[Dovecot] leaking file descriptors? imap-login: inotify_init() failed

Dale Bewley dlbewley at lib.ucdavis.edu
Thu Feb 1 19:24:39 UTC 2007

Even though the system is configured to allow a large number of open
files, and tools such as lsof tell me dovecot is within that limit; I am
seeing errors like this pretty frequently.

 dovecot: imap-login: inotify_init() failed: Too many open files

I'm running Fedora Core 5 (2.6.18-1.2257.fc5 SMP x86_64) with
dovecot-1.0-1.rc15 built from the FC6 SRPM, but I was seeing the same
thing with 1.0-0.beta8.3.fc5 (one of the reasons for the jump to the FC6

# system default limit is very high, and we aren't approaching it
[root at mail 2496]# cat /proc/sys/fs/file-max
[root at mail fs]# cat file-nr
8704 0 738223

# the limit per user is 1024
[root at mail 2496]# su -c 'ulimit -n' dlbewley

# But dovecot doesn't appear to be above that.
# it looks like the master process is well below that
[root at mail 2496]# lsof -p `cat /var/run/dovecot/master.pid` | wc -l
# but overall, this user has way more than that
[root at mail fs]# lsof -nu dovecot |wc -l

So, I raised the limit for dovecot to 5000 soft and 10000 hard to see if
it would make a difference. Even after a reboot, the next day the errors

Today login_process_per_connection is set to 'no' rather than the
default to see if it makes a difference. So far today, no errors.

Config looks like this:
        protocols = imap imaps pop3 pop3s
        ssl_cert_file = /usr/share/ssl/certs/mail.cert
        ssl_key_file = /usr/share/ssl/private/mail.key
        disable_plaintext_auth = no
        login_process_per_connection = no
        max_mail_processes = 2048
        protocol imap {
        protocol pop3 {
        auth_username_chars =
        auth_master_user_separator = *
        auth default {
                mechanisms = plain
                passdb passwd-file {
                args = /etc/dovecot/dovecot.masterusers
                master = yes
                pass = no
        passdb pam {
        userdb passwd {
        user = root
        plugin {
Dale Bewley - Unix Administrator - Shields Library - UC Davis
GPG: 0xB098A0F3 0D5A 9AEB 43F4 F84C 7EFD  1753 064D 2583 B098 A0F3
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