[Mailman-Users] cannot add user or create mailing list

Mark Sapiro mark at msapiro.net
Wed Mar 30 06:03:37 CEST 2011

Lucio Chiappetti wrote:
>Recently I decided to make an experiment, so I installed mailman 2.1.11 
>via the suse 11.3 distribution on my machine. I read carefully the PDF 
>"GNU Mailman Installation Manual release 2.1" by Barry Warsaw, and other 
>stuff on the wiki, including those concerning sendmail (we are a sendmail 

When you install a downstream packaged Mailman, it is best to refer
first to any documentation the packager provides. The installation
manual may be largely relevant, but there may be conflicts due to
packager changes.

>I say "experiment" since I am testing it on my personal machine, although 
>the target system will be one of the institute servers (in process of 
>being upgraded). I thought to gain experience first in a simpler 
>I followed the manual except that at step 6 (6.3) I followed
>and related links.
>The suse installation via yast2 installs mailman partly in 
>/usr/lib/mailman, partly in /var/lib/mailman/ (and also 
>/usr/share/man/man8 and /usr/share/doc/packages/mailman/), it also creates 
>the user and group.
>It does not provide any automatic configuration for apache, so I did it 
>manually (I actually like this better). I had to place in 
>default-server.conf also this block
><Directory "/usr/lib/mailman/cgi-bin">
>  AllowOverride None
>  Options +ExecCGI -Includes
>  Order allow,deny
>  Allow from all
>in order to be able to execute the CGIs.
>I note that the startup script /etc/init.d/mailman gives a message
>"Starting mailman (Warning: the Apache2 webinterface for Mailman has not 
>been activated!)" which seems to imply a flag missing in line 
>APACHE_SERVER_FLAGS in /etc/sysconfig/apache2, but I have no documentation 
>for it, and it seems that the site can be accessed ok
>Any Suse user can confirm this is unnecessary ?

I'm not a Suse user, but see

>Concerning sendmail, I followed the "method 2" (WITHOUT mm_handler) 
>because it seems to apply better to our institute arrangements. So I have
>a sudo wrapper script with the two lines
>         /bin/cp /var/lib/mailman/data/aliases   /etc/mail/mailman.aliases
>         /usr/bin/newaliases
>a sendmail.cf with O AliasFile=/etc/mail/aliases,/etc/mail/mailman.aliases
>and the fake arrangement in  mm_cfg.py
>       MTA='Postfix'
>       POSTFIX_ALIAS_CMD = '/usr/bin/sudo /usr/sbin/mailman.aliases'
>I have verified the command /usr/lib/mailman/bin/genaliases works and 
>touches the right files.
>I have also run "/usr/lib/mailman/bin/newlist mailman" to create the top 
>list and it works (it said to have sent a mail, but actually it was just 
>queued, and it was sent as soon as I started the qrunner from /etc/init.d

So all this seems to be working.

>I set my own e-mail as list owner, and set a password (incidentally the 
>same test password used by /usr/lib/mailman/bin/mmsitepass)
>I hope the fact I always use the same test password is not a problem

It's not a problem for Mailman, but it is possible that in some cases
if say the list admin and site passwords are the same, your
authentication context will be that of the list admin rather than the
site admin, but unless you have ALLOW_SITE_ADMIN_COOKIES = Yes in
mm_cfg.py, this probably doesn't matter.

>At this point I entered the admin web page of such a list (for which I 
>received the "Your new mailing list" message). It seems I can browse it 
>Then I wanted to subscribe myself to the list.
>If I do it via the Membership Management -> Mass Subscription, and I enter 
>my e-mail address in the form, I get no errors but nothing happens.
>If I try to subscribe via the mailman/listinfo/mailman page, I get instead 
>an error "you must supply a valid e-mail address"
>Why does that happen ? see also question 4

See the FAQ at <http://wiki.list.org/x/ioA9>. That may help. Usually
this occurs because of some http redirect that loses the POST data
from the form.

>I tried also to create a new mailing list via the web interface (this 
>requires supplying the site password as well)
>this gives me instead an error
>"Unknown virtual host: sax.iasf-milano.inaf.it "

You are accessing the create CGI via a URL with host
sax.iasf-milano.inaf.it, but the only host known to Mailman is

>This may have to do with our institute standard arrangement, and will 
>apply also to the real arrangement on our target server. Unfortunately I 
>cannot find the documentation for the keywords in mm_cfg.py so I am not 
>sure what shall be tuned.
>This is the content of mm_cfg.py. The first 9-10 lines were added 
>automatically by the suse yast installation, the rest was edited/added by 
>me to suite our apache config and the "sendmail method 2"
>DEFAULT_URL_PATTERN = 'http://%s/mailman/'
>DEFAULT_NNTP_HOST = 'poseidon.lambrate.inaf.it'
>DEFAULT_EMAIL_HOST = 'poseidon.lambrate.inaf.it'
>DEFAULT_URL_HOST = 'poseidon.lambrate.inaf.it'
>MTA = 'Postfix'
>SMTPHOST = 'localhost'
>SMTPPORT = '25'
>#IMAGE_LOGOS = '/mailmanicons/'
>IMAGE_LOGOS = '/icons/'
># changed lines above manually
># inserted this stuff for sendmail
>POSTFIX_ALIAS_CMD = '/usr/bin/sudo /usr/sbin/mailman.aliases'
>I have to explain our configuration:
>  - we have two domains.
>    lambrate.inaf.it is the one where all A and PTR records are,
>    and also a number of CNAMEs for various services.
>    iasf-milano.inaf.it is a more formal domain alias, which contains
>    just CNAMEs for the main services visible from outside
>  - poseidon(.lambrate.inaf.it) is my machine FQDN
>  - sax.iasf-milano.inaf.it is the CNAME for the web server on it.
>    It is also the ServerName in default-server.conf (so one can get
>    to the server as sax or poseidon or localhost but is shown just
>    that)
>    This will apply not only to my test configuration, but also to the
>    target configuration (the institute web server will be
>    www.iasf-milano.inaf.it, which is a CNAME for a server [let us say
>    server3] ... actually that server runs different virtual servers)
>  - all our e-mail address are FULLY MASQUERADED, i.e. they are of the
>    form "user at lambrate.inaf.it" or "user at iasf-milano.inaf.it" (our
>    MXs accept both in entrance, and each user selects which form to
>    use on exit).
>    The message from mailman when I created the initial list did have
>    From: mailman-owner at lambrate.inaf.it
>    (obviously masqueraded by sendmail)
>    It did contain URLs like http://poseidon.lambrate.inaf.it
>    (reachable but translated as sax.iasf-milano.inaf.it)
>    It did contain e-mail like mailman-request at poseidon.lambrate.inaf.it
>    (so far I haven't tested them)
>I am not sure how much of the above applies to QUESTION 4 (i.e. to run on 
>my local machine)

Every list has an email domain and a web domain. You need to decide
what these should be. I.e. for any particular list, what host/doman
name should be in URLs for that list and what domain should be in the
enail addresses for that list. The most common or only ones should be
set as the value of DEFAULT_EMAIL_HOST and DEFAULT_URL_HOST. If there
are others, they should be in additional add_virtualhost directives in
mm_cfg.py, e.g.

add_virtualhost('sax.iasf-milano.inaf.it', 'iasf-milano.inaf.it')

See FAQs at <http://wiki.list.org/x/8YA9>,
<http://wiki.list.org/x/lYA9> and <http://wiki.list.org/x/mIA9> and
perhaps others.

>The arrangement on the target system will be more complicated.
>As I said the www server is "server3", but the MX servers are instead 
>"server1" and "server2". They are also NIS master and slave server, and 
>all our e-mail aliases are NIS aliases (so
>I am not expecting a solution to question 5 now, I guess that if I can 
>have a running solution on my local machine, and an understanding of the 
>inner working of mailman, some creative user of crontab scripts or NFS 
>mounts could make the mailman aliases available to all NIS clients and 
>visible to the outside world.
>But any hint will be gratefully acknowledged.

Mark Sapiro <mark at msapiro.net>        The highway is for gamblers,
San Francisco Bay Area, California    better use your sense - B. Dylan

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