I had an instance that procmail has been running and taking up RAM. I am not using this. Is it possible to stop / uninstall this?

I am running CentOS 6.4.

Thank you!


Is there any reason why killall procmail doesn't work?

If it's running as another user, try sudo killall procmail

If procmail keeps on being restarted, that is because your Mail Transfer Agent (MTA - e.g. postfix or exim) keeps on invoking it to deliver mail to user inboxes. That's procmail's job - it's a Mail Delivery Agent (MDA).

Some have suggested removing the procmail package from your system. That will probably break your mail setup because your MTA is configured to use procmail. If you do remove it, you'll also have to change the MTA config so that it doesn't use it.

A better solution is to examine your procmail rules files to find out which rule is causing procmail to misbehave. You'll want to examine system rule files (e.g. in /etc/procmailrcs/) and in your own ~/.procmailrc file if you have one.

I can''t be any more specific than that because procmail is a fairly full-featured mail processing language that's also capable of invoking external commands including other scripting interpreters like sh or perl, so the possibilities are endless.

If it's another user's .procmailrc, first find out which user it is with something like ps -o pid,user,args -C procmail. Then either examine and fix (or comment out the broken rule in) their .procmailrc (if you are root) or inform the other user of the problem they are causing and/or inform the mail server admins.

  • Hi @cas, i did try that but it seems that it is persistent. I am sure that nothing is executing it but in some period of time, it keeps on showing up. Is there a way to uninstall / remove this? Thanks!
    – Erick
    Oct 27 '15 at 8:03
  • I might use a script to kill 'procmail' every second. I will put this on cron and be launched every minute. The script will last 59 seconds. Thanks for the idea @cas!
    – Erick
    Oct 28 '15 at 3:24
  • 1
    I really hope you don't think i gave you that idea because i think it's a terrible idea. My recommendation was to examine your procmail rules files and try to figure out which rule is causing the problem and to fix it. Killing procmail from cron just hides the symptom, it does nothing to fix the problem.
    – cas
    Oct 28 '15 at 4:06
  • Maybe then this answer should be refactored to document what you regard as the recommended solution first and foremost?
    – tripleee
    Nov 1 '15 at 9:49

About procmail

Procmail is a so-called MDA, a mail delivery agent (a LDA [local delivery agent], to be precise). It delivers and filters emails when they arrive at the localhost.

This means that every time an email arrives on your box, procmail is run. If the procmail recipes of the user contain fancy stuff, procmail may well take up some RAM and CPU cycles. You should check the recipes in this case.

Alternative LDA

mail is an alternative LDA that does much less than procmail.

For details, please refer to

How to remove a package

To remove a package, simply use

yum remove package_name

Be sure to check the dependencies before.

  • Hi @Jan, thank you for the clear explanation. I might try to remove this later. As mentioned, I have never configured Procmail, neither add recipes for it. That is why it is kinda odd to execute and use almost 80-90% of my RAM. Thanks! :)
    – Erick
    Oct 28 '15 at 2:50

It could be problematic remove procmail because its dependencies. I would recommend you to stop the service (all commands as root):

service procmail stop

and to prevent loading on boot

chkconfig procmail off

By doing so you will enable procmail, if you need it:

chkconfig procmail on

  • 2
    procmail isn't a daemon or service. it's a Mail Delivery Agent (MDA) used by the Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) to deliver local mail. None of those commands will prevent the MTA from invoking procmail.
    – cas
    Oct 27 '15 at 9:45
  • @cas correct. Maybe mv ~/.procmailrc ~/.procmailrcOLD will disable procmail invocation...
    – LilloX
    Oct 27 '15 at 14:15
  • 3
    No, but it will disable all the procmail rules in that file. Procmail will just deliver the mail into the default mailbox, probably /var/mail/user. The problem almost certainly is not procmail itself, it's one of the rules in a procmail file. Disabling procmail for a badly-written rule makes about as much sense as disabling bash because a single script has a syntax error.
    – cas
    Oct 27 '15 at 21:09

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