[Mailman-Users] Moving my Mailman list

TG Platt - WW Publ tgplatt at webwitchcraft.com
Sun Nov 8 21:39:59 CET 2009

Hi. I need helpful advice unraveling the deeply mysterious Gordian knot of
mailman conversions. Here's my situation...

I'm looking for a temporary hosting arrangement for an existing mailman
list. The list is presently running on my own dedicated server but the
server was recently cracked by a rootkit and must now be rebuilt. So I need
to move and rehost my mailman list elsewhere for a month or two while I do
the server rebuild. Then I intend to move it back again. 

This discussion list has been using mailman for years. In fact, I moved it
to my server just over a year ago from another mailman host (DreamHost as I
recall). So we have a significant legacy message archive and mailing list I
want to backup and move to the new host. Then I will need to move it back
again later. I control the current server. So, I've got no problem backing
up the existing list and archive from my current server but I'm not sure
what capabilities I MUST HAVE to be able to install it on the new one and
then to recapture the list later and bring it back to my own server.

Of course there's a web site associated with the same domain name the
mailman list now resides on. The list is presently configured using the
site's domain name (myname at myname.org). Needless to say, I'd like both the
server move and the eventual move back again to be transparent to our users
and visitors if possible. In short I prefer to keep the same site name and
list name when I move it and when I move it back later. So I'm planning to
move both the site and the list to a new temporary host at the same time.

Obviously I'd rather NOT pay for a full year of temporary hosting when I
figure I'll be able to have my rebuilt server up and running again within 60
days. So I'm basically looking for a host where I can rent space by the
month at a reasonable price. 

I tried moving to one mailman host (bluehost) but got very ticked when their
advertised price of $4 a month turned out to be $6 a month and they were
charging me for a full year of hosting up front too. The problem wasn't so
much the price as it was that they never gave me any contract term
options... AND they never TOLD me until they'd actually charged my credit
card for a full year that I wasn't going to get the price they offered.
Needless to say, that "bait and switch" pricing approach made me hopping
mad. So I told them to take a hike and canceled the hosting deal. 

I then contacted another host who was up front about their short-term
pricing and found I liked them a lot in other ways too. But having been
burned once already, I'm being very cautious the second time around. So,
when their tech told me I would not get access to any of the mailman command
line utilities, I began to wonder if I'm really going to be able to migrate
my mailman list to their server now and then migrate it out again later
WITHOUT access to mailman's command line utilities. After checking out the
docs pretty carefully, I have a strong hunch the answer to THAT question is
an emphatic "No"!

As I recall, when I first installed mailman on my server, I was faced with
deciding whether to use the server's main domain name (mydomain.com) as the
name that hosted all mailman lists on the server or I could have used the
client's domain name as the domain name that hosted their list and all
others. As I recall the two options were mutually exclusive. In other words,
mailman wouldn't let me have two individual lists on the same server
associated with different primary domain names (e.g. mymembers at mydomain.com
and yourmembers at yourdomain.com). As I recall, this simply wasn't possible on
a single server. Since my client didn't want to change the name and address
of their list, I agreed to use their domain name as the hosting domain name
and I have regretted that decision ever since. I've also realized since then
that other mailman hosts seem to have figured out workarounds for that rule.
I'm sure DreamHost for example didn't force my client to use another domain
as the list domain or their list could never have been mydomain at mydomain.org
to begin with! 

So, here are my questions:

1. Can someone tell me if my hunch about not being able to move to a new
server and back without access to the mailman command line utils is right?

2. Is it possible to do the entire move from my server and back with nothing
more than a tar-ed backup and the web interface? (I think it's not.)

3. If I MUST have access to the command line utils, what commands do I need
aside from checkperms and possibly addmember?

4. Did I overlook something? Is there some way to set up mailman during my
server rebuild so that multiple domains can be supported under a single
instance of mailman WITHOUT forcing all lists to use the same hosting domain

5. Are thee any other gotchas with my plan that I've overlooked?


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