These instructions are based on Debian 8.0 because it has to be based on something. Other Linux distributions will be similar in the broad ideas but may differ in the specifics. If you already have a preferred distro, use that (we assume you know how to use its package management system). If you don’t already have a preferred distro, maybe consider using Debian.

First make sure you have a copy of the source. You can either fetch the latest source from git, or using one of our release tarballs.

Setting up dependencies

Required Build Dependencies

Building a basic Cyrus that can send and receive email: the minimum libraries required to build a functional Cyrus.

Build Dependencies
Package Debian RedHat
autoconf autoconf autoconf
automake automake automake
bison bison bison
Cyrus SASL libsasl2-dev cyrus-sasl-devel
flex flex flex
gcc gcc gcc
gperf gperf gperf
jansson libjansson-dev jansson-devel
libbsd libbsd-dev libbsd-devel
libtool libtool libtool
ICU libicu-dev libicu-devel
uuid uuid-dev libuuid-devel
openssl (Note about versions) libssl-dev openssl-devel
pkgconfig pkg-config pkgconfig
sqlite libsqlite3-dev sqlite-devel

To install all dependencies from packages on Debian Jessie, use this:

sudo apt-get install git build-essential autoconf automake libtool \
    pkg-config bison flex libssl-dev libjansson-dev libxml2-dev \
    libsqlite3-dev libical-dev libsasl2-dev libpcre3-dev uuid-dev \
sudo apt-get -t jessie-backports install libxapian-dev

Optional Build Dependencies

The following build dependencies are optional, and enable functionality, code maintenance tasks or building the documentation.

Developers only

Package Debian RedHat Required for make check? Notes
CUnit libcunit1-dev cunit-devel yes Development headers for compiling Cyrus IMAP’s unit tests.
perl(ExtUtils::MakeMaker) ?? ?? no

Perl library to assist in building extensions to Perl.

Configure option: --with-perl

libdb-dev libdb-dev libdb-devel no The -dev package must match the version of libdb you already have installed (assuming it’s probably already installed). On Debian 8.0, libdb5.3-dev is needed, but libdb5.1-dev on 7.8.
perl-devel perl-dev perl-devel no

Perl development headers to allow building binary perl libraries. Needs version 5+.

Configure option: --with-perl

perl(Pod::POM::View::Restructured)       Perl library to generate man pages. This has to be available to the system-wide perl interpreter, found by which: ./configure --with-perl is not honoured.
python(Sphinx)       Python library needed for building the documentation
valgrind valgrind valgrind no Performance and memory testing.
xxd       For rebuilding the _js.h files, for CalDAV and CardDAV support.

SASL Authentication

Package Debian RedHat Required for make check? Notes
Cyrus SASL Plain libsasl2-modules cyrus-sasl-plain yes Cyrus SASL package that ships the library required to pass Cyrus IMAP’s PLAIN authentication unit tests.
Cyrus SASL MD5 libsasl2-modules cyrus-sasl-md5 yes Cyrus SASL library required to pass Cyrus IMAP’s DIGEST-MD5 authentication unit tests
sasl binaries sasl2-bin sasl2-bin no Administration tools for managing SASL
Kerberos libsasl2-modules-gssapi-mit krb5-devel no

Development headers required to enable Kerberos v5 authentication capabilities. Otherwise also known as the authentication mechanism GSSAPI.

Configure option: --with-krbimpl=mit

Alternate database formats

Package Debian RedHat Required for make check? Notes
lmdb lmdb-dev lmdb no Lightning Memory-Mapped Database Manager (LMDB) backend for Cyrus IMAP databases. LMDB requires database environments to be set to a (user-configurable) maximum size. The Cyrus backend uses 512MB as default size. Cyrus installations may override this by setting the environment variable CYRUSDB_LMDB_MAXSIZE. The value of this variable must be an integer, optionally followed (without space) by ‘mb’ or ‘gb’ to define the maximum size in bytes, megabytes or gigabytes. The size should be a multiple of the OS page size.
mysql or mariadb libmysqlclient-dev or libmariadb-dev mysql-devel or mariadb-devel no

MariaDB or MySQL development headers, to allow Cyrus IMAP to use it as the backend for its databases.

Configure option: --with-mysql, --with-mysql-incdir, --with-mysql-libdir

postgresql postgresql-dev postgresql-devel no  

CalDAV and/or CardDAV

Package Debian RedHat Required for make check? Notes
libical libical-dev libical-devel no libical >= 0.48 required for scheduling support. Note: Linux distributions Enterprise Linux 6 and Debian Squeeze are known to ship outdated libical packages versions 0.43 and 0.44 respectively. The platforms will not support scheduling.
libxml libxml2-dev libxml2-devel   no


Package Debian RedHat Required for make check? Notes
SSL certificates ssl-cert-dev mod_ssl no Used if you’re installing SSL certificates
ClamAV       Used by cyr_virusscan.
net-snmp libsnmp-dev net-snmp-devel no version 4.2 or higher
openldap libldap2-dev openldap-devel no

Development headers to enable ptloader to interface with LDAP directly, for canonification of login usernames to mailbox names, and verification of login usernames, ACL subjects and group membership.

Configure option: --with-ldap

tcp_wrappers tcp_wrappers xx no  
transfig transfig xx no also known as fig2dev
pcre       PCRE 1 (or 8) - for regular expression matching
perl(Term::ReadLine)       Perl library needed by cyradm
zlib zlib1g-dev zlib-devel no Compression support for httpd
libbrotli       Brotli compression support for httpd
nghttp2 libnghttp2-dev libnghttp2-devel no HTTP/2 support for httpd
Install tools for building
  • sudo apt-get install build-essential
Optionally install dependencies for building the docs.
  • sudo pip install python-sphinx
  • sudo cpan install Pod::POM::View::Restructured

Compile Cyrus

There are additional compile and installation steps if you are using Xapian for searching.

Default build: mail only

$ autoreconf -i
$ ./configure [options]

Check the summary after ./configure completes to ensure it matches your expectations.

To view all options, and disable or enable specific features, please see:

# ./configure --help


Passing environment variables as an argument to configure, rather than setting them in the environment before running configure, allows their values to be logged in config.log. This is useful for diagnosing problems.

Optional dependencies

Some features are disabled by default and must be explicitly enabled via configure.

Sieve is enabled by default.

CalDAV and CardDAV

./configure --enable-http --enable-calalarmd


./configure --enable-murder


./configure --enable-replication


cd /path/to/cyrus-imapd

autoreconf -i -s   # generates a configure script, and its various dependencies

./configure CFLAGS="-W -Wno-unused-parameter -g -O0 -Wall -Wextra -Werror -fPIC" \
--enable-coverage --enable-calalarmd --enable-autocreate \
--enable-nntp --enable-http --enable-unit-tests \
--enable-replication --with-openssl=yes --enable-murder \
--enable-idled --prefix=/usr/cyrus

make lex-fix   # you need this if compile fails with errors from sieve/sieve.c


The --prefix option sets where Cyrus is installed to.

It may be of use to also add --std=gnu99 to the CFLAGS. That generates TONS of warnings.

Having problems with compilation or linking?

If you’re running on Debian, and you install to /usr/local, you may need to update your library loader. Edit /etc/ so it includes the following additional line:


Without this, when you attempt to start Cyrus, it reports error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory because it can’t find the Cyrus library in /usr/local/lib.


make check    # this runs the cunit tests.

This runs the cunit tests and is used for testing that the libraries support all the expected behaviour. If this fails, please report it to the cyrus-dev mailing list with details of your source version, operating system and affected libraries.

Next: installing Cyrus.