This documentation is for Dovecot v1.x, see wiki2 for v2.x documentation.

Compiling Dovecot From Sources

For most people it is enough to do:

sudo make install

That installs Dovecot under the /usr/local directory. The configuration file is in /usr/local/etc/dovecot.conf. Logging goes to syslog's mail facility by default, which typically goes to /var/log/mail.log or something similar. If you are in a hurry, you can then jump to QuickConfiguration.

If you have installed some libraries into locations which require special include or library paths, you can pass them in the CPPFLAGS and LDFLAGS environment variables. For example:

CPPFLAGS="-I/opt/openssl/include" LDFLAGS="-L/opt/openssl/lib -ldl" ./configure

You'll need to create a dovecot user (or change login_user setting) that's used by imap-login and pop3-login processes as kind of a "untrusted Dovecot-specific nobody user". It should also have its own dovecot group. See UserIds for more information.

Compiling Dovecot From Mercurial

If you got Dovecot from Mercurial, for instance with

hg clone

you will first need to run ./ to generate the configure script and some other files. This requires that you have the autoconf, automake, libtool, pkg-config and gettext packages installed. You also need to use GNU make.

It is advisable to add --enable-maintainer-mode to the configure script. Thus:

./configure --enable-maintainer-mode
sudo make install

For later updates, you can use:

hg pull
hg update
sudo make install

Compiling Dovecot with rpmbuild (Mandriva, RedHat, etc.)

Fetch the source rpm from or any other mirror. At the moment of this writing dovecot-10.rc26.src.rpm can be found in the cooker subtree. If the current release is newer; updating the source rpm is not difficult. Unpack the source rpm with 'rpm -ivh dovecot-10.rc26.src.rpm' to a build environment (/usr/src/rpm...) Copy the newer tarball from the dovecot site to the SOURCES directory of the build environment. Change the dovecot.spec file in the SPECS directory to reflect the new release and the new name of the tarball. The maintainer seems to work with a bz2 tarball; a tar.gz tarball makes no difference Issue a rpmbuild -ba dovecot.spec. The resulting rpm will be placed in RPMS/i586 Install with rpm or urpmi.

rpm -ivh dovecot-1.0.rc26.src.rpm
cd /usr/src/rpm
mv ~/downloads/dovecot-1.0.rc28.tar.gz ./SOURCES
vi dovecot.spec
...edit release and tarball name. Change default options if needed...
rpmbuild -ba dovecot.spec
cd ../RPMS/i586
urpmi ./dovecot-1.0.rc28-1mdv2007.0.i586.rpm

During this process missing prerequisites may be detected. Install them and rerun the build process. The spec file also need updating for the new add-ons (idxview and logview).

SSL/TLS Support

Dovecot was initially built to support both OpenSSL and GNUTLS. GNUTLS has however had some problems and nowadays it does not work any more. Patches to fix it are welcome.

OpenSSL is used by default now, and it should be automatically detected. If it is not, you are missing some header files or libraries, or they are just in a non-standard path. Make sure you have the openssl-dev or a similar package installed, and if it is not in the standard location, set CPPFLAGS and LDFLAGS as shown in the first section above.

By default the SSL certificate is read from /etc/ssl/certs/dovecot.pem and the private key from /etc/ssl/private/dovecot.pem. The /etc/ssl directory can be changed using the --with-ssldir=DIR configure option. Both can of course be overridden from the configuration file.

Solaris and OpenSSL problems

Solaris 10 includes a bundled OpenSSL that does not function correctly with Dovecot when attempting to use SSL/TLS with the default dovecot config. This is because the default setting of ssl_cipher_list in dovecot.conf is HIGH:!ALL; due to import restrictions in some countries (now apparently relaxed) the high level routines are part of the unbundled SUNWcry package and are not available if you don't have this package installed. This confuses the client as dovecot announces support for high level crypto and then cannot deliver. In any case, to resolve this you can alternatively (in decreasing order of simplicity):

  1. Set ssl_cipher_list = MEDIUM:!LOW in dovecot.conf

  2. Find and install the missing SUNWcry package.
  3. Provide an alternate version of the openssl libraries that doesn't have the high grade routines removed for your protection (sigh). The bundled version of OpenSSL cannot be removed. Installing a newer OpenSSL from source or package (for instance, from will enable Dovecot to work correctly as long as you link against the new OpenSSL. Assuming you are building with the built-in ld, make and gcc, then your build should go something like this (notice the -R required by Sun's linker that sets the runtime linking path in the resulting programs so the OpenSSL libraries load from /usr/local/ssl/lib):

export PATH
mv /usr/lib/pkgconfig/openssl.pc /usr/lib/pkgconfig/openssl.pc.orig
CPPFLAGS=-I/usr/local/ssl/include \
 LDFLAGS='-L/usr/local/ssl/lib -R/usr/local/ssl/lib' \
 ./configure --with-ssl=openssl
make install

Notify method


Note that current inotify is in the Linux kernel since version 2.6.13 and it is preferred over dnotify. If your distribution does not have the required inotify header file, you can get it from the inotify maintainer (this example requires cURL):

mkdir -p /usr/local/include/sys
cd /usr/local/include/sys
curl -O
curl >> inotify.h

/usr/local/include isn't in standard include lookup path, so you'll need to specify that to configure:

CPPFLAGS=-I/usr/local/include ./configure --with-notify=inotify

Debian Etch ships sys/inotify.h wrapped in the inotify-tools package and installs the header file into /usr/include/inotifytools/. To use the header file use:

if ! test -e /usr/include/sys/inotify.h; then
    aptitude install inotify-tools
    ln -sf /usr/include/inotifytools/inotify.h /usr/include/sys/inotify.h

Then pass CPPFLAGS as in the example above:

CPPFLAGS=-I/usr/include/inotifytools ./configure --with-notify=inotify

Optional Configure Options

gives a full list of available options
just lists the options added by the particular package (= Dovecot)

Options are usually listed as --with-something or --enable-something. If you want to disable them, do it as --without-something or --disable-something. There are many default options that come from autoconf, automake or libtool. They are explained elsewhere.

Here is a list of options that Dovecot adds. You should not usually have to change these, but they are described here just for completeness:

Enable IPv6 support. This is enabled by default if the system is detected to support it.
Enables some extra sanity checks. This is mainly useful for developers. It does quite a lot of unnecessary work but should catch some programming mistakes more quickly. (v1.1 and older called this --enable-debug)
Enable assertion checks, enabled by default. Disabling them may slightly save some CPU, but if there are bugs they can cause more problems since they are not detected as early.
Specifies if we use 32bit or 64bit file offsets in 32bit CPUs. 64bit is the default if the system supports it (Linux and Solaris do). Dropping this to 32bit may save some memory, but it prevents accessing any file larger than 2 GB. (v1.0 called this --with-file-offset-size=32)
Specifies memory alignment used for memory allocations. It is needed with many non-x86 systems and it should speed up x86 systems too. Default is 8, to make sure 64bit memory accessing works.

Specifies what I/O loop method to use. Possibilities are select, poll, epoll and kqueue. The default is to use the best method available on your system.


Specifies what file system notification method to use. Possibilities are dnotify, inotify (both on Linux), kqueue (FreeBSD) and none. The default is to use the best method available on your system. See Notify method above for more information.


Specifies what mailbox formats to support. Note: Independent of this option, the formats raw and shared will be always built.

Build with Solr full text search support
Build with zlib compression support (default if detected)
Build with bzip2 compression support (default if detected)

SQL Driver Options

SQL drivers are typically used only for authentication, but they may be used as a lib-dict backend too, which can be used by plugins for different purposes.

Build with specified SQL drivers. Defaults to all that were found with autodetection.
Build with PostgreSQL support (requires pgsql-devel, libpq-dev or similar package)
Build with MySQL support (requires mysql-devel, libmysqlclient15-dev or similar package)
Build with SQLite3 driver support (requires sqlite-devel, libsqlite3-dev or similar package)

Authentication Backend Options

The basic backends are built if the system is detected to support them:


Build with passwd support (typically NSS / /etc/passwd)


Build with passwd-like file support


Build with shadow password support


Build with PAM support


Build with NSS support

Build with Tru64 SIA support

Build with checkpassword support


Build with BSD authentication support (if supported by your OS)


Build with static userdb support


Build with prefetch userdb support

Some backends require extra libraries and are not necessarily wanted, so they are built only if specifically enabled:

Build with generic SQL support (drivers are enabled separately)
Build with LDAP support (requires openldap-devel, libldap2-dev or similar package)
Build with GSSAPI authentication support (requires krb5-devel, libkrb5-dev or similar package)
Build with vpopmail support (requires vpopmail sources or a devel package)

Dynamic Authentication Modules

Dovecot can also dynamically load authentication modules from the $prefix/lib/dovecot/auth/ directory. Binary packages builders should use them for authentication modules which require external libraries (e. g. LDAP and vpopmail). There is no standard way to build them as modules currently, but something like this should work:

-I../.. -I../lib -I../lib-settings \
db-ldap.c userdb-ldap.c passdb-ldap.c -o -lldap
-I../.. -I../lib userdb-vpopmail.c passdb-vpopmail.c -o \

Dynamic IMAP and POP3 Modules

The mail_plugins setting lists all plugins that Dovecot is supposed to load from the mail_plugin_dir directory at program start. These plugins can do anything they want. They are only expected to contain the <plugin name>_init and <plugin name>_deinit functions which are called at startup and at exit.

The plugin filename is prefixed with a number which specifies the order in which the plugins are loaded. This is important if one plugin depends on another.

Dynamic SQL drivers

The SQL drivers can be used by dovecot-auth, but also by lib-dict. lib-dict then can be used by some plugins, for example enabling dict quota backend to keep the quota information in SQL database.

You could place the SQL drivers into main plugin directory and create symlinks for them into auth/, imap/, pop3/ and lda/.

cd src/lib-sql
-I../.. -I../lib -I../lib-settings -I/usr/include/postgresql \
driver-pgsql.c -o -L/usr/lib/postgresql -lpq
-I../.. -I../lib -I../lib-settings -I/usr/include/mysql \
driver-mysql.c -o -lmysqlclient

CompilingSource (last edited 2009-12-07 17:19:38 by p5B105044)