Setting up the mail-crypt plugin with virtual accounts that have no home directories

Jeremy mailinglist-subscriptions at
Sat Mar 4 14:12:10 UTC 2023

Hi again,

I was able to solve both questions. I was overthinking things.

A solution to the first question about mail_attribute_dict was simply to use other available variables to point to the virtual user's maildir paths. Like so: /var/mail/%d/%u/dovecot-attributes

As for the second question: 
When I asked it, I was uncertain if dovecot would be able to cope with a hashed password for userdb_mail_crypt_private_password. I somehow believed dovecot required a plain text password there, as per the '%w' in the example password_query. Turns out this was not the case. Simply providing the already hashed password of the password field did the trick. So:

  password_query = SELECT \
  email as user, password, \
  password AS userdb_mail_crypt_private_password \
  FROM virtual_users WHERE email='%u';

Hope this is of help to others if they stumble upon this question.

------- Original Message -------
On Thursday, February 23rd, 2023 at 08:53, Jeremy <mailinglist-subscriptions at> wrote:

> Hi again,
> I am using dovecot 2.3.16, along with postfix and a PostgreSQL database for managing virtual accounts.
> After an initial topic from me about encrypting already existent mail, I could now use some pointers on how to set up the mail-crypt plugin for pure virtual accounts (i.e. that have no matching system users and/or home directories. I hope somebody can clarify a few things that are not entirely clear to me yet.
> After doing my own research, I believe the following should be possible:
> I'd like to use the password of virtual email accounts to let dovecot encrypt/decrypt the keys needed to encrypt/decrypt the mail in the relevant folders.
> As per the documentation @ I believe this would be all the configuration I need:
> # Config
> mail_attribute_dict = file:%h/Maildir/dovecot-attributes
> mail_plugins = $mail_plugins mail_crypt
> plugin {
> mail_crypt_curve = secp521r1 # or some other preferred curve
> mail_crypt_save_version = 2
> mail_crypt_require_encrypted_user_key = yes # necessary for encrypting keys with user password
> }
> # File: /etc/dovecot/dovecot-sql.conf.ext
> password_query = SELECT \
> email as user, password, \
> '%w' AS userdb_mail_crypt_private_password \
> FROM virtual_users WHERE email='%u';
> My first question is:
> Is it possible to configure mail_attribute_dict in such a way as to not use home directories. Since I only use virtual accounts, without those accounts having home directories, can I somehow tell dovecot to save the attributes into the PostsreSQL database, for instance? If not, can you suggest another approach, without having to create home directories for virtual users?
> My second question is:
> The documentation warns about not using password directly in the above SQL query:
> > Choosing encryption key
> > DO NOT use password directly. It can contain % which is interpreted as > variable expansion and can cause errors.
> Does this refer to not accidentally substituting '%w' with password? In other words, if I leave the above query as is, should I be good, even if plain text passwords of users potentially have % signs in them? Or would I need to take further measurements? (The passwords in my database are already hashed, by the way).
> I hope somebody can offer some guidance on this. Thanks.

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