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Mailman is a mailing list management system. It is used in conjunction with a mail server.


Install the mailman3 package.

Note: mailman3 will replace mailman in the near future. As both applications make use of /var/lib/mailman as state directory and the mailman user, they currently conflict and can not be installed alongside each other.

Mailman can be used in conjunction with Postorius (for configuration) and Hyperkitty (for archiving).

Note: Mailman runs as a dedicated mailman user, therefore any calls to the mailman executable have to be done as the mailman user.


All configuration for Mailman takes place in /etc/mailman.cfg. The schema explaining all possible configuration options and setting the defaults is stored in /usr/lib/python3.8/site-packages/mailman/config/schema.cfg.

The configuration is also accessible via the command line. Run the following command as the mailman user (e.g. using sudo or su):

[mailman]$ mailman conf


Mailman by default uses an SQLite database in /var/lib/mailman/data/, but can be configured to use MariaDB or PostgreSQL.


The default location for the SQLite database is already reflected in the schema.cfg and therefore does not have to be set in Mailman's configuration.

url: sqlite:////var/lib/mailman/data/mailman.db


Install the python-pymysql package and configure a database on MariaDB.

class: mailman.database.mysql.MySQLDatabase
url: mysql+pymysql://myuser:mypassword@mymysqlhost/mailman?charset=utf8&use_unicode=1


Install the python-psycopg2 package and create a database using PostgreSQL.

class: mailman.database.postgresql.PostgreSQLDatabase
url: postgres://myuser:mypassword@mypghost/mailman


Enable and start mailman3.service.

Several systemd services with timers exist, taking care of various aspects of the list management:

  • mailman3-digests.timer: for sending out daily digests to subscribers
  • mailman3-gatenews.timer: for hourly polling of NNTP servers for news
  • mailman3-notify.timer: for sending out daily notifications to admins about pending requests


Integrate with a mail server

Tango-view-fullscreen.pngThis article or section needs expansion.Tango-view-fullscreen.png

Reason: Example for setup with mail server (based on upstream documentation). (Discuss in Talk:Mailman#)

Integrate with Hyperkitty

Mailman does not automatically archive mails on its own. The Hyperkitty web application is used for this purpose. Based on a plugin, mailman is able to send mails to a Hyperkitty instance for archival.

Install the mailman3-hyperkitty package and configure /etc/mailman-hyperkitty.cfg.

Afterwards, make mailman aware of the plugin:

class: mailman_hyperkitty.Archiver
enable: yes
configuration: /etc/mailman-hyperkitty.cfg

Tips and tricks

Migrate from mailman < 3.0

Mailman offers the possibility of importing mailman < 3.0 based list databases (config.pck). Run the following command as the mailman user (e.g. using sudo or su):

[mailman]$ mailman import21 LISTSPEC PICKLE_FILE

Here, LISTSPEC represents a fully-qualified name of a list to import (e.g. and PICKLE_FILE the path to the list's config.pck file.

Note: The mailman2 list to be imported must already exist on the target mailman instance.


Mailman exposes a REST API, which can be interfaced using custom tooling, based on python-mailmanclient.

See also