[Mailman-Users] Thoughts about migrating to Mailman instead of Sympa (from Majordomo)

Geoff Mayes gmayes at uoregon.edu
Fri Feb 10 18:25:41 CET 2012

It's been a few weeks since the last posting to this thread, but I nonetheless wanted to follow up to provide some sort of closure around one organization's mailing list migration efforts from Majordomo and to also hopefully provide a few interesting tidbits of information to others.

Based in part on the incredible responsiveness and assistance from this thread, we have decided to go with Mailman instead of Sympa.

We took a few measures to lock down our instance, including all of the following:
- Centralized LDAP authentication via Apache's mod_authnz_ldap (http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.2/mod/mod_authnz_ldap.html)
- Removed all subscriber password form fields from the UI so that only auto-generated passwords are used for subscribers (templates/en/listinfo.html and templates/en/options.html)
- Changed the back-end for subscriber passwords too so that a form/CGI password can never become the subscriber password (Mailman/Cgi/subscribe.py)
- Removed the "auto-generate password" option from the "Create a New List" form so that users had to choose a password, and then removed the password string from the "Your list has been created" emails (templates/en/newlist.txt)
- Change the "Password Reminder" text to "Password Reset" and auto-generate a new random password before emailing the subscriber their password (Mailman/Cgi/options.py)
- Don't require a Mailman "list creator" password when creating a new list because the site is already locked down via an Apache LDAP module (Mailman/Cgi/create.py)

I also wrote an import script from Majordomo into Mailman, thoroughly referencing the excellent contrib/majordomo2mailman.pl script written in 2002 by Heiko that currently lives in the Mailman2 tarball.  I was able to translate most Majordomo settings into Mailman.  The script also has a --stats option if you just want to get a sense of the distribution of values across all of your Majordomo lists.  The script is only on GitHub right now (https://github.com/mayesgr/import_majordomo_into_mailman), but I plan to post it to Mailman's bug tracker once I'm 100% satisfied with it, in the hopes that, if others find it useful, it makes its way into the tarball as well.  If you'd like the script improved in any way, please feel free to let me know.  (Apologies to all pythonistas, myself included: the script started out as import_majordomo_into_sympa.pl, which are both written in Perl, and then we changed gears when we decided to go with Mailman instead.)

Thanks again to everyone for all of your great information and help,

Geoff Mayes

> -----Original Message-----
> From: mailman-users-bounces+gmayes=uoregon.edu at python.org
> [mailto:mailman-users-bounces+gmayes=uoregon.edu at python.org] On
> Behalf Of Geoff Mayes
> Sent: Thursday, January 19, 2012 10:32 AM
> To: mailman-users at python.org
> Subject: [Mailman-Users] Thoughts about migrating to Mailman instead of
> Sympa (from Majordomo)
> Hello Mailman gurus,
> I hope a general question about Mailman's features and future direction
> (along with some Sympa comparisons) are appropriate for this list.
> The University of Oregon is migrating away from Majordomo.  We decided
> on Sympa because Mailman sends passwords over email while Sympa
> provides centralized (e.g. Shibboleth, LDAP, etc) authentication.  If Mailman
> provided a way around the passwords in the clear issue, I'm pretty sure we'd
> go with Mailman because:
> - Mailman is more thoroughly used and thus tested (one stat that gets at this
> is Alexa Traffic Rank: 165,692 vs 749,729 for Sympa)
> - Mailman is more mature (the max bug ID for mailman in its issue-tracking
> system is ~913,400; the max bug ID for Sympa is 8,117 and there is still no bug
> category for Sympa's latest version -- 6.1.7 -- even though it has been out for
> over 4 months)
> - Mailman has greater branch stability and code reliability (I noticed that Barry
> ran a pre-checkin acceptance suite for the Postgres patch for Mailman 3
> before he checked it in)
> - Mailman has a bright and well-documented future (Mailman 3 and its bug
> tracker, source code, milestones, etc)
> - Mailman has a more active and supportive community, which is very
> important in resolving future issues (Mailman had 150 list postings in
> December and through mid-January while Sympa had 44; I've been
> impressed with Mark Sapiro's responsiveness on this list)
> Does anyone know a way around the emailed passwords issue in Mailman,
> clever hacks, certain plugins, or a timeline for Mailman 3's release?  I've
> written a number of Django apps using my own LDAP module, so I was also
> wondering if folks think now is a mature-enough time to perhaps grab
> Mailman 3, its Django front-end, and hack together what I'm after?  A final,
> random question: Mailman 3 is still in alpha, but is it stable given that it's
> almost been in alpha for 4 years?
> Many, many thinks for any help, pointers, or information,
> Geoff Mayes
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