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Two problems downloading headers with Thunderbird


I have discovered two problems with downloading headers in Thunderbird 3 (and SeaMonkey 2, which is pretty much the same).
To see both problems, in Thunderbird do the following:
  1. Subscribe to Msdn.en-US.msdnsandbox, and make sure you have the latest messages.
  2. Right-click the group name in the left pane and select "Mark newsgroup read".
  3. In the message list, mark just one message as not read (to keep it simple, pick one without any responses). You should see the group name go bold in the left pane , with (1) following to indicate 1 unread message.
  4. Right click the group name and select Properties.
  5. On the General Information tab, select "Rebuild index". At the current time there are 4068 messages in Msdn.en-US.msdnsandbox -- select to download them all.
  6. Watch the progress on the status bar. For me things move along pretty quickly, but when the count gets to either 2251 or 2401 it always stalls, and the message list remains blank.
  7. You can recover by closing the Properties window, selecting another group in the left pane, and then coming back to Msdn.en-US.msdnsandbox. Thunderbird will tell you there are more headers to download. Select to download them all, and this time it will finish.
  8. Note that all the messages are marked as read. This is not supposed to happen. With a normal NNTP server, Thunderbird remembers which messages were read/unread in the old index file and transfers this information to the new one.
    I have reproduced this problem several times, using both SeaMonkey 2 on Windows 7, and Thunderbird 3 in an XP virtual machine.
    One might think that the stalling was just a timeout issue because the bridge is slow. But things move along very well until the stall, and the stall always happens at the same place(s) -- 2251 or 2401 messages.
    As to the read/unread messages, one would think this was a Thunderbird issue, but it does not happen with other NNTP servers. It seems to me there must be something different about the way that the bridge is delivering the headers.
Closed Jun 5, 2010 at 4:27 PM by
Fixed in V29


jkalmbach wrote Jun 5, 2010 at 12:56 PM

Which version of Thunderbird are you using? I am not able to find the "download all" selection in step 5 (TB and therefor I am not able to repro this problem...

davewilk wrote Jun 5, 2010 at 1:30 PM

This is Thunderbird 3.0.4.

Maybe this has to do with the settings. In my Thunderbird settings for the bridge I have selected "Ask me before downloading more than 500 messages (which is the default I think). In that case ... it asks you :-).

If I unselect that feature, then it just tries to download all the messages, and it still stalls.

I have discovered something new. When I get the rest of the messages after the stall, only the messages numbered 2435 and above are present. I have enabled your debug window and I see there is something wrong with message 2434 in the initial attempt:

Received: Response: 2434 ????????_???????
Santosh Alerts 123  Fri, 4 Dec 2009 01:02:57 +0000          515 1 Msdn.en-US.msdnsandbox:2434
I think maybe the post (which you can see on the forums) has newlines in the title, which is causing this message to appear on more than one line.

Anyway, it seems this message upsets Thunderbird and causes it to disconnect. I guess you need to catch this multi-line situation if you can.

davewilk wrote Jun 5, 2010 at 1:40 PM


OK, the second (read/unread) issue goes away if I don't try to download a sequence containing the bad message. I think the bad message must have caused Thunderbird to lose the information in the old index (.msf) file.

jkalmbach wrote Jun 5, 2010 at 3:07 PM

Yes, this seems to be a problem... it is fixed in the next release... (wait one hour) ;)

jkalmbach wrote Jun 5, 2010 at 3:19 PM

Should now be fixed in V29.!

davewilk wrote Jun 5, 2010 at 3:41 PM


Yes, it works now (V29). This is good, because I think this may have happened to me other times also.


Do you think you should check all the headers for linebreaks (maybe you do)?

jkalmbach wrote Jun 5, 2010 at 4:21 PM

Yes. I have done it for all string retrived from the forum (this is only UserName and Subject ;) ).