Original author(s)Eric S. Raymond
Stable release
6.4.37[1] Edit this on Wikidata / 26 February 2023; 16 days ago (26 February 2023)
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, 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


  1. ^ "fetchmail 6.4.37 is available (translation updates)"; author name string: Matthias Andree; publication date: 26 February 2023; retrieved: 9 March 2023.
  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.