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majordomo_on_sdf

Interacting with Majordomo-based Mail lists (mlists) on SDF

Intro

Since the early days of networked computing email has been used for group comunications which takes advantage of its ability to address a message to multiple recipients. SDF hosts several email lists or “mlists” which are managed via Majordomo, a mlist manager. Unlike more modern mlist managers which generally have a web interface, Majordomo interaction is via short commands sent via email to a mail alias generally of the same name. On SDF Majordomo commands are sent to majordomo@sdf.org (the domain may be left off when logged into SDF shell session). These commands and more are documented in the majordomo(8) manpage (type 'man majordomo' to view within your SDF shell session). A condensed help offering is also available via the 'help' command sent directly to Majordomo.

SDF Mlist Basics

Although there are several commands listed in the Majordomo documentation users only needs to know a few of them. For simplicity the examples below make use of the native BSD mail(1) email client used within an SDF shell session:

# get the majordomo help documentation:
$ echo 'help' | mail -s 'Majordomo help' majordomo@sdf.org

# get a list of SDF hosted email lists:
$ echo 'list' | mail -s 'list of SDF mlists' majordomo@sdf.org

# get info on a specific SDF mlist:
$ echo 'info XYZ' | mail -s 'Info on XYZ mlist' majordomo@sdf.org
 
# subcribe to a specific mlist:
$ echo 'subscribe XYZ' | mail -s 'Subscribe to XYZ' majordomo@sdf.org

# unsubscribe to same mlist:
$ echo 'unsubscribe XYZ' | mail -s 'Unsubscribe to XYZ' majordomo@sdf.org

Note that the -s 'subject line' entries shown above are strictly informational; Majordomo doesn't read them.

If you wish to subscribe using an email address other than the one associated with your SDF account simply append it to the end of the command line:

# subscribing to list XYZ using some other email address:
$ echo 'subscribe XYZ me2@frog.bog' | mail -s 'Subscribe to XYZ' majordomo@sdf.org

For security purposes mlist subscription requests generally require an additional authorization string be sent back to majordomo@sdf.org, similar to when setting up an online account on the Internet. You may also need to explicitly include your email address even if it's the one associated with your SDF account:

# example majordomo mlist confirmation:
$ echo 'auth 5033d5d2027b51a2 subscribe XYZ sdf_usr@sdf.org' | mail -s 'confirm subscription' magordomo

If you ever need a reminder as to which – if any – SDF mlists you are currently subscribed to:

# show my SDF mlist subscriptions:
$ echo 'which' | mail -s 'Current mlist subscriptions' majordomo@sdf.org

Reading the Mlist Archives

While Majordomo supports digests and archive file requests it appears most SDF mlists don't offer these so the only option for reading archived messages is browsing them from within an SDF shell session. The public mlist archives are stored under the following directory on the SDF cluster (the main SDF hosts):

  /sys/pkg6_amd64/share/majordomo/archives/ 

Simple listings of the various mlist archives can be achieved using common Unix command pipes:

# show top-level SDF mlist listing:
$ cd /sys/pkg6_amd64/share/majordomo/archives/
$ ls -1 | sed 's/\..*$//' | sort -u | rs
      
  afitnuke-l         guiche-list        minecraft-l        sdfarc-l
  anonradio-l        idahofreaks-l      misbehavin         sdfedu-l
  bts-loss           indaba-l           modeltheory-l      sealug-l
  comp-l             insight-l          newguard-l         sras-l
  cw-l               jax_joxe-l         osgroup-l          truthy-l
  discuss-l          jh-l               partitions-list    twenex-l
  educators-l        kaire-list         piziali_family     twosigma-l
  fourquad-l         lycevents          piziali_lifegroup  uktour
  green-l            lyct-l             plan9-l            vintage-l

# list all archives of a particular mlist:
  $ cd /sys/pkg6_amd64/share/majordomo/archives/
  $ ls uktour* | rs
    
  uktour.0209  uktour.0211  uktour.0502  uktour.0504  uktour.0507
  uktour.0210  uktour.0212  uktour.0503  uktour.0505

These archives are just MBox-formatted email files viewable directly via a pager like more(1) or less(1):

# reading the uktour.0209 archive using more(1):
$ more /sys/pkg6_amd64/share/majordomo/archives/uktour.0209 

You can use /^Subject: within more(1) or less(1) to jump to the Subject line of each message; pressing . repeats the last command.

Still, using an actual mail user agent (MUA) will probably improve the readability. Below is an example using the previously illustrated native BSD mail(1) MUA:

# reading the uktour.0209 archive using mail(1):
$ mail -f /sys/pkg6_amd64/share/majordomo/archives/uktour.0209

For guidance on using mail(1) see An Introduction to Various BSD mailx style E-mail Clients on SDF.

There is also mabro , an SDF user-contributed SDF Mlist Archive BROwser – just a shell script – which uses the forementioned mail MUA to make browsing the mlist archives a bit easier. mabro is located on the SDF cluster at /sys/sdf/bin/mabro. Basic usage is shown below:

$ /sys/sdf/bin/mabro -h
 
 Mlist Archive BROwser for SDF public email list archives.

   usage: mabro -h|-l|-t|<regex>

      -h        prints this helpful message
      -l        prints sorted listing of ALL archives
      -t        top-level listing of all mlists
      <regex>   grep(1) compatible queries, ie. '^anon'

$ /sys/sdf/bin/mabro -t
afitnuke-l         guiche-list        minecraft-l        sdfarc-l
anonradio-l        idahofreaks-l      misbehavin         sdfedu-l
bts-loss           indaba-l           modeltheory-l      sealug-l
comp-l             insight-l          newguard-l         sras-l
cw-l               jax_joxe-l         osgroup-l          truthy-l
discuss-l          jh-l               partitions-list    twenex-l
educators-l        kaire-list         piziali_family     twosigma-l
fourquad-l         lycevents          piziali_lifegroup  uktour
green-l            lyct-l             plan9-l            vintage-l

$ /sys/sdf/bin/mabro radio
SDF mlist archives matching "radio":

 [01] anonradio-l.1507        [30] anonradio-l.1712        [59] anonradio-l.2005
 [02] anonradio-l.1508        [31] anonradio-l.1801        [60] anonradio-l.2006
 [03] anonradio-l.1509        [32] anonradio-l.1802        [61] anonradio-l.2007
 [04] anonradio-l.1510        [33] anonradio-l.1803        [62] anonradio-l.2008
 [05] anonradio-l.1511        [34] anonradio-l.1804        [63] anonradio-l.2009
 [06] anonradio-l.1512        [35] anonradio-l.1805        [64] anonradio-l.2010
 [07] anonradio-l.1601        [36] anonradio-l.1806        [65] anonradio-l.2011
 ...

Enter item [#], do new [s]earch, [l]ist ALL mlists, or [q]uit:

Once an archive is selected it opens in the mail(1) MUA for which only a handful of commands need to be used for basic message viewing:

mail cmd description
N display message number N
+ / - show next / previous message
h refresh message listing
x exit mail (returns to browser mode)
z / z- page up / down message listing
f /<keyword> search for thread containing <keyword>

Messages display using your PAGER (more is default); use arrow keys, page up/down, or spacebar to navigate or 'q' to quit.

Note: the archives are read-only and can't be modified so accidentally (or intentionally) deleting messages has no effect.

Additional Info

References:

Books covering Mojordomo:

  • Managing Mailing Lists: Majordomo, LISTSERV, Listproc, and SmartList by Alan Schwartz
  • Managing Internet Information Services by Cricket Liu et.al.
majordomo_on_sdf.txt · Last modified: 2022/08/25 18:39 by zilog