Majordomo as Replacement for LISTSERV
The Majordomo package has been installed on a dedicated node listbox.cern.ch as part of the replacement for the LISTSERV service. We published in the last CNL the general guidelines for the ListBox Service. This time we describe briefly the main technical features and the reasoning behind the software chosen for it.
Majordomo is a public domain package which is probably the most popular as ``Mailing List Software'', and the most versatile too. It was selected in preference to LISTSERV/Unix mainly because of its free availability to the user community, which allows collaborating institutions to have the same software logistics as CERN in this area.
Among the other advantages of Majordomo over LISTSERV are its small size and the easy implementation of new features. Furthermore, Majordomo does not require pre-activated daemons, but runs only when messages arrive (by means of mail aliases) so there is less load on the machine it is installed upon, and no restarting is needed after reboot.
We chose to install the software and the associated directories on the AFS file system. In order for the server to run without encountering token expiration problems, a new wrapper was created with automatic token refreshing.
The possibility to have stand-alone public or private file archives was introduced as an extension to the software, and was submitted to the developer team. Two new executables have been added to Majordomo , to answer to subscription and posting attempts to public archives.
For added ease of use, the software was adapted to be made aware of user PEMs (Preferred Electronic Mail address, for example Miguel.Marquina@cern.ch), and re-adapt mailing lists to fit the data registered in the EMDIR Database (which must declare the final mail address of the user -- in this case firstname.lastname@example.org). Every night a process is run to read the Majordomo database and check the PEMs, updating any changes in EMDIR entries encountered since the last update. The process can identify as equivalent the different addresses of each user, as well as being able to translate generic addresses of the form ``Name.Surname@cern.ch'' to its matching PEM.
Several tools have been developed to ease the administration of the Majordomo server: automatic translation of LISTSERV lists to Majordomo , checking of file and directory integrity for each list, editing of list configuration files, locking and unlocking Majordomo for maintenance, creation of mailing lists from afs groups, mailing of information to new list owners, and creation of new lists.
A user-friendly interface to Majordomo , listquest, has been installed in ASIS, allowing users to send command mails and postings to list-servers with one-line commands. Three alias packages (user, team and CERN-wide) allow the definition of shortcuts to the names of lists and servers. The team alias package, as well as Pine addressbooks, are automatically generated by Majordomo (during list creation).
Further information and examples may be found in WWW at URL: http://wwwinfo.cern.ch/umtf/wg/mail/95-19.html