There are two ways to install LISTSERV for unix -- a simplified method which uses a shell-based installation program to help you configure the installation, and the “classic” method which consists of two .tar.gz files and a standard Makefile, which gives you complete control over the installation.

2.1 The Simplified Installation Option

A simplified installation procedure for LISTSERV for Unix platforms is available.  A configuration script replaces the need to manually configure LISTSERV’s Makefile and go.user site configuration file.

The installation kit can be downloaded as a single compressed binary, shipped as `uname`.bin.gz. Simply uncompressing the kit (with gunzip(1)), setting its minimum permissions to 700 (owner rwx), and running it from a scratch directory will allow you to install LISTSERV without having to unpack .tar.gz files, modify the Makefile, etc.  While the old two-part kits will remain available for the foreseeable future for sites requiring more control over the installation, this new one-part kit is 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 continue with the current document,

The simplified installation procedure can be viewed on the Web at

2.2 The “Classic” Installation Option

The “classic” method of installing LISTSERV involves downloading two archive files, one for your specific unix variant (named `uname`.tar.gz), and “common.tar.gz” which contains files common to all LISTSERV for Unix variants.  These files can be downloaded from the regular L-Soft LISTSERV download page by scrolling to the bottom of the simplified unix kits section and clicking on the hyperlink to take you to the downloads for the standard, or “classic”, kits.

LISTSERV for UNIX is shipped with both:

      • pre-compiled lsv and lsv_amin binaries which will run with the default settings; and

      • an lsv.o object file and C source for lsv_amin that can be linked locally if you need to modify the Makefile or simply prefer to compile the server yourself.

The installation of LISTSERV consists of the following steps:

      1. creating a “listserv” username,

      1. extracting the files in the archive file(s) into a ‘scratch’ directory,

      1. customizing the Makefile, including deciding what directories you want used for incoming mail, as well as for the LISTSERV program and data files,

      1. depending on whether or not you are using the precompiled binaries:

        • if you are using the precompiled binaries: renaming ‘lsv_amin-precompiled’ to ‘lsv_amin’.
        • if you do not have a compiler, moving or deleting the ‘lcmd.c’ and ‘jobview.c’ files from the ‘scratch’ directory.

      1. running “make install”, which creates the necessary directories and copies the programs generated in the previous step to the proper places, and sets file and directory permissions so that lsv_amin and ‘listserv’ can have access to their files,

      1. modifying the “go.user” shell script to accurately describe your system,

      1. appending entries to your /etc/aliases file to handle mail sent to your LISTSERV username, and directing your sendmail daemon to use the new aliases,

      1. creating a “license.merge” file to make license key information available to your server,

      1. (Classic/Classic HPO, optional) subscribing to the LSTSRV-E forum to join others in discussing experiences with the evaluation copies of LISTSERV,

      1. (Lite) subscribing to the LISTSERV-LITE forum to join others in discussing experiences with LISTSERV Lite,

      1. and finally (optional; Classic/Classic HPO only), registering your LISTSERV server so that other LISTSERV servers around the Internet will know about your server.

All of these steps are described in greater detail in the sections below. They should be performed in the order they are presented since some steps rely on the results of earlier steps. Once you’ve finished the above steps, you will be able to start your LISTSERV server and verify that it’s working.

If you are using Sendmail as your MTA:

      1. Create a ‘listserv’ account on your system.

      1. Make a temporary directory, say /tmp/lsvinst or whatever is convenient.

      1. Copy the files, common.tar.gz and `uname`.tar.gz to that directory, uncompress and untar them.

      1. Edit the Makefile (if necessary), changing the BINDIR, LSVROOT and LSVSPOOL macros to point to the appropriate directories.

      1. Enter “make mailer” to compile the sendmail interface, “lsv_amin”, and enter “make lcmd” to build the command interface utility “lcmd”. If you don’t want to use the precompiled lsv binary, enter “make server” to make the LISTSERV server “lsv”.  You can make all three of them with “make all” if you prefer.

      1. Copy the file go.user.sample to go.user, edit go.user, and set the environment variables as directed by the comments in the file.

      1. Enter “make install” to create the LISTSERV work directory and spool directory, copy “lsv” and the data files in the “home” directory to wherever you defined LSVROOT, and also to copy “lsv_amin” to the BINDIR directory.

      1. Add the lines,

        • listserv: “|/BBB/lsv_amin /SSS listserv”
        • owner-listserv: “|/BBB/lsv_amin /SSS owner-listserv”

(where /BBB is the BINDIR directory, and /SSS is the LSVSPOOL directory) to your sendmail aliases file. Then rebuild the aliases and send the appropriate signal to your sendmail daemon to load the new aliases.

      1. Delete all the files in /tmp/lsvinst (or whatever you called the work space in step 1). All the files needed to run LISTSERV have been copied to either LSVROOT or BINDIR already, so there’s no need to keep anything that’s left in the work directory.

      1. Follow the instructions in the License Registration Form you received with your installation materials to install your License Access Key (LAK). If you are installing an evaluation copy of LISTSERV, this step is handled automatically by the “make install” command listed above.

      1. Ensure that you have set file and directory permissions in such a way that lsv_amin and the ‘listserv’ user have read/write/execute authority where needed. This is the most common problem reported by evaluation kit users.

      1. To start the LISTSERV server, change directories to LSVROOT and enter either “go” to run the server with output logged to the terminal, or “go bg” to run in the background with the log written to listserv.log in the LSVROOT directory.

      1. Test the server by sending mail to “listserv” from any account other than “listserv” itself with some command in the body of the mail message. Since you haven’t defined any mailing lists yet, commands that don’t requires lists, like INFO, RELEASE or even THANKS commands might be best.