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sievec - Man Page

Pigeonhole's Sieve script compiler


sievec [options] script-file [out-file]


The sievec command is part of the Pigeonhole Project (pigeonhole(7)), which adds Sieve (RFC 5228) support to the Dovecot secure IMAP and POP3 server (dovecot(1)).

Using the sievec command, Sieve scripts can be compiled into a binary representation. The resulting binary can be used directly to process e-mail messages during the delivery process. The delivery of mail messages and - by means of the LDA Sieve plugin - also the execution of Sieve scripts is performed by Dovecot's local delivery agent (LDA) called dovecot-lda(1). Usually, it is not necessary to compile the Sieve script manually using sievec, because dovecot-lda will do this automatically if the binary is missing. However, in some cases dovecot-lda does not have permission to write the compiled binary to disk, forcing it to recompile the script every time it is executed. Using the sievec tool, this can be performed manually by an authorized user to increase performance.

The Pigeonhole Sieve implementation recognizes files with a .sieve extension as Sieve scripts and corresponding files with a .svbin extension as the associated compiled binary. This means for example that Dovecot's LDA process will first look for a binary file "dovecot.svbin" when it needs to execute "dovecot.sieve". It will compile a new binary when it is missing or outdated.

The sievec command is also useful to verify Sieve scripts before using. Additionally, with the -d option it can output a textual (and thus human-readable) dump of the generated Sieve code to the specified file. The output is then identical to what the sieve-dump(1) command produces for a stored binary file. This output is mainly useful to find bugs in the compiler that yield corrupt binaries.


-c config-file

Alternative Dovecot configuration file path.


Don't write the binary to out-file, but write a textual dump of the binary instead. In this context, the out-file value '-' has special meaning: it causes the the textual dump to be written to stdout. The out-file argument may also be omitted, which has the same effect as '-'. The output is identical to what the sieve-dump(1) command produces for a compiled Sieve binary file. Note that this option is not allowed when the out-file argument is a directory.


Enable Sieve debugging.

-o setting=value

Overrides the configuration setting from /etc/dovecot/dovecot.conf and from the userdb with the given value. In order to override multiple settings, the -o option may be specified multiple times.

-u user

Run the Sieve script for the given user. When omitted, the command will be executed with the environment of the currently logged in user.

-x extensions

Set the available extensions. The parameter is a space-separated list of the active extensions. By prepending the extension identifiers with + or -, extensions can be included or excluded relative to the configured set of active extensions. If no extensions have a + or - prefix, only those extensions that are explicitly listed will be enabled. Unknown extensions are ignored and a warning is produced.

For example -x "+imapflags -enotify" will enable the deprecated imapflags extension and disable the enotify extension. The rest of the active extensions depends on the sieve_extensions and sieve_global_extensions settings. By default, i.e. when sieve_extensions and sieve_global_extensions remain unconfigured, all supported extensions are available, except for deprecated extensions or those that are still under development.



Specifies the script to be compiled. If the script-file argument is a directory, all files in that directory with a .sieve extension are compiled into a corresponding .svbin binary file. The compilation is not halted upon errors; it attempts to compile as many scripts in the directory as possible. Note that the -d option and the out-file argument are not allowed when the script-file argument is a directory.


Specifies where the (binary) output is to be written. This argument is optional. If this argument is omitted, a binary compiled from <scriptname>.sieve is saved as <scriptname>.svbin. If this argument is omitted and -b is specified, the binary dump is output to stdout.

Exit Status

sievec will exit with one of the following values:


Compile was successful. (EX_OK, EXIT_SUCCESS)


Operation failed. This is returned for almost all failures. (EXIT_FAILURE)


Invalid parameter given. (EX_USAGE)



Dovecot's main configuration file.


Sieve interpreter settings (included from Dovecot's main configuration file)

Reporting Bugs

Report bugs, including doveconf -n output, to the Dovecot Mailing List <dovecot@dovecot.org>. Information about reporting bugs is available at: http://dovecot.org/bugreport.html

See Also

dovecot(1), dovecot-lda(1), sieve-dump(1), sieve-filter(1), sieve-test(1), pigeonhole(7)

Referenced By

pigeonhole(7), sieve-dump(1), sieve-filter(1), sieve-test(1).

2016-04-05 Pigeonhole for Dovecot v2.4