Fixing OS X Server Push Mail

OS X Server 10.7 and later support push mail for iOS devices. This mechanism is neither based on IMAP IDLE (which iOS doesn’t support) nor Exchange ActiveSync (EAS), but on Apple’s Push Notification Service (APNS) infrastructure.

After setting up Mail using the GUI in OS X Server 10.10 Yosemite, I wondered why push didn’t work. From my understanding, it should happen automatically. The only indications something was wrong were the following lines in /Library/Logs/Mail/push_notify.log:

Feb 21 20:13:27 server.example.com push_notify[22848]: ApplePushServiceProvider: Warning: no device map found for 3F2504E0-4F89-41D3-9A0C-0305E82C3301

as well as XAPPLEPUSHSERVICE missing from the IMAP capabilities list:

$ openssl s_client -quiet -connect localhost:993
* OK [CAPABILITY IMAP4rev1 LITERAL+ SASL-IR LOGIN-REFERRALS ID ENABLE IDLE AUTH=PLAIN AUTH=LOGIN] Dovecot ready.

This is often the point where you have to break out the disassembler to find out what is wrong. Luckily however, Dovecot is open source, including the modifications Apple made to support APNS. Tracing through the code, the message above is logged if /Library/Server/Mail/Data/mta/guid_device_maps.plist does not contain a section for the user to which the incoming email is addressed. This section is written when Dovecot receives an XAPPLEPUSHSERVICE command. This command is probably only sent by a client when the XAPPLEPUSHSERVICE capability is reported by the server. The reason why the server didn’t report the capability was a simple incorrect (default) setting, easily fixable using

sudo serveradmin settings mail:imap:aps_topic_enabled = yes

Push mail immediately started working for me after this command, and the capability is correctly reported:

$ openssl s_client -quiet -connect localhost:993
* OK [CAPABILITY IMAP4rev1 LITERAL+ SASL-IR LOGIN-REFERRALS ID ENABLE IDLE XAPPLEPUSHSERVICE AUTH=PLAIN AUTH=LOGIN] Dovecot ready.

2 thoughts on “Fixing OS X Server Push Mail

  1. Neil

    Thank you for taking the time to write this up. This fixed it for me. Why it doesn’t operate correctly out of the box is a mystery to me!

  2. Stark

    Unfortunately this fix did not work for me… Any other ideas because I’m at a loss..

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