Experimental Webmail server - if you would like to try this, please let me know of any issues - Andrew

Squirrelmail Folder Sort Problem

There is a problem with the webmail system as used at TRIUMF - if message sorting is enabled on a large folder, that consumes a lot of resources on the server (CPU time and memory). If the folder has more than about 10,000 messages, the server process hits a memory limit. The user sees the folder frame one the left, but the message frame shows an error.

Fortunately there's a simple fix. The user's preferences are saved on the server, and allow sorting to be turned on and off. There is only one setting, so if one folder is sorted, they all are. Just go to a folder with only a few messages, such as "Drafts", and click on any triangular "sort" icons until they show as rectangles. Then visit other folders, which should now also show in the "natural" unsorted order (arranged by message arrival time).

An (empty) folder sorted by message sent date. Note the triangle icon indicating direction of sort.

An unsorted folder. Note the three rectangular icons.

Thread Sorting Problem

There is a second problem - if message threading is enabled on a large folder, that also consumes a lot of resources on the server. If the folder takes more than a certain time to sort by thread (about 30 seconds) , the server process hits a CPU time limit. The user may see the entire webmail page time out - the browser may say "no response received".

This may require administrator intervention to fix. Again, the settings are saved in the user's preference file, but threading may be enabled separately for each folder. An administrator can remove threading for problematic folders. Please submit a helpdesk ticket.

Currently (May 2013) threading is enabled site-wide.

A folder with subject threading enabled. Note the subject indentation, and the link to turn threading off.

A folder with subject threading disabled.

Possible Fix

It may be possible for a user to reset threading on a non-responsive folder without administrator intervention. You can add the "set_thread=2" parameter to a mailbox request, e.g. https://trmail.triumf.ca/squirrelmail/src/right_main.php?set_thread=2&mailbox=INBOX
In Squirrelmail, if you open the right-hand frame in a new tab, you can see the folder URL and add this parameter to the existing URL