Fixing Thunderbird 3 on Solaris running out of file descriptors

I recently started running Thunderbird 3.0.3 on Solaris with a large 2000+ mail folder hierarchy accessed through IMAP. It rapidly becomes unusable. Problems seen include:

1. In stderr the following sorts of message are seen:

(thunderbird-bin:7792): Gtk-WARNING **:
Error loading icon: Failed to open file
'/usr/share/themes/nimbus/gtk-2.0/stock_dnd.png':
Too many open files

2. The GUI pops up errors like this:

Unable to open the summary file for XXX. Perhaps there
was an error on disk, or the full path is too long.

Where XXX varies.

3. Some icons in the menus appear as a blank page with a
red cross (x) in them.

4. Mouse and keyboard operations silently fail.

Restarting Thunderbird corrects the problem for a few minutes but then problem returns.

Running pfiles(1) against the thunderbird-bin process shows file descriptors being limited to around 256:

$ pfiles $(pgrep -u $LOGNAME thunderbird-bin) | tail

The open files are predominantly the local cached file of the IMAP folder.

Some internal discussion found the following workaround, hurrah!

$ ulimit -n 2048
$ export LD_PRELOAD_32=/usr/lib/extendedFILE.so.1
$ thunderbird

Essentially it’s hitting the 32-Bit stdio 256 File-Descriptors Limitation. See the man pages on extendedFILE(5).

Solaris bug logged (6955102) – though I’m not sure whether the fix is to have the workaround in the Solaris start scripts or work with the Thunderbird developers to have it handle FDs better.

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