Drinking from the Fire(walls) Hose: Another Approach to Very Large Mailing Lists


This paper describes a set of tools and procedures which allow very large mailing lists to be managed with the freeware tool of the administrator's choice. With the right approach scaling technology can be applied to a list management tool transparently.

In recent years, many ingenious methods have been proposed for handling email deliveries to mailing lists of several thousand subscribers. Administration of a mailing list is not limited to message delivery, however. Tasks such as managing subscribers, dealing with mail bounces, and preventing list spamming also become more difficult when applied to very large lists.

As a case study, this paper describes the process of moving the well-known "Firewalls" mailing list from its original home at GreatCircle Associates to a new infrastructure at GNAC. The process was thought to be straightforward and obvious, and it soon became apparent that it was neither. We trust that our discoveries will benefit other systems administrators undertaking similar projects, either concerning large mailing lists or moving complex "legacy systems."