This is the documentation for getmail version 4. Version 4 includes numerous changes from version 3.x; if you are using getmail version 3, please refer to the documentation included with that version of the software.
getmail is Copyright © 1998-2009 Charles Cazabon. <charlesc-getmail @ pyropus.ca>
getmail is licensed under the GNU General Public License version 2 (only). If you wish to obtain a license to distribute getmail under other terms, please contact me directly.
Table of Contents
- getmail documentation
- getmail documentation
- Differences from previous versions
- Obtaining getmail
- Installing getmail
- For the impatient
- Full installation instructions
- Installing from the RPM
- Installing directly from the source
- Installing the getmailcore package in a non-standard location
- Building a binary package from the source
- getmail mailing lists
- getmail configuration
- getmail troubleshooting
- getmail frequently-asked questions (FAQs)
getmail is a mail retriever designed to allow you to get your mail from one or more mail accounts on various mail servers to your local machine for reading with a minimum of fuss. getmail is designed to be secure, flexible, reliable, and easy-to-use. getmail is designed to replace other mail retrievers such as fetchmail.
getmail version 4 includes the following features:
- simple to install, configure, and use
retrieve virtually any mail
support for accessing mailboxes with the following protocols:
- SDPS (Demon UK's extensions to POP3)
- support for single-user and domain mailboxes
- retrieve mail from an unlimited number of mailboxes and servers
- can remember which mail it has already retrieved, and can be set to only download new messages
- support for accessing mailboxes with the following protocols:
- support for message filtering, classification, and annotation by external programs like spam filters and anti-virus programs
- support for delivering messages to different destinations based on the message recipient
- native safe and reliable delivery support for maildirs and mboxrd files, in addition to delivery through arbitrary external message delivery agents (MDAs)
- does not destroy information by rewriting mail headers
- does not cause mail loops by doing SMTP injection, and therefore does not require that you run an MTA (like qmail or sendmail) on your host
written in Python, and therefore easy to extend or customize
- a flexible, extensible architecture so that support for new mail access protocols, message filtering operations, or destination types can be easily added
- cross-platform operation; getmail 4 should work on Unix/Linux, Macintosh, and other platforms. Windows support available under the free Cygwin package.
- winner of various software awards, including DaveCentral's "Best of Linux"
Differences from previous versions
getmail version 4 has been completely rewritten. It is designed to closely mimic the interface and user experience of getmail version 3, but the new architecture necessitates some differences you will notice:
- the getmail rc file (configuration file) format has changed. If you are upgrading from version 3, you will need to write a new configuration file based on the contents of your old one. The new file format resembles the old in many ways. Each account you retrieve mail from will require a separate rc file, but getmail can operate with multiple rc files simultaneously if you wish to retrieve mail from multiple accounts.
- support for protocols other than POP3/SDPS. IMAP support is now included, and other protocols can be added with relative ease.
- support for SSL-encrypted protocols. The included POP3 and IMAP retriever classes are complemented by SSL-enabled counterparts.
- messages can be filtered or annotated by external programs like spam filters and anti-Microsoft-worm programs. Filters can cause messages to be dropped completely.
- a flexible, extensible architecture. Additional classes for handling new mail protocols, filter types, or destination mailstores can be added without needing to modify the main script at all. Feel free to contact me if you need a custom retriever, filter, or destination class written, or if you want commercial support for getmail.
getmail version 4 requires Python version 2.3.3 or later. If you have only an earlier version of Python available, you can install the latest version without disturbing your current version, or use getmail version 3, which requires only Python version 1.5.2 or later.
At the time of this writing, the current stable version of Python is 2.3.4. You can download that version from the page at http://www.python.org/2.3.4/ . Binary packages are available for RPM-based Linux systems, or building Python from source is typically as easy as unpacking the source tarball, and running the following commands:
./configure make make install
Since the above was written, Python 2.4 has been released. getmail 4 will work with that version of Python as well.
getmail 4 also requires that servers uniquely identify the messages they provide (via the UIDL command) to getmail for full functionality. Certain very old or broken POP3 servers may not be capable of this (I have had only one report of such problems from among the tens of thousands of people who have downloaded getmail 4 from my website and from other archives), or may not implement the UIDL command at all, and limited support is available for such servers via the BrokenUIDLPOP3Retriever and BrokenUIDLPOP3SSLRetriever retriever classes.
Download getmail 4 from the official website main page at http://pyropus.ca/software/getmail/ .
For the impatient
Installing getmail is very easy; just download the tarball distribution, unpack it, change into the directory it unpacks into, and run this command:
$ python setup.py install
That's all there is to it. 99.9% of users don't need a special package/port/etc. If you'd like more details on install options, keep reading.
Full installation instructions
Once you have downloaded or otherwise obtained getmail, unpack it. On GNU-ish Unix-like systems, this means:
$ tar xzf getmail-.tar.gz
On Macintosh systems, use a Zip-type archiver program to unpack the tarball.
On SystemV-like Unix systems, you may instead need to break this down into two steps:
$ gunzip getmail-.tar.gz $ tar xf getmail- .tar
Then, change into the extracted getmail directory and start the build process. The easiest installation method is to use the included setup.py Python distutils script to build and install getmail directly. Alternatively, you can build a binary package (i.e., an RPM or similar managed software package) for your system from the source package and install the resulting package, but the Python distutils support for this is spotty at present.
Installing from the RPM
If you downloaded the RPM, you should be able to install it with the following command:
$ rpm -ihv getmail-- .noarch.rpm
Installing directly from the source
To build and install directly from the included source, follow these steps.
$ cd getmail-$ python setup.py build
When that completes in a few seconds, become root and then install the software. You can install in the default location, or specify an alternate location to install the software, or specify alternate directories for only part of the package.
Installing in the default location
To install in the default location, become user root and install with the following commands:
$ su# python setup.py install
This will, by default, install files into subdirectories under the directory /usr/local/ or /usr/, but other values are sometimes used):, which is the directory that your Python installation was configured to install under (typically
- the scripts getmail, getmail_fetch, getmail_maildir, and getmail_mbox will be installed under /bin/
- the Python package getmailcore (which implements all the protocol–, filter–, and destination-specific code for getmail, plus various other bits) will be installed under the site-specific packages directory of your Python library directory. This directory is . /lib/python- /site-packages/
- The documentation directory getmail- will be installed under /doc/
- The manual pages for the four scripts will be installed under /man/
You can see a list of the default installation locations by running:
# python setup.py install --show-default-install-dirs
Installing under an alternate prefix directory
You can specify an alternate --prefix option to the install command, like this:directory by supplying the
# python setup.py install --prefix=
This will install the various parts of the package in subdirectories like in the default installation (see the section Installing in the default location above), but under your specified prefix directory. These alternate installations allow you to install the software without root privileges (say, by installing under $HOME/). Note, however, that the getmailcore package will not be in the default Python module search path if you do this; see the section Installing the getmailcore package in a non-standard location if you use this option.
Installing parts of the package to alternate directories
If you only want to change the directory for some of the components, use the following options:
- --install-lib= specifies the directory the getmailcore package is installed under (i.e., it will be installed as ). See the section /getmailcoreInstalling the getmailcore package in a non-standard location if you use this option.
- --install-scripts= specifies the directory the four scripts are installed under (i.e., they will be installed directly in ). /
- --install-data= specifies the directory the documentation is installed under (i.e., the HTML and plaintext documentation will be installed in the directory , and the man(1) pages will be installed in /doc/getmail- /. /man/man1/
For example, if your Python installation is located under /usr/ because it was installed as part of your OS, but you would like the getmail scripts installed into /usr/local/bin/ instead of /usr/bin/, while still letting the getmailcore package be installed under /usr/lib/python-, and the documentation and man pages under /site-packages//usr/doc/ and /usr/man/ you could use this command to install:
# python setup.py --install-scripts=/usr/local/bin/
If you also wanted to locate the documentation and man pages under /usr/local/ but still install the getmailcore package in the default /usr/lib/python-, you would instead use this command to install: /site-packages/
# python setup.py --install-scripts=/usr/local/bin/ --install-data=/usr/local/
Installing the getmailcore package in a non-standard location
Note: if you use one of the above methods to install the getmailcore package into a directory other than the default, the four scripts (getmail, getmail_fetch, getmail_maildir, and getmail_mbox) will almost certainly be unable to locate the required files from the getmailcore package, because they will not be in a directory in the standard Python module search path. You will need to do one of the following to make those files available to the scripts:
set the environment variable PYTHONPATH to tell Python where to find the appropriate modules. See the documentation at the Python.org website for details.
Note that setting PYTHONPATH in $HOME/.profile (or equivalent) is not sufficient -- for instance, cron runs jobs in a simpler environment, ignoring $HOME/.profile, and getmail would therefore fail when run as a user cron job. It is strongly recommended that you install the Python library files in the site-packages directory which Python provides for exactly this reason.
modify the scripts to explicitly tell Python where you've installed
them. Insert a line like this:
sys.path.append('/path/to/installation-directory')containing the path to the directory you installed the getmailcore directory in, somewhere below the line which reads
import sysand before the first line which references getmailcore .
Building a binary package from the source
To build a binary package from the included source, run the following command from inside the unpacked getmail source.
$ cd getmail-$ python setup.py bdist --format=
The useful allowed values forare:
- rpm — build a .noarch.rpm file which can then be installed with the rpm package manager.
- pkgtool — build a package for the Sun Solaris pkgtool package manager.
- sdux — build a package for the HP/UX swinstall software installer.
Ideally, if you use this method, it will result in a "built distribution" binary package in a subdirectory named dist which can then be installed using the appropriate system-specific tool. If you have problems with this process, please do not ask me for assistance; ask your OS vendor or the comp.lang.python newsgroup. The install-directory-from-source process above is the only one I can support, and it should work on all platforms.
You can discuss issues with building binary packages on the getmail users' mailing list.
getmail mailing lists
getmail-users' mailing list
A mailing list has been set up to discuss getmail. Only subscribers may post to the list.
The list is available for free getmail support from me and other users, for discussions of bugs, configuration issues, documentation, and other technical issues related to getmail.
How to subscribe
To subscribe to the list, send a blank email to <getmail-subscribe @ lists.pyropus.ca> and follow the instructions in the message you receive. Read and save the "welcome" message you receive when you subscribe; it contains valuable instructions about how to use the list.
How to unsubscribe
To un-subscribe from the list, send a blank email from the same address you subscribed with to <getmail-unsubscribe @ lists.pyropus.ca> and follow the instructions in the message you receive.
How to post
Once you have subscribed to the list, you may post messages to the list by sending them to <getmail @ lists.pyropus.ca>. Complete instructions for using the list are sent to you when you subscribe.
The list allows plaintext message bodies and plaintext attachments. Do not attempt to send binary files (gzip, etc), HTML, or other types, as they will be stripped from your message.
Archives of the getmail-users' mailing list
There are browsable archives of the list at http://news.gmane.org/gmane.mail.getmail.user . The GMANE getmail users' archive is also available via NNTP if you prefer to read it with a newsreader, rather than a web browser.
Notes on the getmail-users' mailing list
When subscribing to the getmail users' mailing list, please note the following:
- The mailing list software does not, and will not munge the Reply-To: header of list messages. I encourage you to read and post to the list using a good MUA that properly supports reply-to-list and reply-to-author functionality. If your MUA lacks a reply-to-list function, you'll need to manually ensure your followup messages to the the list are actually directed to the list submission address.
- The mailing list software does not munge the Subject: header of list messages, so don't look for "[getmail-users]" or anything like that. If you want your MUA to recognize list messages, there are a number of header fields added to allow it to do so.
- Subscribing and unsubscribing from the list are both secure and completely automatic. When you try to do either, the list manager software will send you a special message you have to reply to to finish the operation; this prevents others from subscribing you to or unsubscribing you from the list without your permission.
- You must be a list subscriber to post messages to the list.
If you only want to be notified of new releases of getmail, an announce-only list has been set up. The list is very low-volume; you can expect to receive only a small number of messages per month.
All announcements are sent to both lists, so there is no need to subscribe to the announcements list if you are on the discussion list.
How to subscribe
To subscribe to the list, send a blank email to <getmail-announce-subscribe @ lists.pyropus.ca> and follow the instructions in the message you receive. Read and save the "welcome" message you receive when you subscribe; it contains valuable instructions about how to use the list.
How to unsubscribe
To un-subscribe from the list, send a blank email from the same address you subscribed with to <getmail-announce-unsubscribe @ lists.pyropus.ca> and follow the instructions in the message you receive.
How to post
You cannot post messages directly to the announcements list. If you feel you have an announcement regarding getmail which should be distributed, send it to me and request that I send it to the announcements list.
Archives of the getmail announcements mailing list
There is an archive of the announcements list at http://news.gmane.org/gmane.mail.getmail.announce . The GMANE getmail announcements archive is also available via NNTP if you prefer to read it with a newsreader, rather than a web browser.