Bulletin Facility

In addition to mailing lists DMail provides a bulletin facility. This is useful when you need to send an email message to all users but without the overheads of duplicating and sending the same message to all users. The bulletins are organized as follows:

  • A bulletin directory is specified in the dmail.conf file with a setting: e.g. bulletin_path /var/mail/bulletins
  • This directory contains files with names of the form nnn.txt, where nnn is the bulletin id number
  • Any user connecting to DPOP will receive any of these files they have not already seen as an email message
  • For each user DPOP stores the the id number of the last bulletin seen by this user.

To produce a new bulletin it is necessary to create a new file containing the bulletin, with a name nnn.txt and place it in the bulletin directory. The bulletin id number needs to be greater than the id for any bulletins already used. The tellpop bulletin command can be used as a quick way of producing a new bulletin thus:

C:\>tellpop bull

Tellpop will then respond with:

Tellpop 2.00
Creating bulletin 5. Enter text finish with .<cr>

So then you can enter your message (remember to finish with a full stop on a line by itself):

>The system will be down due to a <cr>
>power cut from 2 to 5pm on Friday <cr>
>we hope this will not inconvenience users <cr>
>John Smith <cr>
>System Administrator <cr> >. <cr>

Old bulletins can be left in the directory or deleted periodically. Any user which has not seen a bulletin when it is deleted will not see it at all. In addition to prevent bulletin id numbers increasing for ever the following scheme is used: When DPOP starts up if the bulletin directory is empty then all users will have their "last bulletin read id" set to zero. Bulletins id's can then start at one again.

Using the bulletin facility is in some ways similar to sending an email to a mailing list with everyone on it. However it is much more efficient. For example if you have a system with 20,000 users sending an email to all users involves considerable processing and twenty thousand copies of the message are stored on disk, one for each user. In contrast using a bulletin on the same system completely avoids the processing involved in sending the emails to a list. It also saves only one copy of the bulletin. When each user checks for email they then obtain their own copy of the bulletin which, in general they will delete from the server immediately. However, if they do choose to leave it on the server they then have their own copy just as though it was an ordinary email message.

The message headers for a bulletin message are set as follows:

From: Set by bulletin_from setting in dmail.conf
Default value is "Email System Administrator"
Subject: Bulletin nnn
NB: Configurable subject lines for bulletins will be coming soon (written 19 August 1999).