Great Circle Associates Majordomo-Users
(October 1996)

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Subject: Majordomo Frequently Asked Questions
From: Dave Barr <barr @ math . psu . edu>
Date: Tue, 15 Oct 1996 01:05:02 -0400 (EDT)
To: Majordomo-Users @ GreatCircle . COM
Reply-to: barr @ math . psu . edu

Version: $Id: majordomo-faq.html,v 1.100 1996/09/24 17:25:39 barr Exp barr $
Archive-Name: mail/list-admin/majordomo-faq
Posting-Frequency: monthly

   Table of Contents:
    1. What is Majordomo and how can I get it?
          + What is Majordomo?
          + Where do I get it?
          + How do I install it?
          + How do I upgrade from an earlier release?
          + Where do I report bugs or get help with Majordomo?
          + Which is better, Majordomo or LISTSERV?
    2. Problems setting up Majordomo
          + What are the proper permissions and ownership of all
            Majordomo files and directories?
          + I get "Unknown mailer error" when majordomo runs
          + I get "Permission denied at ..." when majordomo runs
          + I get "shlock: open(">/some/path/...") when majordomo runs
          + A file is visible via index, but can't 'get' it
          + Majordomo seems to be taking many minutes to process commands
          + I get an error "insecure usage" from the wrapper
          + I get "majordomo: No such file or directory" from the wrapper
          + I get an error "Can't locate"
          + I told my where to archive the list, why isn't
            it working?
          + I'm accumulating lots of files called /tmp/resend.*.in and
          + A list is visible via lists, but can't subscribe or 'get'
          + I get "Out of Memory" errors!
          + I get warnings or errors when trying to compile 1.93's
          + Problems with 1.93's request-answer
          + I get "Invalid archive directory. Aborting."
    3. Setting up mailing lists and aliases
          + How do I direct bounces to the right address?
          + Semi-automated handling of bounced mail
          + What's this Owner-List and List-Owner stuff? Why both?
          + How should I configure resend for Reply-To headers?
          + How can I hide lists so they can't be viewed by 'lists'?
          + How can I restrict a list such that only subscribers can send
            mail to the list?
          + Can I have the list owner or approval person be changeable
            without intervention from the Majordomo owner?
          + What about all of these passwords starting in version 1.90?
          + How do I tell majordomo to handle "get"-ing of binary files?
          + How do I set up a moderated list?
          + How do I set up a digested version of a list?
    4. Miscellaneous mailer and other problems
          + Address with blanks are being treated separately
          + Why aren't my digests going out?
          + Why do I get duplicate mail sent to the list?
          + How do I gate my list to and/or from a newsgroup?
          + How can I improve Majordomo's performance?
          + How can I handle X.400 addresses?
   This FAQ is Copyright 1995 by David Barr and The Pennsylvania State
   University. This document may be reproduced, so long as it is kept in
   its entirety and in its original format.
   This FAQ originally written by Vincent D. Skahan. Many thanks to the
   members of the majordomo-workers and majordomo-users mailing lists for
   many of the questions and answers found in this FAQ. Thanks to (Fen Labalme) for getting an HTML version started.
   You can get an HTML version of this FAQ on the World Wide Web at You can request a
   copy by email by sending a message to, with
   the following text in the body:

send usenet/

   If you have any questions or submissions regarding this FAQ, send them
   to (David Barr).
Section 1: What is Majordomo and how can I get it?

  What is Majordomo?
   Majordomo is a program which automates the management of Internet
   mailing lists. Commands are sent to Majordomo via electronic mail to
   handle all aspects of list maintainance. Once a list is set up,
   virtually all operations can be performed remotely, requiring no
   intervention upon the postmaster of the list site.
     _majordomo - n: a person who speaks, makes arrangements, or takes
     charge for another. From latin "major domus" - "master of the
     house". _
   Majordomo is written in Perl (at least 4.036). It should also work
   under at least Perl 5.001a. It will _not work with Perl 5.001!!! It
   has reportedly worked with Perl 5.000 on some but not all platforms_.
   It is recommended that you use the latest release of Perl that you can
   get, which can be found at
   Many people have been having problems with DEC OSF/1 AXP systems with
   Majordomo. Apparently Perl on the Alphas is not as stable as compared
   to other platforms, and Majordomo tickles bugs in that port of Perl.
   If you are having problems, please make sure you are running the very
   latest version of Perl (version 5.002 is known to work).
   There have also been reported problems with the native compiler for
   AIX 3.2.5. Perl compiled with that compiler will crash when running
   Majordomo (even though it passes all the regression tests), however if
   you compile Perl with gcc it will work.
   Majordomo was developed under UNIX based systems, but will probably
   work on others. If you can get Perl to compile and run cleanly on your
   system, and can send Internet mail by piping or calling an external
   program (and that external program reads its list of recipients from a
   plain text file), you can probably get Majordomo to work on a wide
   variety of UNIX-based and non-UNIX based systems.
   Majordomo controls a list of addresses for some mail transport system
   (like sendmail or smail) to handle. Majordomo itself performs no mail
   delivery (though it has scripts to format and archive messages).
   Here's a short list of some of the features of Majordomo.
     * supports various types of lists, including moderated ones.
     * List options can be set easily through a configuration file,
       editable remotely.
     * Supports archival and remote retrieval of messages.
     * Supports digests.
     * Written in Perl, - easily customizable and expandable.
     * Modular in design.
     * Includes support for FTPMAIL.
   There is a World Wide Web interface for Majordomo and other mail
   servers, called "Mailserv". Check it out at There's also another one
   called LWGate at
  Where do I get it?
   Via anonymous FTP at:
   The current version is 1.93. Version 1.94 is currently in alpha test,
   though the latest alpha is getting very close to release quality. It
   is significantly easier to install, and offers many features over
   1.93. (Subscription confirmations, "taboo" checks to forward matched
   messages for approval, finer grained access control to
   who/which/get/index/info/intro, "config-test" script to test your
   installation, improvements to digest, and more) If you don't have
   Perl, you can get it from:
   Use that link for more information about Perl, too. The FTPMAIL
   package can be found in or any
   comp.sources.misc archive (volume 37).
  How do I install it?
   Majordomo comes with a rather extensive README. (in 1.94 there's also
   a separate INSTALL file) Read this file completely. This FAQ is meant
   to be a supplement to Majordomo's documentation, not a replacement for
   it. If you have any questions that this FAQ doesn't cover, chances are
   that it is covered in the README or other documentation in the
   Majordomo distribution. For anyone who is going to run a list, you
   must read Doc/list-owner-info before trying to do anything. If you
   don't have access to the system where your list is being run, the
   Majordomo maintainer who set up your list should have sent it to you.
   Bug him if he didn't.
   If you have permission problems unpacking the distribution, try using
   the 'o' flag to ignore user/group information.
  How do I upgrade from an earlier release?
   Be sure to browse the "Changes" and "Changelog" files to get an idea
   what has changed. There currently is no canned set of instructions for
   upgrading from an earlier release. The most straightforward method is
   to simply install the current release in a different directory, (with
   the same list/archive/digest directories) and change the mail aliases
   for each list to use the new Majordomo scripts as soon as you feel
   comfortable with the new setup.
  Where do I report bugs or get help with Majordomo?
   If you need help, there is a mailing list, which is frequented by lots of users
   of Majordomo. Report bugs to (check
   the list archives below to see if the bug hasn't been reported or
   fixed already)
   Be sure always to include which version of Majordomo you are using.
   You should also include what operating system you are using, what
   version of Perl, and what mailer (sendmail, smail, etc) and version
   you are using, especially if you can't get Majordomo to work at all.
   But first, you must have thoroughly read the ALL documentation in the
   Majordomo distribution and this FAQ. If you got this FAQ from the
   Majordomo distribution, or anywhere except from the WWW site at the
   top of this document don't expect it to be up-to-date. It's probably
   You can search the majordomo-workers and majordomo-users archives at
   Please don't ask the FAQ maintainer for help on Majordomo. I will
   probably accidently delete your message. Let me say that about 90% of
   the answers I give are from the documentation or this FAQ. Most of the
   rest are answered by reading the source. It's really not that hard to
   figure out.
   Do NOT ask questions about Majordomo on the list. That list is for general
   discussions about running mailing lists, not for help on specific
   packages. The same goes for the Usenet group
   There is a good guide for people running majordomo lists at 
  Which is better, Majordomo or LISTSERV?
   For a good comparison of various mailing list managers (MLM's) there's
   a good FAQ by Norm Aleks. It is posted monthly to news.answers and It's also mirrored at the following
   You can also request a copy via email, by sending the text "get
   mlm-software faq" in the body of a mail message to Contact (Norm Aleks)
   for more information. 
Section 2: Problems setting up Majordomo

  What are the proper permissions and ownership of all Majordomo files and
   By far the biggest problem in setting up Majordomo is getting all the
   permissions and ownerships right. In part this is due to the security
   model that Majordomo uses, and it's also due to the fact that it's
   hard to automate this process. That's due to improve in future
   Majordomo works by using a small C "wrapper" which works by allowing
   Majordomo to always run as the "majordom" user and group that you
   create. (note that the wrapper may disappear in a future release,
   since its function could safely be replaced by features found in Perl
   5) You can use a different name than "majordom" for your user and
   group, but that is what is assumed for the explanations found in this
   document. Because Majordomo does not run with any "special" (root)
   priviliges, and because of the fact that Majordomo does a lot of
   .lock-style locking (with, permissions on all files and
   directories are critical to the correct operation of Majordomo.
    The wrapper
   The wrapper is compiled in one of two ways, by uncommenting the
   correct section in the Makefile for your type of system. If you are
   unsure if your system is POSIX or not, I would suggest you assume that
   your system is not. (The default in 1.93 is POSIX) If things don't
   work right (for example you get symptoms of permission problems or you
   get an error from the wrapper saying to recompile using POSIX flags),
   then try POSIX.
   Some systems which are BSD: SunOS 4.x, Ultrix, most BSD 4.2 and
   4.3-based systems. POSIX systems include Solaris 2.x, IRIX 5.x, BSDI
   (and presumably other 4.4 BSD-based systems), Linux.
   Make sure W_PATH is right in the Makefile. On IRIX 5.x, you need to
   add /usr/bsd to the W_PATH to get the hostname (needed by Perl)
   command. (IRIX doesn't have a /usr/ucb). If you are on a non-POSIX
   system, the wrapper must be both suid _and_ sgid (mode 6755) to
   "majordom". It must _not_ be setuid root!
   On a POSIX system the wrapper must be setuid root, and double-check
   that W_UID and W_GID are the uid and gid of the "majordom" user and
   group. Don't set W_UID to be 0!
   Then compile the wrapper and install it. Do not install the wrapper on
   an NFS filesystem with the "nosuid" option set. This will prevent the
   wrapper from working.
    Majordomo files
   All files that majordomo creates will be mode 660, user "majordom",
   group "majordom" if it is running correctly. The Log file that
   Majordomo writes logging information to must have this same permission
   and ownership. Make sure any files you create by hand (.config,
   subscription lists) have this same permission and ownership. (the can
   also be mode 664 if you don't need the contents to be private to
   others) The permissions/ownership of the Majordomo programs and
   related files themselves aren't as critical, but the must all be
   readable to the "majordom" user/group. All Majordomo programs
   (majordomo, resend, etc.) must have the execute bit set.
    Majordomo directories
   All directories under Majordomo's control ($homedir, $listdir,
   $digest_work_dir, $filedir, as defined in your must be
   mode 770 (or 775). They should be user and group owned by "majordom".
   If want to allow a local user to be able to directly modify files or
   for example copy files into a list's archive directory, you may make
   the directory or file owned by that user. However directories and
   files must be group-"majordom" writeable. 
  I get "Unknown mailer error" when majordomo runs
   If something is wrong with your setup, the wrapper will often exit
   with various return codes depending on what the problem is. In order
   to really understand what is going on, look at the session transcript
   further down in the bounce message to see the error which is returned
   from the wrapper or from Majordomo. You should always see some sort of
   error message.
   For information purposes, here are the current return codes from the
     * 1: Usage error
     * 2: Insecure usage (argument to wrapper can't contain a '/')
     * 3: malloc() failed (out of memory)
     * 4: set[ug]id() failed, compile with POSIX instead of BSD flags
     * 5: execve() failed
     * >5: return code from perl
   [reported by Russell Street]
   You may also get problems when messages to majordomo are queued (for
   example if you change sendmail's behavior to always queue messages
   rather than perform immediate delivery). The problem was that if
   sendmail queues a message it smashes the case in command lines and
   addresses when the queue gets processed. This is in spite of the lines
   shown by mailq. This is sendmail 5.x on Solaris 2.3, but it might
   apply to other versions of sendmail. 
  I get "Permission denied at ..." when majordomo runs
  I get "shlock: open(">/some/path/..." when majordomo runs
  A file is visible via index, but can't 'get' it
  Majordomo seems to be taking many minutes to process commands
   These are all symptoms of a permission or ownership problem. See the
   previous question. The directory specified of any "shlock" errors
   indicates a problem with that directory. A "get" problem means the
   ownership or permission of archive directory for that list is wrong. 
  I get an error "insecure usage" from the wrapper
   The argument to "wrapper" should be simply be the command, not the
   full path to the command. "wrapper" has where to look compiled in to
   it (the "W_BIN" setting in the Makefile) and for security reasons will
   not let you specify another directory.
   Your alias should say for example:
   |"/path/to/majordomo/wrapper majordomo"
  I get "majordomo: No such file or directory" from the wrapper
   Make sure that the #! statement at the beginning of all the Majordomo
   Perl executables contain the correct path to the perl program (the
   default is /usr/local/bin/perl). Note many UNIXes have a 32 character
   limit on that path -- make sure it doesn't exceed this limit. Make
   sure also that majordomo and all the related scripts are in the W_BIN
   directory as defined in the Makefile when you compiled the wrapper.
  I get an error "Can't locate"
   [from Brent Chapman]
   Majordomo adds "$homedir" from the file to the @INC array
   before it goes looking for "". Since it's not finding it,
   I'd guess you have one of two problems:
   1) $homedir is set improperly (or not set at all; there is no default)
   in your file.
   2) is not in $homedir, or is not readable.
   [from John P. Rouillard]
   3) Note that the new file checks to see if the
   environment variable $HOME is set first, and uses that for $homedir.
   Since the wrapper always sets HOME to the correct directory, you get a
   nice default, unless you are running a previously built wrapper, in
   which case you may get the wrong directory.
   [from Andreas Fenner]
   4) I had the same problem when I installed majordomo (1.62). My
   Problem was a missing ";" in the file - just in the line
   before setting homedir .... My hint for you: Check your perl-files
  I told my where to archive the list, why isn't it working?
   [From John Rouillard]
   The archive variables in aren't used to archive anything.
   You have to use a separate archive program, or a sendmail alias to do
   the archiving. The info is used to generate a directory where the
   archive files are being placed by some other mechanism.
   You are telling majordomo to look in the directory:
   for files that it should allow to be gotten using the get command.
   Majordomo comes with three different archive programs that run under
   wrapper, that do various types of archiving. Look in the contrib
  I'm accumulating lots of files called /tmp/resend.*.in and .out what are
  these and how can I get rid of them?
   This is a known bug in Majordomo 1.92. There was a typo in resend on
   line 347. Change the double-quotes to angle-brackets. (just like the
   other calls to unlink())
  A list is visible via lists, but can't subscribe or 'get' files
   [From Brent Chapman]
   I'll bet your list name has capital letters in it... Majordomo smashes
   all list names to all-lower-case before attempting to use the list
   name as part of a filename. So, while it's OK to advertise (for
   instance) "Majordomo-Users" and have the headers say
   "Majordomo-Users", the file names and archive directory names
   themselves all need to be in lower case. If you want to use mixed
   case, simply configure the list using the lower-case names everywhere,
   except put the mixed-case version in the "-l" and "-h" flags to
  I get "Out of Memory" errors!
   [summary of report from Matthew A. Braithwaite]
   There appears to be a bug in error reporting in Majordomo 1.93. Under
   certain circumstances, if the directory containing your Log file is
   not writable by majordomo then it will get caught in an infinite
   recursion, eventually allocating all the memory in the system. The fix
   is to make sure that the directory containing your Log file is user
   and group writeable, and user and group owned by your majordomo user
   and group. See the section above on permissions and make sure
   Majordomo is installed correctly. There also have been reports that
   some O/S have bugs in Perl's eval() routine causing this error. Make
   sure you're running a version of Perl which is compatible with
   Majordomo (see above). This condition will also arise if the wrapper
   is configured or installed improperly. Refer above for how to
   configure and install the wrapper on your system.
  I get warnings or errors when trying to compile 1.93's wrapper
   You're probably trying to compile the wrapper using the default
   Makefile on a non-POSIX system (like SunOS 4.x). As it says in the
   Makefile, SunOS isn't POSIX -- you need to use the BSD rules.
   If you're having trouble compiling the wrapper under AIX, change the
   line that says:

char setgroups_used = "setgroups_was_included"; /* give strings a hint */


char *setgroups_used = "setgroups_was_included"; /* give strings a hint */

   The wrapper compilation may generate warnings under Linux and SunOS,
   which you can safely ignore. Some systems (IRIX 5.x) also require an
   #include<string.h>/tt> after stdio.h.
  Problems with 1.93's request-answer
   [ Summary by Yusef Pisan ]
   There are a some known bugs in request-answer. If you get the error
   'Undefined subroutine "main'lopen"' (or "main::lopen" for Perl 5), you
   need to insert the line 'require "";' near the beginning of
   request-answer. The syntax of the 'do_exec_sendmail' function is
   different in majordomo than in, so you need to change all
   occurrences of 'do_exec_sendmail' in request-answer to something like
   On line 41 where it exec()'s sendmail, change the "-f$list-request" to
  I get "Invalid archive directory. Aborting.", as a security feature, refuses to write to directories
   other than ones "approved" for archiving. You need to edit the
   variable "@archive_dirs" in your to list all the
   directories that you have set up for list archives.
Section 3: Setting up mailing lists and aliases

  How do I direct bounces to the right address?
   You should use 'resend' to filter all messages. Make sure the "sender"
   keyword in the config file points to "owner-listname" and that you
   have defined the "owner-listname" alias to point to the owner of the
   What this does is force outgoing mail to have the out-of-band envelope
   FROM be "owner-listname", and thus all bounces will be redirected to
   that address. (Users often see this mirrored in the message body as
   the "From " or "Return-Path:" header). 'resend' also inserts a
   "Sender:" line with the same address to help people identify where it
   came from, but that header is not used for the bounce address.
   If you are using sendmail v8.x, you don't have to use 'resend' to do
   the same thing. You simply have to define an alias like this:
   owner-sample: joe,
   Note the trailing comma is necessary to prevent sendmail from
   resolving the alias first before putting it in the header. Without the
   comma, it will put "joe" in the envelope from instead of
   "owner-sample". Either address will work, of course, but the generic
   address is preferred should the owner ever change.
   However if you choose not to use 'resend', you will have to do without
   much of majordomo's other features like moderating, administrivia
   checks, and others.
  Semi-automated handling of bounced mail
   [From John Rouillard]
   Just create a mailing list called "bounces". I usually set mine up as
   an auto list just to make life easier.
   All that "bounce" script does is create an email message to majordomo
   that says:

   approve [passwd] unsubscribe [listname] [address]
   approve [passwd] subscribe bounces [address]

   The [address] and [listname], are given on the command line to bounce.
   The address of the majordomo, and the passwords are retrieved from the
   .majordomo file in your home directory.
   A sample .majordomo file might look like (shamelessly stolen from the
   comments at the top of the bounce script):

   this-list       passwd1         Majordomo@This.COM
   other-list      passwd2         Majordomo@Other.COM
   bounces         passwd3         Majordomo@This.COM
   bounces         passwd4         Majordomo@Other.COM

   A command of "bounce this-list" will mail the following
   message to Majordomo@This.COM:

   approve passwd1 unsubscribe this-list
   approve passwd3 subscribe bounces (930401 this-list)

   while a command of "bounce other-list" will mail the
   following message to Majordomo@Other.COM:

   approve passwd2 unsubscribe other-list
   approve passwd4 subscribe bounces (930401 this-list)

   Note that the date and the list the user was bounced from are included
   as a comment in the address used for the "subscribe bounces" command.
  What's this Owner-List and List-Owner stuff? Why both?
   [From David Barr]
   The "standard" is spelled out in RFC 1211 - "Problems with the
   Maintenance of Large Mailing Lists".
   It's here where the "owner-listname" and "listname-request" concepts
   got their start. (well it was before this, but this is where it was
   first spelled out)
   Personally, I don't use "listname-owner" anywhere. You don't really
   have to put both, since the "owner" alias is usually only for bounces,
   which you add automatically anyway with resend's "-f" flag, or having
   Sendmail v8.x's "owner-listname" alias.
   (while I'm on the subject) The "-approval" is a Majordomo-ism, and is
   only necessary if you want bounces and approval notices to go to
   different mailboxes. (though you'll have to edit some code in
   majordomo and request-answer if you want to get rid of the -approval
   alias, since it's currently hardwired in)
   So, to answer your question, I'd say "no". You don't have to have
   both. You should just have "owner-list".
  How should I configure resend for Reply-To headers?
   Whether you should have a "Reply-To:" or not depends on the charter of
   your list and the nature of its users. If the list is a discussion
   list and you generally want replies to go back to the list, you can
   include one. Some people don't like being told what to do, and prefer
   to be able to choose whether to send a private reply or a reply to the
   list just by using the right function on their mail agent. Take note
   that if you do use a "Reply-To:", then some mail agents make it much
   harder for a person on the list to send a private reply.
   If you are using resend, use the '-r ' flag to set the Reply-To field
   to the list, or use the 'reply_to' config keyword for 1.9x or greater.
  How can I hide lists so they can't be viewed by 'lists'?
   That is what advertise and noadvertise are for. The two keywords take
   regular expressions that are matched against the from address of the
   sender. A list display follows the rules:
    1. If the from address is on the list, it is shown.
    2. If the from address matches a regexp in noadvertise (e.g. /.*/)
       the list is not shown.
    3. If the advertise list is empty, the list is shown unless 2
    4. If the advertise list is non-empty, the from address must match an
       address in advertise. Otherwise the list is not shown. Rule 2
       applies, so you could allow all hosts in except hosts in
  How can I restrict a list such that only subscribers can send mail to the
   For pre-1.9x versions of majordomo, see the -I option to resend. For
   1.9x this is the restrict_post keyword in the config file. Just set it
   to the filename that holds the list of subscribers. Unfortunately this
   means you probably will need help from the Majordomo maintainer in
   setting it if you don't have access to the host machine. This is due
   to be improved in a future release of Majordomo.
   However, there is a problem with either of these methods. Majordomo
   works by filtering the messages coming in through the "listname"
   alias, doing its dirty work, then passing the resulting message out to
   another alias you define like "listname-outgoing". If you trust people
   to not send mail directly to the "listname-outgoing" alias, then
   you'll be fine. If however you're not trusting, there are several
   steps to make sure people don't bypass the restrictions of the list.
   There are several methods. First you need to change your
   "listname-outgoing" alias such that it is not obvious. Next, you need
   to make it such that people can't find out what your -outgoing alias
   You can use the "@filename" directive in resend to move the
   command-line options of resend into a file readable only by the
   majordomo user/group. This will make it such that you can't find out
   the -outgoing address by connecting to your mailer and doing an EXPN
   or VRFY. The "@filename" directive seems to have fallen into
   undocumentation for some reason. This should be fixed in future
   Another more direct approach is to simply disable EXPN or VRFY
   altogether. See the documentation for your mailer on how to do this.
   However this doesn't prevent local reading if the aliases file.
   Sendmail 8.x will unfortunately log your -outgoing alias in the
   "Received:" lines. To get around this you need to specify more than
   one address for the list name argument to resend. (for example
   "mylist:|"/usr/local/lib/majordomo/wrapper resend -h -l mylist
   mylist,nobody"" where nobody is an alias for /dev/null) For Sendmail
   8.x you must _not_ define an alias 'owner-mylist-seekrit' to be
   something like 'owner-mylist,' (with the commma). Otherwise sendmail
   will set the envelope address of outgoing mail to contain your secret
   outgoing alias.
   Finally it should be noted that it is impossible with any method to
   prevent people from forging mail as someone on the list, and sending
   to the list that way.
  Can I have the list owner or approval person be changeable without
  intervention from the Majordomo owner?
   Sure! Just make owner-listname and/or listname-approval be another
   majordomo list. (probably hidden, for simplicity's sake)
  What about all of these passwords starting in version 1.90?
   Think of three separate passwords:
    1. A master password that can be used by both resend and majordomo
       contained in [listname].passwd. To be used by the master list
       manager when using writeconfig commands etc. This allows someone
       who handles a number of mailing lists all using the same password.
    2. A password for the manager of this one list. The admin_passwd can
       be used by subsidiary majordomo list maintainers.
    3. A password for those concerned with the list content
   This way the administration and moderation functions can be split. The
   original reason for maintaining [listname].passwd was to allow a new
   config file to be put in if the config file was trashed and the
   admin_password was obliterated, and may still be useful to allow a
   single password to be used for admin functions by the majordomo admin
   or some other "superadmin".
   Note that the admin passwd in the config file is not a file name, but
   the password itself. This is the only way that the list-maintainer
   could change the password since they wouldn't have access to the file.
  How do I tell majordomo to handle "get"-ing of binary files?
   Majordomo is not designed to be a general-purpose file-by-mail system.
   If you want to do anything more than trivial "get"-ing of text files
   (archives, etc) than you should get and install ftpmail. Majordomo has
   hooks to allow transparent access to files via ftpmail (see See the beginning of this FAQ for where to get ftpmail.
  How do I set up a moderated list?
   First, you need to tell Majordomo that the list is moderated. In the
   configuration file for the list, you set "moderated = yes". If you're
   using Majordomo 1.9x or greater, do not try to use the now-deprecated
   "-A" option to resend. In fact if you're using 1.9x or greater, you
   shouldn't be using ANY options to resend except "-h" and "-l".
   Any mail which is not "approved", gets bounced with "Approval
   required". If the moderator wishes to approve the message for the
   list, then you need to tag the message as "approved" and send it to
   the list. The "approve" script which comes with Majordomo does this
   for you. If you don't have access to "approve" (e.g. you're not on a
   UNIX system with Perl), you have to do it by hand. The easiest way is
   to forward the original message to the list, add the line "Approved:
   _approval-password_" to the very first line of the body, leave a blank
   line, and then the contents of the original message. (meaning there
   should be a blank line before and after the "Approved:" line.) 
  How do I set up a digested version of a list?
   [ Modified from explanation given by (Jonathan M.
     * Create aliases for the mailing list and the digest. See section
       2.2 of the README for an example.
     * create an alias for the majordom(o) user, so that his cron
       generated mail comes to me, rather than just piling up in
     * create the list's and the digest's files, (widget, widget-digest,
       widget.config, widget-digest.config, etc.). Edit the
       widget-digest.config file and make sure all the digest options are
       set to your tastes.
     * create the digest directory and archive directory. See FAQ section
       2 on how to set permissions on all majordomo files and
       directories. You must have archives if you have digests so the
       digester can make the digest. You can purge the archive after the
       digest is generated.
     * Add yourself to both the mailing list and its digest so you can
       monitor what least for a while (not a bad idea to
       create a dummy user, and subscribe him to both the mailing list
       and its digest. This preserves a record of messages for debugging.
       Don't forget to remove this account and unsubscribe it after
     * Optionally you may add a crontab for majrodom, to push out a
       digest at set intervals regardless of the number of queued
       messages. Of course you can do this from any account not just
       majordom, as long as the password is correct. See the question Why
       aren't my digests going out?".
Section 4: Miscellaneous mailer problems

  Address with blanks are being treated separately
   If a subscriber to the list is
   John Doe <>
    it gets treated these as the three addresses:
   [From Alan Millar]
   Majordomo does not treat these as three addresses. Apparently your
   mailer does.
   Remember that all Majordomo does is add and remove addresses from a
   list. Majordomo does not interpret the contents of the list for
   message distribution; the system mailer (such as sendmail) does.
   I'm using SMail3 instead of sendmail, and it has an alternative (read
   "stupid") view of how mixed angle-bracketed and non-angle-bracketed
   addresses should be interpreted. I found that putting a comma at the
   end of each line was effective to fix the problem, and I got to keep
   my comments. So I patched Majordomo to add the comma at the end of
   each address it writes to the list file.
   You can also add the $listname.strip option so that none of the
   addresses are angle-bracketed. (the "strip" config option for 1.90)
  Why aren't my digests going out?

>I'm not sure how to set up the digest feature of majordomo 1.92
>to send digests out.  Currently, it is digesting incoming mail,
>but that's all it's doing.

   [from John Rouillard]

  echo mkdigest [digest-name] [digest-password] | mail majordomo@...

   This will force a digest to be created. Or you can set the max size in
   the digest list config file down low, and force automatic generation.
   There are some patches for 1.92 that will allow other ways of
   specifying automatic digest sending. The patch is in the contrib
  Why do I get duplicate mail sent to the list?
   I've you're running MMDF, read on: [From Gunther Anderson]
   Well, I can tell you what happened to me recently. We use MMDF here,
   which certainly colors the picture a little. What was happening here
   was that MMDF was verifying the validity of the whole mailing list
   before returning from the Submit call. The thing calling the Submit
   would time out and close, but the Submit itself would still be running
   somewhere. The calling routine would believe that the message had
   failed in its delivery, but the Submit would eventually succeed. The
   calling process would try again some time later. This, of course, is
   bad. The larger the list got, the more addresses there were to verify
   (verification was really just a DNS search on the target machine
   name), the more likely, under load, that the message would duplicate.
   We finally got so large, with so many international addresses (which
   seem to timeout on DNS queries much more ofen than US addresses) that
   we were always duplicating. Infinitely (until I killed the original
   The solution for us was MMDF-specific. We used a different channel for
   submission and delivery, one which deliberately doesn't verify the
   addresses before accepting a job. We used the list-processor channel,
   and only had to check that the listname-request name was set properly,
   because list-processor insists on making listname-request the envelope
   "From " header name.
   If you're running Sendmail, this is more rare. There have been
   unconfirmed reports that on some systems having the queue process
   interval set too short can cause problems, even though sendmail is
   supposed to handle this. Workarounds are to increase your queue
   process interval (-q flag), or decrease the interval between queue
   checkpoints (OC flag in
   There have been many reports from Linux users complaining about
   duplicate mail. The problem seems to be that flock() under Linux is
   broken. This may be fixed in a future release, but for now in
   sendmail's conf.h in the #ifdef __linux__ section add a line #define
   HASFLOCK 0. There are also reports that some versions of the libc have
   problems, and that linking with the libresolv.a from a recent BIND
   version will work around the problem.
   [ Please let me know if you have any more information --ed ] 
  How do I gate my list to and/or from a newsgroup?
   The easiest method is to use a program called newsgate. You can find
   it at Installation instructions are
   straightforward, it provides sample entires for your newsfeeds/sys
   file and aliases entries. The newsgate package includes news2mail and
  How can I improve Majordomo's performance?
    Mail to list throughput
   Majordomo does very little except pass each message to the list
   through 'resend', and then pass it on to your mailer for distribution.
   Improving your mailer is the first step to improving speed of delivery
   of mail to the list. Upgrading your sendmail to version 8.x will
   improve things greatly, as this version has a lot of enhancements
   which use connections more efficiently. For most lists, this is
   enough. Majordomo itself doesn't use very much in the way of resources
   except perhaps memory. Adding more memory will help if your machine
   does a lot of paging during mail delivery. Using other mailers instead
   of sendmail like ZMailer has met with varying success. (no reports of
   using majordomo with qmail)
   If your lists are very large you may try installing bulk_mailer, by
   Keith Moore. It pre-sorts the list into chunks grouped by site, and
   passes the resulting chunks off to individual sendmail processes for
   delivery (see note next paragraph). Get it from It installs simply by
   replacing your usual -outgoing alias with (line wrapped for clarity):

sample-outgoing: |"/path/to/bulk_mailer

   bulk_mailer has reportedly resulted in dramatic speedups in delivery
   times, on the order of several times faster. Note this works just as
   well on digested lists as well as normal lists. bulk_mailer did have
   one problem. Until version 1.3 it didn't understand parenthesized
   comments in addresses, resulting in incorrect sorting and reduced
   performance. Your list must be configured with strip=yes in the
   configuration file if you don't upgrade to 1.3.
   The restrict_post list option with large lists can cause a significant
   slowdown in mail delivery, since resend has to do a sequential search
   through the subscription list for each mail sent to the list (to
   verify that the sender is subscribed to the list). Think twice about
   using this option with very large lists.
    Majordomo command processing
   Most of the improvements in this are are experimental and not widely
   available or not yet completed but scheduled for future releases. Some
   areas include: improvements in to use exponential backoffs
   to reduce contention and starvation of locks, using some sort of
   dbz-style database for subscription lists to speed up subscribe and
   unsubscribe commands, and changes in the configuration file system to
   allow faster parsing and faster execution of certain commands such as
   "lists". If you are interested in working on improvements in this
   area, join the majordomo-workers list mentioned above. If you make any
   specific patches or additions available, please let me know so I can
   add references to it here. 
  How can I handle X.400 addresses?
   Majordomo by default treats addresses starting with "/" as "hostile",
   and won't let people subscribe. This is to prevent someone from
   subscribing a majordomo-owned filename to the list, and being able to
   write by sending mail to the list. Unfortunately, all X.400 addresses
   begin with a "/". Starting in Majordomo 1.93, there are three
   variables in the which control how majordomo treats these
   sorts of addresses. See the end of the in the Majordomo 1.93
   distribution for a complete explanation.

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