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I have a server that I'm restoring from backup. It's quite possible that someone rsync'ed the root FS somewhere. So don't expect this to be in a healthy or sane state.

When I try to start postfix, it says "the Postfix mail system is already running". However with ps aux | grep postfix I can see that nothing is running.

Any suggestions?

The server is Ubuntu dapper

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

If the 'master', 'pickup' and 'nqmgr' programs are not running, you might want to check /var/spool/postfix/pid for stale pid files. If there is a file called '', you might want to delete that and try again.

Ubuntu might use a slightly different name for the pid file, btw. The postfix program does not have a binary called 'postfix'.

dpkg -L postfix

will show you the contents of the postfix package so you can see for yourself.

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yep that was it – Rory Aug 17 '09 at 16:12

This doesn't sound like you're using the init scripts to stop/start postfix? i.e. /etc/init.d/postfix [start|stop|status] ?

Aside from the help you get here, my recommendation is that you're using the existing system start scripts and package management if you're not doing so already.

First of all, running the following command:

$(postconf -h daemon_directory)/master -t; echo $?

That command should return a non-zero (i.e. 1) if the postfix master daemon reckons it is currently running (the 'postconf' program needs to be in your path for that to work).

The location of the pid file is /var/spool/postfix/pid/ as detailed in the master(8) manpage

man 8 master

for more info.

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It seems that the issue is still there in current versions of postfix.

To avoid any trouble with postfix, don't use service postfix start nor /etc/init.d/postfix start to launch it. Instead, use postfix start ; postfix stop ; and postfix status which provide the same functionnalities but actually work.

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