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 Sympa logo Sympa is an opensource mailing list manager. It provides advanced features with a rich and secure web interface.

Original features :
  • scalable for big mailings lists ( > 1.000.000 list members)
  • list member provisioning using LDAP, SQL or other data sources
  • various authentication method (SSO, LDAP, X509)
  • S/MIME and DKIM
  • web archive with access control, message removal etc
  • virtual hosting for service providers.
  • automatic bounce management
  • easily customizable web interface
  • SOAP interface for integration with other applications

More features description.

Perl language logo

Proudly developped in Perl!

Sympa 6.2.4 released

September 1st, 2015

RENATER is proud to release the newest version of Sympa to the open-source community.

Sympa 6.2.4 is the new stable version of Sympa.

This version mainly introduces bug fixes. Many thanks to all the users who reported troubles on the mailing lists!

Sympa 6.2.3 released

July 16, 2015

This version mainly introduces bug fixes.

Sympa 6.2.2 released

July 01, 2015

This version mainly introduces bug fixes, most of them being related to tweaks in the new Sympa skin.

Amongst the bugs fixed, some notables are the following:

  • include_<datasource>_ca parameters were editbale by list owners by default; This is wrong AND confusing, as users erroneously take these parameters as subscribers data sources.
  • [Reported by J.L. Marrion, univ. Louvain] when testing if list admins needed to be synced, all the test cases returned true because the test was badly formed.
  • [REported by B. Eliassen] “make” failed on Solaris. A variable name conflicted with a predefined preprocessor macro.

It was not mentioned in previous release notes, but a lot of translations have been update by our numerous contributors. Thanks to all of them!

Sympa 6.2.1 "Damien" released

June 17, 2015

RENATER is proud to release the newest version of Sympa to the open-source community.

Sympa 6.2.1 “Damien” is the new stable version of Sympa.

This version mainly introduces bug fixes, most of them being related to tweaks in the new Sympa skin.

Amongst the bugs fixed, some notables are the following:

  • [Reported by D. Lalot, univ. Aix Marseille] When a list is at 100 % error, nobody receives the message, and nobody was warned that the message had been lost. Fixed by warning the message sender, the list owners and the listmaster when the bounce rate is at 100%.
  • [Reported by P. Grzesina, univ. Regina] The CAS button was not showed because the cas_number value in conf was never updated.
  • [Fixed by Soji!] If the user is listmaster of the host with large number of lists, loading create_list_request page will slow down. Fixed by not getting all lists but only owned lists.
  • [Fixed by Soji!] “make install” fails when install(1) omitting directory arguments.

It was not mentioned in previous release notes, but a lot of translations have been update by our numerous contributors. Thanks to all of them!

Sympa 6.2 released

June 10, 2015

After 5 months of intensive beta testing, RENATER is proud to release the newest version of Sympa to the open-source community.

Sympa 6.2 is the new stable major version of Sympa.

This version owes a lot to Soji Ikeda, one of the nice Sympa core developers. Soji is probably the most notable not-in-RENATER actor of Sympa 6.2's birth. He did a really great work at revamping large parts of the code. He was also the one who had the idea to put the bulk spools back to filesystem, though retaining all the specificities. He was eager to debug, analyze and finally solve a lot of the problems we had while working on it. May he be warmly thanked.

This version introduces a great deal of new functionnalities. Consequently, we can only highlight the main improvements in this announce.

To our numerous contributors: if your contribution does not appear in this announce, it does not mean we consider it less important. Actually, for some users, it can even be the key feature that will encourage them to switch to 6.2. But we prefer a reasonnably short announce that will be read rather than an exhaustive list of features. So we focused on:

  • what is the largest change in code or Sympa behaviour,
  • what represents a point of attention during upgrade
  • what is the most visible

Please refer to the release notes above for a full list of new functionnalities.

Unless the name of the contributor is specified, all theses change were done by the Sympa core developement team.


Tracking feature

A great contrib from French army DGA Information Superiority (Guillaume Colotte and laurent Cailleux) The tracking feature is a way to request DSN or DSN + MDN when sending a message to each subscribers. In that case, Sympa ( collect both DSN and MDN and store them in a new table “notification_table”.

Then, for each message, the list owner can display which subscribers has displayed, received or not received the message. This can be used for some important lists where list owner need to collect the proof of reception or display of each message. This page is accessible via archive (button “tracking”).

This feature is controlled by 2 list parameters see “tracking” paragraph in “edit list config”/bounce.

See : and

Spools back to filesystem

One of the reasons why this new version took so long to be issued is that we tried to move all spools in database. Testing of this change in actual conditions proved it to be completely unscalable. we then had to revert our changes. In addition, a lot of people had recurring trouble with the current bulk spool tables, dut to limits showing in fields length or n RDBMS availability.

Spool for bulk sending no longer depend on database tables: It is based on filesystem.

Packets and messages stored in database by earlier version of Sympa should be migrated using utility. (See upgrade instructions for when and how to run this utility).


[Submitted by W. Roquet]

Now Sympa stores data whenever one of the following event occurs:

  • a message is sent to a list;
  • a user subscribed to a list;
  • a user unsubscribed from a list;
  • a user is added to a list by another user;
  • a user is removed from a list by another user;
  • a user is removed from a list by the automatic bounce management;
  • a file is uploaded to the shared directory;
  • a file is deleted from the shared;
  • a message to a list is rejected in moderation;
  • a user logs in to the web interface;
  • a user logs out;
  • a list is created;
  • a list is deleted;
  • a list is restored;
  • a human user (not a harvester) hits a page.

These data are regularly aggregated by the task_manager, in order to make them anonymous and to have easily displayable data. The aggregated data are available to users, owners and listmaster in their respective interfaces. Only relevant data are presented. They are displayed in graphs to help people see trends and activity peaks. To be able to display these graphs, you must enable the static_content URL. In addition, the stats are accessible through the web interface, so if you customized your web templates, you must update them to include the links and template processing.

Web interface

  • The most visible is probably the new web interface skin. Contributed by the Massey university, it is nicer, simpler, responsive and retains all the customization capabilities that make Sympa adaptable to your needs. Many thanks to Patrick Rynhart and his colleagues for this great contributions! (in addition, outputs by WWSympa have HTML5 document type definitions).
  • Olivier Lumineau, from RENATER, worked a lot to still improve the work done by Massey. For those of you who were in the beta, you'll notice several improvments in the responsivity. Also, the Sympa top menu is back. If you don't like it, all you have to do is simply edit the main.tt2 template, then set the “top_menu” variable to 0 instead of 1!
  • Exclusion table was just a display of the users excluded. list owners could not do anything to restore subscriptions; This page is now a form, similar to the review page, which allows to restore users subscriptions.
  • Added “Add subscriber” button to modindex page if the sender is not subscribed. It may be useful because users need not know about SUB command and sympa command address. The buttons appear only when Web user is the list owner.
  • The “Customizing” link was moved from main list admin to list config sub section as list related text files are in a way list configuration parameters as well.
  • [Submitted by Evoltech, Riseup] Better password validation. When the user requests change of password via WWSympa or SympaSOAP, new password may be checked its strength. New parameter password_validation may be used to customize policy of password validation. See help text of the parameter for more details.

Web services

  • [Submitted by M. Overmeer,, funded and led by Surfnet,] Full VOOT 2.0 protocol support. VOOT is an opensocial subset to manage group membership. full details on this IETF draft here: This feature enables Sympa to be both group provider and consumer in the VOOT protocol. VOOT in Sympa uses both Oauth 1.0 and 2.0 for authorization from and to a peer in the VOOT protocol.
  • The soap server now exposes full review with owners, editors and gecos to list masters and list owners.
  • [Submitted by S. Shipway, Univ. of Auckland] Adding new functions to SympaSOAP: getDetails, setDetails, getCustom and setCustom.

Plug, plug, plug...

We added or improved several ways to plug new functionnalities in Sympa.

Template plugins

This feature allows to package code to be used in templates. It enables foreign data integration in Sympa's UI and emails, user specific UI enhancement and much more! Integrating user targeted data retreived through a call to a webservice becomes possible in a simple way, automatically adding info from a database to outgoing emails as well ! Further details here :

Enhanced custom actions functionality

Custom actions are used to run specific code and/or display user defined templates. They can be executed in list or global context (it is up to you to decide what to do in both cases). Previously, a custom action was a simple TT2 template added to the web interface. It could only display data, not process them. They were improved to allow greater expressiveness. You can now develop a perl module to process the data passed to your custom action.


See for full details on this functionnality.

Mail hooks

Sympa::Message::Plugin provides hook mechanism to intervene in processing by Sympa. Each hook may modify messages or may break ordinary processing. This functionnality is quite new and still experimental. Please read the perldoc of Sympa::Message::Plugin for more details about how to create and enable hooks in message handling.

If you have no idea what a “perldoc” or a “Sympa::Message::Plugin”” are, you should not try to use this functionnality. Ask a Perl developer nearby instead.

Data sources

Custom attributes provisionning

Custom attributes can now be provisionned using external data sources, the same way as email addresses. For now, only SQL or LDAP datasources are supported. To use this feature, you need first to define the custom attributes as previously. This attribute must have the same name as the fields used in your queries.

For example, if your query returns the user name in a field called “u_name”, then your custom_attribute must also be called “u_name”.

New parameters:

  • include_sql_ca
  • include_ldap_ca
  • include_ldap_2level_ca

Synchronization disabling

In several organizations, nightly maintenances make the datasources unavailable during some period of times. a new sub-parameter in data sources definition allow to prevent Sympa from trying to synchronize list members with these sources during a defined time range.

See the no_sync_time_ranges sub-parameter documentation for details.

Extract subsets from lists

A recurrent question regarding list inclusion was to be able to extract not the whole list, but only a subset. It is now possible.

include_list parameter value can now look like this:

<listname> filter <filter_condition>

filter_condition is a TT2-compatible condition expression, it inherits current potential subscriber properties such as email, gecos, custom_attributes, etc. Tests like isSubscriberOf, isEditorOf and isOwnerOf are also available.

Test examples :

  • include_list foo filter email.match('@bar.tld$') ⇒ Includes members from list “foo” whose email domain is “bar.tld”
  • include_list foo filter isSubscriberOf('bar') ⇒ Includes members from list “foo” who are also subscribed to list “bar”
  • include_list foo filter reception == 'mail' and not gecos ⇒ Includes members from list “foo” who have their reception mode set to mail and no gecos

Please see the reference manual for a full description on how to extract subsets from mailing lists.

Miscellaneous improvements

  • [Submitted by S. Shipway, univ. Auckland] ODBC is now supported for email data sources.
  • [Submitted by Patrick von der Hagen, Renan Manola and Steve Shipway] sql, ldap and ldap2 user inclusions now handles gecos. It uses 2nd returned column for sql and 2nd given attribute for ldap (comma separated).
  • Now “host” parameter of the LDAP datasource in list config may include URLs (ldap, ldaps and ldapi) along with hostnames. So “port” and “use_ssl” parameters would be obsoleted.


  • Now CustomCondition can set the action to take (do_it, reject ...) by setting $_, this allows for complex, single-module CustomConditions.
  • ”[msg_header→field][index]” returns the value of particular field. Index may be negative. - ”[msg_header→field]” still returns list of field values, additionally, ordering will be preserved. Fixes:
    • Conditions is_listmaster, is_owner, is_editor and is_subscriber can handle multiple values.
    • They also parse arguments as header field values to get address parts.

New parameters

  • New list parameter: 'member_include'. This parameters allows to defined .incl files to include list members, the same way it is done for list admins. This grants extended flexibility in datasources, allowing list owners to tweak their own data sources without accessing to the actual details of the query made to gather email addresses.
  • New sympa.conf config parameter “sender_headers” to specify header fields by which message sender is detected. This is a enhancement to S. Shipway's improvement. RFC: What is the reasonable default for this parameter?
  • Behavior of one time ticket lock-out is configurable. Two new robot parameters were introduced:
    • one_time_ticket_lockout:
      • “one_time” won't allow access again. This is previous behavior.
      • “remote_addr” will lock the ticket on remote address accessed at first time.
      • “open” will never lock-out tickets.
    • one_time_ticket_lifetime: Duration before ticket expires. Default is “2d”, previous hardcoded value.
  • New 'auth_service_friendly_name' in auth.conf CAS paragraph. This allows to set a display name for the CAS server, without the constraints that 'auth_service_name' entry has ([\w\-\.]).
  • Changes of list config parameters on archiving. New parameter “process_archive” controls archiving. The default is “off”: To enable archiving, it must be set to “on” explicitly. OTOH even if archiving is disabled by setting it “off”, past archives will be kept and accessible according to access settings.
  • Renamed parameters. web_archive.access to archive.web_access; archive.access to archive.mail_access; web_archive.quota to archive.quota; web_archive,max_month to archive.max_month. Though config files of exisiting lists will be updated during upgrading process, listmasters are highly recommended to check new configuration. Customized scenarios, list creation templates and edit_list.conf will never be upgraded automatically. They should be modified manually, if neccessary.


Send spool

Now messages sent via WWSympa will be stored in bulk spool, directly if they are outbound messages. On earlier releases outbound messages were injected in msg spool with special checksum. A program to migrate messages with old format is proveded. Check upgrade instructions.


Postgresql RDBMS are now automatically upgraded!

Config files

wwsympa.conf will no longer be used: it would be migrated to sympa.conf.

  • no longer create wwsympa.conf during installation.
  • –create argument disallows “wwsympa.conf” option.
  • migrate wwsympa.conf during upgrade process.

Note: Run “ –upgrade” to migrate wwsympa.conf into sympa.conf. Check upgrade instructions.

Default config location is now /etc/sympa/ (or $sysconfig/sympa/) instead of /etc/. This solves the problem of config file lock creation being denied when trying to read the binary version of the config file at startup.

WARNING : to upgrade the config location one MUST run –upgrade_config_location before any other upgrading operation. Check upgrade instructions.

Alias management uniformization

Now alias maintenance utilities other than newaliases may be used without special configure options nor patch to Changes:

  • aliaswrapper and virtualwrapper were deprecated and replaced with sympa_newaliases-wrapper.
  • New alias management program which will typically be called by via sympa_newaliases-wrapper.
  • New site configuration parameters aliases_db_type and aliases_program will control behaviour of alias database maintenance.
  • configure script:
    • Options –with-sendmail_aliases and –with-virtual_aliases were deprecated. Use –with-aliases_file instead.
    • New options –with-makemap and –with-postalias, along with options –with-newaliases and –with-postmap are available.
    • Option –with-postmap_arg was removed.
  • Alias managers can handle postmap/makemap style maps (delimited by whitespace), not only newaliases style maps (delimited by colon).

openssl dependency dropped

openssl(1) utility is no longer required. Instead, a few CPAN modules are required to use S/MIME or SSL features:

  • Crypt::SMIME
  • Crypt::OpenSSL::X509

The parameter “openssl” in sympa.conf was obsoleted. Note that still needs openssl: To make it work, PATH environment variable should be set appropriately.


i18n titles in configuration.

  • title.<lang> lines in scenario files are available again, though this feature was broken for a while.
  • Now topics.conf recognizes “title.gettext” lines. - scenario, task and topics.conf recognize “title” line for default title.
  • lang value in user_table
  • title.<lang> line in scenario files
  • title.<lang> line in task files
  • title.<lang> line in topics.conf
  • lang names in charset.conf
  • lang parameters of list config, robot.conf and sympa.conf

Note that canonicalization will be done internally so that existing config must not be changed.

Lists management

List families scenari

Now you can define a “scenari” directory in the lists family directory. These scenarii will be available for lists instantiated from this family. The “scenari” directory must be put directly in the family directory, not in the overall “families” directory. For example, if you want to define scenarii specific to the “staff” family, you must define a scenari directory in the /home/sympa/etc/families/staff/ directory. Not in /home/sympa/etc/families/.

List families addistional files

Until now, only the config.tt2 file was parsed when the family was instantiated, thus producing the lists' config file. As a lot of other files can be used to configure a list (footer, header, etc.), we added the possibility to instantiate these files as well. The list of files parsed (in addition to config.tt2) when instantiating a family are defined in a new (sympa.conf and robot.conf) parameter called 'parsed_family_files'. This parameter must contain a comma-separated list of file names. If these files exist, with the '.tt2' extension added to their name, in a family, they will be parsed and added to the list directory.

The default value of the parameter is: 'message.footer,message.header,message.footer.mime,message.header.mime,info'.

These files are updated in existing lists when a family is instantiated. note that it will overwrite any other customization.

On the web automatic lists

This feature existed in 6.1 but it deserved a little more advertisment.

[Requested and funded by the CNRS] Automatic lists can now be manipulated through the sympa web interface, in a “user friendly” form. This is merely a web layer around the general autmatic lists feature. This feature is fully documented here: Additionnally, it is now possible to unsubscribe to all the lists of a given family in two clicks.


Widely extended logs when the log_module parameter is activated with the value 'scenario': all scenario results are evaluated. Remember that extended logs can be limited by the IP or the email of the user, using the 'log_condition' parameter. log_module and log_condition are now declared in sympa.conf instead of wwsympa.conf. Remember these parameters syntax:

  • log_module: can take the value “scenario” - only.
  • log condition: takes a character string as value. The form is “ip=<an.ip>,email=<an_email>”. You can put ip alone, email alone or both, with the comma-separated form.

Listmaster notifications can now be grouped. If, for a specific robot, several notifications are issued within a short period of time with the same operation code only the first ones are sent, the next ones are stacked. The stacking ends when no notifications are issued anymore, or when the first one is too old. All the stacked notifications are then sent as attachments of a single message. Internal settings : Stack if more than 3 notifications with the same operation code are issued for the same robot - Send stacked notifications if no new one satisfying the condition above was received for more than 30 seconds - Send stacked notifications if the oldest one was issued more than 60 seconds ago –health_check checks config files, database connection and structure, and data structure version. It is invoked at first time in sympa init script and reports errors if any. Instead, daemons such as no longer check database structure nor data version.

File extension of lock files are changed from ”.lock” to ”.LOCK”, because lowercase name can conflict with domain part in the future.

Formation Sympa à Marseille

Attention : Cette formation, organisée par RENATER, tutelle du projet Sympa, est réservée à la communauté Ensignement Supérieur / Recherche française.

Lieux et date


Public visé Taille : 20 personnes.

Profil :Des administrateurs actuels ou potentiels du logiciel Sympa appartenant à la communauté Enseignement supérieur / Recherche française. Le TP peut convenir à des personnes connaissant déjà le logiciel et désirant explorer des fonctionnalités plus avancées, ainsi qu'à des personnes désirant découvrir le logiciel et ses potentialités.

Pré-requis techniques :

  • Le public doit disposer de compétences techniques raisonnables en administration Unix, messagerie et web.
  • Il est nécessaire de disposer d'une boîte mail, professionnelle ou privée, capable de faire de la signature et de la vérification DKIM. Cette boîte mail doit être accessible par webmail.
  • Aucun matériel n'est nécessaire : les moyens matériels sont fournis (ordinateurs et serveurs). Il est possible d'amener son propre ordinateur si vous préférez disposer de votre environnement.

Formateurs : La formation est assurée par les auteurs du logiciel Sympa (Étienne Méléard et David Verdin).


  • Formation gratuite
  • Repas non fournis
  • Aucun matériel n'est nécessaire : les moyens matériels sont fournis (ordinateurs et serveurs). Il est possible d'amener son propre ordinateur si vous préférez disposer de votre environnement


Journée 1

  1. Installation et configuration
  2. Architecture et organisation d'un serveur Sympa
  3. Concepts de base : rôles utilisateurs, création et configuration des listes
  4. La messagerie dans Sympa
  5. Les interfaces de Sympa (web, mail, ligne de commande et SOAP)
  6. Mécanismes d'autorisation : les scénarios
  7. Sources de données pour l'alimentation des listes

Journée 2

  1. Hôtes virtuels
  2. DKIM
  3. Authentification externe
  4. Personnalisation de Sympa : paramètres, le langage TT2, les éléments personnalisables
  5. Industrialisation de la gestion des listes : familles de listes et listes automatiques
  6. Fonctionnalités de messagerie avancées : VERP, tracking, personnalisation de messages, S/MIME
  7. Couplage Sympa - Dokuwiki

Sympa 6.0.10 and 6.1.24 released

January 13, 2015

RENATER is proud to release the newest version of Sympa to the open-source community.

Sympa 6.1.24 is the new stable version of Sympa branch 6.1
Sympa 6.0.10 is the new stable version of Sympa branch 6.0

These two versions fix a security breach. Please read the security advisory.


David and Étienne went to YAPC::Europe at Sofia in August 2014. We finally dare presenting our software to the cream of the European Perl community. Big pressure, but the speech went quite well.

This speech by David is available on the YAPC Youtube account or just below if you prefer:

In addition to boosting our ego (Hi mom! I'm on the interwebs!) the speech is a good sneak peek at the main Sympa features and gives an insight on how the Sympa project works and what we plan for the future.

Previous versions release note

index.txt · Last modified: 2015/09/01 17:54 by

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