Screenshot of fetchmail launcher
Original author(s) Eric S. Raymond
Stable release
6.3.26 / April 23, 2013 (2013-04-23)[1]
Operating system Unix-like
Type Mail delivery agent
License GNU General Public License
Website www.fetchmail.info

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; 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,[3] its number of security holes,[4] and that it was prematurely put into "maintenance mode". In 2004, a new team of maintainers took over Fetchmail development,[5] and laid out development plans that broke with design decisions that Eric Raymond had made in earlier versions.[6]

See also


  1. "File Release Notes and Changelog". 2013-04-23. Retrieved 2013-06-24.
  2. Raymond, Eric. "'Eric S. Raymond's former Design Notes On Fetchmail'". Retrieved 2007-04-03.
  3. Lambert, Terry. "'UUCP must stay; fetchmail sucks (was list 'o things)'". Retrieved 2007-04-05.
  4. Cazabon, Charles. "'getmail frequently asked questions'". Retrieved 2007-04-05.
  5. "'Developer History'". Retrieved 2007-04-05.
  6. "'Design Notes On Fetchmail'". Retrieved 2007-04-05.
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