Mailman and Mailing Lists
Mailing lists are handled using the GNU Mailman software. The installation and operation is pretty straightforward, but there are a few things you should know.
Mailman resides on mail and is operated on behalf of the user "mailman". Connect to mail as phyadmin then:
sudo su -s /bin/bash mailman
Do not operate the lists as root! This might cause breakage. Commands and scripts are located in the ~mailman/bin directory.
Creating a list
Creating a list is currently done via the shell by running the newlist command, e.g.:
~/bin/newlist listname firstname.lastname@example.org secretpass
- listname is the name of the list. The list address will be listname.[at].lists.phy.duke.edu
email@example.com is the e-mail address of the person who will administer the list. This is where the admin password for this list will be mailed to.
- secretpass is the password to the list.
Then you MUST add the list aliases, printed out for you, to postfix's alias file - on our system that is /etc/postfix/list-aliases. Then run newaliases
Deleting a list
To delete a list, issue the rmlist command, e.g.:
"su -s /bin/bash mailman" # su -s /bin/bash mailman bash-4.1$ cd bash-4.1$ cd bin bash-4.1$ ./rmlist Spin2014
Remove the list aliases from the /etc/postfix/list-aliases file and run newaliases
There are several other commands available, which allow you to configure the list or dump the database, but they are too numerous to describe here. All of them will produce documentation if executed with a "-h" switch.
To delete a lists archives without changing the list, first empty the mailbox archives/private/mylist.mbox/mylist.mbox then wipe the archive bin/arch --wipe mylist
Once a list is created, you can access and configure it via the web-interface. The address is:
The web interface is also very useful because you can let other people administer their mailing lists without having to give them access to mailman.
The web-interface is mostly self-explanatory and good context help is provided with it, so it is unnecessary to double it here. Just click away on the (Details) links.
Subscribing to the list
Users can subscribe to the list by going to the website of the list and putting their e-mail address into the field. The address would be this: https://lists.phy.duke.edu/mailman/listinfo/listname
- Large numbers of people are best subscribed either via the admin interface "Membership Management" link. There is a field there which allows you to paste a large number of e-mails (one per line) in order to subscribe all of them. Alternatively, this can be done via the add_members command in the mailman bin directory. This is useful if the process needs to be automated for whatever reason.
We do some simple pre-filtering for some mailing lists to make sure that certain things are flagged and not allowed through. See /etc/postfix/list-aliases: you will notice that some of them are routed through procmail scripts in /var/mailman/filters. Some of it will be discarded right away, while other stuff will be X-Header marked. The lists are configured to look for these additional headers and hold the submissions for approval.