MailMan WWW email interface v2.0 FAQ

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Archive-name: www/mailman-faq
Posting-Frequency: biweekly
Last-modified: Thursday, May 28, 1998
URL: http://www.endymion.com/products/mailman/faq.htm
Created: Friday, May 22, 1998
Maintainer: Ryan Alyn Porter r...@endymion.com

Frequently Asked Questions for MailMan version 2.0

Ryan Alyn Porter r...@endymion.com
Copyright © Endymion Corporation, 1998
<URL:http://www.endymion.com>

------------------------------

Subject: 1.1) Introduction and Intent

This document is an attempt to answer some of the more
frequently asked questions concerning MailMan, a web-based
email interface from Endymion Corporation. An HTML copy of
this document is stored online at
<URL:http://www.endymion.com/products/mailman/faq.htm>.
This document is not intended to act as marketing materials
for MailMan or for Endymion, this document is intended to
assist us in providing fast and efficient technical support
for MailMan users, 24 hours a day. I have attempted to
address all levels of reader, from those only barely
familiar with Internet-related software to those with the
task of actually implementing and maintaining MailMan
installations. Readers of this document are the real judge
of how successfully I have managed to pull that trick off
though. Let me know if you have any serious issues with the
information contained here. I have also tried to use simple
and straightforward English, since our users come from all
over the world. If I have used any idioms that are
difficult to understand in your particular region, please
let me know so that I might make this document more
universally comprehensible.

------------------------------

Subject: 2.1) Table of Contents

1.1) Introduction and Intent

2.1) Table of Contents

3.1) Overview
3.2) What is MailMan?
3.3) What could I use MailMan for?
3.3) How is MailMan different from HotMail, YahooMail,
ExciteMail, etc?
3.4) Where would I find current information on MailMan?
3.5) What’s the short version of how MailMan works from a
technical standpoint?
3.6) Can I customize the interface of MailMan?
3.7) What is the difference between the Standard and the
Professional editions of MailMan?
3.8) What are the basic requirements for setting up a
MailMan installation?
3.9) What standards and protocols does MailMan comply with?

4.1) Licensing
4.2) Is MailMan free?
4.3) What about the source code?
4.4) Why would you want people reading your source code?
4.5) What constitutes a single “installation” of MailMan?
4.6) Why are you picking on Scientology?

5.1) Installation
5.2) What is the difference between the different
installation distributions?
5.3) What is the basic installation procedure?
5.4) What is the installation procedure for a Unix system?
5.5) What is the installation procedure for an NT system?
5.6) I installed MailMan and it doesn’t work, what do I do?
5.7) What does it mean when I try to run MailMan and the
server says “Can’t locate cgi-lib.pl”?

6.1) Operation
6.2) How would I use MailMan in conjunction with a 'primary'
mailer on my home or office system?
6.3) Wouldn't IMAP be very well-suited to this type of
scenario?

7.1) Innards
7.2) How do I customize MailMan to blend into my site and
provide a branded interface to my users?
7.3) Is it possible to ‘rig’ a MailMan installation with a
default POP3 or SMTP server address so that the user doesn’t
have to enter them?
7.4) Is it possible to ‘rig’ a MailMan installation with a
default POP3 or SMTP server address so that the user can’t
modify them even if they want to?

------------------------------

Subject: 3.1) Overview

This section provides an overview of the basic top-level
questions about what MailMan is and what it does.

------------------------------

Subject: 3.2) What is MailMan?

MailMan is a system that provides any user with an interface
to his or her own email account from any web browser
anywhere in the world. MailMan is a piece of software that
runs on a web server as a part of an existing web site that
interacts with a mail server and displays the results
through the web server.

------------------------------

Subject: 3.2) What could I use MailMan for?

A MailMan installation could support a free email
advertisement site. A different installation of MailMan
could provide essential email access for the students at a
small community college or the students at a large
university. A different installation of MailMan could allow
the users of a neighborhood ISP to access their local email
accounts through the web without configuring a mail reader.
A different installation of MailMan could provide access to
any email address anywhere in the world for the patrons of a
cyber café. Another installation might allow business
workers to stay in touch while away from their desks, even
while at a pay kiosk in an airport or at a borrowed
workstation at another corporation. Another installation
might allow a family to keep in touch with friends through
Grandma’s WebTV box while visiting for Christmas. There are
other uses for MailMan that we have not even thought of yet.
If you think of others, please let us know.

------------------------------

Subject: 3.3) How is MailMan different from HotMail,
YahooMail, ExciteMail, etc?

Free Internet mail services such as the ones mentioned above
provide the same basic services that MailMan does, but they
provide them through a proprietary web site, generally with
the purpose of selling advertisements to a guaranteed repeat
audience. Free email sites provide the user with a mailbox
and the server to access the mailbox. MailMan is different
because it is simply a piece of software, a technology to be
applied in any number of ways. MailMan works in conjunction
with other mail servers in order to process incoming and
outgoing mail, communicating with those servers though well-
accepted Internet standards such as the POP3 and STMP
protocols. The primary advantage of MailMan is that
administrators can control their own MailMan installations.
They have the power to specify what mail servers MailMan
connects to, what MailMan looks like when it runs, who has
access to MailMan, etc. When you use MailMan, you are
accessing the same email account that you normally access,
not a new account that was created just for you to access
through a free email service. Some free email services
allow you to access your own email address through the
service, but you are still forced into using someone else’s
web server and you are forced into watching someone else’s
advertisements. With MailMan you have much more control.

------------------------------

Subject: 3.4) Where would I find current information on
MailMan?

The ‘official’ MailMan information site is at the Endymion
Corporation web site, at
<URL:http://www.endymion.com/products/mailman>.

------------------------------

Subject: 3.5) What’s the short version of how MailMan works
from a technical standpoint?

The heart of MailMan is a CGI application written in Perl,
version 5. The mail application generates MailMan’s user
interface dynamically by reading template files filled with
HTML code, processing them, and producing output for the
user through a web server. To obtain useful email
information, MailMan obtains a user’s email account
authentication information directly from the user (a
username, password and server name) and communicates with
the user’s POP3 email server the way that any client-side
mail software ordinarily would. The user sees a list of
messages and can select messages for viewing, deletion, and
other normal mail tasks. If a user wishes to reply to a
message, forward a message, or create a new message, MailMan
communicates with an SMTP mail server to send the outgoing
message the way that any ordinary client-side software
would.

------------------------------

Subject: 3.6) Can I customize the interface of MailMan?

One of the primary benefits of MailMan is that the entire
interface that is presented to the user is the result of a
collection of template files that contain ordinary HTML.
These templates can be modified to incorporate specific
branding of any web site as long as they still contain
certain vital keywords that allow MailMan to insert valuable
information.

------------------------------

Subject: 3.7) What is the difference between the Standard
and the Professional editions of MailMan?

The standard edition of MailMan is more of a 'viewer' for a
POP3 server than a complete mailer. It does not store any
user information on the server side. It does not store
messages anywhere, so the only messages that you see are the
messages that are actually on the POP3 server at that time.
The professional edition stores messages on the server side
after they have been fetched from the POP3 server, allowing
you to organize them into a folder hierarchy like you might
in Eudora or whatever mail program you ordinarily use. The
professional edition also stores user settings on the server
side, allowing users to configure options such as a default
SMTP server or a signature message to append to outgoing
messages. The standard edition is a version that we intend
for use by users as a secondary mail system that will
compliment an existing client-side mail package, the
professional edition is intended for use by novice users as
a primary mailer. Experienced users will probably not be
happy with any version of MailMan as a primary mailer, just
like they would not use HotMail or ExciteMail for a primary
mailer.

Another difference, on a more practical level, is that the
professional edition is not yet complete, and won't even go
beta for at least two or three weeks. (This was written on
Wednesday, May 27, 1998, during the public beta of MailMan
version 2.0 Standard)

------------------------------

Subject: 3.8) What are the basic requirements for setting up
a MailMan installation?

In order to make use of MailMan you must have a functioning
web server that has the ability to run Perl CGI
applications. To read incoming mail you must have access to
a functioning POP3 mail server and to send outgoing messages
you must have access to a functioning STMP mail server.
These are all very common Internet standards and you
probably have access to the necessary mail servers if you
have an Internet email account.

------------------------------

Subject: 3.9) What standards and protocols does MailMan
comply with?

MailMan uses CGI to communicate with the host web server.
For more information about CGI, consult Nick Kew's CGI FAQ
at
<URL:http://www3.pair.com/webthing/docs/cgi/faqs/cgifaq.shtm
l>.

For the generation of HTTP headers, MailMan conforms as
closely as possible with the proposed standard RFC 2068,
"Hypertext Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.1", as well as the
earlier related specifications such as RFC 1945, "Hypertext
Transfer Protocol -- HTTP/1.0."

MailMan's user interface is generated using messages that
comply as closely as possible with RFC 1866, "HyperText
Markup Language Specification - 2.0" and related
specifications.

Persistent state information for the frames-based MailMan
interface is maintained according to RFC 2109, "HTTP State
Management Mechanism".

For communication with incoming internet email servers,
MailMan conforms as closely as possible with RFC 1939, "Post
Office Protocol - Version 3", and was originally based on
the earlier specification, RFC 1725. MailMan is in strict
compliance with end of line delimiters specified in the POP3
standards documents and should be compatible with POP3
servers regardless of the end of line delimiter used in the
server's host operating system.

For communication with outgoing internet email servers,
MailMan conforms as closely as possible with RFC 821,
"Simple Mail Transfer Protocol". MailMan does not make use
of enhancements provided by later approved extension
standards such as RFC 1869 or RFC 1870.

The messages that MailMan processes and generates are
compliant as closely as possible with RFC 822, "Standard for
the format of ARPA Internet text messages". Formatted
messages and messages with attachments are automatically
handled by portions of MailMan which are compliant as
closely as possible with the specifications in RFC 2045, RFC
2046, RFC 2047, RFC 2048 and RFC 2049, "Multipurpose
Internet Mail Extensions (MIME)", parts one through five.

All of the above referenced standards documents are
available at <URL:http://www.ietf.org>.

------------------------------

Subject: 4.1) Licensing

This section describes the licensing structure of MailMan.

------------------------------

Subject: 4.2) Is MailMan free?

No, MailMan is not free. An employee of Endymion
Corporation originally started MailMan as a spare time
project in 1996. The first version of MailMan was released
through the Endymion Corporation web site in 1997 under the
GNU Public License, in the hope that people would find the
software valuable and contribute to its development. In the
time since then, many people have downloaded MailMan and
used the application and some have even contributed
suggestions and bug fixes, but nobody has undertaken further
development. Since MailMan has survived the test of time,
Endymion Corporation has decided to pronounce MailMan an
official, supported product. We have invested the time and
resources in developing MailMan version 2.0, a vast
improvement over the original freeware incarnation of
MailMan, and we are offering it for license.

Now for the exceptions. Endymion Corporation automatically
grants a license for free to installations of MailMan that
meet one of the following criteria:

1. Educational Institutions, including government,
private, and non-profit institutions. In situations where
the nature of your institution is disputed, Endymion
Corporation reserves the right to require a copy of your
501(c)(3) form or a local equivalent before granting a
license.
2. Non-profit institutions, including religious
institutions, but with the specific exception of the Church
of Scientology International or any other religious
organizations directly related to the Church of Scientology.
Endymion Corporation reserves the right to require a United
States federal non-profit tax ID number or a local
equivalent before granting a license.
3. Private individuals or families.

All installations of MailMan that do not clearly fit into
one of the three clearly-defined categories above must be
licensed. So that there is no confusion, installations of
MailMan that must be licensed include, but are not limited
to, the following examples:

· Cyber café mail kiosks
· Large ISPs
· Small-town ISPs
· Free Internet email services
· Corporate messaging applications

One license must be purchased for each installation of
MailMan, but each installation can host an unlimited number
of users, unlike MailMan’s primary competition. For current
information on MailMan licensing policies, please see
<URL:http://www.endymion.com/products/mailman/licensing.htm>
.

------------------------------

Subject: 4.2) What about the source code?

MailMan began life as a GPL product. Because of our desire
to help to move the world forward just a little bit at a
time by sharing our efforts with others and because of a
general sense of honesty and openness, we are making the
source code for MailMan available under the GNU General
Public License. Information on the GPL can be found at
<URL:http://prep.ai.mit.edu/pub/gnu/GPL>. The honesty and
integrity of our user base will determine whether our
experiment in openness is successful, or whether MailMan
must become a completely proprietary product because of the
abuse of a few selfish users. If you can read our source
code and learn from it, be our guest and please have fun.
If you can read our source code and make suggestions, please
do, we value suggestions on how to improve the product. If
you can read our source code and port it to new protocols
and environments, we would love to hear about it. If you
can read our source code and you have ideas about absconding
with a derivative of our code that you will make into your
own product, please read the GNU General Public License at
<URL:http://prep.ai.mit.edu/pub/gnu/GPL>.

------------------------------

Subject: 4.3) Why would you want people reading your source
code?

Quality assurance. If you buy a food product, you want to
know what it is made out of. If you buy a house, you want
to know that it is built of quality materials. If you buy a
car, you want to know what is under the hood. If you use a
cryptographic algorithm, you want to know that it has been
verified by outside analysts. We feel that a lot of very
poor quality software is currently sold because a lot of
software companies do not have to answer to their users. If
an independent observer looked at the source code for web
browsers from Microsoft and Netscape and told you that the
source code behind the Microsoft product was just beastly
but that the Netscape code is very clean and organized, you
might be more inclined to choose Netscape’s browser. Since
Microsoft does not release the source code for their
product, you do not have the option to evaluate their
browser. The bugs in Netscape, on the other hand, have been
hunted down and eradicated by thousands of prying eyes. We
are hoping that by making our source code open and available
that we will be held to a higher standard of quality and
that we will benefit by having some of our mistakes pointed
out by our user base. This model has worked in the past for
MailMan and we hope that it will continue to work in the
future.

------------------------------

Subject: 4.4) What constitutes a single “installation” of
MailMan?

A single installation of MailMan is defined as both a unique
URL and server that is used to access the MailMan
application. Most MailMan installations will require
exactly one server and exactly one URL. For instance,
Endymion Corporation maintains only one installation of
MailMan, on a single server that handles our entire
corporate web site, with a single URL,
<URL:http://www.endymion.com/products/mailman/demo/mailman.c
gi>. If your MailMan installation will be supported by more
than one server, all with the same URL, each server must be
licensed. In a more likely scenario, if you operate several
virtual domains from the same server and each virtual domain
makes use of a MailMan installation, each different URL that
MailMan is known by must be licensed. Having several
different virtual domains all access a single installation
of MailMan by the same URL on the same server technically
only requires one license according to our definitions, but
we are a small company and that’s not a very nice thing to
do to us. Please consider doing the right thing and
licensing each installation.

------------------------------

Subject: 4.5) Why are you picking on Scientology?

We’re not. Our intent is to provide MailMan for free to
private individuals and to organizations that are acting
selflessly and could use the applications but might not be
able to budget for it. For-profit organizations foot the
bill in our little Robin Hood game. We don’t think that
this is too much to ask, since the bill that we’re talking
about is miniscule. The Church of Scientology does not fit
into our definition of ‘an organization that acts selflessly
and might not be able to pay for a license’. We have
nothing nasty to say about Scientology or the Church of
Scientology other than that. To each his own.

------------------------------

Subject: 5.1) Installation

This section describes how to install MailMan.

------------------------------

Subject: 5.2) What is the difference between the different
installation distributions?

There are two different distributions of each edition of
MailMan version 2.0, a Unix distribution and an NT
distribution. In reality either distribution should work on
any server, but we have found it to be more convenient for
our users to package the application in a way that is more
targeted to the final platform. The primary difference
between the two distributions is that the files in the NT
distribution have been processed so that the lines in the
mail MailMan source file end with a CRLF, while the lines in
the same file in the Unix distribution are terminated with a
simple LF. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry
about it, it’s really not that important usually. Another
difference is that the main MailMan source file in the Unix
distribution is called “mailman.cgi”, while the same file in
the NT distribution is called “mailman.pl”. We have found
that this arrangement reduces confusion in most cases. If
you disagree about our file naming conventions you are
perfectly welcome to rename the files to whatever you want.

------------------------------

Subject: 5.3) What is the basic installation procedure?

I have described the steps in this item in more detail in
the OS-specific items below, this item provides an overview
of the process.

1. Unpack your distribution
2. Copy the distribution to the location on your web
server where it will be installed, “/public_html/mailman/”
for example. Make sure that the following files are
present:
“mailman.cgi” or “mailman.pl” (it comes under different
names), “cgi-lib.pl”, all of the “i_*.gif” files, and all of
the “t_*.htm” files.
3. Make sure that your copy of “mailman.cgi” or
mailman.pl” is executable, and is executable by your web
server. If you don’t know how to do this, consult an expert
on your operating system and web server.

That’s it, it looks too simple to believe, but that is the
basic process. In most cases it will be that simple, and
MailMan will run ‘out of the box’. Once you have performed
the above three steps, merely access the application through
the URL that you have given it. In the above example, the
URL to access MailMan would likely be
<URL:http://yourserver/mailman/mailman.cgi> or
<URL:http://yourserver/mailman/mailman.pl>

------------------------------

Subject: 5.4) What is the installation procedure for a Unix
system?

This item provides a more detailed explanation of the above
procedure for Unix systems. Before you install MailMan,
make sure that you have Perl 5 installed. On most Unix
systems, especially web hosting systems, Perl will already
be installed. If Perl is not installed, or if Perl version
5 is not installed, consult your system administrator.

1. Copy the distribution to the location that you want to
unpack it in. “/public_html/mailman/” in the above example.
2. Unpack the distribution with tar. On most systems you
can type “tar –zxvf <distribution>.tgz” and your system will
expand the file. You should now have a collection of
“i_*.gif” files, “t_*.htm” files, “mailman.cgi”, “cgi-
lib.pl”, and some documentation (this document, in
particular). On systems where that doesn’t work, try
“gnutar –zxvf <distribution>.tgz”. If that doesn’t work,
you will have to manually unzip the file with “gunzip” and
then untar the file with “tar –xvf <distribution>.tar”. If
all else fails, fetch the NT distribution and unzip it.
3. Make sure that your copy of “mailman.cgi” is executable
by issuing the command “chmod 755 mailman.cgi” Your copy of
cgi-lib.pl” must also be executable. “chmod 755 cgi-
lib.pl”. Also, just to be sure, make sure that your
“t_*.htm” and “i_*.gif” files are marked so that the web
server process can read them. Sometimes you can read your
own files, but you inadvertently have your files set so that
your web server can’t access them. These are the same rules
that you should be following when you publish ordinary web
content. “chmod 644 i_*.gif t_*.htm” should do the trick.
4. Make sure that the first line of the “mailman.cgi” file
refers to the correct location of your Perl interpreter. Be
warned that it probably does not. You can find out where
your Perl interpreter is located on most Unix systems by
typing “where perl” on the command line. Some system
administrators keep Perl 4 and Perl 5 both installed at the
same time, with “perl” referring to Perl 4 and “Perl” or
“perl5” referring to Perl 5. If your system operates this
way, make sure that you are referring to the correct
location of Perl 5. MailMan will not operate with Perl 4.

Check your installation by loading “mailman.cgi” in your web
browser through your web server. In the above example, the
URL to access MailMan would likely be
<URL:http://yourserver/mailman/mailman.cgi>.

------------------------------

Subject: 5.5) What is the installation procedure for an NT
system?

This item provides a more detailed explanation of the above
procedure for NT systems. Before you install MailMan on an
NT system, make sure that you have Perl 5 installed. For
more information on where to get Perl 5 and how to install
and configure it for NT, please consult Evangelo Prodromou‘s
Perl for Win32 FAQ at
<URL:http://www.endcontsw.com/people/evangelo/Perl_for_Win32
_FAQ.html>

1. Copy the distribution to the location that you want to
unpack it in. “/public_html/mailman/” in the above example.
2. Unpack the distribution.
3. If you are using IIS, make sure that the directory
where your MailMan installation resides is marked executable
in the IIS administration interface. Also make sure that
your “mailman.pl” file ends in an extension that will be
recognized by your system as a Perl 5 script. Most of the
time “mailman.pl” will do the trick, but your installation
of Perl 5 may be different.

Check your installation by loading “mailman.pl” in your web
browser through your web server. In the above example, the
URL to access MailMan would likely be
<URL:http://yourserver/mailman/mailman.pl>.

------------------------------

Subject: 5.6) I installed MailMan and it doesn’t work, what
do I do?

1. Make sure that you have your permissions set on the
files mailman.cgi and cgi-lib.pl, so that both are
executable. The exact mechanism of doing this is different
on every operating system. On unix, make sure that the
permissions on both files read "-rwxr-xr-x" when you do an
"ls -alt". You manage this with "chmod 755 mailman.cgi cgi-
lib.pl". If you're using any other OS, ask an expert on
your OS.
2. Make sure that your web server understands that a file
ending in ".cgi" (or “.pl” or whatever your copy is called)
is a CGI script and that it should run "mailman.cgi" when
you invoke it. If your web server isn't happy with the
".cgi" extension, feel free to rename it to ".pl" or
".runthis" or whatever makes your web server happy. If you
change the extension, or even the name, of mailman, you
shouldn't have to change anything else and it should just
run. MailMan dynamically identifies its own location each
time it runs. This one varies from web server to web
server, and if you don't know how to deal with this issue,
ask an expert on your web server.
3. Make sure that MailMan's templates are readable to your
web server. Keep in mind that just because they are marked
readable to you, they are not necessarily marked readable to
your web server, since the server generally runs as a
different user. In Unix, you probably want your permissions
for your "t_*.htm" files to read "-rw-r--r--", which you can
achieve with "chmod 644 t_*.htm". On any other OS, if you
don't already know how to do it then ask an expert on your
OS.
4. Make sure that MailMan's templates are located in the
directory that your web server will set to the 'current'
directory when MailMan runs. This will USUALLY be the same
directory that the script is located in, but not
necessarily. Some web servers set the current directory to
places other than where the script itself is located. If
you have one of these servers and MailMan runs but your
templates are AWOL, consult with your sysadmin or an expert
on your web server, or see section 5.7 of this FAQ.

------------------------------

Subject: 5.7) What does it mean when I try to run MailMan
and the server says “Can’t locate cgi-lib.pl”?

The most likely cause of an error complaining about not
being able to find “cgi-lib.pl” is that MailMan is ‘lost’.
This happens when your server runs your CGI applications
with a current directory other than the actual directory
that the application is located in. If your MailMan
installation is in “/public_html/mailman/mailman.cgi” for
instance, your server might instantiate MailMan with
“/public_html/mailman/mailman.cgi” as the current directory,
in which case everybody is happy. It also might instantiate
MailMan with “/usr/local/somedir/” as the current
direcotory, in which case MailMan has no way of locating its
own templates and dependencies. Luckily, there is a simple
fix for this. At the top of the “mailman.cgi” file there is
a line that allows you to manually set the variable
“$strLocation” to an absolute path that describes the
location of your MailMan installation. In the above example
you would set “$strLocation” to “/public_html/mailman/”,
letting MailMan know where it should look for dependencies
and templates. Note that “$strLocation” must be a complete
directory name, with an absolute root and the terminating
“/” or “\” character, depending on your operating system and
file system.

------------------------------

Subject: 6.1) Operation

This section describes how to work MailMan from a user’s
point of view.

This section is still incomplete, sorry, check back after
the MailMan public beta is over for a more current copy of
this document with more useful information for this section.

------------------------------

Subject: 6.2) How would I use MailMan in conjunction with a
'primary' mailer on my home or office system?

We wish that there were other sources that we could
reference that could explain the basics of using several
different mailers at once. Unfortunately we don't know of
any. If you know of any good write-ups with suggestions for
novice users on this subject please let us know.

The key issue involved is configuring your mailer to leave
its messages on the internet mail server after it has
downloaded them. If you receive a message from your boss on
your computer at work and you decide that you would really
rather go home and reply to the message after dinner, you
can't do that if your mailer at work deletes the message
from the server after it checks the message. If you set
your mailer at work to not delete the message from the
server, when you get home and check your mail, the message
will still be there waiting for you to reply to it. Using
MailMan in conjunction with other mailers is no different.
All that you need to do is configure all of your mailers to
leave messages on the mail server by default, and perhaps
select one mailer as your 'official' mailer that is allowed
to delete your messages. Most quality mail clients have
options to leave messages on the server but delete them
after a set number of days have passed. This option is
extremely helpful when using many different mail clients to
access the same mailbox.

------------------------------

Subject: 6.3) Wouldn't IMAP be very well-suited to this type
of scenario?

Yes, IMAP is the perfect solution to the problem of
synchronizing multiple different internet client
applications. IMAP supports persistent mail storage in
folders on the server side so that all mail clients,
regardless of location, have a synchronized impression of
what the user's current mail situation is like. MailMan
does not currently support IMAP because it is not nearly as
widely accepted as POP3 as a mail server protocol, and
because there are a fixed number of hours in a developer's
day. We sincerely hope that IMAP becomes more prevalent and
demand for an IMAP version of MailMan increases, and we hope
that the existing versions of MailMan will be successful
enough to support the development of an IMAP version. If
you would personally like to see an IMAP version of MailMan
with full server-side folder support, drop us a line at
mai...@endymion.com and let us know that you are out there.
If the demand is high enough we will naturally be compelled
to develop a product.

------------------------------

Subject: 7.1) Innards

This section describes the inner working of MailMan for
installation administrators that want to customize their
installations.

This section is still incomplete, sorry, check back after
the MailMan public beta is over for a more current copy of
this document with more useful information for this section.

------------------------------

Subject: 7.2) How do I customize MailMan to blend into my
site and provide a branded interface to my users?

All of MailMan's output is defined by a collection of HTML
templates. The templates are the ".htm" files that begin
with "t_" in your distribution. We have provided a sample
look and feel for MailMan that you are welcome to use for as
long as you like. When you begin the customization process,
simply open the templates in any HTML editor and make your
modifications. Remember that the behavior of MailMan is
dictated by hidden fields contained within the HTML
templates, so make sure that you go slowly and check your
results often, as it may be possible to 'break' your
installation by accidentally deleting or modifying important
keywords. We hope to provide more detailed information on
what MailMan's keywords are and what they mean in this
document at a later date.

------------------------------

Subject: 7.3) Is it possible to ‘rig’ a MailMan installation
with a default POP3 or SMTP server address so that the user
doesn’t have to enter them?

Yes. The POP3 server used is referred to in the HTML
templates by the substitution keyword “SERVER”. Hunt down
everywhere that MailMan allows the user to supply this value
through a form field. The only place where this should
happen is in the template “t_login.htm”. Find this
form field:

<input type="text" name="SERVER" size="30">

And replace it with:

<input type="text" name="SERVER" size="30"
value=”popserver.mydomain.com”>

The box will now be filled in by default for the user when
they log on, but experienced users will still be able to aim
MailMan at specific servers.

The SMTP server used by MailMan is specified by the keyword
“OUTGOING”. Change the form fields that set the “OUTGOING”
keyword in both “t_f_messageform.htm” and
“t_nf_messageform.htm” in order to rig the outgoing SMTP
server to something specific.

------------------------------

Subject: 7.4) Is it possible to ‘rig’ a MailMan installation
with a default POP3 or SMTP server address so that the user
can’t modify them even if they want to?

Yes. The POP3 server used is referred to in the HTML
templates by the substitution keyword “SERVER”. Hunt down
everywhere that MailMan allows the user to supply this value
through a form field. The only place where this should
happen is in the template “t_login.htm”. Find this
form field:

<input type="text" name="SERVER" size="30">

And replace it with:

<input type="hidden" name="SERVER"
value=”popserver.mydomain.com”>

The box will now not even show up, and users will not have
the option of specifying a server. This makes things
considerably simpler for novice users if the server
addresses are static. You will probably want to do more
surgery than this to make your login page look reasonable.

The SMTP server used by MailMan is specified by the keyword
“OUTGOING”. Change the form fields that set the “OUTGOING”
keyword in both “t_f_messageform.htm” and
“t_nf_messageform.htm” in order to rig the outgoing SMTP
server to something specific.

------------------------------
Copyright © Endymion Corporation, 1998

Ryan Alyn Porter

unread,
May 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/30/98
to

At 11:09 PM 5/29/98 +0000, Nick Kew wrote:
:[ Mailed and posted; cc the news.answers team ]

I pulled out the specific parts of your message that address the
appropriateness of the MailMan FAQ being posted to Usenet and CC'd that to
the news.answers team, so that they aren't subjected to our shop talk.
I've continued the shop talk in a separate message.

:It deals specifically with one commercial product, reads like a
:product advertisement, and appears to be a very long way down a
:slippery-slope of turning Usenet into an advertising forum.

I understand your concerns and I agree to some extent. I debated whether
to post this FAQ to comp.infosystems.www.authoring.cgi, but I was on the
fence so I decided to post it and find out what the response would be. If
enough people share your opinion then I certainly have no problem
withdrawing the FAQ from comp.infosystems.www.authoring.cgi or the
*.answers groups. I'm not out to be a jerk here, I want to do what is
right. You are the only person that I have heard from that is opposed to
the FAQ so far though, so I'm hoping that perhaps I can trim the content in
some way that will make mostly everybody happy. I value your feedback
though and I agree that your concern is legitimate.

:And
:whilst a number of questions on the subject of mail-by-web do
:appear on this newsgroup, I don't recollect seeing a single one
:_specifically_ on the subject of your product.

I personally feel that providing people with an unobtrusive notice in
appropriate forums of a system to solve this very frequent need is
appropriate. Of course we benefit by collecting more users and making more
people aware of our system and our company, much the same way as you gain
notoriety though your own (excellent) CGI FAQ.

Please note that one of the reasons why the MailMan FAQ currently has a lot
more meta information and marketing-like information is because it is still
a work in progress, and that stuff is the easy stuff to write. The
technical information is the real value of the FAQ and that part builds
pretty slowly. If your concerns could be addressed by removing the
information about licensing and that sort of thing from the publicly-posted
FAQ, and posting a FAQ that is purely an overview of a potential solution
to the web<->mail problem along with installation and technical
information, I wouldn't mind doing that at all. I certainly don't want to
be perceived as a spammer, but at the same time I don't want to mislead
people into thinking that MailMan is freeware. It *is* freeware for a
large chunk of the people that will read the FAQ, since it's free for
private individuals, non-profit institutions and educational institutions,
but it isn't freeware, and I don't want to mislead people and make them
angry that way. I'm sure that you can see my dilemma.

:OK, I'm biased. You are "the competition" to me in this particular
:product. And if you can post a regular advert as a FAQ, why not
:me too? And many, many others who have a product to advertise.
:Will there then be space left for discussion?

Well, to be perfectly realistic, your FAQ *is* an advertisement for you and
your reputation. There are also many FAQs posted that address specific
commercial products, informing users of free and commercial solutions to
common problems. I do not condone spamming in any way and I am saddened to
see our public forums dying under the flood, but I am trying to do what I
can to make the MailMan FAQ into a legitimate public service by posting it
in an infrequent and unobtrusive manner, clearly labeling the contents, and
by posting it to appropriate forums.

-Ryan

Ryan Alyn Porter, President
Endymion Corporation
http://www.endymion.com

--
PLEASE NOTE: comp.infosystems.www.authoring.cgi is a
SELF-MODERATED newsgroup. aa.net and boutell.com are
NOT the originators of the articles and are NOT responsible
for their content. You can SELF-APPROVE your first posting
by writing the word 'passme' on a line by itself.

Alan J. Flavell

unread,
May 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/30/98
to

On 30 May 1998, Ryan Alyn Porter wrote:

: At 11:09 PM 5/29/98 +0000, Nick Kew wrote:
.
:
: :It deals specifically with one commercial product, reads like a


: :product advertisement, and appears to be a very long way down a
: :slippery-slope of turning Usenet into an advertising forum.
:
: I understand your concerns and I agree to some extent.

.

: You are the only person that I have heard from that is opposed to


: the FAQ so far though,

Then I suppose I should put my head above the parapet also and say
that I read a little bit of it, concluded that it was an advertisement
masquerading as an FAQ, deleted it and made a mental note to downrate
further contributions from the same source. It's just my personal
reaction, and others are of course entirely free to draw their own
conclusions without any prompting from me.

: :And


: :whilst a number of questions on the subject of mail-by-web do
: :appear on this newsgroup, I don't recollect seeing a single one
: :_specifically_ on the subject of your product.
:
: I personally feel that providing people with an unobtrusive notice in
: appropriate forums of a system to solve this very frequent need is
: appropriate.

Well then, why not provide one, instead of this very obtrusive
advertising pretending to be answers to frequent questions that have
not, in fact, been asked here, let alone "frequently" (as far as I can
see)?

: Of course we benefit by collecting more users and making more


: people aware of our system and our company, much the same way as you gain
: notoriety though your own (excellent) CGI FAQ.

Maybe, but Nick's FAQ answers frequently asked technical questions;
admittedly there are a few where he feels, no doubt honestly, that his
product offers the best answer, but I never felt that he was favouring
his software unfairly over others.
.
: Please note that one of the reasons why the MailMan FAQ currently has a lot


: more meta information and marketing-like information is because it is still
: a work in progress, and that stuff is the easy stuff to write.

That doesn't sound at all like an FAQ to me. The more you write, the
more you convince me that you have difficulty offering even-handed
technical advice, and one's inclined to rate your future responses
accordingly.

: Well, to be perfectly realistic, your FAQ *is* an advertisement for you and
: your reputation.

Every posting is indirectly an advertisement for one's reputation. This
is, may I say, an ingenuous argument. It would be a great pity if the
honourable usenet concept of an FAQ (collated even-handedly, and beaten
into shape by peer review) were to be turned into a vendor's
product-specific technical support document. There's a valuable place
for the latter, don't get me wrong, but I'd say that place is on the
WWW, at an advertised URL, and not a regular posting of the text to
usenet on the pretext of being an FAQ. That's just my opinion and I
don't propose to hold a protracted discussion about it, but when someone
stands up and claims that no-one else has complained, I think it
deserves a candid answer.

--

Frank Louwers

unread,
May 30, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/30/98
to

Ryan Alyn Porter <r...@endymion.com> wrote:
: At 11:09 PM 5/29/98 +0000, Nick Kew wrote:

I agree, this is advertising!

I didn't mind the post in the other thread, just talking about your product,
but the URL is enough! The so-called FAQ was over the edge ....

Frank

Aaron Baugher

unread,
May 31, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/31/98
to

"Alan J. Flavell" <fla...@mail.cern.ch> writes:

: Then I suppose I should put my head above the parapet also and say


: that I read a little bit of it, concluded that it was an
: advertisement masquerading as an FAQ, deleted it and made a mental
: note to downrate further contributions from the same source. It's
: just my personal reaction, and others are of course entirely free to
: draw their own conclusions without any prompting from me.

That was my reaction as well. A better way to distribute this sort of
thing would be with a mailing list. Offer subscription info on a web
page, and distribute the 'faq' through that. This group is filled
mostly with people who write Perl stuff to sell - his competitors, not
his customers.

--
Aaron Baugher - abau...@rnet.com
Extreme Systems Consulting - http://haruchai.rnet.com/esc/
CGI, Perl, Java, and Unix Administration

brian d foy

unread,
May 31, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/31/98
to

In article <Pine.A41.3.95a.980530...@rsplus04.cern.ch>, "Alan J. Flavell" <fla...@mail.cern.ch> posted:

:On 30 May 1998, Ryan Alyn Porter wrote:

:: Of course we benefit by collecting more users and making more


:: people aware of our system and our company, much the same way as you gain
:: notoriety though your own (excellent) CGI FAQ.

.
:Maybe, but Nick's FAQ answers frequently asked technical questions;


:admittedly there are a few where he feels, no doubt honestly, that his
:product offers the best answer, but I never felt that he was favouring
:his software unfairly over others.

indeed - Nick and i have very similar utilities (HTTPeek and CG-Eye).
although he certainly is better able to discuss his, he usually
mentions mine (and likewise). with everything that he has done, i'm
surprised that more of it doesn't seep into his writing. :)

--
brian d foy <com...@computerdog.com>
CGI Meta FAQ <URL:http://computerdog.com/CGI_MetaFAQ.html>
Comprehensive Perl Archive Network (CPAN) <URL:http://www.perl.com>
Perl Mongers T-shirts! <URL:http://www.pm.org/tshirts.html>

ni...@webthing.com

unread,
Jun 1, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/1/98
to

In article <comdog-ya02408000...@news.panix.com>,
com...@computerdog.com (brian d foy) wrote:

: indeed - Nick and i have very similar utilities (HTTPeek and CG-Eye).


: although he certainly is better able to discuss his, he usually
: mentions mine (and likewise). with everything that he has done, i'm
: surprised that more of it doesn't seep into his writing. :)

Thanks Brian and Alan for your kind words.

As regards cg-eye and HTTPeek, yes, both get a mention in the CGIFAQ.
And both are also freebies, both to use on the Web and to download -
as well as being (hopefully) of considerable interest to CGI programmers.

Usenet FAQs have a somewhat privileged position: namely exposure brought
by the numerous RTFM mirrors. I would consider the addition of commercial
content to be an abuse of that position, and I find the notion that such
an overtly commercial advertisement should have got news.answers approval
frankly incredible. Nevertheless, this "mailman faq" is now there:
a free advertisement.

Yes, much cleverer than the petty spammers. But IMHO a worse abuse, in
striking into a medium that isn't already 90% noise. Are you trying to
do for RTFM what "green card" did for Usenet?

BTW: if anyone's wondering about the CGIFAQ, I can't post it these days:

I have :-
One Client's newsfeed that doesn't propagate
One webserver host's newsfeed that won't accept it for technical reasons
it would be foolish to discuss publicly
One ISP newsfeed, from an ISP I pay for but can't connect to.
And dejanews - adequate for posts like this, but their builtin protection
against abuse would certainly prevent FAQ posting.
It should be posted for me by a colleague shortly.

--
Nick Kew.

-----== Posted via Deja News, The Leader in Internet Discussion ==-----
http://www.dejanews.com/ Now offering spam-free web-based newsreading

Ryan Alyn Porter

unread,
Jun 1, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/1/98
to

ni...@webthing.com wrote:

: Usenet FAQs have a somewhat privileged position: namely exposure brought


: by the numerous RTFM mirrors. I would consider the addition of commercial
: content to be an abuse of that position, and I find the notion that such
: an overtly commercial advertisement should have got news.answers approval
: frankly incredible. Nevertheless, this "mailman faq" is now there:
: a free advertisement.

I have listened to the discussion and I agree that you all have a point and
that you are all clearly correct. Our posting was inappropriate and it does
not belong in this group or in the RTFM servers, it belongs on our own web
site. I am withdrawing the FAQ from periodic posting and I will do what I can
to have the first posting removed from the RTFM archives.

: Yes, much cleverer than the petty spammers. But IMHO a worse abuse, in


: striking into a medium that isn't already 90% noise. Are you trying to
: do for RTFM what "green card" did for Usenet?

Hey, I don't know what else I can do. It seemed like a good idea so we decided
to go ahead with it and find out what the reaction was like. It was approved
by the news.answers team so we posted it, the public reaction was clearly not
good. We have considered your arguments and agree with them, so we have
publicly apologized and we are doing what we can to remove the posting. I
don't know what else you would like for us to do.

I don't like spam any more than anybody else, and I don't want to be associated
with it. I clearly made a mistake and I'm sorry. I honestly felt that we were
providing useful information to the world, and that it would be useful for that
information to be archived. Clearly 'the world' does not feel this way, so I
am doing everything that I can to rectify the situation and clear the matter
out for good. If anybody has any other suggestions for how we can rectify the
situation (other than by doing penance by getting stockaded and having netizens
fling chunks of rotten spam at us or something) please let me know. I want to
cooperate here and do the right thing. My suggestion would be to drop the
matter entirely to prevent any further waste of bandwidth on 'free advertising'
for our product, since we all seem to be in agreement at this point.

Ryan Alyn Porter, President
Endymion Corporation
http://www.endymion.com

Ryan Alyn Porter

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Jun 1, 1998, 3:00:00 AM6/1/98
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