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I have this as a gnus configuration:

(setq imap-shell-program "/usr/local/sbin/dovecot -c /Users/hinmanm/.dovecotrc --exec-mail imap")
(setq gnus-select-method '(nnimap "Mail"
                                  (nnimap-stream shell)))

This works fine from terminal Emacs, however in Cocoa emacs, the dovecot server is not started and Gnus says the mailbox is denied.

I faintly recall someone telling me there was a difference between the way terminal emacs and cocoa emacs spawned processes. How can I get this to work in Cocoa emacs?

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just to confirm: You're using Cocoa Emacs and not Aquamacs, right? – pope Feb 26 '11 at 22:33

I have this working on my machine, but my configuration is every so slightly different.

(setq gnus-select-method '(nnnil "")
      gnus-secondary-select-methods
      '(
        (nnimap "mail"
                (nnimap-address "localhost")
                (nnimap-stream shell)
                (imap-shell-program "/opt/local/libexec/dovecot/imap -c ~/.dovecotrc")))

The differences being that I have the imap-shell-program setting in with my nnimap settings (as well as that it's apart of my secondary select methods and that I'm using a different version of dovecot, but I think those are interchangable)

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I did notice that I run the latest gnus, I need to move the imap-shell-program variable outside of nnimap. – pope Feb 26 '11 at 22:32

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