I just discovered that procmail website (http://www.procmail.org/) is down. I did some research about its status and it appears that the development of procmail has been dead since 2001. Even the old procmail maintainer recommends to remove it from openbsd ports because the code is in not safe (https://marc.info/?l=openbsd-ports&m=141634350915839&w=2). This is a bit scary, because unfixed bugs could lead to a remote code execution exploits. Recent Linux distributions (e.g. Ubuntu, Debian) still provide it, but is it still safe to use procmail?

  • 4
    As a general rule, I prefer not to use packages that haven't been maintained for years.
    – hookenz
    Oct 1, 2017 at 21:46

2 Answers 2


You are correct that Procmail hasn't been maintained for a while, and its last maintainers suggest using alternative tools like Maildrop or Sieve.

The reasons many distributions haven't seen this as a real security risk include:

  • Distributions may publish their own security patches regardless of the actual developers of the original software. They do.
  • The mail it's processing has already passed a whole MTA including several syntax and content checks and spam filtering. It's not likely there would be anything that could trigger a vulnerability in the headers Procmail MDA compares in order to decide where to put the message.
  • The tasks Procmail usually perform are fairly simple.

So, yes and no. If you have any concerns in your environment, you do have alternatives.

  • 7
    Thanks, this was helpful! I checked a Debian changelog of the procmail package and there are indeed quite a few security patches after 2001. Some of them a pretty scary. For example, overflows with malformed headers. So depending on the distribution, it still appears to be supported.
    – JooMing
    Oct 1, 2017 at 10:08
  • I just adjusted the order of the reasons as this is the major reason actually. Oct 1, 2017 at 13:37

For what it's worth, as of 2023, Procmail's original author, Stephen van den Berg, has picked up maintenance of Procmail and started releasing bug fixes again.

Procmail 3.24 was released in March 2022 and is slowly making it to be the official version in Linux distros and other publishing channels. The release summary for this version is "two decades of fixes."


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.