/etc/cron.daily/exim4-base exited with return code 123

The problem has been reported [http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=501892 here], but I'm not sure the solution was clearly stated. I got this under Ubuntu 9.04, exim4 4.69-9ubuntu1. In short, the problem is caused by the following lines in /etc/cron.daily/exim4-base: + find /var/spool/exim4/db -maxdepth 1 -name *.lockfile \ -or -type f -printf %f\0 + su - --shell /bin/bash --command xargs -0r -n 1 \ /usr/sbin/exim_tidydb /var/spool/exim4 > /dev/null Debian-exim These two lines find files in /var/spool/exim4/db, where live various databases used by exim, and perform an exim_tidydb on each file. The files matching *.lockfile are filtered out. exim_tidydb thinks there are live databases, and thus try to acquire the lock in file xxx.lock for a file named xxx. This is where the problems occurs. In my case, there is another file in the directory, left by some upgrade script: # cd /var/spool/exim4/db/ # ls retry retry.lockfile wait-remote_smtp wait-remote_smtp.lockfile wait-remote_smtp.old The faulty file is wait-remote_smtp.old. When operating on it, exim_tidydb tries to acquire non-existent lock filewait-remote_smtp.old.lockfile and fails. The solution: just delete that spurious wait-remote_smtp.old or move it elsewhere. == How did I come to that ? == By manually stepping through the script lines: First I replaced the first line of /etc/cron.daily/exim4-base #!/bin/sh by #!/bin/sh -x This way, the cron output contains every steps done by the script. This is how we spot the 2 faulty lines. Then in order to understand what's going on, we just play the lines: # cd /var/spool/exim4/db # find /var/spool/exim4/db -maxdepth 1 -name *.lockfile -or -type f -print /var/spool/exim4/db/retry /var/spool/exim4/db/wait-remote_smtp.old /var/spool/exim4/db/wait-remote_smtp Now a line a bit tricky. The scripts runs as user Debian-exim , so we want to do that too. However this user has no login shell, as a security measure. We thus have to specify a working shell: # su - -s /bin/bash Debian-exim Now we can do our tests: # /usr/sbin/exim_tidydb /var/spool/exim4 retry Tidying Exim hints database /var/spool/exim4/db/retry Tidying complete Doesn't look bad. Another one: # /usr/sbin/exim_tidydb /var/spool/exim4 wait-remote_smtp Tidying Exim hints database /var/spool/exim4/db/wait-remote_smtp Tidying complete So what ? Let's try the last one: # /usr/sbin/exim_tidydb /var/spool/exim4 wait-remote_smtp.old Tidying Exim hints database /var/spool/exim4/db/wait-remote_smtp.old ** Failed to open database lock file /var/spool/exim4/db/wait-remote_smtp.old.lockfile: No such file or directory Gotcha.