[Mailman-Developers] something to add to v2,please -- BACKUPS!

Listwrangler listwrangler@iximd.com
Sun, 19 Sep 1999 12:30:05 -0500

>However, there is one thing I'd like to see added to future versions.
>As the list adminstrator I'd like to be able to extract a full list of
>members with settings as a 'text file'.   The membership management
>screen only lists 30 at a time in a table.  I'd like an option to dump
>all members, plus the settings, as a lump of text in a <pre></pre>
>I can then copy and paste it to a file for backup purposes, and for
>mass admin purposes.
>The settings can simply by a bunch of 1 or 0 in the order of the table
>headings to indicate the status of those options.

Good idea! I've sometimes wanted a text file I could print off, but the
point about being able to make backups is essential.


I hate being dependent upon our ISP for backups; with my organization's
regular web pages when our ISP experienced a quadruple failure and
installed new hardware I just uploaded my pages and was back in business in
15 mins while their other users had to wait days for them to complete
recovery efforts.

I realize that Mailman is a different case, but it sure would be nice to be
able to recover a list without having to manually set all the password,
configuration options, list specific text, etc, by hand. Just ftp the pages
up, test and go. (It's not probably not that simple, is it?)

Case in point for disaster recovery: our ISP was wiped out by Hurricane
Floyd (flood and fire) and is rebuilding. The list admin pages are there,
but they don't recognize my password. (I have my passwords documented in a
secure place, so I know my password is right.) God only knows what they set
the password or other configuration info to. If I could just ftp the pages
up myself and have them restore the password, configuration, text, etc, I'd
be back in business ASAP. Needlesstosay, the ISP is slightly busy with more
important problems like replacings servers and bailing out the basement.
God knows when our lists will be functional again.

Doing some experimenting, I tried downloading my admin web pages from the
one list I can access right now. If I download as source, I get everything,
html tags, windows contents, etc. It's hard to read, but I have it. Now
when I need to restore a list I can refer to my source file and make sure I
set everything the way it used to be. Once I get access to my other lists I
will backup them all to this degree at least.

It seems like it ought to be possible (but I'm not a programmer) to simply
ftp this file up to the Mailmain admin site and have it set everything. It
also seems like it would be possible to use this file as a template so that
when I am creating new lists with the same configuration I can copy it,
edit it as needed, then upload it. It would be nice to be able to edit a
configuration file offline. Of course, this would require the list
administrator to know enough html to not mess it up.

Right now Mailman lives in a different folder than our organization's
accounts, so we can't access it. But is there some reason why a Mailman
list has to live in a folder by itself? Couldn't we just plop the admin
pages onto our ftp site at least? The pages would then have to communicate
with the actual program, but that's just a matter of setting the pointers
properly, enit? For that matter, is there some reason why the whole program
couldn't be plopped into the user's ftp site to fiddle with as they please?
Assuming their ftp/web server is a Unix machine.

I guess this relates to the fact that Mailman appears to have been built on
the premise that list administrators would always have access to the
machine running the list. Which a lot of us don't. I asked for a shell
account from my ISP, but they refused. (grumble)

It also relates to the fact that ISPs are used to charging money for
listservices, and if they let users upload copies of free software like
Mailman onto the user's own web site they couldn't charge them money for
hosting the listserv. (grumble) In this scenario the user better know what
he was doing as he'd be solely responsible for maintaining the software,
but okay. I'd be game to learn.



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