Secure IMAP server

Bugreport Mail

Please send bug reports to Dovecot mailing list. If it's not an entirely obvious bug, people in the list might be able to help figure it out. Also the bug report won't get accidentally lost in my INBOX then. Security related bugs should be sent directly to however.

You should mention in your bug report:

Debugging crashes

Whenever Dovecot crashes, you see something like this in log file:

dovecot: Apr 23 11:16:05 Error: child 86116 (imap) killed with signal 11

No matter how that happened, it's a bug and will be fixed if you can provide enough information on how it happened. Best way is to get backtrace from gdb, but the problem is that Dovecot doesn't dump core files by default. You can solve this in a few ways:

Core Dumps

To get core dumps from crashes, there are a few things you must do. Newer Dovecot versions write to log if you got a core dump and if not, why:

After all this is done, you should find a file named core or sometimes where pid is a changing number. In BSDs it may also be called (e.g. This file is is in directory:

Getting backtrace from core dump goes like:

gdb /usr/local/libexec/dovecot/imap /path/to/core
(gdb) bt full
#0  0x40048a51 in kill () from /lib/
#1  0x40048872 in raise () from /lib/
#2  0x40049986 in abort () from /lib/
... etc ...

Note that the core file must have been produced by the exact same binary you're giving to gdb, otherwise the backtrace is broken. If all you are seeing are numbers or lots of "??" lines, the backtrace is broken.

Talk IMAP Directly

You can run imap binary directly and talk IMAP protocol to it. For example:

# a) MAIL=mbox:~/mail gdb /usr/local/libexec/dovecot/imap
# b) dovecot --exec-mail ext /usr/bin/gdb /usr/local/libexec/dovecot/imap
(gdb) r
Starting program: /usr/local/libexec/dovecot/imap 

Then start typing IMAP commands, eg: x select inbox, x fetch 1:* (flags envelope bodystructure), x fetch 1 body.peek[]. When it crashes, execute bt full command in gdb.

Example Mail

Version: 1.0.beta2
OS: Debian unstable/x86

Program received signal SIGSEGV, Segmentation fault.
cmd_select (client=0x808d800) at cmd-select.c:87
87              char *x = 0; *x = 1;
(gdb) bt full
#0  cmd_select (client=0x808d800) at cmd-select.c:87
#1  0x0804d36a in client_handle_input (client=0x808d800) at client.c:306
#2  0x0804d439 in _client_input (context=0x808d800) at client.c:342
#3  0x08079038 in io_loop_handler_run (ioloop=0x808d0a8) at ioloop-poll.c:212
#4  0x08078b45 in io_loop_run (ioloop=0x808d0a8) at ioloop.c:295
#5  0x08052663 in main (argc=1, argv=0xbffff934, envp=0xbffff93c) at main.c:166

Debugging hangs

Check for a few seconds what system calls the process is doing. See ProcessTracing in Wiki for more information.

GDB backtrace can also be highly helpful, especially if process tracing doesn't show anything happening. Then it means Dovecot is in some infinite loop. You can get the backtrace by attaching GDB into the existing process:

gdb -p pid-of-hanging-process
(gdb) bt full
#0  cmd_select (client=0x808d800) at cmd-select.c:87
#1  0x0804d36a in client_handle_input (client=0x808d800) at client.c:306
#2  0x0804d439 in _client_input (context=0x808d800) at client.c:342
(gdb) quit

Client Traffic Sniffing

If a problem happens only with a specific client, the best way to figure out what's happening is to find out what it's actually talking to server. Some clients may provide logging on their own, or you can use some TCP traffic sniffer such as Wireshark or ngrep.

You can also use Dovecot's rawlog utility to log the traffic. It works also with SSL/TLS traffic.