[Dovecot] email message size limit

Fred Bauer fred at fredbauer.com
Thu Dec 21 23:05:08 UTC 2006

So ... an update on this problem. I checked my facts again and it turns 
out that Thunderbird rather than dovecot support for large file 
attachments on IMAP servers is iffy. Here are a collection of URLs for 
those interested in reading further:




Note that the fixes mention in these articles are only partial fixes ... 
at least in my case.

The bug is that while large email messages do arrive and get stored, 
moving them between folders using Thunderbird results in a nasty 
infinite loop where a substation chunk of the file gets copied over and 
over again into a Maildir/tmp directory, eating time and disk space. I 
was initially suspicious of dovecot because I kept getting dovecot 
errors when moving large files onto the IMAP server. Removing the qmail 
message size limit only solved part of the problem.

I can reproduce this bug using qmail as the MTA, dovecot as the IMAP 
server over Maildir directories, and Thunderbird as the email 
client.Using the dovecot "hardlinks" option solves the problem when 
moving messages between directories in the same account, but not between 
accounts or across machines. A close reading of the relevant websites 
shows that 1) people in the Thunderbird community are already painfully 
aware of this problem and 2) there really aren't any better alternative 
email clients. Here's hoping there's a Thunderbird fix soon.

Interesting, eh? Fred

Dan McGarry wrote:
> Dominic Marks wrote:
>> On Tue, 19 Dec 2006 10:28:57 -0800
>> Fred Bauer <fred at fredbauer.com> wrote:
>>> Simple question: I've discovered that dovecot's IMAP server imposes a 
>>> ~5Mb limit on email message size. After a day of searching I cannot
>>> find the configuration parameter that governs this size. What is it?
>>> Or is there no such parameter?
>> If there is I've never noticed it. Can you describe the behaviour you
>> are experiencing, perhaps it isn't dovecot at all.
> Indeed. I find it hard to imagine how message size limits could be
> usefully enforced by Dovecot.
> Fred, perhaps you could look into size limits on the
> SendMail/Postfix/Exim side of things, where they're usually enforced.
> Alternatively, if you want to avoid downloading large files without
> first viewing the headers, that option is available in a number of mail
> client packages, such as Thunderbird and (IIRC) Evolution.
> Good luck....
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