Introduction to Fetchmail

The Fetchmail package contains a mail retrieval program. "It retrieves mail from remote mail servers and forwards it to your local (client) machine's delivery system, so it can then be read by normal mail user agents."

Package information

Fetchmail dependencies


OpenSSL-0.9.7d and a local MDA (Procmail-3.22)


Python-2.3.3 and Tk-8.4.6.

Installation of Fetchmail

Install Fetchmail by running the following commands:

./configure --prefix=/usr --with-ssl --enable-fallback=procmail &&
make &&
make install

Command explanations

--with-ssl: This enables SSL if found, so that you can handle connections to secure POP3 and IMAP servers.

--enable-fallback=procmail: This tells Fetchmail to hand incoming mail to Procmail for delivery if your port 25 mail server is not present or not responding.

Configuring Fetchmail

Config files


Configuration Information

cat > ~/.fetchmailrc << "EOF" 
set logfile /var/log/fetchmail.log
set no bouncemail
set postmaster root

    user [username] pass [password];
    mda "/usr/bin/procmail -f %F -d %T";

chmod 0600 ~/.fetchmailrc

This is an example configuration that should suffice for most people. You can add as many users and servers as you need using the same syntax.

man fetchmail: Look for the section near the bottom named CONFIGURATION EXAMPLES. It gives some quick examples. There are countless other config options once you get used to it.


The Fetchmail package contains fetchmail and fetchmailconf.



When executed as a user, this will source that users ~/.fetchmailrc and download the appropriate mail.


This program provides a Tk GUI interface to your ~/.fetchmailrc file making it much easier to configure. However, you will require Python, and it must have the Tkinker module available.