I never really understood the organisation of mail for notifications in Unix, but I always took for granted that system notification mails was an inescapable fact.

However I just tried to start idle3.8 with the at now command (in order to avoid having it stuck in a terminal) and since it failed (it works in a terminal), I wanted to check the mail notifications atd should have sent... and there was nothing.

$ mail
Cannot open mailbox /var/mail/camion: Permission denied
No mail for camion

$ ls -l /var/mail/
total 0

Is this situation normal / due to a misunderstanding from my side, or is there some action I should undertake in order to solve this problem. I have seen some people suggesting to just create the missing file/folder with the correct permission, but this seem mostly cosmetic and doesn't explain why/how this problem arose.

1 Answer 1


Make sure you've got an SMTP server running which is configured to deliver mail locally. Considering you have no files at /var/mail it could indicate local mail delivery is not set up.

Setting such a server varies a lot from Unix to Unix, so I cannot give you general advice. It depends on your Unix.

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