Roadmap96: MAP06 - Other Mail Servers | WebReference

Roadmap96: MAP06 - Other Mail Servers


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"Immature artists imitate. Mature artists steal."
-- Lionel Trilling, in Esquire

I am proud to say that not a single word in this entire lesson is mine. :)

Actually, I want to thank James Milles (the Head of Computer Services at the Saint Louis University Law Library) for giving me permission to reprint his "Discussion Lists: Mail Server Commands" file. James is a "net-guru" in my book, and his support really means a lot to me.

We covered basic LISTSERV commands in MAP05. This lesson is going to show you some advanced LISTSERV commands, as well as commands for other mail list servers. These additional mail servers are Listproc, Mailbase, Mailserv, and Majordomo.

Unlike LISTSERV, there is no set way to figure out if a mailing list is running on a Listproc, Mailbase, Mailserv, or Majordomo without someone telling you. So, today's lesson is really just a review of some of the LISTSERV commands we went over in MAP05, an introduction to some new LISTSERV commands, and a reference sheet for other mail server commands that you can use later.

Version 1.27
January 25, 1996
James Milles
Saint Louis University Law Library
1.  E-mail discussion lists constitute one of the most popular
methods of group communication on the Internet.  Discussion lists
support group communication by providing, at minimum, two basic
functions: (1) the ability to distribute a message to a group of
people by sending it to a single, central address, and (2) the
ability to quietly join and leave the list at any time.
     1.1.  In order to provide these separate functions, an
     e-mail discussion list typically has two addresses
     associated with it: (1) a "listname address," the address to
     which you send any messages that you intend to be read by
     the list subscribers; and (2) an "administrative address,"
     the address to which you send any commands or requests that
     affect your subscription to the list.  It's easy to remember
     this distinction by thinking of your local newspaper: the
     first address is somewhat analogous to sending a "letter to
     the editor,"  while the second is like sending a letter to
     the newspaper's subscription office.
     1.2.  With most discussion lists, the "administrative
     address" is a computer program that allows the subscriber to
     subscribe and unsubscribe automatically, without external
     intervention.  There are at least five popular mail server
     programs used to manage Internet discussion lists: REVISED
     LISTSERV (also called BITNET LISTSERV), Unix ListProcessor
     (or Listproc), Mailbase, Mailserv, and Majordomo.  The
     commands for subscribing and unsubscribing under most of
     these programs are the same; however, other useful commands
     differ greatly from one program to another, and some
     programs support features that others do not.
     1.3.  This document does not describe all the features
     supported by any of these programs, only those most commonly
     used.  For more information on any of these programs, send a
     message containing only the word "help" to the appropriate
     mail server.  Additional programs and commands will be added
     in future revisions of this document.
     1.4.  This document also does not deal with discussion lists
     to which one subscribes by sending a message to
     "[listname]-request," sometimes referred to as "Internet
     lists."  There are a great many discussion lists of this
     type; some are distribution lists maintained manually by the
     listowner, while others use some form of mailer software
     ranging from a simple script to a fairly sophisticated
     mailing list program.  Some require that subscription
     requests be placed in the message text; others require them
     to be included in the Subject: line.  Because of the variety
     of methods of maintaining these lists, it is impossible to
     generalize about their command features.  However, as a
     rule, assume that any discussion list with an administrative
     address of "[listname]-request" is maintained manually by a
     human being.  Accordingly, you should subscribe by sending a
     friendly message in plain English to "[listname]-request."
     If a program responds with instructions for subscribing,
     follow the instructions.
     1.5.  The latest version of this document is available by
     e-mail and by anonymous ftp:
          E-mail:   Send a message containing only the line
          FTP:      Anonymous ftp to
                    cd /nettrain
                    get mailser.cmd
                    -- or --
                    anonymous ftp to
                    get mailser.cmd
2.  When you subscribe to a list, you will typically receive a
"welcome" message, describing the purpose of the list and telling
you how to unsubscribe.  Save this message!  It tells you which
program the discussion list is run under, and how to get further
     2.1.  Mail servers can be confusing.  Many people use the
     term "listserv" generically, to refer to any list mail
     server program.  To make things worse, the Unix
     ListProcessor (listproc) program was originally called
     "listserv," just like REVISED LISTSERV.  Many listproc hosts
     are still configured with the name "listserv," and will
     accept commands addressed to "listserv@[host]" as well as to
     the correct name, "listproc@[host]."
     2.2.  Usually--but not always--you can find out which
     program a discussion list is run under by examining the
     message headers.  For instance, listproc lists should
     include a line saying "Unix ListProcessor."  However, the
     best practice is to save any "welcome" message you receive
     when you subscribe, and to note at that time which set of
     commands is applicable.
3.  Remember to send all commands to the "administrative
address"--[mailserver]@[host]--not to the "listname address".
[Mailserver] is the program that maintains the list (either
listproc, LISTSERV, mailbase, mailserv, or majordomo); [host] is
the address of the host computer (for example, or
     3.1.  Be sure to leave the Subject: line blank, and to
     delete any signature file if your mailer allows you to do
     3.2.  Always include the name of the list in the message to
     [mailserver]@[host].  Most mailserver sites maintain many
     different discussion lists, and it is essential that you
     tell the mail server which list you are talking about.
     3.3.  For instance, to join the discussion list, send an e-mail message containing only
     the command
     The other examples used below are:
     INT-LAW@UMINN1.BITNET (REVISED LISTSERV), (Mailbase), (Mailserv),and (Majordomo).
4.  For information on how to obtain and install these discussion
list packages and many others, see the "Mailing List Management
Software FAQ" by Norm Aleks:
    FTP:     available by anonymous ftp from,
             directory /usenet/news.answers/mail/list-admin/,
             file software-faq
    E-mail:  Send a message containing only the line
             get doc mlm-software-faq
Join a list:
     Listproc:      SUBSCRIBE [listname] Firstname Lastname
                    (e.g., SUBSCRIBE LAW-LIB John Doe)
     LISTSERV:      SUBSCRIBE [listname] Firstname Lastname
                    (e.g., SUBSCRIBE INT-LAW John Doe)
     Mailbase:      JOIN [listname] Firstname Lastname
                    (e.g., JOIN LAW-EUROPE John Doe)
     Mailserv:      SUBSCRIBE [listname] Firstname Lastname
                    (e.g., SUBSCRIBE ENVIROLAW John Doe)
                    (Optionally, include the e-mail address at
                    which you wish to receive list mail:)
                    SUBSCRIBE [listname] Firstname Lastname [address]
     Majordomo:     SUBSCRIBE [listname]
                    (e.g., SUBSCRIBE ELAW-J)
                    (Optionally, include the e-mail address at
                    which you wish to receive list mail:)
                    SUBSCRIBE [listname] [address]
Leave a list:
     Listproc:      UNSUBSCRIBE [listname]
     LISTSERV:      SIGNOFF [listname]
                    -- or --
                    UNSUBSCRIBE [listname]
     Mailbase:      LEAVE [listname]
     Mailserv:      UNSUBSCRIBE [listname]
                    (UNSUBSCRIBE [listname] [address]
                    if you subscribed under a different e-mail
     Majordomo:     UNSUBSCRIBE [listname]
                    (UNSUBSCRIBE [listname] [address]
                    if you subscribed under a different e-mail
Receive the list in digest format (multiple messages compiled
into a single mailing, usually daily or weekly):
     Listproc:      SET [listname] MAIL DIGEST
     LISTSERV:      SET [listname] DIGEST
     Mailbase:      Not supported.
     Mailserv:      Not supported.
     Majordomo:     SUBSCRIBE [listname]-DIGEST
                    (in the same message, unsubscribe from the
                    undigested version:)
                    UNSUBSCRIBE [listname]
(Note: with those programs that support the digest option,
whether or not to offer the digest format is within the
discretion of the listowner; consequently not all lists offer
Cancel digest format; receive the list as separate mailings:
     Listproc:      SET [listname] MAIL ACK
     LISTSERV:      SET [listname] MAIL
     Mailbase:      Not supported.
     Mailserv:      Not supported.
     Majordomo:     UNSUBSCRIBE [listname]-DIGEST
                    (in the same message, subscribe to the
                    undigested version:)
                    SUBSCRIBE [listname]
Suspend mail temporarily (without unsubscribing):
     Listproc:      SET [listname] MAIL POSTPONE
     LISTSERV:      SET [listname] NOMAIL
     Mailbase:      SUSPEND MAIL [listname]
     Mailserv:      Not supported.
     Majordomo:     Not supported.
Resume receipt of messages:
     Listproc:      SET [listname] MAIL ACK
                    -- or --
                    SET [listname]MAIL NOACK
                    -- or --
                    SET [listname] MAIL DIGEST
     LISTSERV:      SET [listname] MAIL
                    -- or --
                    SET [listname] DIGEST
     Mailbase:      RESUME MAIL [listname]
     Mailserv:      Not supported.
     Majordomo:     Not supported.
Receive copies of your own messages:
     Listproc:      SET [listname] MAIL ACK
     LISTSERV:      SET [listname] REPRO
                    (to simply receive an automatic
                    acknowledgement that your message has been
                    sent to the list, use:)
                    SET [listname] ACK
     Mailbase:      Standard feature; you always receive your own
     Mailserv:      Same as mailbase.
     Majordomo:     Same as mailbase.
Do not receive copies of your own messages:
     Listproc:      SET [listname] MAIL NOACK
     LISTSERV:      SET [listname] NOREPRO
     Mailbase:      Not supported.
     Mailserv:      Not supported.
     Majordomo:     Not supported.
Obtain a list of subscribers:
     Listproc:      RECIPIENTS [listname]
     LISTSERV:      REVIEW [listname] F=MAIL
                    (can also be sorted by name or by country:)
                    REVIEW [listname] BY NAME F=MAIL
                    -- or --
                    REVIEW [listname] BY COUNTRY F=MAIL
     Mailbase:      REVIEW [listname]
     Mailserv:      SEND/LIST [listname]
     Majordomo:     WHO [listname]
Hide your address, so that it does not appear on the list of
     Listproc:      SET [listname] CONCEAL YES
                    (to reverse this command, use:)
                    SET [listname] CONCEAL NO
     LISTSERV:      SET [listname] CONCEAL
                    (to reverse this command, use:)
                    SET [listname] NOCONCEAL
     Mailbase:      Not supported.
     Mailserv:      Not supported.
     Majordomo:     Not supported.
Obtain a list of lists maintained by this mail server:
     Listproc:      LISTS
                    (to obtain a list of all known LISTSERV
                    lists, send the command
                    LISTS GLOBAL;
                    to search for LISTSERV lists with a given
                    keyword or character string in the
                    description, send the command
                    LISTS GLOBAL /[keyword],
                    e.g., LISTS GLOBAL /LAW.)
     Mailbase:      LISTS
     Mailserv:      DIRECTORY/LIST
     Majordomo:     LISTS
Obtain a listing of archive files for a particular list:
     Listproc:      INDEX [listname]
     LISTSERV:      INDEX [listname]
     Mailbase:      INDEX [listname]
     Mailserv:      INDEX [listname]
     Majordomo:     INDEX [listname]
Retrieve an archive file:
     Listproc:      GET [listname] [filename]
                    (e.g., GET LAW-LIB feb94)
     LISTSERV:      GET [filename] [filetype] [listname] F=MAIL
                    (e.g., GET INT-LAW LOG9406 INT-LAW F=MAIL)
     Mailbase:      SEND [listname] [filename]
                    (e.g., SEND LAW-EUROPE 05-1994)
     Mailserv:      SEND [listname] [filename]
                    (e.g., SEND ENVIROLAW smith.txt)
     Majordomo:     GET [listname] [filename]
                    (e.g., GET ELAW-J BOYLE.TXT)
Search the archives for keywords (where available--some lists do
not keep archives):
     Listproc:      SEARCH [listname] "[keywords]"
                    Boolean searches are possible using the
                    symbols "&" (and), "|" (or), and "~" (not).
                    For example, to search for "mead" or "mdc" in
                    law-lib, use the command
                    SEARCH LAW-LIB "mead | mdc"
     LISTSERV:      LISTSERV uses a sophisticated and powerful
                    search engine that does lots of neat things
                    like finding "sounds like" matches; however,
                    it uses a difficult, batch-coded search
                    language to construct queries.  I find it
                    useful to keep a "template" file in my
                    Internet account, and then edit the file as
                    appropriate when I need to do a search.
                    Here's the search file:
                    //  JOB  Echo=No
                    Database Search DD=Rules
                    //Rules DD   *
                    Search nafta in int-law since 93/6/1
                    To run a search, send this file in an e-mail
                    message to LISTSERV@[host].  The Search line
                    can be modified as needed.  The date is
                    optional; Boolean combinations, nesting with
                    parentheses, and a great number of other
                    capabilities are supported.  For a full
                    description of LISTSERV search functions,
                    send the command
                    GET LISTDB MEMO F=MAIL
                    to LISTSERV@UMINN1.BITNET.
                    Once you've received a list of messages
                    matching your query, send another message to
                    LISTSERV@[host] to retrieve the specific
                    messages you want:
                    //  JOB  Echo=No
                    Database Search DD=Rules
                    //Rules DD   *
                    Search nafta in int-law since 93/6/1
                    Print all of 636 637 640
     Mailbase:      Archives of Mailbase lists are searchable
                    through the Mailbase Gopher (gopher
            Mailbase does not support
                    batch searching by e-mail request.
     Mailserv:      Not supported.
     Majordomo:     Not supported.
James Milles                                Voice: (314) 977-2759
Head of Computer Services                     FAX: (314) 977-3966
Saint Louis University Law Library
3700 Lindell Blvd.
St. Louis, MO  63108

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Originally written by Patrick Douglas Crispen