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USENIX Technical Program - Abstract - 13th Systems Administration Conference - LISA '99

MJDLM: Majordomo based Distribution List Management

Vincent D. Skahan, Jr. and Robert Katz, The Boeing Company


In early 1998, we were asked by Corporate Communications to develop a facility for providing a subscription based internal company mailing list capability that would permit Senior Executive management to send messages on an irregular basis from anywhere in the world.

Shortly thereafter, we were also asked to provide a one-use-only mechanism to send all 175,000 worldwide employees a (self-qualifying) message of where internally to report perceived spam in order to support corporate efforts to reduce incoming spam through technical means. Much to our surprise, delivering this message was a technical non-event.

The success of these efforts led Corporate Communications to request a more general system for permitting multiple mailings to targeted audiences, with a goal of completely eliminating the paper-based communications Management Information Bulletin systems, hopefully at considerable cost savings.

Given time and budget constraints, we chose to base our solution on majordomo.

This paper describes a scalable method for handling deliveries to multiple majordomo mailing lists with a minimum of administration. Ancillary issues such as sender authentication, message constraints, bounces, mail replies, and mailing list recipient management are also described.

This system is in use daily in Boeing and has easily supported lists as large as 150,000 recipients - drawn from custom SQL queries of the company's employee database. Conservative estimates of the savings in moving to a fully electronic communications mechanism exceed $1,000,000 per year with cycle time that has improved from several days to only a few hours.

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