This documentation is for Dovecot v2.x, see wiki1 for v1.x documentation.

Digest-MD5 Authentication Mechanism

Digest-MD5 has two things that make it special and which can cause problems:

For these and other reasons Digest-MD5 has been obsoleted by SCRAM.


Dovecot v1.0 has problems handling user@domain style usernames with Digest-MD5 and with passwords stored in plaintext in the password database.

Instead, user@realm is used. Realms are an integral part of Digest-MD5. You will need to specify realms you want to advertise to the client in the config file:

auth_realms = foo

The realms don't have to be domains. All listed realms are presented to the client and it can select to use one of them. Some clients always use the first realm. Some clients use your domain name, whenever given more than one realm to choose from. Even if this was NOT one of the choices you provided (KMail, others?). In both cases the user never sees the advertised realms.

You can also set an auth_default_realm to use when a client gives an empty realm. However the client is supposed to use the same realm it tells the server for the calculation. So when this option helps, it is only for broken clients.

DIGEST-MD5 scheme

Password must be stored in either plaintext or with DIGEST-MD5 scheme. See Authentication/PasswordSchemes.

The Digest is the MD5 sum of the string "user:realm:password". So for example if you want to log in as user with password pass and the realm should be (usually not provided by the user, see above), create the digest with:

% echo -n "" | md5sum
c19c4c6e32f9d8026b26ba77c21fb8eb  -

And save it as

Note that if you're using DIGEST-MD5 scheme to store the passwords, you can't change the users' names or realms in any way or the authentication will fail because the MD5 sums don't match. Also not that this is different from what Apache does with HTTP AUTH Digest. There it would be and is created with htdigest.


You can use imtest from Cyrus SASL library to test an IMAP connection:

# With realm:
imtest -a user -r
# Without realm:
imtest -a

None: Authentication/Mechanisms/DigestMD5 (last edited 2011-12-20 12:01:29 by TimoSirainen)