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Re: Mailing Lists

On Thu, Nov 08, 2001 at 01:59:51PM +0000, Martin WHEELER wrote:
> On Thu, 8 Nov 2001, Andre Luis Lopes wrote:
> > Em Qui 08 Nov 2001 10:19, Craigsc escreveu:
> > > We are wanting to set-up a mailing list for our clients and were
> > > wondering which program(s) we should use. At present our mail is
> > > handled by exim.

exim should be adequate for small-medium mail loads.

for larger mail loads, try something more robust & scalable like

> > I did it sometime ago and I've used mailman which is quite easy to
> > use and powerfull, but I'm not an ISP so people in the list would
> > help you best.
> I *am* an ISP, and after messing around with quite a few list managers
> eventually settled on mailman as being the best solution for my
> situation.  (Lazy admin with lots of lists :)

me too (that is, i work as senior system admin at an ISP), except i
settled on listar & majordomo...not because they're great but because
they suck the least for my needs.

i'm also an even lazier admin because (following the perl truism that
"Laziness is a Virtue") i wrote scripts to automate creation of lists so
that i don't have to work very hard to admin them. :)

a day of fairly interesting work writing scripts three years ago plus a
few days maintaining them and adding features since then has saved me
literally weeks of tedious boredom in manual administration of mailing

> It's worth it for the web-based administration and archiving alone.

mailman's web based admin is fine if you like that kind of thing, and
it is a pretty good list manager in general, but its archiving really
sucks. it produces something that is *almost* an mbox file but is just
different enough that it can't be read or used by any tool that handles
mbox files, e.g. mailgrep, mutt, pine, elm, etc etc etc.

the really annoying thing about it is that a) it has been a known bug
for years, and b) it would be trivial to fix if they could be bothered.
the problem is in the From_ line, the pipermail script uses a bogus Date
format that confuses mbox-capable programs.

the correct date format IS documented...see the mbox(5) man page:

       The date is expected to be formatted according to the fol­
       lowing syntax (represented in  the  augmented  Backus-Naur
       formalism used by RFC 822):

       mbox-date    =   weekday month day time [ timezone ] year
       weekday      =   "Mon" / "Tue" / "Wed" / "Thu" / "Fri"
                        / "Sat" / "Sun"
       month        =   "Jan" / "Feb" / "Mar" / "Apr" / "May"
                        / "Jun" / "Jul" / "Aug" / "Sep"
                        / "Oct" / "Nov" / "Dec"
       day          =   1*2DIGIT
       time         =   1*2DIGIT ":" 1*2DIGIT [ ":" 1*2DIGIT ]
       timezone     =   ( "+" / "-" ) 4DIGIT
       year         =   ( 4DIGIT / 2DIGIT )

       For  compatibility reasons with legacy software, two-digit
       years greater than or equal to 70 should be interpreted as
       the years 1970+, while two-digit years less than 70 should
       be interpreted as the years 2000-2069.

anyway, i wrote the following little script to convert a downloaded
mailman/pipermail archive to a standard mbox format archive, so that i
can read the archive in mutt.

#! /usr/bin/perl -ni.bak

use Date::Parse ;
use Date::Format ;
$template = "%a %b %d %R:%S %Y" ;

if (/(^From )([^        ]*) (.*)/) {
    $time = str2time($3) ;
    $date = time2str($template, $time) ;
    print "$1$2  $date\n" ;
} else {
    print ;
} ;


PS: i think i've tried all of the free list managers that are available,
and they all have something that sucks about them. i guess i dislike
listar the least (unless i'm running a list where PGP/GPG signatures
are needed, in which case it truly sucks because it mangles them...so
i use majordomo instead, which also sucks because it's so ancient and

of the major free list managers around, smartlist doesn't scale,
listar breaks signatures, mailman screws up archives and is written in
python (some might see that as a feature, but i don't), and majordomo

actually, if it wasn't for listar breaking signatures, i think it would
be almost perfect. that's it's only flaw...the trouble is that it's a
BIG flaw, and one which excludes it from serious use on geek mailing

however, the good thing about both listar and majordomo is that they
make it very easy to automate configuration of new lists.

pps: i archive lists in either one-message-per-file (listar) or one mbox
file per month (majordomo) formats, and use mhonarc and htdig to provide
searchable web archives. ignoring the mailman/pipermail bug mentioned
above, the archiving features are available in all list managers...the
trick is in using the available tools to automate the whole process of
creating mailing lists and archives.

i run about a dozen lists on my home mail server, and about 200
majordomo lists and 400 listar lists on my main servers at work (most of
the majordomo lists are legacy lists which can't be changed because the
list owners would complain). the whole process is completely automated -
just add a line like:

#listname   moderator@address    archive?  digest?  mhonarc?
foolist     foo@example.com      yes       no       yes

and run "make". that's it. everything else (creation of aliases, list
configurations, archive, mhonarc, htdig config etc) is done by my
Makefile and some perl & shell scripts.

pps: to summarize....all mailing list managers suck, try them all and
choose the one you hate the least.

craig sanders <cas@taz.net.au>

Fabricati Diem, PVNC.
 -- motto of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch

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