All Hail Free Software

by Chris DiBona

Related link: http://list.org



A self indulgent, juvenile, poem, followed by something valid and less insipid:


I love mailman, It really flies,

Set up lists, easy as pie,

Batch create, password and mbox

Options galore, sly as a fox.


Not all perfect,

with some features on the edge

Setting moderator passwords

Can only be done via a port 80 wedge


But Wait! This is free software

Written in python, which I enjoy

Open the code, where can I go?

check_pw modified, now my new toy


Change mlist.password to mlist.mod_password

That's all it took

Now I'm batch processing in passwords

so people can look


If I had gone proprietary

Where would I be?

Calling tech support

Climbing a tree


Free software it is, open source for me

And our lists run, smooth and happily

Free is nice, but freedom makes it happen

And leaves my clients clappin.


To explain: I needed to batch process a client's collection of about 548 lists which we were porting from ezmlm to mailman, which the client and myself are enamored of. In the process I wrote a handy tool for taking the ezmlm stuff and some options from the gforge we were installing, and created the lists, generated the archives from the old mboxes and set the different privacy and administrative options. It took about a minute per list to create and populate and more time for the archives to create based on mbox size.


When I went to set the moderator passwords programmatically, I realized that, being a new feature, the moderator interface wasn't as mature as the rest of the package. There was no command line tool to change the moderator password. A quick inspection of the code revealed the proper class function to call to set said password.


A quick edit of the standard list-password setting cli utility gave me the interface I needed. I was a happy sysadmin to be sure; I wasn't looking forward to manually (or via something like lwp) going into the web interfaces of 548 lists.


Only thing left for happy life is tracking down a rewriting issue, but with that done, we'll have seriously happy list goodness.


All hail free software!


Chris DiBona

I'm reminded yet again why open source is good.


3 Comments

cascadefx
2004-02-11 15:07:58
Give back...
Of course, in the true spirit of open source software, you are going to contribute your changes back to the project, correct?
adina_levin
2004-02-12 07:04:37
also the migration utilities
I have a non-profit project which is considering a similar migration. Would you be willing to OS or share the conversion utilities?


Adina

cdibona
2004-02-20 08:34:54
also the migration utilities
Sure, just email me...I will release them, but they're just scripting against bin/config_list so I don't know how useful they are. It more like the techniques I used are interesting.


The changing of moderator password might make for an interesting patch.