How to view the Dovecot logfile because the service is not starting

About Dovecot Service Not Starting

At times the Dovecot service may stop for some or another reason. This article addresses the situation whereby the service stops and where it’s not obvious why it didn’t stop.

The first thing to do is to try service dovecot status or systemctl status dovecot in the command line and check the output. The output below, normally at the top of the screen and sometimes colour coded in red, shows that the service has stopped.

 Active: failed (Result: exit-code) since Tue 2019-05-07 07:13:12 SAST; 3h 7min ago

If you examine the rest of the output and it’s not clear why Dovecot has stopped, try the following command:

dovecot -F

Here is one possible output:

[[email protected] ~]# dovecot -F
doveconf: Fatal: Error in configuration file /etc/dovecot/dovecot.conf line 105: ssl_cert: Can't open file /home/domain/ssl.cert: No such file or directory

The above could happen when you rename a website, and the SSL certificate becomes orphaned as the folder is now called something else. The solution to the above problem would be to track down the old name, and update the configuration file. If you just need the service to run again and want to solve the SSL problem later, then uncomment the line with # and restart the service:

service dovecot restart

Partial output when Dovecot fails to start:

[[email protected] ~]# systemctl status dovecot
● dovecot.service - Dovecot IMAP/POP3 email server
Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/system/dovecot.service; enabled; vendor preset: disabled)
Active: failed (Result: exit-code) since Tue 2019-05-07 07:13:12 SAST; 3h 7min ago
Docs: man:dovecot(1)
Process: 16163 ExecStop=/usr/bin/doveadm stop (code=exited, status=75)
Main PID: 4335 (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)


May 07 07:13:12 host dovecot[4335]: master: Warning: Killed with signal 15 (by pid=16142 uid=0 code=kill)
May 07 07:13:12 host doveadm[16163]: Fatal: Dovecot is not running (read from /var/run/dovecot/
May 07 07:13:12 host systemd[1]: dovecot.service: control process exited, code=exited status=75
May 07 07:13:12 host systemd[1]: Unit dovecot.service entered failed state.
May 07 07:13:12 host systemd[1]: dovecot.service failed.



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