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Usage Problems and Error Messages

4.1 What does "Folder Format Invalidated..." mean?

The message "Folder Format Invalidated (consult an expert), aborted" means that Pine was reading your mail folder, and at the point in which it expected a start-of-message header line, it found something else.

The "format invalidated" condition can happen in one of three ways:

All three problems are generally caused by software external to Pine.

Condition (1) can be determined by whether or not the problem repeats itself after restarting Pine. If restarting Pine does not make the problem go away, then you need to look at the actual file for the folder and see what is wrong with the very first line. In particular, make sure that there are no blank lines at the beginning of the file and that the first character of the folder file is a capital "F" , the second an "r", the third an "o", etc. In the case of an INBOX, you may want to rename the folder so that new mail can be delivered while repairs on the corrupt folder are being done.

Condition (2) may be caused by a mail delivery process (e.g. /bin/mail) which writes some characters other than "From" at the beginning of the new data.

Condition (3) is caused by another program manipulating the mail folder without following the normal folder locking protocols. This is a general problem on UNIX.

Conditions (2) and (3) have also been known to occur when accessing folders via NFS, if the information returned by the stat() and read() system calls do not correspond with each other as a result of NFS attribute caching.

Restarting Pine on that folder always clears conditions (2) and (3). If the problem is chronic, it may be worth an investigation to determine its cause. Usually, it is due to the misbehavior of some external software. The reason why Pine gives up with conditions (2) and (3) is that it does not want to risk damaging user data by guessing what is right. Pine never writes to the folder unless it is absolutely sure it knows what it is doing.

There are some steps which can be taken to reduce the risk of these conditions coming up. Some of these steps may require the assistance of your system administrator (or whomever it was that built and installed Pine on your system):

4.2 What happens when two Pine sessions access the same mailbox at the same time?

This varies depending on what format your folders are stored in. With the default Berkeley format, the last session to open a folder will get full access to the folder and the previous session(s) will be changed to read-only access. When a folder is read-only, you will not see any further updates to that folder until it is reopened with full access. Currently the INBOX cannot be reopened without exiting and restarting Pine. With other mailbox formats, such as the generally recommended mbx format, any number of sessions can simultaneously have full access to a folder, with the exception that expunging is disabled.

4.3 What does the message "locked, override in _XXX_ sec" mean?

The message ""locked, will override in _xxx_ seconds"" occurs when Pine has discovered that some other mail program claims to be accessing your mail folder (i.e. _folder_.lock exists). This is a very low-level lock used by programs such as the system mailer in delivering mail, and by certain programs such as mail, elm, babyl, mm, etc. Supposedly, this lock is only to be acquired and held for a very short period of time (less than a second).

Pine starts with 285 seconds, retries every second, and issues that message every 15 seconds. The total period of time, 5 minutes, is the time that it will keep on trying before it concludes that the lock is false -- that is, that whatever program locked the folder forgot to unlock it (perhaps it crashed) -- and Pine will go ahead and claim the lock for itself.

This is not due to a conflict between two copies of Pine, since Pine interlocks against itself in a higher-level fashion.

NOTE: On some systems with 14 character filename limits, attempting to open a folder with a 14 character name (e.g. saved-messages) will trigger this sequence. Folder names should be limited to 9 characters or less on those systems.

4.4 What are the messages with the subject DON'T DELETE THIS MESSAGE--FOLDER INTERNAL DATA about?

From the Pine 4.01 Release Notes:

Beginning with version 4.00, Pine supports enhanced functionality for sites using the standard Unix mailbox format or the MMDF mailbox format. It does this by creating a "pseudo-message" at the beginning of the folder which holds the following values:

These values are essential for the correct operation of modern IMAP and POP servers (which use persistent unique identifiers, or UIDs), but Pine also needs them to support capabilities such as being able to mark messages as Answered when the Reply has been postponed, and (on systems where Unix or MMDF folder formats are not standard), the ability to create a folder in one of these formats. (Without the pseudo message to identify the mailbox format type, the folder would be empty and Pine would not know the desired format type for subsequent use.)

One disadvantage of this scheme is that mailers that are not built on top of the University of Washington's message access subroutine libraries will not "hide" the pseudo message from users. Another disadvantage of having these pseudo messages is that, when found in folders used to receive new messages, some mail notification tools may be confused and behave incorrectly. There are several solutions to this problem. For example, some sites have modified the notification tools to ignore mailboxes whose length corresponds to the pseudo message. However, these pseudo messages may be deemed undesirable at sites where IMAP or POP are not used, and where it is more important to support other unmodified mail tools than to permit Pine to be able to mark messages as Answered when the Reply is postponed. Accordingly, Pine 4.01 offered a new feature to quell-folder-internal-msg.

Note that this feature only relates to mailboxes in standard Unix or MMDF format.

4.4.1 What does the quell-folder-internal-msg feature do?

This feature, introduced in Pine 4.01, determines whether or not Pine will create "pseudo messages" in folders that are in standard Unix or MMDF format.

Pine will normally create these pseudo messages when they are not already present in a standard Unix or MMDF folder. Their purpose is to record certain mailbox state data needed for correct IMAP and POP server operation, and also for Pine to be able to mark messages as Answered when the Reply has been postponed.

Sites which do not use IMAP/POP for remote mail access, and which need to support mail tools that are adversely affected by the presence of the pseudo-messages (e.g. some mail notification tools) may enable this feature to tell Pine not to create them. Note that Pine's "Answered" flag capability will be adversely affected if this is done.

Note too that, even if this feature is enabled, Pine will not remove pseudo-messages when it encounters them (e.g. those created by UW's imapd or ipopd servers.) This feature has no effect on folders that are not in standard Unix or MMDF format, as pseudo-messages are not needed in the other formats to record mailbox state information.

4.5 Why do I get the message "Invalid base64 string" when I try to authenticate to a Cyrus server?

This slightly misleading message is the way that a Cyrus server indicates that an authentication exchange was cancelled. It is not indicative of a bug or protocol violation.

The most common reason that this happens is if the Cyrus server offers Kerberos authentication, Pine is built with Kerberos support, but your client system is not within the Kerberos realm. In this case, the client code will try to authenticate via Kerberos, fail to get the Kerberos credentials, cancel the authentication attempt, and try the next available authentication technology.

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