[Techtalk] Majordomo Replacement?

Kai MacTane kmactane at GothPunk.com
Thu Jun 19 15:00:38 EST 2003

I am fed up with Majordomo. It served my needs reasonably well back in 
1997, but times have changed, my userbase has changed some, and I've 
discovered a few major flaws in it in the last couple of weeks that are 
driving me nuts. These flaws are also making things inconvenient for my 
users, and *not* for any good technical reasons -- simply because 
Majordomo's authors didn't think of these things. Which is part of why it's 
driving me nuts.

I need this thing replaced, and I'd rather not take the time to write my 
own MLM to do it. (I might well be able to at this point, but it would take 
a few months that I'd rather spend on other projects.) So I'm looking for 
suggestions for a Majordomo replacement.

I'm running Slackware 8.0 with Qmail as my MTA, on a Pentium 133 with 64 MB 
of RAM. I may soon get the chance to upgrade the processor to 233 MHz, but 
there'd still be only 64MB in there, so I'd like something that's not a 
serious resource hog. I'm also running multiple domains off this machine, 
so I need the MLM to be able to handle simultaneously running lists on 
anythingthatmoves.com, gothpunk.com, freaknation.com, and so forth. It's 
okay if they all share the same namespace, as long as the MLM doesn't try 
to claim that the lists are all @the-same-domain.tld (which 'domo wanted to 
do until I hacked it some years ago).

Here's a list of my absolute requirements:

* Must be able to handle multiple domains (see above).
* Must be able to work with Qmail. It's okay if minor tweaks are
   necessary to make this happen, but not really major ones.
* Must allow any reasonable (i.e., printable) character in list
   administrative passwords (and any other passwords) -- must NOT
   choke and die if a password looks like "foo#bar"! (Would you
   believe Majordomo couldn't handle the #? And it didn't fail very
   gracefully, either.)
* Must allow setting of Reply-To: header. I don't really care what
   Chip Rosenthal says; my users say they want Reply-To: to go back
   to the list. And I agree with them.
* Must allow prepending of list name (or other text) to outgoing
   Subject: headers. Duh.
* It must be at least possible, if not necessarily easy, to transfer
   current Majordomo lists over to this MLM. (Note that some of these
   lists are archived, and have been going for over 5 years; I'd want
   to transfer the archive files, as well. They're essentially mbox

These features would be nice, but aren't required:

* Web interface allowing list owners to configure their lists via
   a browser, instead of through emailed commands.
* If it has such an interface, it would be *really nice* (read:
   "just shy of mandatory") that the HTML page templates for it
   be easily changeable on a per-list or per-site basis. (I've seen
   some interfaces like that which were hideously ugly.)
* It would be really nice if it allowed proper and easy moderation --
   like, if a user who's moderated sends in a message, it gets held by
   the MLM, while the moderator(s) gets asked to approve or deny it.
   Then (assuming it's passed), the unchanged message gets sent to the
   list, without requiring the moderator to do strange cut-and-pasting.
   (Majordomo doesn't handle this properly.)
* If it's written in Perl, bash, or PHP (i.e., languages I speak),
   then I can hack it if necessary. This would make me happy. However,
   an MLM that's well written, so that I never *need* to hack it,
   would make me much happier, even if it's impenetrable C++ (which
   I don't speak).
* Finally, it would be nice if it's actually *easy* to transfer the
   preexisting Majordomo lists over -- like it has some kind of tool
   explicitly for that purpose (which I don't expect), or it can be
   fairly easily done by a quickie custom shell script.

It wouldn't hurt if it also included a Web interface that allowed users to 
subscribe, unsubscribe, and so on, via the Web. However, this is of fairly 
little importance to me, since I already have a generalized solution to 
this problem, which is easily (almost trivially) extensible for use with 
new MLMs.

Does anyone have any suggestions, comments, reviews, or whatnot?

Thanks in advance.

                                                 --Kai MacTane
"The seasons don't fear the reaper,
  Nor do the wind, the sun and the rain.
  We can be like they are."
                                                 --Blue Öyster Cult,
                                                  "Don't Fear the Reaper"

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