiegogo, on the magazine’s website, on Google+ and Twitter.

Let us mourn for freshmeat.net

UPDATE 6/19/10: Lisa Hoover tweeted at me earlier this week “… Consider the source before you believe this crap.” I do plan to keep an eye on freshmeat; I sure hope she’s right. MM

Robin “Roblimo” Miller reported this weekend that the future looked bad for pioneering free software repository freshmeat.net.

Geek.net, the parent company of SourceForge.net, Slashdot.org, ThinkGeek.com, Geek.com, freshmeat.net, and ohloh.net, has told employees that it will be closing freshmeat.net and ohloh.net. This information has not yet been released to the public, but we’ve heard it from more than one Geek.net employee.

While not exactly shocking, it is a sad moment for many longtime Linux geeks. In the days before broadband Internet connections and automatic distribution updates, freshmeat (yes, it’s still there as I write this) was the go-to site for new and interesting open source software. A decade ago, when I was first getting acquainted with Linux, you’d read about assorted new projects to make a Linux version of, say, a desktop publisher. The article, whether it was online or in print (usually  Linux Journal), would invariably conclude with a link to the project’s freshmeat page. This is how I found the Scribus desktop publisher, among other things.

In those days around the turn of the century, you’d be lucky if the developer(s) made up an RPM package for easy installation into a Red Hat Linux system. Sometimes those RPMs would even work on SUSE Linux. More often, though, you’d just get a tarball; the source code bundled into a GZip archive with standard instructions to use make to compile the code into your system. Occasionally your idiot scribe would get these applications to work without breaking any other important piece of the system.

It’s not like Linux was brand new, but the idea of ordinary people using Linux and other free software for ordinary tasks outside of programming and networking was still a bit odd. That was also what made freshmeat exciting–Granted it was cooler to help develop it, but you really did feel like you were on the cutting edge simply downloading this stuff and trying it out.

Roblimo’s piece outlines the corporate history of freshmeat, and some of the changes that brought the site to this point. I’d guess that the development of ever-easier ways of adding software to a Linux system (including openSUSE’s zypper, and the always terrific and ever-improving apt-get) played its part too.

There are lots of projects that debuted on freshmeat that never became household names, but the site probably inspired more than a few of today’s army of software developers. For now, let us have a moment of silence for this fine project, and the people who have worked on it over the years. Many thanks!