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Old 28th October 2009, 04:43
websissy websissy is offline
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Question Why did Squirrelmail, Dovecot/IMAP & Outbound mail break?

Help! I need some seasoned advice please.

We're running the OldStable version of Debian Etch from August 2008. We've been using squirrelmail connecting through Dovecot's Imap and Pop3 servers since then to provide either SSH or TLS/SSL connections to postfix mail via squirrelmail on our server. Although the SSL capability is installed, we're really not using it -- choosing to use SSH with strong passwords instead.

This configuration has given us NO problems since we started... until today. For unexplained reasons this morning the IMAP interface suddenly began refusing or failing connections to everyone trying to connect through SquirrelMail (or that's the way it looks from the outside). It also fails to send out any emails. I've tried rebooting the server but that made almost no difference.

The problem was first reported by a user. I then verified it. What I was seeing BEFORE the reboot when I tried to login was an error from SquirrelMail that said:

Error connecting to IMAP server: myserver.com.
11074 :

but what I'm seeing since the server reboot is:

Error connecting to IMAP server: myserver.com.
11087 :

The IMAP server connect problem seems to be isolated to SquirrelMail. At least I ran 2 tests and found I CAN connect to the IMAP server using both Microsoft Outlook 2003 and Outlook Express and can see the contents of all folders on the server. So the IMAP problem only shows up in SquirrelMail. But it DOES prevent ANY users from loggin in through SquirrelMail

However, the inability to send mail OUT from the server shows up everywhere. Mail sent internally between accounts on the server -- either within a single domain or between domains -- and even from remote users connected to the server through Outlook or Outlook express gets delivered fine. But email addressed to anyone outside the server to any domain -- whether Yahoo or or MSN or Google or whereever is all bouncing back with a "relay request denied" error.

For instance, I sent an email from one of my server accounts to my yahoo inbox and it bounced back.

Other things I've tried are:

checked port status with

nmap -qT

both port 443 and 993 are reported as open -- one with imap and the other with imaps.

I restarted inetd. It had no effect.

I restarted postfix. It had no effect.

I restarted the whole server. The IMAP login error code when attempting to login via SquirrelMail changed 11074 to 11087. That's all. All other behaviors remain the same.

I also confirmed the SquirrelMail login failure problem occurs in IE 7, IE 8 and Firefox from 3 different machines in multiple geo-locations and networks AND both with and without the user's local firewall running. So the issue is definitely ON the server and seems to be isolated to squirrelmail even though no changes have been made to squirrelmail or any of its components in months.

When I checked the mail.err log, I found the following series of seemingly useless error messages:

Oct 25 08:40:33 axx012503 dovecot: POP3(sarah): unlink(/var/mail/sarah.lock) failed: Permission denied
Oct 25 09:31:48 axx012503 dovecot: POP3(mymailname): UIDs broken with partial sync in mbox file /var/mail/mymailname
Oct 25 10:02:28 axx012503 dovecot: POP3(mymailname): UIDs broken with partial sync in mbox file /var/mail/mymailname
Oct 26 01:01:06 axx012503 postfix/sendmail[30523]: fatal: root(0): queue file write error
Oct 26 15:06:53 axx012503 dovecot: POP3(sarah): unlink(/var/mail/sarah.lock) failed: Permission denied
Oct 27 01:01:04 axx012503 postfix/sendmail[6715]: fatal: root(0): queue file write error
Oct 27 08:56:15 axx012503 dovecot: POP3(bigdork): unlink(/var/mail/bigdork.lock) failed: Permission denied
Oct 27 08:56:16 axx012503 dovecot: POP3(bigdork): file_dotlock_delete() failed with mbox file /var/mail/bigdork: No such file or directory
Oct 27 14:57:56 axx012503 dovecot: POP3(mymailname): UIDs broken with partial sync in mbox file /var/mail/mymailname
That's about it. I've been racking my brains on this all day and I'm no closer to a resolution now than I was when the problem was reported 12 hours ago. At this point, any hints, helpful suggestions or questions would be appreciated!

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