On an OpenSUSE Tumbleweed host, updated this morning. After the update and a reboot, every attempt to start dovecot fails with Can't open log file /var/log/dovecot: Permission denied

cat /etc/os-release includes VERSION_ID="20180314" /usr/sbin/dovecot --version yields (ffd8a29)

Dovecot packages currently installed start with dovecot-2.3-1.1 and dovecot23- I'm not sure what version was installed before the update, but it could not have been more than a week old. The update did not generate any .rpmnew or similar files.

Nothing in /etc/dovecot has changed in more than a year, and this problem is new today.

The non-comment lines from /etc/dovecot/conf.d/10-logging.conf:

log_path = /var/log/dovecot
auth_verbose = yes
auth_verbose_passwords = no
auth_debug = no
auth_debug_passwords = no
mail_debug = yes
plugin {
log_timestamp = "%Y-%m%b-%d%a.%H-%M-%S.%Z"
  • I've relaxed permissions on /var/log/dovecot* to 777
  • I've relaxed permissions on /var/log to 775
  • I've disabled SELinux with setenforce 0
  • I've disabled apparmor with service apparmor stop (and confirmed with service apparmor status)
  • I've tried changing ownership of /var/log/dovecot* to mail and dovecot
  • I've renamed var/log/dovecot to var/log/dovecot.old

output of ls -al /var/log/dovecot*:

-rwxrwxrwx 1 root root       10666 Aug 16  2016 /var/log/dovecot.debug
-rwxrwxrwx 1 root root        1483 Aug 16  2016 /var/log/dovecot.info
-rwxrwxrwx 1 root root 34118709509 Mar 17 12:28 /var/log/dovecot.old

The volume is not full (64%).

Why is dovecot denied permission to open its log, and how do I grant it?

  • 33 GB of logs? Do you ever think about log rotation? Try to touch /var/log/dovecot && service dovecot restart
    – Kondybas
    Mar 17, 2018 at 18:50
  • Yeah, I'll fix that as soon as I get dovecot to run at all again. /var/log/dovecot was created with mode 600, and service dovecot restart failed again. Changing it to 777 didn't help. Mar 17, 2018 at 18:56
  • Do not rely on the config files as they can be overridden later. Actual config can be extracted by doveconf -n (non-default values) or doveconf -a (full actual config)
    – Kondybas
    Mar 17, 2018 at 19:01
  • 1
    Looks like the apparmor profile for dovecot disallows /var/log/dovecot, perhaps under the assumption that dovecot will use syslog. But when I configure dovecot to use syslog, nothing is logged. Mar 18, 2018 at 17:32
  • 1
    Same problem here. The issue has been reported (Bug 1087753) on the openSUSE Bugzilla. I also think it may be a problem with AppArmor, as there was a similar problem a while back—see Bug 1069470.
    – Psychonaut
    Apr 2, 2018 at 12:44

1 Answer 1


It looks like OpenSUSE updated the default apparmor profile for dovecot to one that prevents it from functioning in several ways. Preventing it from logging outside of syslog appears to be intentional, but that's not clearly the case with the others.

To restore functionality, I had to add permissions in several files in /etc/apparmor.d/local/:

  • usr.lib.dovecot.auth

        /run/dovecot/old-stats-user w,
  • usr.lib.dovecot.config

        /var/lib/dovecot/ssl-parameters.dat r,
        capability dac_read_search,
  • usr.lib.dovecot.log

        /var/log/dovecot w,
  • usr.sbin.dovecot

        /usr/lib/dovecot/stats ix,
        /var/log/dovecot w,

The w permission is needed for logs because apparmor denies ac and as far as I can tell there's no way to allow permission for c. I couldn't find any indication that there exists documentation with a list of open permissions, so there may be another way to allow "create and append" other than w.

I used the ix permission for stats rather than Px because there is no apparmor.d/user.lib.dovecot.stats to include corresponding file in /etc/apparmor.d/local, and I thought it better to confine my edits to local.

All of this has been noted in OpenSUSE Bug #1087753, linked in @Psychonaut's comment on the question; it's possible OpenSUSE will improve the defaults in a future update.

None of this addresses the problem that logging to syslog doesn't work, but the above changes do seem to have dovecot functioning normally again.

  • The update to apparmor 3.0.1 broke this again, but this time changing /etc/dovecot/conf.d/10-logging.conf to set log_path = syslog works; syslog wasn't working with dovecot when I first posted this, now logs are accessible with journalctl -u dovecot Dec 14, 2020 at 6:22

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