Site Administrator Documentation
The GNU Mailman - Installation
Manual describes how to build and install Mailman. It contains general
instructions, as well as specific details for various platforms, mail, and web
servers. It is also available in
PDF format (approx. 110k),
PostScript format, (approx. 129k),
plain text format (approx. 63k).
By definition, the site administrator has shell access to the Mailman
installation, and the proper permissions for total control over Mailman at the
site. The site admin can edit the
configuration file, and can run the various and sundry command line scripts.
Command line scripts
This is a brief overview of the current crop of command line scripts
available to the site administrator in the
For more details, run the script with the
which will print out the usage synopsis. You must run these
scripts from the bin directory in the Mailman installation location,
- Use this script to mass add members to a mailing list. Input
files are plain text, with one address per line. Command line
options allow you to add the addresses as digest or regular
members, select whether various notification emails are sent, and
choose which list to add the members to.
- Use this to rebuild a list's archive. This script can't be used
to modify a list's raw mbox file, but once you've edited the mbox
file some other way, you can use this script to regenerate the
HTML version of the on-line archive.
- Use this to change the password for a specific mailing list.
- Use this script to check the integrity of a list's
- Use this script to check, and optionally fix, the permissions of
the various files in a Mailman installation.
- Use this script to clone an address on a particular list
into different address. This is useful when someone is changing
email addresses and wants to keep all their old configuration
options. Eventually members will be able to do their own cloning,
but for now, only the site administrator can do this. Command
line options let you remove the old address, clone addresses in
the list managers addresses, etc.
- This is a very powerful script which lets you view and modify a
list's configuration variables from the command line. E.g. you
can dump out all the list options into a plain text file (actually
a valid Python file!), complete with comments explaining each
variable. Or you can apply the configuration from such a file to
a particular list.
Where this might be useful is if you wanted to change the
web_page_url attribute on every list. You could
create a file containing only the line
and then feed this file back to
web_page_url = 'http://www.mynewsite.com/mailman-relocated/'
config_list for every
list on your system.
config_list only sets the
list variables that it finds in the input file.
- This script is deprecated.
- This script dumps the plain text representation for any
database file. These files usually contain Python marshaled
dictionaries, and can be found in the
etc. This script can also be used to print out the contents of a
pickled message file, which are stored in
- Use this script to search all the lists, or some subset of lists,
for an address matching a regular expression. command line
options let you also search the list managers as well.
- Use this script to regenerate the plain text and db alias
files for Postfix (if you're using Postfix as your MTA).
- List all the owners of a mailing list.
- List all, or some subset of, the mailing lists in the system.
- List the members of a mailing list. Command line options let you
print just the regular or just the digest members, print the
case-preserved addresses of the members, etc.
- The main qrunner control script. Use this to start, stop, and
restart the qrunner.
- Use this script to set the site password, which can be used anywhere in
the system a list or user password can be used.
Essentially, the site password trumps any other password, so
- Use this script when you move Mailman to a new installation location.
- Use this script to create new mailing lists.
- Use this to run a single qrunner once (for debugging).
- Use this list to remove members from a mailing list.
- Use this script to remove a mailing list. By default, a list's
archives are not removed unless the
- Use this to synchronize mailing lists in a list's database with a
plain text file of addresses, similar to what is used for
add_members. In a sense, this script combines the
remove_members. Any addresses in the file that are
not present in the list roster are added, and any addresses in the
roster that are not present in the file are removed.
Command line options let you send various notification emails,
preview the changes, etc.
- Don't use this script manually; it is used as part of the
installation and upgrade procedures.
- Prints the Mailman version number.
- This is the most powerful and flexible script in Mailman. With it
you can do all manner of programmatic changes to mailing lists, or
look at and interactively inspect almost any aspect of Mailman.
By default, you run this using Python's interactive prompt, like
Here you see that you're left at the Python prompt after the list
has been loaded and instantiated. Note that without the
% cd /usr/local/mailman
% python -i bin/withlist mylist
Loading list: mylist (unlocked)
--lock option, the list is not locked. List must be
locked if you plan to make modifications to any attributes (and
they must be explicitly saved, as
withlist does not
automatically save changes to list objects).
At the prompt, the global object m is the instantiated
list object. It's a Python instance so you can do all the normal
things to it, view or change attributes, or make method calls on
Have a look also at the
--run option, which lets
you put your programmatic changes into a Python module (file) and
run that module over any mailing list you want. This makes
withlist essentially a framework for easily adding
your own list-specific command line scripts.
Mailman comes with a number of scripts that are typically only run by
cron. However, it is generally okay for the site administrator to run
these scripts manually, say to force a sending of accumulated digests,
or to mail out member passwords, etc. You generally run these by
invoking the Python executable on them, like so:
% cd /usr/local/mailman
% python -S cron/senddigests
-S option is an optimization and (minor) security
recommendation; it inhibits Python's implicit
on initialization. Not all of these scripts support the
--help option. Here is a brief description of what the
cron scripts do:
- Bumps the digest volume numbers for the specified lists.
Resets the issue number to 1.
- Checks for ending list requests (posts and subscriptions) and
mails the list manager if there are any.
- Polls the NNTP servers for messages and forwards any new messages
to their mailing list gateways.
- Sends the password reminder emails to all users and all mailing lists.
- Regenerates the Pipermail
gzip'd flat archive files.
- Sends all accumulated digests.