Simplified Installation guide for LISTSERV 14.5 for UNIX(R)


Copyright (c) L-Soft international, Inc. 2005-2006

Last update: 1 Sep 2006


This simplified installation guide may also be viewed on the web at the URL .


This document sets forth a simplified installation procedure for LISTSERV for Unix platforms.  A new configuration script and a single binary installer replaces the need to download two separate .tar.Z archives and manually configure LISTSERV's Makefile and go.user site configuration file before installing or upgrading.


This new procedure is designed for first-time installers or those who simply wish to install LISTSERV with most of its default settings.  It is thus necessarily limited in its scope and does not provide user control over every aspect of the installation, but rather, allows the installer to set several basic options and relies on Makefile defaults for the rest. 


If it is desired to have complete control over all aspects of the LISTSERV installation, it will be necessary for installers to revert to the original installation instructions (see u-install.memo shipped in this kit, or see ).




Important Information. 1

Statement of Year 2000 Compliance for L-Soft's Products. 2

Unix Platform Support in Version 14.5

Classic Distribution vs. Lite Distribution. 2

Usernames needed by LISTSERV.. 2

Deciding where LISTSERV will reside. 3

Configuring LISTSERV for your system.. 3

Downloading the installation kit4

Unpacking the installation kit4

Running the installation script4

Where do I go from here?. 8


Important Information


For changes to LISTSERV from version 14.4 to 14.5, please view the LISTSERV 14.4 release notes at


There are two versions of LISTSERV: A "Classic" version and a "Lite" version. For a description of the differences between LISTSERV Classic and LISTSERV Lite, please see the URL


LISTSERV Lite is user-supported, via the mailing list




Please do not send questions regarding LISTSERV Lite to L-Soft's normal support addresses.

Statement of Year 2000 Compliance for L-Soft's Products


Please see .

Unix Platform Support in Version 14.5


LISTSERV version 14.1 (formerly 1.8e-2002a) was the last version for several operating systems which have become obsolescent over the life of this product cycle. The following unix operating systems are no longer supported in version 14.5:


BSDi (Intel)


Solaris-x86 (Intel)


Sites running these operating systems should migrate to a different operating system. Please contact your sales representative for further information.


It should be noted that L-Soft dropped support for the following operating systems with the original release of LISTSERV 14 (in other words, LISTSERV 13 or 1.8d was the last version for these platforms):


Windows NT 3.5, 3.51, 4.0 pre-SP6 (Intel)

Windows NT (Alpha AXP)

SunOS 4.x (SPARC)

Ultrix (MIPS)




On the plus side, L-Soft now formally supports FreeBSD (Intel) and Linux (S/390) since LISTSERV 14, and MacOS beginning with LISTSERV 14.4.


A comprehensive list of operating systems (and versions) under which LISTSERV is supported can be found at

Classic Distribution vs. Lite Distribution


Starting with LISTSERV 14.4, there has been no difference between the distributions except the license shipped with them.  The Classic kits ship with an evaluation LAK for Classic that expires in either June or December of the current year.  Lite kits ship with a permanent Lite Free Edition LAK.

Usernames needed by LISTSERV


LISTSERV requires exclusive access to the mail sent to one username. Unless you have a very good reason to do otherwise, the username "listserv" should be used for that purpose. Many people around the world are already familiar with LISTSERV, and will assume that mail sent to <> will reach the server. The LISTSERV account is just an ordinary user, it doesn't need privileges, doesn't require access to restricted directories, and it doesn't need to have any particular UID or GID.


At this time you should create the "listserv" userid according to your usual procedure for creating new user accounts.

Deciding where LISTSERV will reside


For most purposes it is sufficient to install LISTSERV under the "listserv" user's root directory, that is, the directory you arrive in by issuing the command  cd ~listserv .  Under most unixes supported by L-Soft, the absolute path is typically /home/listserv .


If it is preferred to install LISTSERV in a different location, determine what that location will be. 


In either case you will need to know the absolute path to the installation directory when you run the configuration script.

Configuring LISTSERV for your system


LISTSERV needs to know a variety of things about your system, and also how to communicate with the people that will be maintaining the software. You will need to gather this information before you start.


Determining the NODE setting


The NODE setting is the fully-qualified domain name as registered in DNS for the machine LISTSERV is running on, and is the hostname by which LISTSERV will always identify itself when it sends mail out.  This is something like LISTSERV.YOURDOMAIN.COM . It must be a fully-qualified domain name (FQDN) and it must map to an A or MX record in your domain's DNS service.  While it is possible to use a bracketed IP (eg, []) for testing purposes, as noted above the use of bracketed IPs in production is not supported and not recommended.


Determining who will be authorized to administer the server


You must provide a space-separated list of userid@host.domain type email addresses belonging to people who have authority to manage LISTSERV--specifically the people who are allowed to create lists, but also who have global authority on the server to look at lists, modify list headers, and so forth.  There are some advanced options for this setting but for right now you will probably just want to insert your own email address so that you can test the server.  You can always go back to add more administrators by editing the go.user configuration file and adding more space-separated entries to the POSTMASTER= variable setting.


Please note carefully that a LISTSERV administrator should NEVER be LISTSERV@ anywhere or POSTMASTER@ anywhere. In fact, a LISTSERV administrator address should never contain the string "listserv" to the left of the @ sign. These userids are reserved and mean specific things to LISTSERV.  If you need to use a generic name for a postmaster account, it is recommended that you use something like "listmaster" or "lstmaint" instead.


Determining where to install the web archive and administration interface


It should be noted that LISTSERV cannot use a remote web server for its web archive and administration interface.  The web server must be installed on the same machine with LISTSERV.


Normally the locations for the various parts of the web interface are dependent on how you have set up your web server.  You need to know


  1. The absolute disk path to your web server's cgi-bin (executable scripts) directory
  2. WWW_ARCHIVE_CGI - The (preferably relative) URL that executes the 'wa' cgi program
  3. The base URL (preferably relative) of your web-enabled archives directory
  4. WWW_ARCHIVE_DIR - The absolute disk path of the directory that corresponds to the base URL of your web-enabled archives


1. The absolute disk path to your web server's cgi-bin (executable scripts) directory


This is the directory normally reached by the relative URL /cgi-bin .  A common absolute path to this directory is /var/www/cgi-bin , which the installation script uses as a default.  Your web server may have been installed with its cgi-bin directory in a different place, or with a different name; so it is imperative that you verify the absolute path that leads to the executable script directory on your web server.  The 'wa' CGI program used for the web interface is installed in this directory.


2. WWW_ARCHIVE_CGI - The (preferably relative) URL that executes the 'wa' cgi program


This is normally /cgi-bin/wa .


3. The base URL (preferably relative) of your web-enabled archives directory


This is normally /archives .  This points to the directory where LISTSERV will write the various HTML files needed for the web archive and administration interface.


4. WWW_ARCHIVE_DIR - The absolute disk path of the directory that corresponds to the base URL of your web-enabled archives


This is the directory normally reached by the relative URL /archives .  A common absolute path to this directory is /var/www/html/archives .  Again, your webserver may have been installed with its root content directory in a different place, so it is likewise imperative that you verify this absolute path as well.

Downloading the installation kit


LISTSERV Classic: For LISTSERV Classic, point your browser to .


LISTSERV Lite: For LISTSERV Lite, point your browser to


In both cases, follow the registration instructions and download the file into a scratch directory.

Unpacking and running the installation script


Superuser privileges are required for the installation of LISTSERV.  Thus, for this step, you must log in as (or become) the superuser, 'root'.


The installation script will exit immediately upon execution with an information message if you are not  'root'.


Once you have downloaded the kit to your scratch directory (IMPORTANT:  do not download the kit into the directory where LISTSERV will actually be running from!) , do the following:




Assuming Solaris as an example, issue the following commands at the shell prompt:


uncompress Solaris.bin.Z

chmod u+x Solaris.bin





Assuming Linux as an example, issue the following commands at the shell prompt:


uncompress Linux-Lite.bin.Z

chmod u+x Linux-Lite.bin



For the first command, in both cases you can use 'gunzip' if your system does not have 'uncompress'.  The second command in either case starts the installation script:


[home]root:~/scratch# ./Linux.bin

Please read the installation guide, located at


If you have read the guide, please press enter to continue.


Hit enter at this point if you have already taken a look at the installation guide (which of course you are doing right now).


L-Soft LISTSERV(R) installation script, version 14.5.


Welcome to the LISTSERV for unix installation script!  This script will

ask several questions pertaining to the installation.  Before continuing,

you should collect the information needed.  If you have not yet read the

installation guide (unixinst.sim.html) that is shipped in the installation

kit, which will explain what information you need, we recommend that you

do so now.


After you answer the questions, you will be give a chance to review your

choices and make corrections. For instance, you should make sure that

CFLAGS is correct for your system if you want to link with a DBMS

library. The script defaults may not be correct for your system.



Are you ready to continue?

[y/n] y


Assuming that you have collected all of the information noted earlier in this document, you can type 'y' and proceed.  If you have not collected the information, type 'n', collect the information, and run the script again.  Next, you are asked if it is OK to unpack the distribution files in the current directory.  Remember, you should be running the installer from a scratch directory, not from the directory in which you intend to install LISTSERV.


We need to unpack the distribution files in this directory. Proceed?

[y/n] y

Linux.tar.Z common.tar.Z

Linux.tar common.tar


The script then asks questions about your compiler:


How do you run the C compiler?



Please enter any additional options to pass to the C compiler.



In most cases, you should not change these answers.  Most compilers, including gcc, run from a generic link 'cc' that is installed when the compiler is installed.  If you are not sure if your compiler can be invoked with 'cc', simply leave this alone and the script will test the default before continuing.


The "-O" option is required in order to optimize compilation, that is, to reduce the size of the resulting executable and reduce execution time.  L-Soft does not recommend in any case that this option be dropped, or that any other options be added. The opportunity to add compiler options is provided only for special cases which may be identified by L-Soft's support or development departments.


The next question relates to where the lsv_amin mailer and lcmd command pipe interface will be installed.  The most common location for such files is /usr/local/bin .  If you want to place these executables in a different location, enter that location at this point.


Where should the LISTSERV mail and command line interfaces be installed?



Next you must provide the absolute path to the main LISTSERV directory.  L-Soft recommends that LISTSERV's files be placed in the 'listserv' user's home directory (usually /home/listserv).


Where should the server code and data files LISTSERV needs be placed?



Next, you have the option to decide how the path to the spool directory will be passed to the lsv_amin mailer program, which interfaces sendmail to LISTSERV.  In most cases it is recommended to take the default, "paths".  This is discussed in more detail in the full LISTSERV installation guide, but suffice it to say that unless you are using an old version of Zmailer, there is no compelling reason to change this from the default.


How do you want the path to the spool directory passed to the lsv_amin

mailer? (See the documentation for more information; however it is

recommended to take the default.)



LISTSERV Classic only:  The following section allows you to compile in DBMS support for either Oracle or DB2 (assuming availability for your unix platform).  Note carefully the following requirements for DBMS support:



Next, please choose which DB modules to link with.


OCI? (Requires that SQL*Net is installed on the local machine.)

[y/n] n


DB2? (Requires that DB2 be installed on the local machine.)

[y/n] n


Finally you will be presented with the choices you have made.  You can either change individual options at this point or continue with the installation.


a) CC=cc


c) LDFLAGS= nooci.o nocli.o

d) BINDIR=/usr/local/bin

e) LSVROOT=/home/listserv

f) LSVSPOOL=/home/listserv/spool


h) WHOAMI=/usr/bin/whoami

Choose an option to change or hit enter to accept values and continue.



If you choose to go on, the script continues with:


Now using awk to rewrite the Makefile to use your choices...


After this operation, the Makefile will be properly configured for your installation.  You are then prompted:


Would you like to run 'make install' right now?

[y/n] y


This installs LISTSERV per your configuration responses above.  (If you are upgrading, this is identical to 'make update'.)


Next, you are asked if you want to install the web interface.  The web interface is not required to run LISTSERV.  If you choose to install it, enter "y".  If you do not want to install the web interface at this time, enter "n" and the script will skip this section.


Would you like to install the web interface?

[y/n] y


If you answered "y", next you must enter the path to your web server's executable script directory, which you should have determined above while gathering installation information. 


What is the path to your CGI directory? (The web interface will be

installed there.)



Once you enter the directory (or take the default), the 'wa' CGI script is installed:


installing wa

After this script completes, please make sure that


has acceptable permissions and ownership.


The 'wa' CGI script must be owned by the 'listserv' user, and must be set up to run 'suid listserv', which means that the suid bit (mask 4000) must be set in order for it to work properly.  By default, 'wa' is installed with permissions 4755 and owned by 'listserv'.


At this time the script will also write a file called /etc/lsv-wa.config, which is a world-readable, root-owned file containing configuration information used by the 'wa' script.


Once the web interface is installed, the script offers to let you do some basic configuration of the 'go.user' file, which contains LISTSERV's startup configuration.  This file is required and it must be customized for your local site, or LISTSERV will not work properly.


Note that if you are upgrading your LISTSERV installation, you will NOT lose your current settings if you answer "y" to the following question.


Would you like to set some common options in /home/listserv/go.user ?

[y/n] y


If a go.user file already exists in LISTSERV's home directory, it will be read in and used for default settings:


reading /home/listserv/go.user


Next, several configuration variables may be set.  For brand-new installations, you should not take the defaults!  In this case the defaults are provided only as examples.


The fully qualified domain name for this host.



Pattern defining local mailing addresses, use asterisks to match any

number of arbitrary characters.



The e-mail address(es) of the LISTSERV maintainer(s). SPACE SEPARATED!



Optional WWW archive interface - see installation guide for details.







As before, you are then presented with the changes (if any) that you have made, and prompted to choose options to change or hit enter to continue.



b) LOCAL=*


d) WWW_ARCHIVE_CGI=/cgi-bin/wa

e) WWW_ARCHIVE_DIR=/var/www/html/archives

Choose an option to change or hit enter to accept values and continue.



The changes are then written to go.user:


Writing your choices to /home/listserv/go.user ...


And you are finished.  Congratulations; you have successfully installed LISTSERV for unix!

Where do I go from here?


At this point you are finished with the simplified installation instructions.  You should now switch to the regular installation instructions (see ), starting with the section "Telling your mail system about LISTSERV".