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Building a listserv using Mailman

by Sonny Nguyen on May 26, 2004

Have you consider running your own listserv server? Ever wonder how hard it is to configure one? Wonder if a basic Fedora Core 1 Linux machine can do that (Me too)? This is what I have found out...

  1. Yes it can
  2. Yes mailman is already installed by default
  3. It is very easy to configure

Here are the steps to build your very own listserv server....

1) First we must configure the mailman application

a) We have to set the site password

b) Next we should check the current permissions (just in case)
/var/mailman/bin/check_perms -f

c) Ok, it is time to edit the
vi /var/mailman/Mailman/

and set your


d) Now, lets set mailman to start at boot
chkconfig mailman on

OK...we are now done with the initial setup of mailman.

2) Our second major step is to configure apache for mailman.

a) We have to stop the apache services
/etc/init.d/httpd stop

b) We need to edit the httpd.conf file

vi /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf

and add

ScriptAlias	/mailman/	"/var/mailman/cgi-bin/"
Alias		/pipermail/	"/var/mailman/archives/public/"

c) Lastly, we can turn apache back on.

/etc/init.d/httpd start

At this point, we are 2/3 done. We just need to build new list and add/remove entries.

3) Creating lists

a) Run the newlist command.

"Enter the name of the list:" ENTER_YOUR_PREFERRED_LISTNAME
"Enter the email of the person running the list:" ENTER_YOUR_PREFERRED_EMAIL
"Initial fedora password:" ENTER_YOUR_MMSITEPASSWD

b) the output will look like these...just copy them into /etc/aliases.

fedora:              "|/var/mailman/mail/mailman post fedora"
fedora-admin:        "|/var/mailman/mail/mailman admin fedora"
fedora-bounces:      "|/var/mailman/mail/mailman bounces fedora"
fedora-confirm:      "|/var/mailman/mail/mailman confirm fedora"
fedora-join:         "|/var/mailman/mail/mailman join fedora"
fedora-leave:        "|/var/mailman/mail/mailman leave fedora"
fedora-owner:        "|/var/mailman/mail/mailman owner fedora"
fedora-request:      "|/var/mailman/mail/mailman request fedora"
fedora-subscribe:    "|/var/mailman/mail/mailman subscribe fedora"
fedora-unsubscribe:  "|/var/mailman/mail/mailman unsubscribe fedora"

c) Lastly, compile the new aliases.


4) Once you have done this, you can view your listserv via the web by pointing your web browser to http://SERVER/mailman/listinfo.

5) If you want to add emails to your list, you can manualy do so on the server side.

a) First, you have to create a text file with the members' email.

b) Secondly, you need to run the add_members command.

/var/mailman/bin/add_members -r FILE LIST

And there you have it....your very own listserv.