This documentation is for Dovecot v1.x, see wiki2 for v2.x documentation.

Dovecot Logging

Dovecot always logs a detailed error message if something goes wrong. If it doesn't, it's considered a bug and will be fixed. However almost always the problem is that you're looking at the wrong log file; error messages may be logged to a different file than informational messages. By default Dovecot logs to syslog using mail facility. You can change the facility from syslog_facility setting. You can also configure Dovecot to write to log files directly, see below.

When using syslog, Dovecot uses 4 different logging levels:

Where exactly these messages are logged depends entirely on your syslog configuration. Often everything is logged to /var/log/mail.log or /var/log/maillog, and err and crit are logged to /var/log/mail.err. This is not necessarily true for your configuration though.

You can find the correct log files using these methods:

Internal Errors

If IMAP or POP3 processes encounter some error, they don't show the exact reason for clients. Instead they show:

Internal error occurred. Refer to server log for more information. [2006-01-07 22:35:11]

The point is that whenever anything unexpected happens, Dovecot doesn't leak any extra information about it to clients. They don't need it and they might try to exploit it in some ways, so the less they know the better.

The real error message is written to the error log file. The timestamp is meant for you to help you find it.

Changing Log File Paths

If you don't want to use syslog, or if you just can't find the Dovecot's error logs, you can make Dovecot log elsewhere as well:

log_path = /var/log/dovecot.log
# If you want everything in one file, just don't specify info_log_path
info_log_path = /var/log/dovecot-info.log

The warning and error messages will go to file specified by log_path, while everything else goes to info_log_path. If you do this, make sure you're really looking at the log_path file for error messages, since the "Starting up" message is written to info_log_path file.

Rotating Logs

If you change from syslog to an external log file, you can use logrotate (available on most recent linux distros) to maintain the Dovecot logfile so it doesn't grow beyond a manageable size. Save the below scriptlet as /etc/logrotate.d/dovecot:

# dovecot SIGUSR1: Re-opens the log files.
/var/log/dovecot*.log {
    /bin/kill -USR1 `cat /var/run/dovecot/ 2>/dev/null` 2> /dev/null || true

NOTE: change the path to the logfile(s) and the file as appropriate for your system configuration. The default location of is /usr/local/var/run/dovecot/

Logging verbosity

There are several settings that control logging verbosity. By default they're all disabled, but they may be useful for debugging.

Logging (last edited 2009-10-28 03:05:44 by TimoSirainen)