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Screenshot of fetchmail launcher
Screenshot of fetchmail launcher
Original author(s)Eric S. Raymond
Stable release
6.4.5 / May 7, 2020; 4 months ago (2020-05-07)[1]
Repository Edit this at Wikidata
Operating systemUnix-like
TypeMail delivery agent
LicenseGNU General Public License

Fetchmail is an open source software utility for POSIX-compliant operating systems which is used to retrieve e-mail from a remote POP3, IMAP, ETRN or ODMR mail server to the user's local system. It was developed from the popclient program, written by Carl Harris.[2]

Its chief significance is perhaps that its author, Eric S. Raymond, used it as a model to discuss his theories of open source software development in a widely read and influential essay on software development methodologies, The Cathedral and the Bazaar.


By design Fetchmail's only means of delivering messages is by submitting them to the local MTA/Message transfer agent or invoking a mail delivery agent[3] like procmail, maildrop, or sendmail; delivering directly to mail folders such as maildir is not supported.

Dan Bernstein, getmail creator Charles Cazabon and FreeBSD developer Terry Lambert, have criticized Fetchmail's design,[4] its number of security holes,[5] and that it was prematurely put into "maintenance mode". In 2004, a new team of maintainers took over Fetchmail development,[6] and laid out development plans that broke with design decisions that Eric Raymond had made in earlier versions.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "File Release Notes". Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  2. ^ Raymond, Eric. "'Eric S. Raymond's former Design Notes On Fetchmail'". Retrieved 2007-04-03.
  3. ^ "...or into an MDA program...", Section G1, The Fetchmail FAQ
  4. ^ Lambert, Terry. "'UUCP must stay; fetchmail sucks (was list 'o things)'". Retrieved 2007-04-05.
  5. ^ Cazabon, Charles. "'getmail frequently asked questions'". Retrieved 2007-04-05.
  6. ^ "'Developer History'". Retrieved 2007-04-05.
  7. ^ "'Design Notes On Fetchmail'". Retrieved 2007-04-05.

External links[edit]