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Bug Communications OS X Software

Mac OS 10.9's Mail App — Infinity Times Your Spam 158

Posted by Soulskill
from the that's-a-lot-of-spam dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Email service FastMail.fm has an blog post about an interesting bug they're dealing with related to the new Mail.app in Mac OS 10.9 Mavericks. After finding a user who had 71 messages in his Junk Mail folder that were somehow responsible for over a million entries in the index file, they decided to investigate. 'This morning I checked again, there were nearly a million messages again, so I enabled telemetry on the account ... [Mail.app] copying all the email from the Junk Folder back into the Junk Folder again!. This is legal IMAP, so our server proceeds to create a new copy of each message in the folder. It then expunges the old copies of the messages, but it's happening so often that the current UID on that folder is up to over 3 million. It was just over 2 million a few days ago when I first emailed the user to alert them to the situation, so it's grown by another million since. The only way I can think this escaped QA was that they used a server which (like gmail) automatically suppresses duplicates for all their testing, because this is a massively bad problem.' The actual emails added up to about 2MB of actual disk usage, but the bug generated an additional 2GB of data on top of that."
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Mac OS 10.9's Mail App — Infinity Times Your Spam

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  • This must be the Apple build quality that people keep telling me about.
    • Gosh you're right. There's no software that ships with critical bugs these days.

      • by ericloewe (2129490) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @07:47PM (#45248147)

        Well, software that generates a thousand copies of junk (seriously, the spam folder of all things...) isn't very typical.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Ships? For the past 3 releases Mail.app will randomly choose not to display the body of a message. I have to quit and reopen Mail.app just to read my e-mail sometimes.

        I thought it was just me and something screwy with my account, but the other day I asked a coworker and immediately heads began popping up from cubicles everywhere within earshot, with people admitting they've had precisely the same problem.

        Apple's focus on iOS and cute little phone apps has, for whatever reasons, caused defect rates in their

        • by Splab (574204)

          I can beat that, whenever someone sends me a mail containing a PDF, it will crash, not only the mail client, but take down the userspace with it.

          • by mattack2 (1165421)

            Definitely write a bug report at bugreport.apple.com with relevant crash logs in ~/Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports and /Library/Logs/DiagnosticReports.

        • by Rakishi (759894)

          Yes, Apple is *gasp* a company and is driven by profits. When something makes up over 80% of your revenue (and increasing) you focus on that and not the remaining (and shrinking) slice.

          Apple's focus on iOS and cute little phone apps has, for whatever reasons

          Because that's actually making them money.

          caused defect rates in their core desktop code to serious balloon.

          Macs and OS X are Apple's side business, they haven't been core for a long long time.

        • by BitZtream (692029)

          Then you probably have a corrupted mail database. I've experienced the same thing, fortunately, its IMAP so wiping out the mail configuration and recreating it was fairly painless and the problem went away. I've assumed thats due to the fact that I use the beta versions, which of course have bugs.

        • by mattack2 (1165421)

          So you wrote a bug right?

          bugreport.apple.com

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Khyber (864651)

        "There's no software that ships with critical bugs these days."

        You'd better believe the stuff that ships with my food production systems is FLAWLESS.

        When an entire country's population relies upon your tech to even stay alive, you make sure your shit works.

        And I work on a budget a billionth Apple's worth.

        What's their fucking excuse?

        • by BitZtream (692029) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @10:32PM (#45248879)

          If you think the 'stuff that ships with my food production systems is FLAWLESS' you are an idiot who doesn't understand the way the world works.

          I've worked in food production and medical, nothing is flawless, you have to be an idiot to make such retarded statements.

          You mitigate the risk, try to double/triple/quadrupal check for problems and build in fail-SAFE systems, but you are not flawless.

          Your statement sounds more like an arrogant cluebie beginner who's going to get a nice spanking when reality finally hits.

          Nothing is flawless, to imply you've created something flawless shows your ignorance.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            10 PRINT "HELLO WORLD"
            20 GOTO 10

            Flawless.

            • by BitZtream (692029)

              Doesn't meet the design requirements.

            • Congrats! You managed to get stuck in an infinite loop in a self-contained system just two simple lines, instead of the dozens it took for Apple to do it in Mail against a remote server's junkmail system.

            • It's perfect. No unfreed memory. Since it's not a function call, there's no stack that can fill up. I can't think of ANY way to improve this!

          • by Khyber (864651)

            "If you think the 'stuff that ships with my food production systems is FLAWLESS' you are an idiot who doesn't understand the way the world works."

            No, you're an idiot that doesn't understand how my system works. But that's okay, it's pretty much above your level in the first place because it all happens in pure hardware logic.

        • by Jeremi (14640)

          When an entire country's population relies upon your tech to even stay alive, you make sure your shit works. [...] What's their fucking excuse?

          Nobody relies on Mac Mail to even stay alive?

        • by dwightk (415372)

          your budget is less than $500?

        • You'd better believe the stuff that ships with my food production systems is FLAWLESS.

          I don't believe it for a moment. Send it to me and I'd certainly find flaws in it.

          I believe you have a big ego though.

      • How long has imap been around now? The RFC was last updated in 2003 - thats only 10 years to get it right.

        • by Bronster (13157)

          Oh, there are plenty of new RFCs coming out all the time. The most interesting bugs in mail clients tend to be trying to support new RFCs and not getting it right.

  • by MRe_nl (306212) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @07:22PM (#45248001)

    Not just an address anymore.

  • by chrism238 (657741) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @07:24PM (#45248011)
    "The actual emails added up to about 2MB of actual disk usage," So the 1,2, or 3 million emails occupied just 2MB of storage? Wow, Apple should be widely lauded for being able to store each email, including its header, in just one byte!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      From the summary: "The actual emails added up to about 2MB of actual disk usage, but the bug generated an additional 2GB of data on top of that." Which I assume means that it was really only 2MB of emails, but the duplication (ie millions of emails) used up 2GB.

    • by tftp (111690)

      Wow, Apple should be widely lauded for being able to store each email, including its header, in just one byte!

      Even that is awfully wasteful. To store spam wisely you use a counter. If the size of the counter is 64 bits, each individual spam message occupies 64/2^64 bits, or 3.5e-18 bits.

      Naturally, all spam will look alike to you, but doesn't it already?

      • by frisket (149522)

        Wow, Apple should be widely lauded for being able to store each email, including its header, in just one byte!

        Even that is awfully wasteful. To store spam wisely you use a counter.

        Store spam? I recommend a 1-bit counter set to zero.

    • by arkhan_jg (618674)

      They de-dupe disk storage, so 2 million copies of 71 emails take up no more room than the original 71. The index metafile *about* those duplicate messages, on the other hand...

    • "The actual emails added up to about 2MB of actual disk usage,"

      So the 1,2, or 3 million emails occupied just 2MB of storage?
      Wow, Apple should be widely lauded for being able to store each email, including its header, in just one byte!

      It's 71 messages. The 1, 2, 3 million being mentioned is the UID being incremented, not more space being eaten.

  • Seems like Mail.app has been getting worse since about 2003. I finally gave up on it about 5 years ago - in favor of gmail's web interface. At first I was a little disgusted with myself - but I've never regretted it.

    I still use mail on my iOS devices, though. Have not yet seen a better UI for those.

    • by ryanw (131814)

      Seems like Mail.app has been getting worse since about 2003. I finally gave up on it about 5 years ago - in favor of gmail's web interface. At first I was a little disgusted with myself - but I've never regretted it.

      I still use mail on my iOS devices, though. Have not yet seen a better UI for those.

      I agree. I find myself using too many machines, in too many places to really care about a desktop version of the mail program, especially now that my mail storage is using about 15GB of data. The only "mail app" I use is the built in app on my iPhone, otherwise all web portals for me.

    • I use mail on iOS and google gmail client for work mail. Both are decent but I think gmail is slightly better. You should try it. I don't actually like Gmail all that much but the iOS app is good.

      As for desktop, mail.app is buggy but not as bad as trying to use thunderbird. All mail clients suck

  • Apple can't have bugs like this- it just works. Maybe they're sending it wrong?

  • by cpotoso (606303) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @07:53PM (#45248167) Journal
    I mean, it is a MAIL program, not a revolutionary new product. The protocols have been out there for years (esp. IMAP). Why is it still buggy? Even worse: why is it buggier than the previous version? If it worked before THERE IS NO F*ING EXCUSE FOR IT NOT TO WORK NOW. Very very very lame.
    • by ryanw (131814)

      I mean, it is a MAIL program, not a revolutionary new product. The protocols have been out there for years (esp. IMAP). Why is it still buggy? Even worse: why is it buggier than the previous version? If it worked before THERE IS NO F*ING EXCUSE FOR IT NOT TO WORK NOW. Very very very lame.

      I would imagine they have uplifted the app and re-written a large portion of the application to work with new interfaces like outlook or whatever. Also perhaps they're trying to do something new with spam in specific to help reduce spam as a whole when using various services. This is a bad bug, and could cause a lot of problems for service providers if it's legitimate and not a "single case", but bugs happen. I'm surprised nobody caught it with the beta versions. Apple has been surprisingly good lately

      • by immaterial (1520413) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @08:44PM (#45248387)
        I filed some bugs on Mavericks' Mail right after the first developer preview came out (all ended up being marked as duplicates, so others were having the same issue). All were closed the week before the GM was released. And all are still present in the GM; they're MailGmail specific. However, enabling "All Mail" and removing [Gmail] from my IMAP path prefix made everything work.

        Clearly, whoever rewrote Mail to "better" support Gmail decided that as long as it worked okay with just the right settings, any deviation from that wasn't a bug but just user error. Despite the fact that those settings were both perfectly valid and *incredibly* common.

        I think moving OS X to a yearly release schedule results in them pushing things out too fast. It's bad enough with iOS, and OS X is a more complex beast.
        • by feranick (858651) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @11:29PM (#45249087)
          ... it's not a bug. You're holding it wrong.
        • by gl4ss (559668)

          ..what? it works fine with "vanilla" settings but not on their specific hacks??

        • by mattack2 (1165421)

          If the bugs were called duplicates, and the bugs are still open.. then clearly they weren't duplicates.

          PLEASE write new bugs, with enough detail about the settings necessary, at bugreport.apple.com.

          (I've been writing up VLC bugs for example, even though *they* close the bugs on us, and don't let the originator close the bug.. I wish all companies had public ways to officially file bugs, even though yes, products should have many many many fewer bugs when released. Zero is unfortunately probably impossible

    • by dbIII (701233)

      Whar is wrong with programmers?

      There's a long list of answers to that - but the real question here is what is wrong with the testers that let something stupid from a rookie or slapdash programmer out into the wild. The answer to that is probably that they are at home looking though the job ads because proper testing was not considered important enough.
      Email problems are fun when they happen to somebody else because of how much they can snowball into ridiculously huge numbers of messages. I've worked with

    • Gmail uses a highly non-standard implementation of IMAP, which never worked quite right in the previous versions of Mail.app. Mail is expecting a more or less standards-compliant IMAP server. Well, people complained, so Apple modified Mail.app to special case Gmail. Unfortunately the fix looks a bit buggy at the moment.
    • by Bogtha (906264)

      Compare it to writing a book and making a grammatical error. The rules of grammar are nothing new, people have been writing books for centuries, and there are even tools that can automatically check a lot of it for you. How on earth could anybody publish a book with a grammatical error!? THERE IS NO FUCKING EXCUSE FOR IT!

      A bug like this is the equivalent of a grammatical error when writing a book. The simple fact of the matter is when you've got humans writing millions of lines of code, some of them

      • by cpotoso (606303)
        The comparison is absolutely nonsense. When you write a book you almost always start from scratch, so yes... errors can creep in on book 10^9 at the same rate as on book 10^0. When you write code that is an update to an old software, you re-use a lot of the old code. So, there is no excuse for that.
        • by Bogtha (906264)

          When you write a book you almost always start from scratch

          It's incredibly common to update a book. Haven't you ever heard of different editions?

          When you write code that is an update to an old software, you re-use a lot of the old code.

          Yes, and then you make changes to it. By definition, that's what updating software is. Those changes can introduce new problems, just as rewriting a chapter of a book can introduce grammatical errors.

          So, there is no excuse for that.

          You are literally demanding

          • by cpotoso (606303)

            You are literally demanding perfection. Exactly how many professions are there where people don't make mistakes?

            Well... programmers seems to be among the worst...

    • There was a time when the posters here knew the answer to that question because they were actually programmers.

  • by LodCrappo (705968)

    This is the company that can't correctly implement daylight savings time in an alarm application. You expect them to handle something as complex as implementing an ages old industry standard correctly?

    Apple is known for selling lots of shiny bobbles, not for writing solid code.

  • by Taantric (2587965)

    Apple has always been better at marketing than software engineering. The iSheep hipsters don't care. It's more important to be seen at the coffee shop using a Macbook than actual productivity.

  • by maas15 (1357089) on Saturday October 26, 2013 @10:14PM (#45248799) Homepage
    This isn't the first infinate recursion iMail bug. Around five years ago I worked for a webhost at which we had customers complaining about there being nothing in their INBOX. When we checked, we'd find a giant tree of INBOX folders - for some reason iMail would create a new subirectory called INBOX every time it logged in, and then make the *new* INBOX folder the default INBOX. All the mail would still be delivered to the original inbox...
    • And by iMail I assume you mean the program called "Mail" that ships with Mac OS X?
      • by maas15 (1357089)
        Mac Mail, iMail, something like that... :)
        • by mattack2 (1165421)

          Neither of those is the correct name. There is an app called "Mail.app" (with the extension) in OS X (previously known as Mac OS X).

  • by dutchwhizzman (817898) on Sunday October 27, 2013 @02:35AM (#45249693)
    By generating so much metadata, the NSA will overflow and your real messages' metadata will be overwritten!!!1!.
  • What I mean by that is they called Open Source software the issue! Another proprietary bug in plan sight, maybe Oracle should recant what they said.

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