[Techtalk] Majordomo Replacement?

Terri Oda terri at zone12.com
Fri Jun 20 02:24:24 EST 2003

Looks like Telsa's answered most of the things I'd say, but here's a few
more comments from someone else who's gone from majordomo to mailman.

On Thu, Jun 19, 2003 at 11:46:41PM +0100, Telsa Gwynne wrote:
> On Thu, Jun 19, 2003 at 03:00:38PM -0700 or thereabouts, Kai MacTane wrote:
> > * Must be able to handle multiple domains (see above).

As long as you want to run, say, daisy at domain.com and sunflower at example.com,
you're golden.  It'll work without any herculean effort on your part -- you
just tell the list which domain it wants to use.

If you want to host list at domain.com and list at example.com, you have to do
some tricks to fake it for your users, since the lists have to have unique
names within Mailman.  For most people, this can be solved by making
list at domain.com point to, for example, the list domain at domain.com and
similarly for list at example.com.

> > * 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)
Yup, although I've never set it up with Qmail (only sendmail and exim)

> > * 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?

Yup.  It's pretty simple with mbox files.  You take the files and you cat
them all together in order.  Then move the mbox file to be
and run $MAILMAN_BIN/arch <list>  (you may also want to run the script that
checks to make sure there aren't any rogue From: lines.  It's called
"cleanarch")  This will generate the HTML archives.  

(Note: If you're doing this later to rebuild archives that you've modified,
you have to delete any existing html archives before running the script,
otherwise it only adds the newest stuff in and doesn't change existing

If you want the little script to go through and do all that cat'ing for you,
let me know or check the web.  I found one on the net somewhere and modified
it to handle archives from the 90's, since the one I got seemed a tad
confused.  Even with the rather complex mess of linuxchix archives (which
included not only majordomo, but also several installations worth of mailman
archives), *making* the mbox file took very little time.  Rebuilding HTML
from a 60MB archive does take a while, but at least you don't have to do
this regularly because of the appending trick it uses!

> > * 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.

add_members -r <majordomo list members file> <listname>

You can also use the -w <y|n> flag to force it to send out a welcome
message or not, otherwise it goes with your list setting.  For digest
members, use -d instead of -r.

Telsa's suggestions also work...

> (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.

You can do the first in much the same way as the second by checking off the
"invite" box instead of the "subscribe" one, although I don't know how to
customize the message that's sent out.  (I've never used this feature
myself.) There's been talk of adding invite to add_members, but I don't
think anyone's done it yet.
> > Does anyone have any suggestions, comments, reviews, or whatnot?

Mailman has made my life *so* much easier that I've been inspired to start
writing documentation for the project.  I'm a coder, not a technical writer,
but I'm willing to try on that other hat just to make it easier for other
people to use Mailman.

To be completely honest, I originally chose Mailman because, at the time of
my migration, Deb had switched the linuxchix lists to it and I figured it'd
make my life easier if I was adminning lists using the same software.  Not a
whole lot of research into that decision.  Still, I haven't been compelled
to look at others since then, so maybe that says something good too.

There are *lots* of people using mailman.  This means it's relatively easy
to get help by asking on a public forum like this one and find an expert.

(On that note, if anyone reading this thread does have a Mailman question,
please feel free to ask me.  If I don't know the answer, I'm probably going
to have to learn it eventually to write the documentation, so really, you'd
just be doing me a favour by calling the question to my attention.)

Mailman *is* being actively developped.  I remember how disenheartened I was
when I found a bug in majordomo but, at the time, couldn't see anyone
interested in having a report about it, or receiving the patch I wrote for
it when I realized no one else was going to solve it.  None of that now. :)

Two gotchas: 
1. I've seen some very broken packages of Mailman out and about, so I 
   recommend doing a source install unless you know someone who's
   using that version of the package.  It's actually probably easier to
   upgrade from source than from some packages, believe it or not.
2. Make sure you create a list called mailman (this is used for admin stuff,
   like sending out passwords).  This is in the docs, but I know a few
   people who've missed reading it 'cause it seemed like everything was


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