[Techtalk] Majordomo Replacement?

Telsa Gwynne hobbit at aloss.ukuu.org.uk
Thu Jun 19 23:46:41 EST 2003

On Thu, Jun 19, 2003 at 03:00:38PM -0700 or thereabouts, Kai MacTane wrote:
> 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. [snip]

I ran majordomo for a list of 150-odd people for years. It was the
best of the crop back in 1994 when the list started (I took it over
in 1995). These days, though... maybe not.

My own list of majordomo nitpicks is probably less relevant than
what I changed to: mailman. I think I was far from the only person
who went in this direction. 

> 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, 

I don't -think- we have a lot of memory on the machine running Mailman,
but I am not sure. 

> * 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)

Don't know without looking it up.

> * Must allow setting of Reply-To: header.


> * 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
>   format.)

Didn't Linuxchix have to do this too?

> 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.


> * It would be really nice if it allowed proper and easy moderation --


> * 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).

Mailman is python. I have not yet needed to mess with it. I
have more than once wished I spoke enough Perl to mess with
Majordomo, but even perl-mongers tell me it's not the greatest
advert for Perl. 

> * 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.

I considered two approaches and can't remember which I took now!

(a) "We are moving. We have loads of dead addresses. If yours is
a live address, here's the page to visit and what to do."
(b) Take subscriber list, paste it into the "mass-subscribe" box
in the Mailman preferences. Decide whether to send the "Welcome to..!"
message or not.

The latter option certainly exists. I just can't remember whether
I took it or not for the main one. I think so, as I suspect the 
memory of approving 150 subscriptions would have stayed with me.
I've used it for smaller numbers of "add 'em all" and it works
> It wouldn't hurt if it also included a Web interface that allowed users to 
> subscribe, unsubscribe, and so on, via the Web.


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

My experience is limited to running majordomo and mailman and to 
being a user on lists running both those and smartlist and some
other less common ones. As a user and as an admin, I much prefer
mailman. Majordomo served its function, but I never felt confident
with it and had one or two nightmarish times (the Amazing Bouncing
Email travelling up and down the 28.8 modem and increasing to 10Mb
as both Majordomo and Exchange failed to realise it was a bounce
they should discard still rankles). Mailman has in general been
a pleasure. I -could- spend time tweaking it, but it is generally
so well-behaved I don't need to.

The archives and Qmail are the things I don't know about, and 
those of course may be the clinchers.


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