Activating procmail

In order to activate procmail, you must enter the following line in your ~/.forward file:

"| /usr/bin/procmail"

This is usually the only thing you need to know. For those that want to know more about the details of this line, read on.

First, the given path is correct for the mailserver, where procmail will be run when new mail arrives. On a normal Linux workstation this will be the same, but there are exceptions. For interactive use (mostly for test purposes) the path on your workstation must be used.

Sometimes webpages advise to call procmail using exec. This is meant to reduce memory usage because the shell that normally starts procmail will not stick around in memory. However, the mailserver that we use (postfix) is smart, and will not use a shell to start procmail if there are no strange characters in your ~/.forward anyway. When the exec is added, postfix needs to start a shell because it does not understand exec itself. This therefore leads to the opposite of the intended effect.


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