Want to set up your own mailing list? Piers Cawley takes you step by step through the process of creating a proper mailing list with Majordomo.
Setting Up Archiving

I'm assuming for this that you're going to be using rouilj's for your archiving work. This can be found in contrib/ in the Majordomo source directory and it should also be linked to archive in the Majordomo home directory.

The only thing you need to do to get archive2 to work for the test mailing list is change the

@archive_dirs lines in /etc/ to

and, as they say, voilá!

Setting Up Files For Remote Retrieval

Since you've set up the rules for finding a given list's archive, Majordomo itself knows that a list's files are stashed in that directory (in our case /var/spool/majordomo/archive/test), and anything in there can be retrieved by members of that mailing list (or others depending on how you've configured the list) using the get command in mail messages to Majordomo.

Majordomo neither knows nor cares about the contents of this directory. It simply returns a list of files when asked for an index, or returns the file when asked for that. These files don't actually have to be mail archives, so you can put anything there that may be of interest to the list's users. For example, we have a client who is running a play-by-mail game and he puts the files that are freely available to all the game's players within the archive directory so that his players can retrieve them using mail.

However, there is a caveat associated with Majordomo's file handling. Since Majordomo doesn't know about the contents of a file, it doesn't know if that file is a binary file. (This is a conscious design decision—if you need to do heavy duty file work Majordomo can interface with ftpmail, but that's another story.) Thus, if you want to make binary files available you will need to uuencode and split them up by hand first.

Almost There...

The list is now virtually ready to hand over to the list administrator to operate via mail. The only thing left to do is to create a temporary info file (/var/spool/lists/ for the mailing list—this should be a short file which gives a description of the list, what it's about, who's in charge, policy, that sort of thing. If you don't know all this, just put a dummy info file in place and let the list administrator worry about setting it correctly.

Now you are ready to set up the list's first subscriber. This is usually the list's owner (the chap that test-approval and owner-list point at), in this case Send the following mail message to Majordomo:

To: majordomo
Subject: This bit is irrelevant
approve foo subscribe test

where foo is the list password and is the owner of the list.

You should also send this user a copy of the file Doc/list-owner-info from the Majordomo source directory, which you have editted to take account of the list details (these are all set at the top of the file) so that she/he will be able to administer the list remotely without having to ask you too many questions.

Of course, if you are both the system administrator and the mailing list administrator you'll need to read this file yourself.

Support for Majordomo

What do you know—Majordomo has a bunch of assorted mailing lists. I strongly recommend that you at least join Majordomo-users. To do that, send the following in the body of a mail message to :

subscribe majordomo-users

This will subscribe you to majordomo-users and also send you a list of all the mailing lists available.

Piers Cawley ( is the Systems Sheriff at Frontier Internet Services, a UK company providing a bewildering variety of services for getting connected. Piers spends most of his time administering the Linux boxes that these services run on. In his copious free time (hah!) Piers has a distressing tendency to sing folk songs. You can e-mail him or you can laugh at his woefully inadequate homepage at


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