Uber Ubuntu Mailman Madness

A petty annoyance on Ubuntu is getting all the bits of mailman to talk to each other: the mailman software itself, and in my case Postfix as the MTA and Apache as the host server.

Putting aside my complete failure to properly RTFA on the Mailman-Postfix hookup, I found an interesting problem with the default install of Mailman: if you modify permissions to allow Apache to reach the relevant cgi-bin directories, parts of Mailman stop working. Modify it back using the included check_perms script and Apache stops working.

The solution is to add the Apache user (www-data) to the Mailman group (list). Then everything works.

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5 Responses to Uber Ubuntu Mailman Madness

  1. Fiasco da Gama says:

    Mailman must die, Jacques. It’s evil.
    I don’t know whether you’ve called into the threat at Troppo, but I’ve been shilling for alternatives, if you what you’re after is a one-way massmailer rather than a group list.
    PHPList will do everything you could possibly want and more. I’ve had only good experiences with it.
    The sweet thing about dadamail, OTOH, is that it works the list from a text file outside your web root—it doesn’t necessarily require access to a database.
    Anyway, good luck with it.

  2. Jacques Chester says:

    PHPList isn’t installing for me – the instructions are notso hotso in that department. Essentially it insists there is no MySQL database even where there is. Most annoying.

    I got Dadamail to work, and it’s very nice. However as well as mass mailouts I also need ordinary discussion list capabilities to allow the editors of Missing Link to coordinate their work.

  3. Fiasco da Gama says:

    Yeah, the instructions are a bit opaque (read: botch job). OK, I admit that that was one poor experience. If I recall, I had a bit of trouble in my installation in getting it to recognise a database at localhost. If you want highly dubious advice on PHPList—you’ve got my email.
    Mailman unfortunately sounds like your solution for a discussion list, but perhaps if collaboration’s what you’re after, a wiki of some sort might be a more effective solution?
    Good luck with whatever you go with.

  4. Jacques Chester says:

    We do have a wiki for generating the actual document, but the mailing list lets the editors communicate with each other quickly, raise questions, etc.

    Your problem sounds like my problem. Any tips?

  5. Fiasco da Gama says:

    Hmm, now you’re testing my memory.
    If the error reads:

    Fatal Error: Cannot connect to database, access denied. Please contact the administrator

    I think my error was something as stupid as forgetting to enter the table prefix. But it sounds like your error is that the application can’t find the db at all: is that right?
    As I said, highly dubious advice, sorry.
    My tips: if you want to automate everything with cron (and that’s the most useful part), I hope you’ve got PHP-cli. My webhost has only PHP-cgi and it was a bit of a pain in the arse working around. Junk FCKEditor and go with TinyMCE. Rewrite the embarassingly naff default system messages. Use smaller batches than you really need to and throttle mercilessly.
    I suppose in PHPList you could have a group for editors and give everyone on the list access to sending privileges, which’d be a de-facto discussion list, but—that’d be solving the wrong problem.

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