This document describes how to feed a mailing list to a news server using a Linux box. It is called a mini-HOWTO, specifically the Mail2news mini-HOWTO.
A mailing list (also known as a remailer), is an address where e-mail will be resent to a list of other addresses. This is useful for colaboration of geographically disperse groups. Many standards bodies like the working groups of the IETF use mailing lists.
Unfortunately, if one is subscribed to several mailing lists, one's inbox may be routinely flooded. Furthermore, some companies (such as 3Com) specify which e-mail client (such as Lotus Notes) their employees must suffer with. Redirecting these e-mails to a news server frees people to choose a news reader and utilize refined features specifically designed for the task (of deriving signal from noise).
News servers started on the Internet long ago, many years before the WWW. They (and the news reader clients) have features such as...
A big focus of news servers is sharing news between servers. The largest of these groups became known as USENET. This mini-HOWTO does not address that. You could share the newsgroups created with this mini-HOWTO on your own, but you will live just fine without it. Like a web server, ubiquitous Internet connectivity has made centralized news servers acceptable. Furthermore, recent benchmarks have shown single-processor Linux boxes can handle 1300+ HTTP hits per second, so scalability is a minor issue.
Athough you do not need to own the mailing list to use mail2news, it is a good idea to own the news server.
This document assumes you are using Linux, but other Unices are nice.
Currently only sendmail (for a mail delivery agent) is described, but as
qmail grows in popularity (in part because it is easier to configure).
Hopefully someone with submit configuration notes for it too. For a
news server, this document describes
innd. It is pretty dominant
as news servers go, but any NNTP compliant one should work.
A bit of glue called mail2news.pl is a perl script, thus you
need the Perl interpreter, but it is
very common and probably already installed. Finally, I assume
you are running all this (except the mailing list remailer) on
one machine. Dividing it up is left as an exercise for the
At the time of this writing this mini-HOWTO was only tested against a RedHat-6.0 distribution. As a good computer scientist, you should not believe anything works until it has been specifically tested. Any feedback or notes relating to other distributions would be welcomed by the author.
For most of this mini-HOWTO you will need root access unless otherwise specified.
This mini-HOWTO is presented backwards, as this is the easiest way to build and debug it. Backwards means we start with the newsreader and work upstream to the mailing list remailer, the opposite direction of normal data flow. This systems uses several hairy pieces (like sendmail and innd) which are sizeable mini-HOWTO's in thier own right.
This mini-HOWTO does not cover...
Please do not e-mail me about these subjects (or SPAM).