[Dovecot] Getting rid of the common newbie problems

Timo Sirainen tss at iki.fi
Wed May 16 15:20:59 EEST 2007

On Wed, 2007-05-16 at 02:15 +0200, Udo Rader wrote:
> Getting people to actually read _and_ understand what a log message
> means is very difficult on a very psychological level :-)

A good example would be this error that I've changed 2 times already:

"Set pop3_uidl_format setting in config file"
"pop3_uidl_format setting is missing from config file"
"Set pop3_uidl_format in config file"

Looks like the first one actually was the best one. I'm not sure why I
changed it to the second one, and when changing it again to the 3rd one
I seem to have dropped "setting" word. Maybe I should add it back. :)

Anyway, with all of these 3 messages people have still copy&pasted logs
and asked "How do I fix this?" I just don't know how to make it any more
clearer. Except a few times people have asked "What config file?" so
changing that to dovecot.conf could help a bit.

> > Another possibility would be to make Dovecot remember if there have been
> > any successful logins (/var/lib/dovecot/success file) and if not, give a
> > bit more helpful error messages:
> > 
> >  - Client gets: "NO Authentication failed. Refer to server log for more
> > information." instead of the normal "NO Authentication failed."
> >  - Log contains: "Aborted login: user=<asdga>, method=PLAIN,
> > rip=, lip=, secured, 1 failed authentications (set
> > auth_debug_passwords=yes to debug the problem)"
> > 
> > I'm not sure if this is a good idea.
> The overhead for this on heavily loaded systems would be quite
> significant, IMHO. This feature should only be active when explicitly
> activated in the configuration, so that would not be much of a change to
> the current situation :-)

No, it wouldn't add much overhead. That file's existence could be
checked only at startup, and after that it's just a variable that needs
to be checked/updated and the for the first successful login the file
would have to be created.

> IMO the best way to prevent basic errors and basic questions is to
> provide as many sample configurations as possible (eg. in the wiki),
> maybe organized
> as some kind of recipes.

Yea, that would be useful. Especially adding configurations that worked
with other user managing software such as Postfixadmin.

> I've upgraded our and come clients' dovecot installations multiple times, and
> to be honest I did not like the extensive documentation provided in the default 
> configuration files. Saying 'I did not like it' does not mean that the information 
> was useless, on the contrary, the amount was just overwhelming ...
> Sometimes too much information is ... too much :-)

For Dovecot v2.0 I'm planning on splitting dovecot.conf to multiple
files. The main dovecot.conf would then contain only the most important
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