getmail documentation

This is the documentation for getmail version 5. Version 5 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.

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

Troubleshooting problems

If you have suggestions for additions or changes to this documentation, please send them to the mailing list or me.

Error messages

getmail may output various diagnostic error messages. The common ones and their meanings are given below.

ImportError: getmail version 5 requires Python version 2.3.3 or later

You tried to run getmail 5 with a version of Python prior to Python 2.3.3. This is unsupported. If you cannot install a newer Python alongside your current version, please use getmail version 3, which supports Python 1.5.2 and later.

Configuration error: …

getmail detected an error in your configuration. Check your getmail rc file(s). getmail will do its best to point out the exact cause of the error. Some of the specific errors it may find include the following.

Configuration error: missing required configuration parameter name

A class object in your getmail rc file requires the parameter name, but it was not found in the appropriate section of the file.

Configuration error: configuration value name (value) not of required type type (why)

The configuration parameter name must be of type type, but the supplied value value does not appear to be of that type. Further information may be present in why.

The getmail documentation contains descriptions of the syntax for each parameter type.

Configuration error: maildir path missing trailing /

Maildir paths must start with dot or slash and end with a slash.

Configuration error: not a maildir (path)

The specified maildir path path does not appear to be a valid maildir. Check to ensure that it is a valid maildir, and that getmail has permission to write to it.

Configuration error: ... (path: maildir subdirectory "path" does not exist)

The specified maildir path path does not appear to be a valid maildir, as it is missing one of the required subdirectories. Check to ensure that it is a valid maildir and that getmail has permission to write to it.

Configuration error: not an mboxrd file (path)

The specified mboxrd path path does not appear to be a valid mboxrd file. To avoid corrupting files in the event of a user typo, getmail will not deliver messages to files that do not appear to be valid mboxrd files.

Configuration error: mboxrd does not exist

The specified mboxrd does not exist. getmail will not create mbox files; ensure they exist before trying to deliver to them.

Configuration error: the fieldname header field does not record the envelope recipient address

In a multidrop retriever configuration, you specified that the envelope recipient was recorded in a header field that getmail knows does not actually record that information.

Configuration error: refuse to invoke external commands as root or GID 0 by default

By default, getmail will not invoke external commands (in destinations or filters) when it is running with root privileges, for security reasons. See the documenation for possible solutions.

Configuration error: no such command path

An external command was specified as being located at path path, but the command executable was not found at that location.

Configuration error: path not executable

A specified external command at path path was found to not be an executable file.

Configuration error: destination specifies section name section which does not exist

A destination in the getmail rc file refers to another rc file section named section, but that section was not found in the file.

Retrieval error …

getmail detected an error while trying to retrieve a message. Some of the specific errors it may find include the following.

Retrieval error: server … is broken; …

The server claimed to have a particular message, but when getmail tried to retrieve it, the server returned an empty response in violation of the POP or IMAP protocol. getmail will skip on to the next message.

This problem is almost always with an MSExchange server, and is due to bugs in MSExchange. Delete the offending message from the mailbox via the webmail interface if you don't want to see this error message, and report the bug to the server administrator or Microsoft.

Delivery error …

getmail detected an error after retrieving a message but before delivery was successfully completed. Some of the specific errors it may find include the following.

Delivery error: maildir delivery process failed (refuse to deliver mail as root)

getmail will not deliver to a maildir as the root user. You may specify an alternate user to deliver as with the user directive in the destination section of your getmailrc file, or let getmail default to the user who is the owner of the maildir.

Delivery error: mbox delivery process failed (refuse to deliver mail as root)

getmail will not deliver to an mbox file as the root user. You may specify an alternate user to deliver as with the user directive in the destination section of your getmailrc file, or let getmail default to the user who is the owner of the mbox file.

Delivery error: mbox delivery process failed (not an mboxrd file)

The specified mbox file does not appear to be a valid mbox file.

Error: …

getmail detected an operational error. getmail will do its best to point out the exact cause of the error. Common causes are failures to connect to a remote mail server, timeouts during network operations, and other transient failures.

Error: server-info does not uniquely identify messages …

The POP3 server for this particular account was not able to uniquely identify the messages in the mailstore. You can use the BrokenUIDLPOP3Retriever class with this server instead, but functionality is limited because of the inability to identify messages properly.

Error: server-info failed to identify message X in UIDL output …

The POP3 server for this particular account completely failed to identify one of the messages in the mailstore when the UIDL command was issued. The POP server is in violation of the POP3 protocol, and getmail has no way to identify the message in question.

The most common cause of this is servers that use the contents of the Message-ID: header field as the UIDL value for the message - some messages (usually spam) lack a Message-ID: header field entirely, causing these servers to emit blank UIDL values for these messages, which is not permitted by the POP3 protocol. You may be able to work around the problem by deleting the problematic message(s) from the mailstore by other means (such as a webmail interface provided by your POP3 mailhost).

Otherwise, you'll need to either ask the postmaster of the POP3 mail host to fix the POP3 software they're using. In the meantime, you can use the BrokenUIDLPOP3Retriever class with this server instead, but functionality is limited because of the inability to identify messages properly.

Python(…) malloc: *** mmap(…) failed (…)

… followed by an Unhandled exception block and then MemoryError.

getmail ran out of memory, usually due to a bug in Python's IMAP library which was fixed in early 2008.

If you are using IMAP and run into this problem retrieving messages that aren't hundreds of megabytes in size, you can almost certainly fix it by upgrading your Python installation to the latest 2.5.x or 2.6.x release. Note that if you switch from Python 2.5.x to Python 2.6.x, you'll need to re-install getmail with python setup.py install from the getmail source directory.

Warning messages

getmail may output various diagnostic warning messages. The common ones and their meanings are given below.

Warning: …

getmail detected a condition which might be problematic. Some of the specific warnings it may find include the following.

Warning: ignoring unknown parameter "parameter_name"

A getmail rc file contained an unknown parameter. This usually indicates that you've put the parameter in the wrong section of the file (such as putting the read_all parameter in the [retriever] section instead of in the [options] section).

Warning: filter filter returned fewer headers (X) than supplied (Y)

A message filter appeared to incorrectly remove header fields from the header of a message which it handled. getmail warns you about this so that you can check your filter for proper operation. Filters should add information to the message header or leave it alone; check the configuration for the filter program you are using.

Unexpected Behaviour

If getmail is behaving in a manner other that you expected, see the following sections.

getmail uses the wrong hostname for my machine

If getmail records a hostname other than the "right" one for your host (in its Received: trace header fields), check your /etc/hosts file and make sure the "right" name is the first hostname listed for any of the addresses of the machine.

getmail puts "unknown" in the Delivered-To: or Return-Path:header field

getmail records the envelope recipient address in the Delivered-To: header field, and the envelope sender in the Return-Path: header field. If this information is not available (because you're not using a multidrop retriever class, or the MTA on the POP/IMAP server is broken, for example), getmail uses the string "unknown". You can disable the creation of the Delivered-To: header field if you wish.

getmail isn't replacing my command argument "%(recipient)" with the message recipient address

The %(recipient), %(local), and %(domain) replacement strings are only replaced if the message is retrieved with a multidrop retriever class; otherwise, getmail does not "know" the recipient address of the message, and therefore cannot perform this replacement.

getmail seems to take longer than expected to initialize

If getmail takes more than a few seconds to initialize, run the following command to test:

python -c "import socket; print socket.getfqdn()"

If this seems to take a similarly long period of time to complete, the delay is in finding the fully-qualified hostname of your system. The fix is to ensure you have a valid mapping of address-to-hostname for all the addresses in your system. You can do this in your /etc/hosts file, in your authoritative content DNS server, or in another system-specific manner — please contact your OS vendor (or its public support mailing list) for assistance.