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Sympa maintains text archive and web archive for mailing lists. The web archives are fully integrated in the Sympa web interface, though the engine that does the HTML tranformation is an third-party tool.


Access Control

This is probably the most interesting part of the Sympa web archives : you can restrict access to a list web archives to a certain population (members of the current list, members of another list, clients in particular IP address ranges, users defined in an SQL/LDAP base). This fine tuning is defined via the archive.web_access list parameter. This parameter refers to the corresponding authorization scenario.

Access via mail command (INDEX and GET) may also be controlled with archive.mail_access list parameter.

Search engine

Sympa provides a search engine to search archive of each list. User can either use the standard search field or the advanced search page.

Messages removal

Sympa provides a “message removal” feature, accessible through a button from individual message web pages. This feature is restricted to either message authors (once authenticated) or list owners. Removal requests are then processed by the process; therefore it may take a few seconds before it is removed.

Resending message

From individual message web pages, you can ask that the message is sent back to you, via SMTP.

Export of web archives

List owners have access to an archive management page from the web interface. From this page, they can download a ZIP of their list web archives. The ZIP is organized by month, each month containing original emails.

If you want to reimport archives from the ZIP file, you need to go to $ARCDIR/ and unzip the file. After that, you should rename every directory your-list_yyyy-mm to yyyy-mm/arctxt. Once this is done, as a listmaster you have to connect to sympa, go to Listmaster admin menu, archives and then rebuild archives for the list your-list.

MHonArc tool

Sympa does not perform the MIME to HTML transformation by itself, neither does it build the messages index and threads. All this is performed by the MHonArc program. MhonArc is a software used beside many other mailing list softwares. The may Sympa uses MHonArc concentrates on integration.

You can customize the behavior of mhonarc via the mhonarc_rc.tt2 resource file. The HTML view of archives is being delivered by the wwsympa.fcgi process so the MHonArc output uses Sympa TT2 template format. When modifying mhonarc_rc.tt2 you may change the way MHonArc prepare archives or you may change the way wwsympa.fcgi show them.


For example, you may want to customize the archiving in order to reduce disk usage.

To change MHonArc behavior, we need to override its settings, configured in default/mhonarc_rc.tt2.

First, we need to copy that file to override it to keep our changes through Sympa upgrades.

cp default/mhonarc_rc.tt2 etc/

Then edit etc/mhonarc_rc.tt2 to add MIMEIncs and/or MIMEExcs sections.


MHonArc archives all parts it can find in the mail. MIMEIncs allows to specify the media types of the parts that you want to archive, excluding anything else.

For example, to only archive text parts of a mail, add this to etc/mhonarc_rc.tt2:


With this snippet, images (for example) attached to a mail will not be archived, but the plain text and HTML version of the body of the mail will be archived (along with any attachment matching those media types)

You can use a more generic media type:




MIMEExcs prevents MHonArc to archive mail parts matching one of the defined media type, even if it matches a media type defined in MIMEIncs.



See MHonArc manual for more informations on customization.

Archives structure

The web archives are gathered in a common directory $ARCDIR (location may be customized by the arc_path sympa.conf parameter). This directory contains a subdirecty for each archived mailing list. The list archive directory is structured a subdirectory for each month. Eath month directory contains both the HTML pages for messages and indexes and a subdirectory containing the orginal messsages in a text format.

Here is a sample list archive hierarchy :


Configuration parameters

sympa.conf / robot.conf parameters

list parameters

See also “Archives” section of manpage. daemon

A dedicated daemon,, is performing all operations on list archives (adding a message to archive, removing a message, rebuilding HTML files). This process is running as the sympa user; messages to archive and removal/rebuild commands are fetched from the archive spool located at $SPOOLDIR/outgoing directory (location may be customized by queueoutgoing site parameter).

When it archives the first message ever for a given list, will try to create its archive directory. If it can’t, it copies the message into a bad/ subdirectory of the archive spool.

Rebuilding web archive

Sympa provides a way to rebuild all HTML files for a given web archive. This is useful whenever you changed the mhonarc-resources.tt2 file or if Sympa changed its template format or the charset used for web pages.

The rebuild feature is accessible to listmasters only from the Sympa admin - Archives chapter from the web interface (See also “Listmaster portal”). The rebuild is then run by the process.

Importing archives of earlier version

Since version 5.2b, Sympa maintains a single archive of mailing lists, but it previously maintained both a mail archive (stored in the list_data/mylist/archives/ directories) and a web archive (for historical reasons). You may need to import existing mail archives in a list mail archive, using the provided script. See arc2webarc(1).

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