POP3 Error "User or Password incorrect (-ERR being read already /usr/spool/mail/username)"

heya all . .

BIG problem I need fixed..

when I use a pop3 email client to read email.  I get the following error.

User or Password incorrect (-ERR being read already /usr/spool/mail/username)

where username is my username.
how do I fix this?  I have tried rebooting, nice 'n simple but that fixed nothing.
using pine telnetting into the system I can read the email fine. It's just via POP3 i have problems.

Using linux 2.0.34
slackware 3.4
POP3d that came with slackware 3.4
sendmail 8.8.8

Please help
Andrew
q@qonline.com.au
LVL 1
Q010797Asked:
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danielfonsecaConnect With a Mentor Commented:
That's a tipycal one to an expert... :-)

Ehehe Just kidding... what you have to do is go into
/usr/tmp/.pop (tough dir hiding and all)
and erase the file with the name of the account you have problems with ok?

That was maybe a mail read that got aborted and thus the file remaining there was a sign to the pop3 client (sort of a lock) that the mailbox was being read already.

Almost sure that'll do it.

Daniel Fonseca
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ahoffmannCommented:
Silly question: have you enabled pop3 in /etc/{inetd.conf,services}?
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Q010797Author Commented:
yes :)   it used to work . .  this just happened recently . .

most pop3 accounts work.. just very few dont
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ahoffmannCommented:
So what's the problem now?
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Q010797Author Commented:
what do you mean?  I want to fix an error I'm getting

User or Password incorrect (-ERR being read already /usr/spool/mail/username)

as listed above . . .
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Q010797Author Commented:
what do you mean?  I want to fix an error I'm getting

User or Password incorrect (-ERR being read already /usr/spool/mail/username)

as listed above . . .
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ahoffmannCommented:
missunderstood you comment, sorry.

Try connecting to your pop3 server with telnet:

shell# telnet pop3server 110
user your_username
pass your_password
list


post the messages you get.
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Q010797Author Commented:
+OK mail POP3 Server (Version 1.005h) ready at <Mon Jun 15 23:59:38 1998>
user q
+OK please send PASS command
pass *******
-ERR being read already /usr/spool/mail/q
list
-ERR Invalid command; valid commands:  NOOP  or  QUIT
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ahoffmannCommented:
your pop3 dos not allow any commands for this user :-|

The first -ERR is somehow confusing. Are there any tools for that user which read $MAIL permanetly (like biff)?
Probably it's because this account has no rights for pop3.
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Q010797Author Commented:
but it used to . . it just suddenly happened . . I clicked on 'send and receive mail' in my win95 mail client . . and it's never worked since . . rebooting etc does not help.
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RoboBobCommented:
It looks like there is a stuck lockfile, depending on your pop server these might be in /tmp/.username.pop or in /var/spool/mail/.username.pop, if you can find the stale lockfile and delete it, that will fix the "being read already" error...
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Q010797Author Commented:
i don't think so.

I've already looked high and low for a lock file or anything similar
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Q010797Author Commented:
even if I delete the /var/spool/mail/username file . . then reboot . .

then send the user a new email I still get the error. .

I can check the mail box while it's empty without an error . . but as soon as I send a mail to it.. i get the error again
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jhanceCommented:
What are the file protections on /usr/sbin/sendmail?  It should look like this:

-r-sr-xr-x   1 root     root       305201 Mar 13 19:28 /usr/sbin/sendmail*

Also, the ownership of the files in /var/spool/mail.  They should be owned by the user but must have group ownership of mail.
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Q010797Author Commented:
yes all permissions are set correctly..

everything USED to work perfectly, and still does for 95% of users . .there are just a few accounts that seem to have died.

Even if I delete the mail file the problem still persists.  And the account is still capable of accepting email and even reading it, via something like pine, just not via a POP3 reader.
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ahoffmannCommented:
jhance, sendmail is not needed for pop3.
I also suggest that user's mail file has permissions 600 (for some reason:), the spool directory should have permissions 1775.
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Q010797Author Commented:
I wish it were that simple.

Like I said, 95% of peoples mail still works via POP3 . . people who get the above error, ONLY get it when accessing mail via a POP3 email client, you can still read it fine with pine.
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ahoffmannCommented:
are these always the same users, or is it random when it fails?
Also check /var/log/{messages,sendmail} or whatever your messaged are going to.
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Q010797Author Commented:
no always the same users . .once it does it once . . I can NEVER read that mail box with a pop3 client again.
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Q010797Author Commented:
the logs dont actually show any errors at all  as though nothing is wrong :(
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ahoffmannCommented:
have you enabled logging in syslog.conf, pop3d usualy uses the mail facility:

mail.*  /var/log/sendmail.log

Then
  kill -1 <pid_of syslogd>
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Q010797Author Commented:
yes syslogd is running . .

but should an error come up in the logfile every time I get the error? (ie. when i check for email via POP3 client)

because the only log that shows this is messages and it has nothing wrong in it. It just lists the connection and tells me it served 'username' or whatever.
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ahoffmannCommented:
if you enable logging for the mail facility (and send syslogd a HUP signal), you should receive messages for each pop3 command
Then you may see if somthing went wrong.

Just a suggestion to get closer to the problem.
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Q010797Author Commented:
how do I enable logging for the mail facility.  I don't understand the instructions above
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Q010797Author Commented:
Thank you Thank You Thank You and Thank You :)

Works fine . .!!
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ahoffmannCommented:
danielfonseca, sounds that this is problem you must have had sometimes to get used to its solution.
Thanks. Even experts will learn ;-)
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danielfonsecaCommented:
ahoffmann, you can't imagine... I had a bitch of times (sorry for the swearing :-)
Had to strace -p of the pop3 process in the end and see he was tampering with the .pop dir and username file.

Even to me (I've been in the business for quite some time now) it came as a big surprise, this directory... I had no idea... I also would like to add that this seems to happen a lot in this distribution (Slak 4.3 vanilla). Upgrade recomended.

Daniel Fonseca

PS: Getting such a comment from a n.6 top guy, like you, makes me honoured! :-)
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Q010797Author Commented:
I see on cdrom.com 3.5beta . .when is slackware 3.5 due out ?
I have a few other problems slackware 3.4 related I'd like fixed also . .
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danielfonsecaCommented:
I already have Slackware 3.5 final! A week ago!
IT's been out!
Look:
ftp://ftp.cdrom.com/pub/linux/slackware-3.5/

Daniel
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