maildiracl(1) manage access control lists


maildiracl {-reset} {maildir}
maildiracl {-list} {maildir} {INBOX[.folder]}
maildiracl {-set} {maildir} {INBOX[.folder]} {[-]identifier} {[+/-]rights}
maildiracl {-delete} {maildir} {INBOX[.folder]} {[-]identifier}
maildiracl {-compute} {maildir} {INBOX[.folder]} {identifier...}



manages "access control lists" (or ACLs) of the Courier IMAP server maildir folders. Access control lists are used primarily to provide fine-grained control for accessing virtual shared folders via IMAP.


The Courier IMAP server server implements two types of shared folders: filesystem permission-based shared folders, as well as virtual shared folders based on IMAP access control lists. Use the maildiracl command to set up access control lists for virtual shared folders. Use the m[blue]maildirmake(1)m[][1], command to implement shared folders based on filesystem permissions.

See the Courier IMAP server documentation for additional information on setting up virtual shared folders.

ACL overview

ACLs provide a fine-grained mechanism for controlling access to shared folders. ACLs may be used to specify, for example, that user1 may only open and read the messages in the folder; and user2 can not only do that, but also delete messages, and create subfolders.

Each folder maintains its own individual access control list, that specifies who can do what to the folder. An ACL is a list of "identifier" and "rights" pairs. Each "identifier" and "rights" pair means that an entity called "identifier" (using the UTF-8 character set) is allowed to do "rights" on this folder. "rights" consists of one or more letters, each letter signifies a particular action:


identifier may modify this folder's ACLs.


identifier may create subfolders of this folder (this includes renaming another folder as this folder's subfolders).


identifier may remove deleted messages from this folder.


identifier may add messages to this folder (either uploading them one by one, or copying messages from another folder).


identifier may actually see that this folder exists. If identifier does not have the "l" right on this folder, the folder is effectively invisible to identifier.


identifier may open this folder. Note that if identifier knows the name of this folder, it can open it even if identifier does not the "l" right on this folder.


identifier may mark messages in this folder as seen, or unseen.


identifier may mark messages in this folder as deleted, or undeleted.


identifier may change other status flags of messages in this folder. May also add or remove custom keywords on individual messages.


identifier may delete this folder (which includes renaming this folder as another mailbox's subfoler.

Negative rights

An ACL entry of "-identifier" and "rights" is called a "negative right", which explicitly removes "rights" from "identifier". More than one "identifier" is usually used to determine the actual rights someone has for the given folder. The actual access rights are determined by taking all rights from all applicable identifier, than subtracting any negative rights, as specified in the following section.


Access rights on a given folder are computed by obtained the rights on the following identifiers, then subtracting the negative rights on the same identifiers:


The owner of the maildir containing this folder. The maildir's INBOX's ACL defaults to all rights for its owner. A new folder's ACL is the same as its parent's ACL. In all cases, trying to remove the "a" right from the owner (either directly or using a negative right) results in an error.


This identifier refers literally to every userid. The associated rights (or negative rights) are always used.


This is a synonym from "anyone".


Rights (or negative rights) for IMAP account "loginid".

"loginid" is what's logged to syslog after a succesful login. In some situations "loginid" is not exactly the actual login ID used by the IMAP client.


Rights (or negative rights) for account group "name". Access rights are granted to an account group as a whole. The account options feature of the Courier Authentication Library specifies which account belongs to which account group. See courier-authlib's documentation for more information.


This is an alias for "group=administrators". Accounts that are members of an account group called "administrators" are considered administrative accounts, and automatically receive all access rights on all accessible folders.

Consider the following access control list:

owner          aceilrstwx
anyone         lr
user=john      w
-user=mary     r
administrators aceilrstwx

This access control list specifies that the folder's owner has complete control over the mailbox (as well as the administrators, which have complete access to every folder); everyone else can see it and open it, except for "mary" who can see that the mailbox exists, but can't open it; additionally, "john" can change the status and keywords of individual messages (but not mark them as deleted/undeleted or seen/unseen, which requires additional rights).


maildiracl -reset maildir

This command resets access control lists in maildir which as a path to a maildir. Under certain conditions, the files where a folder's ACLs are saved may continue to exist after the folder is removed. The -reset options goes through maildir and removes all stale ACL files for removed folders.


The Courier IMAP server normally performs this maintenance function automatically. It is not necessary to run this command under normal conditions.

maildiracl -list maildir folder

This command lists the access control lists set for folder. folder must be either "INBOX" or "INBOX.folder.subfolder", which is the same naming convention for the Courier IMAP server.
maildiracl -set maildir folder identifier rights

Puts identifier (which may begin with a minus sign to specify a negative right) and rights in folder's access control list. Existing rights for identifier (or identifier) are replaced by rights unless "rights" begins with "+" or "-", which modifies the existing rights by adding or removing from them accordingly. Some examples:

maildiracl -set /home/user1/Maildir INBOX.Sent user=john lr
maildiracl -set /home/user2/Maildir INBOX.Notes anyone -r
maildiracl -set /home/user3/Maildir INBOX.Private -user=tom +r


Observe that the last command revokes the "r" right from "tom", by adding it as a negative right.

maildiracl -delete maildir folder identifier

This command removes identifier from folder's access control list, if it exists. Use "-identifier" to remove negative rights.
maildiracl -compute maildir folder [identifier]+

This command takes a list of one or more identifiers. All access rights for the identifiers are combined together, then any appropriate negative rights are removed, and the result is printed on standard output. Use the following procedure to compute access rights the same way as they are computed by the Courier IMAP server:

maildiracl -compute /home/tom46/Maildir INBOX.Sent owner user=tom46

This command computes access rights "tom46" has on his own folder.

maildiracl -compute /home/john34/Maildir INBOX.Public user=tom46

This command computes access rights "tom46" has on "john34"'s folder.


The owner of the mailbox must always have the "a" amd "l" access rights. The administrators group must always have all access rights to all folders. Attempts to set access control lists, that do not include these minimum access rights, will be rejected.


All identifiers are specified using the UTF-8 character set.

All non-Latin letters in folder names are specified using the modified-UTF7 coding as used in IMAP.

This implementation of access control lists is based on version 2 (or "ACL2") of IMAP access control lists, which is a work-in-progress. The existing IMAP ACL, m[blue]RFC 2086m[][2] is transparently implemented inside the ACL2 model.

If history's of any guidance, ACL2 is subject to change at any time. Be sure to check the release notes when upgrading to a newer version of this software. The "ACL overview" portion of this manual page is a very brief summary of ACL2, which leaves out optional parts of ACL2 that are not implemented.


Sam Varshavchik



[set $man.base.url.for.relative.links]/maildirmake.html
RFC 2086
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