Your Own Mail Host – Postfix, Cyrus, FreeBSD
  1. 1. Other posts about Postfix and Cyrus
  2. 2. Intro
  3. 3. Installing Postfix & Cyrus
    1. 3.1. Postfix
    2. 3.2. Cyrus
    3. 3.3. Postinstal
  4. 4. Setting up Postfix
    1. 4.1. Replacing sendmail
    2. 4.2. Configuring
      1. 4.2.1. Setting aliases
    3. 4.3. Rehashing
    4. 4.4. Testing
  5. 5. Configuring Cyrus
    1. 5.1. Configuring
      1. 5.1.1. IMAP
      2. 5.1.2. Cyrus itself
    2. 5.2. Creating directories
      1. 5.2.1. Fixing permissions
    3. 5.3. Testing
      1. 5.3.1. Boot up
      2. 5.3.2. Look inside
  6. 6. Administrate
    1. 6.1. Create user accounts
    2. 6.2. Administrate mailboxes
    3. 6.3. Adding new mailbox/user
    4. 6.4. Setting quotas
    5. 6.5. Deleting mailboxes
    6. 6.6. Setting max message size
  7. 7. Test at a whole
    1. 7.1. Maintentenance
      1. 7.1.1. Checking mail queue
      2. 7.1.2. Purging mail queue
      3. 7.1.3. Sending mail with status report
  8. 8. Troubleshooting
    1. 8.1. LMTP socket: permission denied
    2. 8.2. User can’t connect to his mailbox
    3. 8.3. Quota problems
    4. 8.4. Segmentation fault of Cyrus/cyradm
    5. 8.5. Relay access denied
    6. 8.6. 2 GiB limit of Cyrus-IMAP
    7. 8.7. Aliases don’t seem to work
    8. 8.8. Cannot send e-mails – size limit exceeded
    9. 8.9. Recipient address rejected
Other posts about Postfix and Cyrus
  1. Your Own Mail Host – Postfix, Cyrus, FreeBSD
  2. Setting up SMTP authorization for Postfix using Cyrus SASL
  3. Setting up secure Cyrus
  4. Multidomain mail system with Postfix & Cyrus
  5. Cyrus & SASL – «No Mechanism Available»


Getting up my own e-mail host was always fascinating me. Several days ago I finally decided to give it a try.

I have a server in my house that’s hang up near the ceiling in the kitchen. It runs FreeBSD and some sites of mine served by Apache & nginx. I decided to set up a mail system there so I can have a neat address like sοmewhο

A friend of mine had told me that Postfix was easy to set up and that there are a lot of tutorials explaining how to do so. I believed and first tried setting it up on a virtual maching under VMware (also running FreeBSD 8).
Postfix itself, indeed installed with no problems. However, things started to blow up asI approached Cyrus…

On the VM Cyrus refused to work with Segmentation fault error – I thought that it was an issue with my VM and as everything else seemed to work fine I moved on to my server.
I hadn’t found many tutorials about Cyrus that were up-to-date (msot of them were as of2003-2008 years) – some option names have changed or disappeared.
After two days of trial I managed to get everything up and running and decided to writethis article.

Installing Postfix & Cyrus

Naturally, this stem is the easiest one thanks to FreeBSD ports collection. During installation (make install) you might get questions (like «add to mailer.conf or «add to group mail) – answer «y» to any.


Before installing Postfix let’s stop sendmail:

shell$ cd /etc/mail
$ make stop

I installed Postfix from /usr/ports/mail/postfix-current/ with all configuration options disabled except the first two:

  1. PCRE – Perl Compatible Regular Expressions. Some tutors I saw suggested turning it off but I don’t see any reason for doign so so I left it on.
  2. SASL2 – Cyrus SASLv2 (Simple Auth. and Sec. Layer). As we’re going to install Cyrus anyway it’s a good thing to have (it provides different auth mechaniscs that it calls «mechs» like MD5 and NTLM).
shell$ cd /usr/ports/mail/postfix-current/
$ make install


FreeBSD’s ports tree has 3 different versions of Cyrus-IMAPd in its collection:

  1. version 2;
  2. version 2.2;
  3. version 2.3.

I tried all three versions several times before I decided upon cyrus-imapd22 (v2.2) – maybe others will work for you but now that I’ve finally got everything working I’ll just left this one be.

I installed Cyrus with no options checked (I guess this means it uses Berkeley DB even if it’s unchecked).

shell$ cd /usr/ports/mail/cyrus-imap22/
$ make install

This will also automatically install SASL 2 which we’ll need later.


We need both Postfix’ and Cyrus’ users to be in one group mail. Do so:

shell$ pw user mod postfix -G mail
$ pw user mod cyrus -G mail
$ pw group show mail

If the output of last comment is the same then everything went smoothly.

Log files can save us a lot of troubles while we’re installign things if we configure them to give us as much info as possible. Add this to /etc/syslogd.conf:

conflocal6.debug  /var/log/imapd.log
auth.debug /var/log/auth.log

…create log file for imapd and restart syslogd:

shell$ touch /var/log/imapd
$ chmod 0600 /var/log/imapd
$ killall -HUP syslogd

This will log info of Cyrus IMAP daemon (imapd.log) and SASL (auth.log) operations. Don’t forget to remove these lines when you’re done setting up your server as log files will grow large pretty fast at debug log level.

You also need to add some services to your /etc/services. Make sure these are present:

confpop3      110/tcp
imap      143/tcp
imaps     993/tcp
pop3s     995/tcp
sieve     2000/tcp
lmtp      2003/tcp
fud       4201/udp

Setting up Postfix

A bit of theory first. Postfix is a replacement for standard sendmail utility that doesn’t only send e-mails but actually accepts them, sorts out, stores, etc. Its implementation is very old and unseure (at times when it was made there was no need to much security – just like with DNS protocols, I guess). sendmail is found on most *nix systems by default AFAIK.

Official Postfix docs are located here.

Replacing sendmail

For postfix to override sendmail it needs to be recorded into /etc/mail/mailer.conf. By default Postfix’ installator already does it for you but if it didn’t you can do this manually. Set /etc/mail/mailer.conf to this:

conf# Execute the Postfix sendmail program, named /usr/local/sbin/sendmail
sendmail        /usr/local/sbin/sendmail
send-mail       /usr/local/sbin/sendmail
mailq           /usr/local/sbin/sendmail
newaliases      /usr/local/sbin/sendmail

As Postfix postinstall message suggests we also need to manually add these lines to /etc/rc.conf:

confpostfix_enable="YES"              # let Postfix run on reboot
sendmail_enable="NO"              # don't let sendmail start up

We also can turn off some sendmail tasks that are ran from time to time. This is done in /etc/periodic.conf – if it doesn’t exist, create and fill with this:



Most configuration is done on /usr/local/etc/postfix/ file. We need to change the following options:

This is user name under which Postfix runs. By default it’s just postfix that was created during install; no need to change it.
It’s your machine’s host name, e.g. If unset it will use system-configured host name (hostname in /etc/rc.conf).
This is the same except if mail server has its own subdomain (e.g. this field needs to set «root» domain name (
A comma- or space-separated list of host names that Postfix accounts as its final destination points that it must take mail for. If you only accept mail for your hostname it’s no need to set this option.
I don’t completely understand how «trusted» clients mechanism work but it seems like default value (subnet) is used most of the time and itworks for me.
This option limits Postfix to specific network interface(s) to listen on. By default it’s string all.

If you want to deny some spam messages the following settings will help:

confsmtpd_client_restrictions = permit_mynetworks
# hosts must have PTR (reverse DNS) record and they must exist; reject all but FQDN.
smtpd_helo_restrictions = permit_mynetworks, reject_unknown_hostname, reject_non_fqdn_hostname, reject_invalid_hostname
# require proper HELO/EHLO SMTP greeting.
smtpd_helo_required = yes
# require FQDN of the sender and make sure that domain really exists.
smtpd_sender_restrictions = reject_unknown_sender_domain, reject_non_fqdn_sender

Sometimes it’s adviced to have reject_unknown_client listed in smtpd_client_restrictions – however, if you’ll be sending e-mails from a machine that has no domain name assigned to IP (PTR DNS record) – e.g. from within your network – Postfix will refuse to talk to you at all.

And now final Postfix config options in

A table that sets e-mail aliases (e.g. root → joe). In most cases simple hash is enough: hash:/usr/local/etc/postfix/aliases
= hash:/etc/postfix/aliases
Since we’ll be using Cyrus set this to: lmtp:unix:/var/imap/socket/lmtp
A string that Postfix shows for connecting clients (usually robots unless you’re using telnet). We can output something funny – like this: $myhostname — I, the $myhostname mailer, greet thou.

We’re done with; let’s switch for now. Find a line that starts like the following and change it to this (uncomment them if necessary):

confcyrus     unix  -       n       n       -       -       pipe
  user=cyrus argv=/usr/local/cyrus/bin/deliver -e -r ${sender} -m ${extension} $

It’s important that lines other than the first start with at least one space.

After changing Postfix’ config files when it’s running you need to reload it using shpostfix reload command.

Setting aliases

There’s a handy Postfix command that will find the location of any Postfix config file:

shell$ postconf alias_maps
alias_maps = hash:/usr/local/etc/postfix/aliases

E-mail user name aliases are specified in /usr/local/etc/postfix/ – for example, if you want to receive root’s mail as then change this line:

confroot:           you
# change the above to:
root:           myself

You can add more aliases in similar fashion (merns@, erns@ and michaelerns@ will all point to mike@):

confmerns:          michaelerns
erns:           michaelerns
michaelerns:    mike

After changing this file don’t forget to rehash it (as explained in next section) using shpostalias or shnewaliases.


We need to generate hashtables for access, transport and aliases config files:

shell$ postmap /usr/local/etc/postfix/access
$ postmap  /usr/local/etc/postfix/transport
$ postalias  /usr/local/etc/postfix/aliases

It seems like the last command can also be ran as shnewaliases.


Now we can check if Postfix can run:

shell$ postfix start
postfix/postfix-script: starting the Postfix mail system
$ tail /var/log/messages

Last command should display a bunch of latest messages – if nothing is connected with Postfix then it works fine.

If you’ve already installed Cyrus you can use its smtptest program to talk to Postfix:

shell$ smtptest localhost
S: 220 I, the mailer, greet thou.
S: 250-SIZE 10240000
S: 250-VRFY
S: 250-ETRN
S: 250 DSN
Security strength factor: 0
221 2.0.0 Bye
Connection closed.

Here we see the result of changing smtpd_banner option in :) If you see the output similar to above then Postfix accepts mails. Exit shsmtptest by pressing Ctrl+D.

Configuring Cyrus

Now that’s where things get serious. Unlike Postfix I’d spent more time tryign to get Cyrus running.
Official manual for messing with Cyrus is locatedhere.

Cyrus-IMAP daemon will serve us our mail via some e-mail client like Thunderbird.


Before we proceed I sugest you create symlinks to both config files in /etc/ – I saw comments on the Internet that complained about hardcoded config file oath in Cyrus. As they were old I don’t know if it’s still an issue but let’s create them neverthless:

shell$ ln -s /usr/local/etc/imapd.conf /etc/imapd.conf
$ ln -s /usr/local/etc/cyrus.conf /etc/cyrus.conf


This is where most important configuration is defined. Change the following settings in /usr/local/etc/imapd.conf:

Space-separated list of user names that Cyrus will consider admins with full rights. You don’t have to have an Unix user created with this name; it’s just a login name.
Must be set to /var/imap/sieve.
Must be set to /usr/local/sbin/sendmail.
Since we’re using SASL we need to set this to sasldb.
Set this to «no» unless you want users to create new mailboxes on their own (by connecting tp Cyris via POP3 or IMAP.

Cyrus itself

/usr/local/etc/imapd.conf might use no configuration but for better behaviour we can tweak it like this:

  1. Find line starting with «idled» and comment it out by prefixing with hash sign (#).
  2. Comment lines: «imaps», «pop3», «pop3s», «lmtp» (not «lmptunix»), «notify» and «tlsprune».
  3. If you want to use prefork to boost performance set the following (taken from /usr/local/share/examples/cyrus-imapd/prefork.conf):
    1. imap ... prefork=5
    2. lmtpunix ... prefork=1

Creating directories

This is a bit of tricky thing because for some strange reason Cyrus’ script creates paths with parmissions that differ even from the ones described in its own documentation.

First off, change to cyrus user and execute /usr/local/cyrus/bin/mkimap:

shell$ su cyrus
$ /usr/local/cyrus/bin/mkimap
$ exit

Then fix permissions:

shell$ mkdir /usr/sieve
$ chown cyrus:mail /usr/sieve
$ chmod 750 /usr/sieve
$ chown cyrus:mail /var/spool/imap
$ chmod 750 /var/spool/imap
$ chown cyrus:mail /var/imap
$ chmod 750 /var/imap

Fixing permissions

Permission issues have been my pain with Cyrus for a few hours so let’s make sure you can avoid them.

We’ve already fixed perms for IMAP, IMAP spool and SIEVE dirs above; now let’s go for SASL.

For some reason Cyrus installer sets wrong permissions for /usr/local/cyrus and Cyrus’ programs inside /usr/local/cyrus/bin are unavailable so make sure all path components have rx for all users:

shell$ chmod 0755 /usr/local/cyrus

Also, after all installations /etc/mail/mailer.conf tends to be getting wrong perms too – let’s fix it by setting «r» (0644) for all:

-rw-r--r--  1 root  wheel    211 Jan 18 09:34 mailer.conf

After creating IMAP structure in /var/imap and starting Cyrus its LMTP socket will probably have wrong perms (one more stranginess). You need to make it readable for mail group and make sure it belongs to mail group instead of cyrus (which it gets created with):

shell$ ls -l /var/imap/socket/lmtp
srwxr--r--  1 cyrus  mail  0 Jan 19 13:36 /var/imap/socket/lmtp=

Sometimes when restarting Cyrus will revert LMTP socket’s permissions back to whatever it thinks they must be (0777 root:mail for me).

Now let’s make /etc/opieaccess and /etc/opiekeys files accessible – I’ve read some guesses of why they are used by Cyrus but nothing specific seemed to be known so I set their perms as the following and it worked:

shell$ ls -l /etc | grep opie
-rw-rw----  1 root   mail        446 Nov 21  2009 opieaccess
-rw-rw----  1 root   mail          0 Jan 18 10:42 opiekeys

The following error in /var/messages indicates that there’s a problem with the 2 files above:

logJan 18 10:38:03 my imap[49632]: OTP unavailable because can't read/write key database /etc/opiekeys: Permission denied

Make sure that SASL DB is owned by cyrus and mail:

shell$ ls -l /usr/local/etc | grep sasl
-rw-r-----  1 cyrus  mail   16384 Jan 18 11:37 sasldb2.db

Meke sure that SASL’s auth mechanisms («mechs») in /usr/local/lib/sasl2 are accessible (rx perms for all):

shell$ ls -l /usr/local/lib | grep sasl2/
drwxr-xr-x   2 root  wheel     1024 Jan 14 08:56 sasl2/

If you didn’t do that auth.log will be filled with errors like these:

logJan 18 10:15:54 my lmtpunix[49185]: looking for plugins in '/usr/local/lib/sasl2', failed to open directory, error: Permission denied
Jan 18 10:21:20 my imap[49364]: looking for plugins in '/usr/local/lib/sasl2', failed to open directory, error: Permission denied

…and it is also source for issues («no worthy mechs» and «generic failure» of SASL) that were driving me mad the first day:

logJan 14 09:58:22 my perl: No worthy mechs found
Jan 14 10:29:29 my imtest: No worthy mechs found
Jan 18 11:30:45 my imap[1745]: badlogin: localhost [] plaintext proger SASL(-1): generic failure: checkpass failed

…which in turn resulted in cyradm not being able to connect to my host:

Login failed: generic failure at .../Cyrus/IMAP/ line 118
cyradm: cannot authenticate to server with as cyrus

In fact, unavailable SASL modules will result in imtest displaying no AUTH=xx capabilities as well – which means you can’t login because there are no means for checking your identity loaded.


Alright! We’re finally at the point where we can start up our Cyrus server and see if it works.

Boot up

Boot Cyrus-IMAP up and see the log:

shell$ /usr/local/etc/rc.d/imapd start
$ tail -20 /var/log/messages

Most likely on a freshly installed Cyrus server you’ll get the following warnings:

logJan 18 09:55:57 my master[48708]: process started
Jan 18 09:55:58 my ctl_cyrusdb[48709]: recovering cyrus databases
Jan 18 09:55:58 my ctl_cyrusdb[48709]: done recovering cyrus databases
Jan 18 09:55:58 my master[48708]: ready for work
Jan 18 09:55:58 my ctl_cyrusdb[48710]: checkpointing cyrus databases
Jan 18 09:55:58 my ctl_cyrusdb[48710]: DBERROR: error listing log files: DB_NOTFOUND: No matching key/data pair found
Jan 18 09:55:58 my ctl_cyrusdb[48710]: DBERROR: archive /var/imap/db: cyrusdb error
Jan 18 09:55:58 my ctl_cyrusdb[48710]: DBERROR: error listing log files: DB_NOTFOUND: No matching key/data pair found
Jan 18 09:55:58 my ctl_cyrusdb[48710]: DBERROR: archive /var/imap/db: cyrusdb error
Jan 18 09:55:58 my ctl_cyrusdb[48710]: DBERROR: error listing log files: DB_NOTFOUND: No matching key/data pair found
Jan 18 09:55:58 my ctl_cyrusdb[48710]: DBERROR: archive /var/imap/db: cyrusdb error
Jan 18 09:55:58 my ctl_cyrusdb[48710]: DBERROR: error listing log files: DB_NOTFOUND: No matching key/data pair found
Jan 18 09:55:58 my ctl_cyrusdb[48710]: DBERROR: archive /var/imap/db: cyrusdb error
Jan 18 09:55:58 my ctl_cyrusdb[48710]: done checkpointing cyrus databases

This is of no problem – I had searched the Internet and didn’t find anything specific but later when I got Cyrus running for some time already I understood why it happened.
It’s because there are yet no log files in IMAP database. They’re named like log.0000000001– so if you see no files like that in /var/imap/db then it’s fine and you can ignore warnings above – when you’ll get first logfile (I got mine pretty soon) they’ll go away.

Just for a record, normal startup of Cyrus yields these lines in logfile:

logJan 19 13:37:37 my master[20111]: process started
Jan 19 13:37:37 my ctl_cyrusdb[20112]: recovering cyrus databases
Jan 19 13:37:37 my ctl_cyrusdb[20112]: skiplist: recovered /var/imap/mailboxes.db (4 records, 1144 bytes) in 0 seconds
Jan 19 13:37:37 my ctl_cyrusdb[20112]: skiplist: recovered /var/imap/annotations.db (0 records, 144 bytes) in 0 seconds
Jan 19 13:37:37 my ctl_cyrusdb[20112]: done recovering cyrus databases
Jan 19 13:37:37 my master[20111]: ready for work
Jan 19 13:37:37 my ctl_cyrusdb[20113]: checkpointing cyrus databases
Jan 19 13:37:37 my ctl_cyrusdb[20113]: done checkpointing cyrus databases

Look inside

Let’s see the talk of our new IMAP server in its nudity – run shimtest that comes with Cyrus (note that user login is specified as -a instead of -u):

shell$ imtest -a cyrroot localhost
S: * OK Cyrus IMAP4 v2.2.13p1 server ready
S: C01 OK Completed
Please enter your password:

Let’s examine what we have here: at first a usual greeting («server ready») after which a very important line follows (* CAPABILITY IMAP4...) – it tells us which features the server supports. What we need here are caps starting with «AUTH=» – they list SASL auth mechanisms that are available.
Naturally, to be able to connect we need at least one authorization mechanism listed –if you see none then go back to Fixing permissions section and recheck SASL perms.

Other notes:

After more technical info (which may vary depending on auth method imtest chose to use; by default it uses the strongest available) a password prompt follows.
After you’ve successfully entered it you must see something like this:

S: A01 OK Success (no protection)
Security strength factor: 0

Press Ctrl+D to logout from IMAP session.

If you examine auth.log, imapd.log or debug.log you’ll see some traces of your presence.


Create user accounts

As we’re using SASL to manage user accounts the following 2 commands are useful for us:

Lists registered users.
Mmanages users (like system shadduser, shpw and such).

Let’s now add Cyrus admin accounts that you specified in admins option of /usr/local/etc/imapd.conf:

shell$ saslpasswd2 -c <admin>
Again (for verification):

You can delete existing accounts as -d:

shell$ saslpasswd2 -d user

Verify that accounts were added:

shell$ sasldblistusers2 userPassword userPassword

Administrate mailboxes

Cyrus has an admin tool cyradm which connects to any (even remote) Cyrus server and lets you manage it.

Let’s connect right now (connect with any user listed in admins config of imapd.conf):

shell% cyradm -u <one_of_admins> localhost
Segmentation fault.

Uh, segfault?!

That was a second deadlock I got stuck in yesterday. Why the hell would it segfault? I still have no ideas regarding possible causes of that but I’ve got a solution.
First check if segmentation fault is occurring because of authorization methods – likeit was for me:

shell$ cyradm
cyradm> connect -noauth localhost

If you got localhost> prompt then segfault is happening due to an auth mechanism used by cyradm. You can fix it if you force a different mechanism.
Do you remember capabilities that Cyrus has sent to us when we connected to it viaimtest? That’s what we need. Let’s take one of others – I hoose CRAM-MD5. It’s done by --auth parameter:

shell$ cyradm --auth CRAM-MD5 -u <admin> localhost

Hey, it works! We’re inside our server. Now let’s create a mailbox for ourselves that we’ll use as normal users (remember – don’t receive mail as an admin):

Adding new mailbox/user

For this you need 3 things:

  1. A mailbox – added by cm command of shcyradm – see below.
  2. A user in SASL database – it’s added by shsaslpasswd2 -c <login>
  3. A user in system’s /etc/passwd – added by shadduser or shpw user add.

If you attempt to send an e-mail to a user which has a mailbox and exists in SASL database but doesn’t has system user created the mail will be rejected with message

Recipient address rejected: User unknown in local recipient table.

Last 2 steps are simple and the 2nd is even covered above so I’ll only explain the first here.

Log into your Cyrus using one of administrator logins:

shell$ cyradm --auth CRAM-MD5 -u <admin> localhost
localhost> cm user.proger
localhost> lm
user.proger (\HasChildren)           user.proger.Sent (\HasNoChildren)
user.proger.Drafts (\HasNoChildren)  user.proger.Trash (\HasNoChildren)

You probably won’t have all folders (Sent/Drafts/Trash) right now but at least one must exist. Exit shcyradm by Ctrl+D.
As might have noticed, mailbbox names have this format: user.<login>[.<folder>]– beginning with «user.» – it’s said in the documentation so let it be.

By the way, yf you like Unix-style slashes more than dots you can use them instead so mailboxes will look like «user/proger/Drafts» – just set unixhierarchysep of imapd.conf to «yes».

Setting quotas

You can set quota and perform other useful operations – type «help» in shcyradm for the lsit of commands. Note that some of them need special permissions.

localhost> setquota user.proger 512000
localhost> listquota user.proger
STORAGE 15451/512000 (3.0177734375%)

Note that setquota takes argument in Kilobytes – not bytes.

Users will be warned by IMAP server on each connect when they come close to their limit – normally such warnings are shown as «Server message: …» by mail clients. Default threshold of showing warnings is 90%; you can change it as quotawarn in imapd.conf (don’t forget to sh/usr/local/etc/rc.d/imapd restart after changing Cyrus’ config).

Deleting mailboxes

Even if you’re logged in as one of Cyrus admins you can’t delete a mailbox by just typing delete <mbox> – this operation requires «c» right and by default Cyrus doesn’t assign it to root – only to mailbox owner.
So in order to delete a mailbox you need to assign «c» perm to yourself:

shell$ localhost> setacl <mbbox> <your_login> c
$ localhost> delete a

Setting max message size

Postfix has 2 size limit config options that are specified in /usr/etc/postfix/

Max size in bytes of the whole message including attacheents.
Max size of any mailbox or folder. If you set this to lower value than message_size_limit Postfix won’t send mails at all.

By default these values are 10 MiB for message size limit and 50 MiB for mailbox limit. You can set either (or both) of them to 0 to indicate that there’s no limit imposed.

Test at a whole

We’ve reaced a point when we can finally test all parts working together – Postfix receiving mails (via SMTP) and Cyrus serving them via IMAP.

Get your favourite e-mail client and set up new account with login/password you used when calling saslpasswd2 and cm command of shcyradm. You should be able to see empty IMAP tree shortly.

After doing all things described above you should be able to send/receive e-mails without problems – so send yourself an e-mail from an account on a different mail server and see if it’s been received; then compose one yourself and send it somewhere via your brand-new mail host.


If things don’t work well first thing you do is obvious – check the logs. However, this doesn’t fix anything if itself and sometimes they even keep silent.
In this case you switch to Postfix admin tools.

Checking mail queue

Mail queue keeps messages that are yet to be processed (sent or delivered). In Postfix you can display them like this:

shell$ postqueue -p
Mail queue is empty

Or its output might look like this:

-Queue ID- --Size-- ----Arrival Time---- -Sender/Recipient-------
C136C5C003      532 Wed Jan 19 13:42:58  proger i-forge net
(host[x.x.x.x] said: 450 Your host is greylisted, please retry later. (in reply to end of DATA command))
                                         mailme smtp ru

-- 1 Kbytes in 1 Request.

Purging mail queue

You can remove everything from the queue, discarding undelivered e-mails:

shell$ postsuper -d ALL
postsuper: Deleted: 1 message

Unlike postqueue which needs basic priviledges postsuper can only be ran by root.

Sending mail with status report

As written in the Postfix’ docs you can send mails as you would with usual shsendmail using -v parameter but status reports will be mailed to your account instead of being displayed in console (this is because Postfix runs as daemon and doesn’t execute queries right off the bat; see shpostqueue and such).

  1. Try delivering e-mail but doesn’t send it actually, only report to you: sh/usr/sbin/sendmail -bv
  2. Deliver e-mail and send you full status report: sh/usr/sbin/sendmail -v

In both variants you’ll get the following message:

Mail Delivery Status Report will be mailed to <your login name or From-field>.


Some answers were taken from here.

LMTP socket: permission denied

logpostfix/lmtp[563]: …status=deferred (connect to /var/imap/socket/lmtp[/var/imap/socket/lmtp]: Permission denied

The above error message tells you that lmtp:unix:/var/imap/socket/lmtp is inaccessible by Postfix. It can be fixed by changing its perms as described here.

User can’t connect to his mailbox

If you’ve just created a mailbox but can’t connect to it make sure the user has all perms to it (by default it’s the case). Assuming that mailbox is named user.proger and user name is proger:

shell$ cyradm -...
localhost> setacl user.proger proger all

Quota problems

logJan 19 08:57:45 my lmtpunix[14917]: verify_user(user.proger) failed: Over quota

This error means a user has exceeded his quota. However, if you’re sure that he hasn’t (e.g. listquota of shcyradm tells so) and you’ve just increased it then maybe it’s too early yet – quota changes take up to a few minutes to apply.

I’ve also seen a piece of advice on the web to run these commands from within shcyradm whenever you’re running over problems with mailboxes:

shell$ localhost> reconstruct -r <mbox>
$ localhost> quota -f <mbox>

Segmentation fault of Cyrus/cyradm

It can occur in 2 cases that I’m aware of:

  1. You’re connecting using cyradm and it segfaults due to a specifiec authorization method(s) cyradm attempts to use. In this case just force a different auth method as described here.
  2. You have upgraded Cyrus or moved existing IMAP (/var/imap) structure to new machine. In this case segfault might happen due to versions of BDB linked into old and new Cyruses doesn’t match.

You can check if it’s BDB’s issue like this:

shell$ ldd /usr/local/cyrus/bin/ctl_cyrusdb | grep libdb => /usr/local/lib/ (0x2814e000)

Compare the result on both machines and you’ll get your answer. You can read more about this problem here.

Relay access denied

reject: RCPT from[x.x.x.x]: 554 <someone at>: Relay access denied; from=<one at> to=<someone at> proto=ESMTP helo=<hello>

The above error message appears if Postfix refused to send mail to a host. Check mynetworks_style option of Postfix’, as well as relay_domains and related.

2 GiB limit of Cyrus-IMAP

Some people say that Cyrus has a hardcoded 2 GiB limit of mailbox quota so even if shcyradm successfully sets quota above that number Cyrus itself will work as if it’s just 2 GiB.
See this articlefor more information.

Aliases don’t seem to work

Possible log errors:

<> (expanded from <root>): host[/var/imap/socket/lmtp] said: 550-Mailbox unknown.  Either there
is no mailbox associated with this 550-name or you do not have
authorization to see it. 550 5.1.1 User unknown (in reply to RCPT TO


logJan 20 13:14:41 my lmtpunix[1994]: verify_user(user.root) failed: Mailbox does not exist

E-mail user name alias file of Postfix is located at /usr/local/etc/postfix/aliases and defines alternative account names that can be redirected to other users, written to file(s) and more.
The format of this file is described in details here.Normally you would like to redirect root’s mails to some address and the following line will do so – send all root’s mail to myself:

root:   myself

However, if Postfix still complains that there’s no root mailbox (or whatever) and you’re using hash file type of access file (alias_maps = hash:/usr/local/etc/postfix/aliases):

  1. You might have forgotten to update hash database and/or reload Postfix:
shell$ newaliases
$ postfix reload
  1. Check that you have specified the same value for both alias_maps and alias_database options of – otherwise Postfix won’t use aliases at all:
confalias_maps      = hash:/usr/local/etc/postfix/aliases
alias_database  = hash:/usr/local/etc/postfix/aliases

Don’t forget to refresh Postfix and hash DB after modifications (item #1).

Cannot send e-mails – size limit exceeded

logJan 21 11:19:47 my postfix/local[14428]: fatal: configuration error: mailbox_size_limit is smaller than message_size_limit

The above error might be output into /var/log/maillog.

In any case you need to check mailbox & message size limits as explained here.

Recipient address rejected

Recipient address rejected: User unknown in local recipient table.

This usually happens when you’ve added a user’s mailbox and added its password to SASL database but didn’t create a system user (via shadduser or shpw user add). Please refer to the Adding new mailbox/user section for more details.