[Mailman-Users] Diagnosing command failures

Gary Merrill ghmerrill at chathamdesign.com
Thu Jan 22 04:44:25 CET 2015

I don't think this is the problem.  So far as I know he has been using
single-word passwords with only alphabetic characters in them.  I'm really
surprised that there would have been a bug involving initial or terminal
whitespace, but I suppose these things happen.  (Trying to imagine how that
could have been left out of the tokenizer -- can't quite do it :-) ).  We
are using version 2.1.18-1 -- which appears to be the most recent stable

I do appreciate your efforts to help, but you should realize that some of
them are based on assumptions that simply don't hold in this case --
although they pretty universally held when Mailman was originally written,
and for some time afterward.  The primary underlying assumption is that the
list administrator will have access to at least most aspects of the OS and
server environment.  In this case, that isn't true.

We subscribe to web hosting from Webhostingpad.com.  The level of our
service does not give me a virtual machine, doesn't provide me with root
access, doesn't even provide me with a shell, and does not provide me with
direct access to any databases (I can create them and layout the tables, but
that's about it).  So I can't look at server logs and can't run shell
scripts. I can't throw SQL at a db.  I can't see any of the file system
that's outside of my "home" directory tree.  So I can't even see where any
of the usual Mailman files are.  I can only manage things through the
Mailman web interface.  Oddly, I can create cron jobs, but really have no
way of testing/debugging them aside from creating the job and seeing what
happens.  Mailman lists are offered as one of the utilities under the Mail
heading in Cpanel.  It's simple.  It works.

So suggestions about checking server logs, or the database, or running a
shell script just aren't things I'm able to do.  There's really no point in
our having a higher degree of service since (whenever I turn this over to
someone else), the level of knowledge of whomever ends up managing it after
I do will be very low -- and may not include any *NIX experience at all.
I'm trying to create an integrated web site and set of communication
utilities that are virtually self-maintaining, other than having to modify
web pages now and then, and maybe having to manage/configure mailing lists
and users and such.  For this reason, I am not interested in patches or
custom code -- much as I love Python myself.  In our entire band I would
estimate that there are maybe three people who know what Python is, and I'm
one of them.  Any C or C# or C++ programmers?  Maybe one or two others.  Any
really competent ones?  Highly doubtful.  Maybe one other.

Now you might argue that Mailman was never intended to be deployed in such a
lame support environment.  That is almost certainly true.  But it's ALMOST
good enough to stand on its own feet in this environment, and I think that a
number of subscribers to Webhostingpad make use of it.  It's been working
very reliably and well with this one exception -- which is certainly the
problem of this single user.  Since Mailman doesn't log failures and doesn't
return specific enough diagnostics to tell exactly what's going on, I'll
have to deal with it a more direct and personal way.  I think the best thing
to do would be to get one of his buddies to sit down with him and show him
how to do it and what his problem is.

Thanks for the suggestions.


Gary H. Merrill
Chatham Design Consultants
+1 919.271.7259

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Mailman-Users [mailto:mailman-users-
> bounces+ghmerrill=chathamdesign.com at python.org] On Behalf Of Mark Sapiro
> Sent: Wednesday, January 21, 2015 9:04 PM
> To: mailman-users at python.org
> Subject: Re: [Mailman-Users] Diagnosing command failures
> On 01/21/2015 08:42 AM, Mark Sapiro wrote:
> >
> > And, you could send him an email with a
> > <mailto:LISTNAME-request at ...?subject=who%20PASSWORD> link in it hand
> > have him just click that and send.
> >
> > I assume you can find his password with something like
> >
> > bin/dumpdb lists/LISTNAME/config.pck | grep <his email>
> >
> > since your original request was for logs.
> It occurs to me that possibly he is having so much difficulty because his
> contains leading or trailing white space. I don't think this is possible
with recent
> versions, but there have been bugs in this area in the past. What is your
> version? have you seen his password with something like the above?
> --
> 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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