Compiling Dovecot From Sources

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 QuickConfiguration.

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:

  • dovenull: Used by untrusted imap-login and pop3-login processes (default_login_user setting).

  • dovecot: Used by slightly more trusted Dovecot processes (default_internal_user setting).

Both of them should also have their own dovenull and dovecot groups. See UserIds 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

OpenSSL is used by default, 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:

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

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.

Optional Configure Options

Dovecot is highly configurable when building from source. Optional packages can be included by providing options in the form of --with-something or --enable-something. Conversely --without-something or --disable-something excludes the selected options. For an up-to-date list of available options - especially Optional Packages - run:

./configure --help

There are many default options that come from autoconf, automake or libtool. They are explained elsewhere.