New in version v2.3.0.

You can also use Lua to write your custom authentication, see Dovecot Lua support Checkpassword is an authentication interface originally implemented by qmail.

Note that the original Qmail site is gone, but you can still find resouces at <>.

Checkpassword combines both the Password databases (passdb) and User Databases (userdb) lookups into a single checkpassword lookup, which makes the standard implementation unsuitable for a standalone userdb.

With Dovecot extensions it’s also possible to use checkpassword as a userdb.

Typically you’ll use prefetch as the userdb, but it’s not required that you use the checkpassword script’s userdb capabilities. You can still use for example Static Password Database if you’re using only a single UID and GID, and your home directory fits into a template.


The standard checkpassword design is incompatible with Dovecot’s security model. If the system has local users and the checkpassword script setuid()s into a local user, the user is able to ptrace into the communication and change the authentication results. This is of course undesirable, so v2.2.7+ will just refuse to run in such environments by default. The possibilities to solve this are:

If possible, change the checkpassword to return userdb_uid and userdb_gid extra fields instead of using setuid() and setgid(). This also improves the performance.

If you can’t change the script, you can make Dovecot’s checkpassword-reply binary setuid or setgid (e.g. chgrp dovecot /usr/local/libexec/dovecot/checkpassword-reply; chmod g+s /usr/local/libexec/dovecot/checkpassword-reply)

If you don’t have any untrusted local users and you just don’t care about this check, you can set INSECURE_SETUID=1 environment e.g. with a wrapper checkpassword script.


If your checkpassword script doesn’t support Dovecot extensions, you can’t use it as a user database. This means that if you wish to use LDA, you can’t use the -d parameter to do userdb lookups. There are two ways to solve this:

Use another userdb which does the lookup for deliver, for example SQL or static. Add this userdb after the prefetch userdb.

Use a script to look up the user’s home directory and run deliver without -d parameter. For example:


# <<Lookup user's home directory here.>>

# If users have different UIDs/GIDs, make sure to also change this process's UID and GID.
# If you want to override any settings, use dovecot-lda's -o parameter
# (e.g. dovecot-lda -o mail_location=maildir:~/Maildir).

export HOME
exec /usr/local/libexec/dovecot/dovecot-lda