Table of Contents
Interacting with Majordomo-based Mail lists (mlists) on SDF
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
firstname.lastname@example.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' email@example.com # get a list of SDF hosted email lists: $ echo 'list' | mail -s 'list of SDF mlists' firstname.lastname@example.org # get info on a specific SDF mlist: $ echo 'info XYZ' | mail -s 'Info on XYZ mlist' email@example.com # subcribe to a specific mlist: $ echo 'subscribe XYZ' | mail -s 'Subscribe to XYZ' firstname.lastname@example.org # unsubscribe to same mlist: $ echo 'unsubscribe XYZ' | mail -s 'Unsubscribe to XYZ' email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org' | mail -s 'Subscribe to XYZ' email@example.com
For security purposes mlist subscription requests generally require an additional authorization string be sent back to
firstname.lastname@example.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 email@example.com' | 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' firstname.lastname@example.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):
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
# reading the uktour.0209 archive using more(1): $ more /sys/pkg6_amd64/share/majordomo/archives/uktour.0209
You can use
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
# 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":  anonradio-l.1507  anonradio-l.1712  anonradio-l.2005  anonradio-l.1508  anonradio-l.1801  anonradio-l.2006  anonradio-l.1509  anonradio-l.1802  anonradio-l.2007  anonradio-l.1510  anonradio-l.1803  anonradio-l.2008  anonradio-l.1511  anonradio-l.1804  anonradio-l.2009  anonradio-l.1512  anonradio-l.1805  anonradio-l.2010  anonradio-l.1601  anonradio-l.1806  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:
|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.
- Majordomo v1 FAQ (mostly of interest to admins): http://manual.sdf.org/majordomo/FAQ
- Majordomo wikipedia page: Majordomo_(software)
- archive of GreatCircle.com/majordomo: https://web.archive.org/web/20120102123822/http://www.greatcircle.com/majordomo/
Books covering Mojordomo:
- Managing Mailing Lists: Majordomo, LISTSERV, Listproc, and SmartList by Alan Schwartz
- Managing Internet Information Services by Cricket Liu et.al.