[Mailman-Users] Hwo to flush the archives?

Steve Lay S.W.Lay at ucles-red.cam.ac.uk
Wed Sep 20 14:53:34 CEST 2000

Brian asked:

>Is there a way to remove all the messages from an/the archive?

This is the sort of question which is often asked on this forum, but rarely
answered fully.  It's a sort of FAQ - mailman keeps the messages in "mbox"
files with paths like this:


Note the "private" - public archives are handled with symbolic links to the
private directory.

The format of the mbox file is supposed to be the classic UNIX mailbox
format.  On my Red Hat Linux system the files can be read with the UNIX
'mail' command executed in the appropriate directory as follows:

mail -f listname.mbox

It's quite safe to do this just to look at the file if you exit mail with
'x' for exit without modifying mailbox.

Although I've never done this, trashing this file completely should achieve
what you want, if it's only selected messages you want to delete you can do
this too of course (see the man page for mail).

You will have to regenerate the archives, the commands to do this have been
circulated to the list before - I can't remember them off the top of my

The problem *I've* had is that mailman (1.1) doesn't quite follow the
expected format of the mbox file.  This is all about lines beginning with
"From " which should be escaped but aren't.  The result is that 'mail' gets
very confused - that shouldn't affect you if you just want to trash
everything but it does affect my lists where one poster in particular tends
to start his messages "From X's point of view...".

The "how do I delete unwanted messages from the archive?" FAQ is normally
dealt with tersely but I've never seen these instructions on the list nor
have I seen anybody suggest a workaround for this "From" escape problem.

Steve Lay

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