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What's the command line for preauth IMAP using Dovecot? Many sites give:

dovecot --exec-mail imap

But on my system this returns:

Usage: dovecot [-F] [-c <config file>] [-p] [-n] [-a] [--help] [--version]
       [--build-options] [reload] [stop]
Fatal: Unknown argument: --exec-mail
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dovecot --exec-mail imap

is not a valid command line switch in recent releases of Dovecot. There is now a separate binary named simply "imap" which launches a pre-authenticated IMAP session.

Source of information: Dovecot's upgrading to 2.0 instructions

On Ubuntu, this binary is not in the default path, it's located at /usr/lib/dovecot/imap

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