Compiling Dovecot From Sources


Dovecot is provided by package managers on most popular operating systems, and we also provide packages at, we encourage you to use these instead of building sources yourself.

For most people it is enough to do:

sudo make install

That installs Dovecot under the /usr/local directory. The configuration file is in /usr/local/etc/dovecot.conf. Logging goes to syslog’s mail facility by default, which typically goes to /var/log/mail.log or something similar. If you are in a hurry, you can then jump to Quick Configuration.

If you have installed some libraries into locations which require special include or library paths, you can pass them in the CPPFLAGS and LDFLAGS environment variables. For example:

CPPFLAGS="-I/opt/openssl/include" LDFLAGS="-L/opt/openssl/lib" ./configure

You’ll need to create two users for Dovecot’s internal use:


Used by untrusted imap-login and pop3-login processes, default_login_user setting.


Used by slightly more trusted Dovecot processes, default_internal_user setting.

Both of them should also have their own dovenull and dovecot groups. See System users used by Dovecot for more information.

Compiling Dovecot From Git

If you got Dovecot from Git, for instance with

git clone dovecot

you will first need to run ./ to generate the configure script and some other files. This requires that you have the following software/packages installed:

  • wget

  • autoconf

  • automake

  • libtool

  • pkg-config

  • gettext

  • pandoc (not strictly required - you can avoid it by using: PANDOC=false ./configure)

  • GNU make.

It is advisable to add --enable-maintainer-mode to the configure script. Thus:

./configure --enable-maintainer-mode
sudo make install

For later updates, you can use:

git pull
sudo make install

SSL/TLS Support

Dovecot uses OpenSSL for SSL/TLS support and it should be automatically detected. If it is not, you are missing some header files or libraries, or they are just in a non-standard path. Make sure you have the openssl-dev or a similar package installed, and if it is not in the standard location, set CPPFLAGS and LDFLAGS as shown in the first section above.

By default the SSL certificate is read from /etc/ssl/certs/dovecot.pem and the private key from /etc/ssl/private/dovecot.pem. The /etc/ssl directory can be changed using the --with-ssldir=DIR configure option. Both can of course be overridden from the configuration file.

You can use Mozilla SSL Configuration Generator to get a decent SSL configuration.

Optional Configure Options


gives a full list of available options


list the dovecot specific options only and hide the generic configuration options

Options are usually listed as --with-something or --enable-something. If you want to disable them, do it as --without-something or --disable-something. There are many default options that come from autoconf, automake or libtool. They are explained elsewhere.

Here is a list of options that Dovecot adds. You should not usually have to change these, these are usually not needed.


Enables some extra sanity checks. This is mainly useful for developers. It does quite a lot of unnecessary work but should catch some programming mistakes more quickly.


Enable assertion checks, enabled by default. Disabling them may slightly save some CPU, but if there are bugs they can cause more problems since they are not detected as early.


Link Dovecot binaries with static libraries instead of dynamic libraries.


Specifies if we use 32bit or 64bit file offsets in 32bit CPUs. 64bit is the default if the system supports it (Linux and Solaris do). Dropping this to 32bit may save some memory, but it prevents accessing any file larger than 2 GB.


Specifies memory alignment used for memory allocations. It is needed with many non-x86 systems and it should speed up x86 systems too. Default is 8, to make sure 64bit memory accessing works.


Specifies what I/O loop method to use. Possibilities are select, poll, epoll and kqueue. The default is to use the best method available on your system.


Specifies what file system notification method to use. Possibilities are dnotify, inotify (both on Linux), kqueue (FreeBSD) and none. The default is to use the best method available on your system. See Notify method above for more information.

Generic features


Enables Lua support for authentication and push notifications.


Build with Solr full text search support

Compression libraries


Build with zlib compression support (default if detected)


Build with zStandard compression support (default if detected)

SQL Driver Options

SQL drivers are typically used for authentication, and they may be used as a lib-dict backend too, which can be used by plugins for different purposes.


Build with cassandra support (requires cassandra-cpp-driver)


Build with PostgreSQL support (requires pgsql-devel, libpq-dev or similar package)


Build with MySQL support (requires mysql-devel, ``libmysqlclient-dev or similar package)


Build with SQLite3 driver support (requires sqlite-devel, libsqlite3-dev or similar package)

Authentication Backend Options

The basic backends are built if the system is detected to support them:


Build with PAM support


Build with NSS support


Build with BSD authentication support (if supported by your OS)

Some backends require extra libraries and are not necessarily wanted, so they are built only if specifically enabled:


Build with generic SQL support (drivers are enabled separately, see above). You can also build this as a plugin.


Build with LDAP support (requires openldap-devel, libldap2-dev or similar package). You can also build this as a plugin.


Build with GSSAPI authentication support (requires krb5-devel, libkrb5-dev or similar package)

Dynamic IMAP and POP3 Modules

The mail_plugins setting lists all plugins that Dovecot is supposed to load from the mail_plugin_dir directory at program start. These plugins can do anything they want.

The plugin filename is prefixed with a number which specifies the order in which the plugins are loaded. This is important if one plugin depends on another.