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I have two users on my box who I want to be able to receive mail, one of the users:


Receives emails fine and they are stored and can be viewed at any time using mutt, however my other user:


Receives mail, but once they are viewed, within some period of time, they disappear. Is there some setting I need to set when more than one user is expected to get mail? Can someone help me with what could be going wrong?

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You've told us the MTA, but not the mail reading agent (an IMAP daemon? a POP3 daemon? MUTT reading /var/spool/mail/$user directly?). Is there any possibility that user corr might have a POP client set up which periodically reads-and-deletes email from spool? – MadHatter Sep 28 '11 at 8:27
Reading the mail directly using mutt. Postfix and dovecot setup though to read mails remotely too. – Neutralise Sep 28 '11 at 9:19
Is there a POP daemon running that might be permitting something to access corr's mailbox while MUTT is running locally? – MadHatter Sep 28 '11 at 9:46
dovecot can be running at the same time, I was only checking with mutt to try and figure out what the problem was. The user checks their mail using gmail, but was complaining that some mail was going missing. My check with mutt seems to confirm their problem, but I can't figure out whats going on. – Neutralise Sep 28 '11 at 10:03
If dovecot is running, and they've set up a POP client to pick up their email off the server, and the POP client is set to collect-and-delete, then that will have the effect of causing messages to disappear out of their INBOX for no apparent reason. If you shut off dovecot, do the messages continue to disappear from their INBOX? – MadHatter Sep 28 '11 at 11:29
up vote 1 down vote accepted

In the light of the comments exchanged above, I'll write up my submissions as a full answer.

You say you're running dovecot as a POPd/IMAPd at the same time, and I've suggested that it's possible that the second client, corr, could be running a POP client which periodically swoops in, retrieves, and deletes a group of emails.

After some tests, you also think this is a client-side issue, and ask if dovecot can be told not to allow that client to delete emails (you ask about postfix, but this isn't postfix's problem; postfix's job was finished when that email hit the INBOX).

The short answer is that I don't think there is, and if I'm wrong I very strongly suspect that any change would apply to all users, not just one. But there are some possible workarounds.

Is corr the only user using POP? If (s)he is, consult on a migration from POP to IMAP. IMAP is a vastly more sophisticated method of reading email, which (by default) leaves the read email on the server instead of downloading it to the client.

Are you doing this for audit purposes? If so, would it be easier to have everything that's delivered to corr also delivered to a second user on the same system?

If this is a simple issue with corr wanting to be able to read email on the server whilst (s)he has a client downloading and deleting it, then I'm afraid the real answer is to tell the user to reconfigure their client not to do that; she can't really complain if the server is doing exactly what (s)he asked it to do.

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Ok thanks for the info MadHatter. Which Imap client would you recommend? – Neutralise Oct 5 '11 at 23:20
What platform is the user using? – MadHatter Oct 6 '11 at 0:17
User is using gmail to get the mail through pop. – Neutralise Oct 6 '11 at 2:54
Sorry, I know nothing about gmail; but if it has an IMAP mode, I'd suggest using that. Personally I use PINE as an IMAP client, but it doesn't suit everyone. – MadHatter Oct 6 '11 at 7:01

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