Fixing Thunderbird crashes on load and Mutt fails with fetched mail

July 8, 2012

If you use your unix mail spool/box with any type of fetchmail (ahem fetchnotes), on rare occasions, the mail box might be corrupted, typically missing a single starting character.

Thunderbird will fail miserably without any explanations, and Mutt will complain that the mailbox is invalid.

Open the mailbox (/var/mail/$USER usually) in your favorite editor (vim of course), and have a look at the beginning of the file:

It should start like this:

From username Sun Jul  8 2012
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
From: "" <some@mail.com>
To: "My Name" <my@mail.com>
Subject: =?UTF-8?Q?Some Title?=
Date: Sun, 8 Jul 2012 (IDT)
Message-ID: <462381293.437.1341746912677.mail.user@host>
MIME-Version: 1.0
... (Rest of mail)

If your mail file is corrupted, you’ll see that it simply lacks the first F character:

rom username Sun Jul  8 2012
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
From: "" <some@mail.com>
To: "My Name" <my@mail.com>
Subject: =?UTF-8?Q?Some Title?=
Date: Sun, 8 Jul 2012 (IDT)
Message-ID: <462381293.437.1341746912677.mail.user@host>
MIME-Version: 1.0
... (Rest of mail)

Add that F character and Thunderbird won’t fail, and mutt will load.

A silly problem with an even more dumber solution.

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