Difference between revisions of "Dovecot"

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m (add link to pigeonhole.)
m (→‎Sieve: Add path of files lda.conf and plugin.conf)
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* Add "sieve" to "mail_plugins" in "protocol lda" section
* Add "sieve" as "mail_plugins" in "protocol lda" section of {{ic|/etc/dovecot/conf.d/15-lda.conf}}
protocol lda {
protocol lda {
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* Specify sieve storage location in "plugin" section:
* Specify sieve storage location in "plugin" section of {{ic|/etc/dovecot/conf.d/90-plugin.conf}}:
plugin {
plugin {

Revision as of 17:49, 22 August 2015

This article describes how to set up a mail server suitable for personal or small office use.

Dovecot is an open source IMAP and POP3 server for Linux/UNIX-like systems, written primarily with security in mind. Developed by Timo Sirainen, Dovecot was first released in July 2002. Dovecot primarily aims to be a lightweight, fast and easy to set up open source mailserver. For more detailed information, please see the official Dovecot Wiki.


Install the packages dovecot and pam.



  • Each mail account served by Dovecot, has a local user account defined on the server.
  • The server uses PAM to authenticate the user against the local user database (/etc/passwd).
  • SSL is used to encrypt the authentication password.
  • The common Maildir format is used to store the mail in the user's home directory.
  • A MDA has already been set up to deliver mail to the local users.

Create the SSL certificate

The dovecot package contains a script to generate the server SSL certificate.

  • Copy the configuration file from the sample file: # cp /etc/ssl/dovecot-openssl.cnf{.sample,} .
  • Edit /etc/ssl/dovecot-openssl.cnf to configure the certificate.
  • Execute # /usr/lib/dovecot/mkcert.sh to generate the certificate.

The certificate/key pair is created as /etc/ssl/certs/dovecot.pem and /etc/ssl/private/dovecot.pem.

Run mv /etc/ssl/certs/dovecot.pem /etc/ca-certificates/trust-source/anchors/dovecot.crt and then # trust extract-compat whenever you have changed your certificate.

Warning: If you plan on implementing SSL/TLS, please respond safely to POODLE and FREAK/Logjam by adding the following to your configuration:
ssl_protocols = !SSLv2 !SSLv3
ssl_prefer_server_ciphers = yes
ssl_dh_parameters_length = 2048

Dovecot configuration

  • Copy the dovecot.conf and conf.d/* configuration files from /usr/share/doc/dovecot/example-config to /etc/dovecot:
# cp /usr/share/doc/dovecot/example-config/dovecot.conf /etc/dovecot
# cp -r /usr/share/doc/dovecot/example-config/conf.d /etc/dovecot

The default configuration is ok for most systems, but make sure to read through the configuration files to see what options are available. See the quick configuration guide and dovecot configuration for more instructions.

By default dovecot will try to detect what mail storage system is in use on the system. To use the Maildir format edit /etc/dovecot/conf.d/10-mail.conf to set mail_location = maildir:~/Maildir.

PAM Authentication

  • To configure PAM for dovecot, create /etc/pam.d/dovecot with the following content:
auth    required        pam_unix.so nullok
account required        pam_unix.so 

PAM Authentication with LDAP

  • If you are using an OpenLDAP server for authentication instead, be sure to be able to login with your LDAP users first, as described in LDAP authentication.

You can then write the following in /etc/pam.d/dovecot remembering that the entries order is very important:

auth    sufficient      pam_ldap.so
auth    required        pam_unix.so     nullok
account sufficient      pam_ldap.so
account required        pam_unix.so
session required        pam_mkhomedir.so skel=/etc/skel umask=0022
session sufficient      pam_ldap.so

In this way both LDAP and system users have their mailbox.

  • Change the name of the following file so it can be read by dovecot:
# mv /etc/dovecot/conf.d/auth-system.conf{.ext,}
  • Edit /etc/dovecot/conf.d/auth-system.conf by changing the passdb directive, like this:
passdb {
  driver = pam
  args = session=yes dovecot

By using the pam_mkhomedir.so module and by adding the session part in the passdb directive, if an LDAP user logs in for the first time the corresponding home directory will be automatically created.


Sieve is a programming language that can be used to create filters for email on mail server.

  • Install pigeonhole.
  • Add "sieve" to "protocols" in dovecot.conf (and the lines from the next points)
protocols = imap pop3 sieve
  • Add minimal 80-sieve.conf in /etc/dovecot/conf.d/
service managesieve-login {
  inet_listener sieve {
    port = 4190

service managesieve {

protocol sieve {
  • Add "sieve" as "mail_plugins" in "protocol lda" section of /etc/dovecot/conf.d/15-lda.conf
protocol lda {
  mail_plugins = sieve
  • Specify sieve storage location in "plugin" section of /etc/dovecot/conf.d/90-plugin.conf:
plugin {
Note: Nowadays it is recommended to use LMTP instead of LDA. Nevertheless the Dovecot LDA can still be used for small mailservers. More information can be found in the Dovecot Wiki
  • Ensure that your MTA uses dovecot for delivery. For example: postfix's main.cf and dovecot-lda:
 mailbox_command = /usr/lib/dovecot/dovecot-lda -f "$SENDER" -a "$RECIPIENT"

Starting the server

Use the standard systemd syntax to control the dovecot.service daemon.


Generate hashes with non-default hash functions.

doveadm pw -s SHA512-CRYPT -p "superpassword"

Remember to make sure that the column in the database is large enough(you might not get a warning..)

Remember to set the password scheme in your dovecot-sql.conf file

default_pass_scheme = SHA512-CRYPT