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Is it possible to merge 2 Sympa servers? How?

Yes it is. Actually, it is more “moving a Sympa server into another Sympa server” but the result is the same: one server stands where two stood before.

Merging in a nutshell

Let's call “immigrant server” the one that will be moved; and “host server” the one that will receive the immigrant.

When merging two servers, you have two options:

  • either you keep two separate list services (two virtual robots) running on one Sympa server (the lists have addresses with different domains);
  • or you want to have only one list service (one virtual robot) which will deal with all the lists, in which case the addresses will only differ by their local part.

The merging will need few or even no changes in the immigrant server if it is installed as a virtual robot in the host server.

The question is then: do you want to keep two separate list services on one Sympa server (easy) or do you prefer one robot processing all your lists (less easy)?

Once your choice is made, you're all set to start merging your servers.

These are the main guidelines to follow:

  • merge user_table tables from both servers. DON'T DO IT RIGHT NOW. READ THE SECTION ABOUT USERS BELOW FIRST.
  • transfer list directories from the immigrant server to the host.
  • compare and update sympa.conf and wwsympa.conf.
  • update scenarios and templates.
  • restart Sympa.

Let's see now the detail of some operations.

Users migration

In order to merge your servers, you must merge the user_table tables from both servers. A close look at this table will reveal you the absence of any “robot” column. Which means all the user informations (as for example their language preferences) are not robot-dependent. This isn't a problem as all these informations are optional.

However, there can be an issue with the passwords.

Passwords are ciphered. It is a reversable encryption using the cookie parameter in sympa.conf. This parameter is not robot-specific. Therefore, if you want to preserve the users' passwords from the immigrant server, you will have to:

  1. decipher them using the immigrant server's cookie parameter and
  2. recipher them with the host server's cookie parameter.

To achieve this goal, you will probably have to implement the following script:

  • Stop all the Sympa processes
  • Backup your database
  • Extract all the data from the immigrant server's table_user table.
  • FOR each line:
    • IF it doesn't exist in the host server's table_user table
      • decipher the password_user field using the immigrant server's cookie parameter
      • cipher it using the host server's cookie parameter
      • insert this line into the host server's table_user table
    • ELSE : do nothing

To cipher / decipher the password, you can seek inspiration in the crypt_password and decrypt_password procedures in

FIXMEune autre option est de faire l'impasse sur les mots de passe et les préférences utilisateur et de ne pas faire de merge des tables table_user.

Mailing list migration

First, copy these lists directories (those in list_data/) from the immigrant server to the host server. This creates empty mailing lists in the host server.

Then replenish them by applying the script. This – undocumented ;-) – script copy into the database the informations found in <list_data>/<listname>/subscribers, where <listname> is the script's argument.

Finally, examine the table_subscriber to check that everything went well.

Don't forget to copy the spool/<listname> an arc/<listname> directories. If the lists' addresses changed, you must modify, in spools, the files name and their X-Sympa-To: header.

Additional tunings

Compare sympa.conf and wwsympa.conf in both immigrant and host servers. Some obvious choices must be made there.

If you cusomized some scenarios or templates, don't forget to install them into the host server.

faq/merging_vhosts.txt · Last modified: 2010/09/10 15:00 by

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