Mailman 3

Mailman is free software for managing electronic mail discussion and e-newsletter lists. Mailman is integrated with the web, making it easy for users to manage their accounts and for list owners to administer their lists. Mailman supports built-in archiving, automatic bounce processing, content filtering, digest delivery, spam filters, and more.

Mailman 3 is a complete re-write of previous versions, consisting of a suite of programs that work together:

  • Mailman Core; the core delivery engine. This is where you are right now.
  • Postorius; the web user interface for list members and administrators.
  • HyperKitty; the web-based archiver
  • Mailman client; the official Python bindings for talking to the Core’s REST administrative API.

Note

This guide only focuses on mail distribution and is missing information on how to archive emails. Please see the hyperkitty documentation for this and create a PR 🎉.


Note

For this guide you should be familiar with the basic concepts of

License

Mailman is released under the GNU General Public License

Prerequisites

Your URL needs to be setup for web and mail:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ uberspace web domain list
isabell.uber.space
[isabell@stardust ~]$ uberspace mail domain list
isabell.uber.space
[isabell@stardust ~]$

Additionally, create a mailbox for Mailman to use to send e-mails. In this example, we are going to use forwarder@isabell.uber.space.

Installation

Get Mailman 3

Install Mailman 3 and its dependencies via pip.

[isabell@stardust ~]$ pip3.6 install --user mailman postorius hyperkitty mailman-hyperkitty whoosh
[...]
[isabell@stardust ~]$

Get Dart Sass

Postorius and HyperKitty are build using SASS stylesheets which have to be compiled/decompiled before use. As U7 does not provide an SASS compiler, we need to download the Dart Sass standalone binary. Get the link of the latest Dart Sass binary for linux-x64 from https://github.com/sass/dart-sass/releases, download and extract the binaries:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ wget https://github.com/sass/dart-sass/releases/download/9.99.9/dart-sass-9.99.9-linux-x64.tar.gz
[isabell@stardust ~]$ tar xzvf dart-sass-9.99.9-linux-x64.tar.gz dart-sass
[isabell@stardust ~]$ mv dart-sass ./bin/
[isabell@stardust ~]$ rm dart-sass-9.99.9-linux-x64.tar.gz
[isabell@stardust ~]$

Get the mailman-suite example configuration

To have a starting point for configuration, we use the mailman-suite example provided by the Mailman team and move it to a path where we can access it easily.

[isabell@stardust ~]$ git clone https://gitlab.com/mailman/mailman-suite.git
[isabell@stardust ~]$ mv mailman-suite/mailman-suite_project/ .
[isabell@stardust ~]$ rm -rf mailman-suite
[isabell@stardust ~]$ mv mailman-suite_project/ mailman-suite
[isabell@stardust ~]$

Get and enable uwsgi

Install the required uwsgi package with pip.

[isabell@stardust ~]$ pip3.6 install uwsgi --user
[isabell@stardust ~]$

After that, continue with setting it up as a service.

Create ~/etc/services.d/uwsgi.ini with the following content:

[program:uwsgi]
command=uwsgi --master --emperor %(ENV_HOME)s/uwsgi/apps-enabled
autostart=true
autorestart=true
stderr_logfile = ~/uwsgi/err.log
stdout_logfile = ~/uwsgi/out.log
stopsignal=INT

Create needed folders and files for uwsgi:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ mkdir -p ~/uwsgi/apps-enabled
[isabell@stardust ~]$ touch ~/uwsgi/err.log
[isabell@stardust ~]$ touch ~/uwsgi/out.log
[isabell@stardust ~]$

Tell supervisord to refresh its configuration and start the service:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ supervisorctl reread
uwsgi: available
[isabell@stardust ~]$ supervisorctl update
uwsgi: added process group
[isabell@stardust ~]$ supervisorctl status
uwsgi                            RUNNING   pid 26020, uptime 0:03:14
[isabell@stardust ~]$

If it’s not in state RUNNING, check your configuration.

Get .qmail helper scripts

Mailman 3 uses LMTP to transfer emails locally. As qmail is not able to use this directly, we need to download a helper script from the mailman source:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ cd bin
[isabell@stardust bin]$ wget https://gitlab.com/mailman/mailman/raw/master/contrib/qmail-lmtp
[isabell@stardust bin]$ chmod +x qmail-lmtp

Configuration

Configure Mailman Core

At first, we need to configure the REST interface of the core component. Create the file ~/var/etc/mailman.cfg, paste and adjust the following config. The mta section contains the configuration related to sending and receiving mails. As we are using qmail, the incoming MTA has to be set to null. In webservice section we configure the REST API server. As our mailman installation is user-based, we need to tell mailman where to look for it’s binaries and configuration using paths.custom. Change var_dir and bin_dir. A full overview of possible settings can be found in the mailman docs schema.cfg.

[mta]
incoming: mailman.mta.null.NullMTA
lmtp_host: 0.0.0.0
smtp_host: stardust.uberspace.de
lmtp_port: 8024
smtp_port: 587
smtp_user: forwarder@isabell.uber.space
smtp_pass: mailpassword

[webservice]
hostname: 0.0.0.0
port: 8001
use_https: no
admin_user: restadmin
admin_pass: restpass
api_version: 3.1

[paths.custom]
var_dir: /home/isabell/var
bin_dir: /home/isabell/.local/bin

queue_dir: $var_dir/queue
list_data_dir: $var_dir/lists
log_dir: $var_dir/logs
lock_dir: $var_dir/locks
data_dir: $var_dir/data
cache_dir: $var_dir/cache
etc_dir: $var_dir/etc
messages_dir: $var_dir/messages
archive_dir: $var_dir/archives
template_dir: $var_dir/templates
pid_file: $var_dir/master.pid
lock_file: $lock_dir/master.lck

[mailman]
layout: custom

Daemonizing Mailman Core

As we want to make sure that Mailman is started automatically, we need to set it up as a service. Due to mailman executable not having having the option to always run in foreground, we need some other means of controlling it. The process controlling all forked processes is located at ~/.local/bin/master. We therefore need to create the supervisord config file for mailman in ~/etc/services.d/mailman3.ini as follows:

[program:mailman3]
enviroment=MAILMAN_VAR_DIR="%(ENV_HOME)s/var"
directory=%(ENV_HOME)s
command=%(ENV_HOME)s/.local/bin/master -C %(ENV_HOME)s/var/etc/mailman.cfg
autostart=true
autorestart=true
stderr_logfile = ~/var/logs/daemon_err.log
stdout_logfile = ~/var/logs/daemon_out.log
stopsignal=TERM

Afterwards, create necessary folders and files:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ mkdir -p ~/var/logs
[isabell@stardust ~]$ touch ~/var/logs/daemon_err.log
[isabell@stardust ~]$ touch ~/var/logs/daemon_out.log
[isabell@stardust ~]$

After creating the configuration, tell supervisord to refresh its configuration and start the service:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ supervisorctl reread
SERVICE: available
[isabell@stardust ~]$ supervisorctl update
SERVICE: added process group
[isabell@stardust ~]$ supervisorctl status
SERVICE                            RUNNING   pid 26020, uptime 0:03:14
[isabell@stardust ~]$

Adjusting Django configuration

After the REST backend has been configured, we need to configure the Django frontends for Postorius and HyperKitty. The configuration is stored in ~/mailman-suite/settings.py. As the default configuration contains a lot of pre-defined options, only changed or important settings are mentioned below (in order of appearance in the configuration file). To reduce the amount of lines, comments have been left out but can be found in the original file for reference.

[...]

BASE_DIR = '/home/isabell/var/'

SECRET_KEY = 'change-this-on-your-production-server'

DEBUG = True # Leave to True while debugging, but change to False in production

ADMINS = (
     ('Isabell', 'isabell@uber.space'),
)

ALLOWED_HOSTS = [
    "localhost",  # Archiving API from Mailman, keep it.
    # "lists.your-domain.org",
    # Add here all production URLs you may have.
    "isabell.uber.space",
    # And more...
]

MAILMAN_REST_API_URL = 'http://isabell.local.uberspace.de:8001'
MAILMAN_REST_API_USER = 'see_above'
MAILMAN_REST_API_PASS = 'see_above'
MAILMAN_ARCHIVER_KEY = '<SecretArchiverAPIKey>'
MAILMAN_ARCHIVER_FROM = ('0.0.0.0', '::')

[...]

SECURE_PROXY_SSL_HEADER = ('HTTP_X_FORWARDED_PROTO', 'https') # Uncomment
SECURE_PROXY_SSL_HEADER = ('HTTP_X_FORWARDED_SCHEME', 'https') # Uncomment

[...]

STATIC_ROOT = '/home/isabell/html/static/'

[...]

DEFAULT_FROM_EMAIL = 'forwarder@isabell.uber.space'

SERVER_EMAIL = 'isabell@uber.space'

EMAIL_BACKEND = 'django.core.mail.backends.smtp.EmailBackend'
EMAIL_HOST = 'stardust.uberspace.de'
EMAIL_PORT = 587
EMAIL_USE_TLS = True
# Use previously created mail user/password
EMAIL_HOST_USER = 'forwarder@isabell.uber.space'
EMAIL_HOST_PASSWORD = 'mailpassword'

[...]

COMPRESS_PRECOMPILERS = (
   ('text/less', 'lessc {infile} {outfile}'),
   ('text/x-scss', '/home/isabell/bin/dart-sass/sass {infile} {outfile}'),
   ('text/x-sass', '/home/isabell/bin/dart-sass/sass {infile} {outfile}'),
)

# Comment the following lines out to test sending mail
#if DEBUG == True:
#   EMAIL_BACKEND = 'django.core.mail.backends.filebased.EmailBackend'
#   EMAIL_FILE_PATH = os.path.join(BASE_DIR, 'emails')

Setting up Django

After we have adjusted our configuration file, we need to compile and configure the Django project and create a super user to be used as web admin:

Note

In case you get an error message when like django.core.exceptions.ImproperlyConfigured: SQLite 3.8.3 or later is required (found 3.7.17)., when running those manage.py commands, then you need a newer version of the sqlite library. Install pysqlite3-binary and create a symlink in order to override sqlite3:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ pip3.6 install --user pysqlite3-binary
[...]
[isabell@stardust ~]$ ln -s pysqlite3 ~/.local/lib/python3.6/site-packages/sqlite3
[isabell@stardust ~]$

Now add this ~/mailman-suite/settings.py in order to have use that version of the sqlite3 instead of the built-in one.

import sys
sys.path = ['/home/isabell/.local/lib/python3.6/site-packages'] + sys.path
[isabell@stardust ~]$ cd mailman-suite
[isabell@stardust mailman-suite]$ python3.6 manage.py migrate
[...]
[isabell@stardust mailman-suite]$ python3.6 manage.py collectstatic
[...]
[isabell@stardust mailman-suite]$ python3.6 manage.py createsuperuser
? Username (leave blank to use 'isabell'): isabell
? Email address: isabell@uber.space
? Password:
? Password (again):
ℹ Superuser created successfully.
[isabell@stardust mailman-suite]$

When Django is configured, we need to rename the example site to match our needs:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ cd mailman-suite
[isabell@stardust mailman-suite]$ python3.6 manage.py shell

>>> from django.contrib.sites.models import Site
>>> site = Site.objects.get(name='example.com')
>>> site.name = 'Isabells Uberspace'
>>> site.domain = 'isabell.uber.space'
>>> site.save()
>>> exit()

[isabell@stardust mailman-suite]$

To be able to call and execute our Django app, we need to create ~/uwsgi/apps-enabled/mailman-suite.ini and add the following content.

[uwsgi]
chdir = /home/isabell/mailman-suite

http-socket = 0.0.0.0:8000
master = true
process = 2
threads = 2
wsgi-file = wsgi.py

# your user name
uid = isabell
gid = isabell

attach-daemon = python3.6 ./manage.py qcluster

Generally, it might be necessary to reload uwsgi after changing the config change:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ supervisorctl restart uwsgi
uwsgi: stopped
uwsgi: started
[isabell@stardust ~]$

Note

mailman is running on port 8000.

To make the application accessible from the outside, configure a web backend:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ uberspace web backend set / --http --port <port>
Set backend for / to port <port>; please make sure something is listening!
You can always check the status of your backend using "uberspace web backend list".
[isabell@stardust ~]$

Additionally, serve static files using apache:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ uberspace web backend set /static --apache
Set backend for /static to apache.
[isabell@stardust ~]$

Setting up .qmail

Because Mailman doesn’t handle our .qmail-configuration automatically, we need to adjust ~/.qmail-default to forward all incoming mails to our LMTP handler. Update it with the following content. Make sure that 8024 is the LMTP port your Mailman Core is listening on and change your username twice:

|/home/isabell/bin/qmail-lmtp 8024 1 isabell.local.uberspace.de

Warning

This will forward all emails without an individually specified .qmail file to Mailman, possibly resulting in the loss of emails!

To enable mail delivery for non-mailman addresses (such as info@isabell.uber.space) you need to create individual .qmail-emailadress files such as .qmail-info. If you just want to forward incoming mail to another email address, simply write one email address per line (see example below):

isabell@example.com

If you want to use an IMAP mailbox on your uberspace, use the following as content of your .qmail file:

|/usr/bin/vdeliver

Note

In case you want to keep the default configuration, do not change ~/.qmail-default and create additional .qmail-files such as ~/.qmail-listname and ~/.qmail-listname-default containing |/home/isabell/bin/qmail-lmtp 8024 1 isabell.local.uberspace.de to forward only listname@isabell.uber.space and the related email commands (e.g. listname-subscribe@isabell.uber.space) to mailman. This needs to be done manually for every list created in the web interface!

Install cronjobs

Mailman 3 offers a cronjobs to perform some maintenance actions at regular intervals. To install them for your user, run crontab -e and add the line @daily /home/isabell/.local/bin/mailman digests --send at the end of the file.

Using Mailman

Now we are ready to use Mailman. Simply go to https://isabell.uber.space and log in with the superuser account we created earlier. You now will get an email to confirm the account to the address you initially specified. If you do not get one, check the ~/var/email/ dir - you might have forgotten to disable the debug setting in ~/mailman-suite/settings.py (see above). Otherwise check the logs in ~/mailman-suite/ and ~/var/logs/ for clues.

Now you can create a new list using the Postorious web UI.

Warning

Don’t forget to create the .qmail-aliases if you chose not to use .qmail-default!

Updates

As Mailman 3 consists of multiple independent projects, there is no single RSS feed. To check for updates, you can use pip on your uberspace:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ pip3.6 list --outdated --user
[isabell@stardust ~]$

If there are outdated packages, update the mailman packages and their dependencies using:

[isabell@stardust ~]$ pip3.6 install --user --upgrade mailman postorius hyperkitty mailman-hyperkitty whoosh uwsgi
[isabell@stardust ~]$

Note

Even after pip --upgrade, there might be outdated packages. This is the case if mailman’s dependencies demand a specific version, e.g. Django<2.2,>=1.11, and is nothing to worry about.

Acknowledgements

This guide is based on the official Mailman 3 installation instructions, the official Mailman 3 documentation as well as the great guides here at uberlab for Django and, of course, Mailman 2. Without their previous work, this guide would have not been possible. A special thanks to luto for being challenging yet very helpful in overcoming some obstacles!

Tested with Django 2.1.8, HyperKitty 1.2.2, Mailman 3.2.2, Postorius 1.2.4 and uWSGI 2.0.18 on Uberspace 7.2.8.2.

Written by: Richard Kroegel <info@kroegel.org>