Vacation Email Responder


This is the port of the 386bsd vacation program to Linux. Vacation is the automatic mail answering program found on many Unix systems. Currently it is just a source based release meaning you will need to download and compile it yourself. Its only external dependency at present is GDBM which your Linux distribution should provide (you may need to install the development package for it).

The maintainers for Vacation are Chris Samuel and Brian May.


  • The current stable release is
  • The previous stable release is
  • There is no current development release.

From here you can:

Any Open Source project relies on its users to participate and contribute, so please feel free to test and report problems!

22 thoughts on “Vacation Email Responder

  1. Pingback: Under African Skies! » Blog Archive » Vacation script using Procmail

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  3. Hello ,

    Your vacation program works great but i have to make it works for aliases. Is there any workaround for this problem?

    Rafal Domeracki

  4. Same problem with aliases/virtual users in postifx here. vavation only works with the login, not virtual users. I’m looking for a workaround too.

  5. I found the solution. vacation works perfectly and it does not send a autoreply twice to the same sender address. So always test it with different sender addresses.

  6. @Rafal – the -a option should work for aliases, and as @orinoco mentioned you’ll need to test from multiple addresses otherwise further responses will have been suppressed for your source email address.

    @Wilfried – nothing to do with Vacation I’m afraid, sounds like spammers have forged your email address (happens to me a lot) and have sent emails to people who have Vacation set up. It autoreplied because it got past the recipients spam filters. Vacation has no way of knowing whether or not what you were sent was spam or real email!

  7. Hi,
    I’ve installed vacation pluggin from wich work this greate program in a local test solution using ubuntu as system and it worked.
    when I tried it in our platform using Centos as system the program doesn’t work. I don’t know where is the problem exactly, I didn’t found a log file to check what is the pb.

    Please, is there a log file for the vacation program?
    Is this program work just in local or it can send a distance email (via Internet)

  8. This version of Vacation logs to syslog, so the messages should be in your system log. Note that Debian/Ubuntu use a completely different version of vacation, so for issues with that version you’d need to check with them.

  9. @Chris – Now vacation works quite well but I have encoding problem. Some MUA’s read subject and content correctly but some others don’t. There is no Subject: =?UTF-8?Q? and the other MIME specific strings.

    @Dennis -Vacation just works on CentOS. I run it on CentOS 5.3 x86 and x86_64 as well, Roundcube 3.1, PHP 5.2.10, Dovecot and Postfix standard distro version. You just have to issue a command: yum install gdbm-devel. Moreover you have to install developpers tools like gcc, make, etc.

  10. Rafal – I know of the MIME bug, it’s a really hard one to fix with the current architecture. 🙁

    Been a bit slack (OK, a lot slack) with this recently, will try and get back into it soon!

  11. I’m getting problems with vacation but only after a few days of use. The program dies with error 1. And it also prints: “vacation: .vacation.db: Success” in the logs for every next email.

    I have a really default RHEL5 install with postfix + dovecot + squirrelmail (+ mimedefang).

  12. Hi everybdy,

    I install sendmail + Squirrelmail 1.4.5 + dovecot + CentOS 5.4
    I tried to configure local_autorespond_forward-3.0-1.4.0.tar.gz with compatibility-2.0.16-1.0.tar.gz packages + vacation-1.2.6-1.centos.i386.rpm
    –Every thing works with the vaccation and forwarders when i have the user login shell as

    but doesn’t work when i just want the user only able to use POP/IMAP to the server so i changed
    Error i have is:
    The original message was received at Sun, 11 Apr 2010 15:06:57 +0545
    from localhost.localdomain []

    —– The following addresses had permanent fatal errors —–
    “|/usr/bin/vacation username”
    (expanded from: )

    —– Transcript of session follows —–
    550 5.7.1 /home/username/.forward: line 2: “|/usr/bin/vacation testftp”… User doesn’t have a valid shell for mailing to programs
    Note:- every thing autoresponder/vacation works when i change usernames’ shell login to “/bin/bash” and no error when i add a line
    “:/usr/libexec/dovecot/pop3-login” inside /etc/shells file.
    Is there any ticks for it so that i can use autoresponders for vacation.
    Please help and thanks in advance.

  13. I am having inssues downloading the package from sourceforge… Getting an error landing page

    “We’re performing an upgrade or having a site malfunction.
    For updates check our twitter updates or status dashboard.
    While we fix this checkout Slashdot or Thinkgeek.”

    Any alternative mirrors?

  14. Hi guys!
    I’ve installed vacation with Centos 5, postfix, squirrelmail but I’m getting an error message in maillog:
    May 12 12:06:12 covex local[18334]: fatal: execvp /usr/bin/vacation: Permission denied

    what permissions should I have on this folder and /usr/man/man1 folder?
    right now /usr/bin/vacation is set to 777 root:root

  15. Success on SenOS 5 with sendmail
    Linux *.*.*

    1)yum install gdbm-devel
    (error: gcc -g -Wall -DMAIN -Xlinker -warn-common -D_PATH_VACATION=\”/usr/bin/vacation\” -o vacation vacation.c strlcpy.c strlcat.c rfc822.c -lgdbm
    vacation.c:81:18: error: gdbm.h: No such file or directory)

    2) in Makefile:
    MANDIR = $(PREFIX)/share/man/man
    (error: ./ /usr/man/man1/vacation.1
    /bin/sh: /usr/man/man1/vacation.1: No such file or directory

    3) ln /usr/bin/vacation /etc/smrsh/


  16. Is it possible to specify multiple aliases with the -a switch? If so whats the formatting, can’t seem to get it to work!

  17. Hi,
    there is no header information about encoding (e.g. Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8;) in response email to sender.
    How to insert in ? Thanks.

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