Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(November 1995)

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Subject: bulk_mailer 1.3 release
From: Keith Moore <moore @ cs . utk . edu>
Date: Thu, 09 Nov 1995 14:18:36 -0500
To: list-managers @ greatcircle . com
Cc: moore @ cs . utk . edu

I've just put the latest version of bulk_mailer out for anonymous
ftp to

This release contains several bug fixes, plus the ability to do
some on-the-fly header munging.  It can be used as a more efficient
alternative to majordomo's resend, though it has different command-line
arguments and doesn't have all of the functionality of the majordomo tool.

The readme file follows.



This is a C program to do "bulk" mailing.  For input, it takes a file
of recipient addresses (one address per line) and a message (with
headers already attached) to be sent to the recipients.  It sorts the
recipient list by reversed domain (so similar ones sort together),
splits up the recipients into several groups containing no more than N
domains each, creates an SMTP envelope for each group of recipients,
and feeds that envelope to "/usr/lib/sendmail -bs".

Splitting the envelopes up allows sendmail to perform delivery in parallel,
so instead of having one large queue entry (for which sendmail might take
awhile to get around to attempting delivery for some recipients), it has
several smaller queue entries.  Depending on your point-of-view, this can
still be considered "cluttering up your mail queue", but it does seem to
deliver messages more quickly to most recipients.

The core of this program was extracted from a somewhat strange mailing
list manager called na-net; it was designed to efficiently send out
mail to 5000 people at a time.  I have used this program to attempt
delivery of a message to over 12000 recipients around the world,
within a few hours.  I'm currently using bulk_mailer as a back-end for
several mailing lists of modest size.

However, the program is not extensively tested, and may not work well
in all environments.  (In particular, if your system has per-user
process quotas, or a small number of process table entries, you will
want to modify this program to recover gracefully.)

There's no warranty on this, but you're welcome to use it if you want.


a) edit the Makefile as necessary
b) type "make"
c) copy bulk_mailer to whereever you want it to live.


bulk_mailer [options] envelope_from recipient_list_file

The message is then fed to standard input.

'envelope_from' is the envelope return address for the mailing list.

This should either be the address of a human list maintainer, or 
the address of a robot that tries to recognize bounced mail messages
and grok it, forwarding anything it doesn't understand to a human.

'recipient_list_file' is a filename of a list of recipients, one
recipient per line.  bulk_mailer's address prefrobnicator tries to
understand several forms of address, e.g.:

        Keith Moore <moore @
 cs .
 utk .
        moore @
 cs .
 utk .
 edu (Keith Moore)
        "Keith Moore" <"keith.moore">  (Moore, Keith)

should all do the right thing.


-debug                  don't actually mail the stuff.  instead, spit SMTP
                        to stdout

-domain dom.ain         Set the local domain name.  if not set, bulk_mailer
                        will try to figure out the name on its own.
                        Note: This should be a fully-qualified domain name --
                        not just the first component (aka the "hostname").
                        If the domain name doesn't have a '.' it's rejected.

-maxdomains ###         set the maximum number of domains per envelope to ###. 
                        if not explicitly set, 20 is the default.

-maxsize #####          reject any message larger than ##### bytes.

-precedence xxx         add a 'Precedence: xxx' header.  'xxx' should be a
                        keyword recognized by sendmail.  NOT RECOMMENDED.

                        WARNING: some mailers will bounce the mail if they
                        see a Precedence header with a keyword they don't
                        understand; some list managers will silently drop
                        the mail if they see a Precedence header with a
                        keyword they do understand.  There is NO safe value
                        for the Precedence header that won't cause some 
                        mailer to mishandle the message.  This option is
                        therefore not recommended.

-reply-to xxx           add a 'Reply-to: xxx' header to the resent message
                        if there wasn't one in the input.  

                        Use of the reply-to header by lists is questionable;
                        for some of the reasons why.

+reply-to yyy           add a 'Reply-to: xxx' header to the resent message,
                        overriding any reply-to header in the input.
                        THIS OPTION IS NOT RECOMMENDED.

                        If having a list use reply-to is questionable, 
                        overriding the sender's reply-to header is even 
                        worse.  This option should be used only in very
                        unusual cases.

-sendmail zzz           Add the following flags to the sendmail command-line.
                        For instance, "-sendmail -Odq" would have bulk_mailer
                        pass the "-Odq" flag to sendmail, which tells it:
                        "just queue the message, don't attempt to deliver it

-v                      Be verbose.

Use with sendmail:

To have bulk_mailer distributed mail to a list, add the following
lines to /etc/aliases:

{FOO}-request: whoever-maintains-foo
owner-{FOO}: whoever-maintains-foo
{FOO}: "|{BULK_MAILER} owner-{FOO} @
 {YOUR .

where {FOO} is the name of the list, {YOUR.DOMAIN} is your
fully-qualified domain, {BULK_MAILER} is a full path name of the
bulk_mailer program, and {ADDRESS_LIST} is a full path name of the
file containing the list of addresses. 

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