[Mailman-Users] Info about /var/spool/mailman directories

Mark Sapiro mark at msapiro.net
Wed Sep 19 05:09:26 CEST 2012

Rosenbaum, Larry M. wrote:

>Where can I find some documentation about the usage of the directories under /var/spool/mailman, and how to manage the files in those directories? I think it might be useful to monitor the number of files and send a report if the backlog gets too big, and to be able to remove or hold messages.

First of all, if you have directories in /var/spool/mailman/ instead of
$var_prefix/qfiles, you have installed Mailman from a package,
probably RedHat/CentOS, so see the FAQ at

There are normally 10 directories, 8 of which are the input queues for
the 8 qrunner processes that do all of Mailman's message handling.
These 8 are:

archive     - queue for ArchRunner
bounces     - queue for BounceRunner
commands    - queue for CommandRunner
in          - queue for IncomingRunner
news        - queue for NewsRunner
out         - queue for OutgoingRunner
retry       - queue for RetryRunner
virgin      - queue for VirginRunner

There are two more directories for storage of messages that encounter
some kind of error in processing.

bad         - place for preservation of unprocessable queue entries
shunt       - place for storage of entries for messages that throw
              uncaught exceptions in processing

The files in these queue directories are all Python pickles. Mailman's
bin/show_qfiles will show the message content of one or more of these
files. Mailman's bin/dumpdb will show both the message content and the
metadata for a single file at a time.

Normally, if all the qrunners are running, the eight queue directories
should be empty or nearly so. In some installations, the out/ queue
becomes backlogged. This may indicate a serious problem in SMTP
between OutgoingRunner and the outgoing MTA which needs to be fixed,
normally by eliminating various address validations for remote
addresses at SMTP time. It could indicate that you've installed the
throttling patch linked from <http://wiki.list.org/x/j4A9> and your
settings don't allow for fast enough message delivery.

For more information on the bad and shunt directories, see the

# Qrunner defaults

section in Defaults.py, particularly the documentation for the settings


For reporting, see the mmdsr and README.mmdsr files at
(I don't think RedHat distributes this with their package).

If you have other questions about this, ask more specifically.

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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