Ask SIPB - September 1, 2004
Want to set up mail on your personal computer? Or figure out exactly where all those @mit.edu addresses go? In this column, part 2 of 4 of our introductory orientation columns, we cover mail and mailing lists.
Mailing lists at MIT
There are two commonly used types of mailing lists at MIT, moira lists
and mailman lists. Moira lists can be managed using Athena-based and
Web interfaces, and can be used to control access to AFS, and also
moira lists. Mailman lists can be managed using web interfaces, and
support moderation and filtering .
Moira lists, also known as Athena lists, function as mailing lists,
serve to provide access to AFS directories, and can also manage other
moira lists. From athena, an easy way to access moira lists is using
the mailmaint command. To run it, open up a Terminal window and type:
For a non-menu driven interface, you can also use the
blanche command. To add yourself to a list, use:
To remove yourself from the list, type:
athena% blanche listname -a username
Or to get the list of members on a list, type:
athena% blanche listname -d username
athena% blanche listname
From any non-Athena computer, you can add yourself to lists, remove
yourself from lists, and get list information, by getting MIT
Certificates and opening up your web browser to http://web.mit.edu/moira/. Alternately,
you can download an SSH program, connect to Athena, and run mailmaint
For more information on manipulating moira lists, see the November 22,
2002 Ask SIPB column at http://www.mit.edu/~asksipb/2002columns/2002-11-22-mailinglists/
Mailman lists offer an alternative to Moira lists. Though they can't
be used to control access to AFS directories, or manage moira lists,
they do support moderation, and filtering. To add yourself to or
remove yourself from a mailman list, you can visit
listname with the name of the mailman list).
If you're not sure whether a list is a mailman list, you can get the
list of members. For example:
From this, you can tell that
athena% blanche reuse
email@example.com is the
only member of the list
reuse, and that to subscribe to
this list, you should go to http://mailman.mit.edu/mailman/listinfo/reuse.
I just signed up for a bunch of mailing lists at Activities Midway. Help!
If you find that you're starting to get too much email, it's easy to
take yourself off of most mailing lists. For most moira and mailman
lists, you can use the methods mentioned above to take yourself off
the lists. Note, that it can take up to 4 hours to stop receiving mail
from a moira lists. If for some reason, you get an error message when
trying to take yourself off a list, you should try to contact the list
owners. If the listname is example, then you should try to send
mail to owner-example, or example-request. Sending mail
to a mailing list should generally never be done, as most of the
people on a list won't be able to remove you from the list. As a last
resort, you might want to ask olc, if you're having trouble taking off
of a list.
How do I read my mail on Athena?
Athena has many programs you can use to read mail. The simplest
program to use is Evolution. You can start it by clicking the "Mail"
icon in the GNOME panel, or typing
The other recommended and officially supported program to read mail on
Athena is Pine. Unlike Evolution, Pine is a text-based program. You
can start Pine by typing
athena% evolution &
When you start Pine for the first time, you will get a message asking
whether you want to run Athena or SIPB Pine. We recommend that you use
Athena Pine, as you are less prone to run into problems or unexpected
How do I read mail from non-Athena machines?
MIT supports two mail protocols: IMAP over SSL, and Kerberized POP. On
Windows and Macintosh machines, the mail program Eudora supports
Kerberized POP, and can be obtained from http://web.mit.edu/software/. With
most other mail programs, such as Mozilla, Outlook Express, Apple
Mail, and Pine, you can use IMAP over SSL.
To setup email in any program that is not already configured to do so, you will need the following settings:
Outgoing mail server: outgoing.mit.edu, SSL or TLS if your software supports it
Incoming mail server: poXX.MIT.EDU (where XX is a number)
You can find your incoming mail server by entering
at the Athena prompt.
In general, we recommend that you use IMAP, as it stores your mail on
the mail server, and allows you to read your mail anywhere. With POP,
your mail is downloaded onto your computer, and deleted from the
server. You can find more about the difference in these protocols in
our previous mail column at http://www.mit.edu/~asksipb/2002columns/2002-11-08-email/.
Note that there are no user-accessible backups of your mail, so you
may want to back up your mail from time to time. You can do so with
athena% hesinfo $USER pobox
Alternately, MIT has a Webmail service, which you can visit on the web
at http://webmail.mit.edu/ .
Note that Webmail is a lot slower than connecting to your mail server
directly with one of the mail clients mentioned above, and lacks many
features available in other mail clients. While it is useful to use
when you are not using Athena and not using your machine, we recommend
that for daily use you use an IMAP mail client, such as Pine,
Evolution, Mozilla, or one of the other clients mentioned above.
athena% add outland; imapback
To ask us a question, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll try to answer you
quickly, and we can address your question in our next column. You
can also stop by our office in W20-557 or call us at x3-7788 if you
need help. Copies of each column and pointers to additional
information are posted on our website: http://www.mit.edu/~asksipb/