LISTSERV File Server Commands


"Patience is a necessary ingredient of genius"
-- Benjamin Disraeli

If you had subscribed to the Roadmap list, you would have sent an e-mail letter to
    LISTSERV@UA1VM.UA.EDU
which said
    SUBSCRIBE ROADMAP YOURFIRSTNAME YOURLASTNAME
in the body of your letter. Well, the SUBSCRIBE command
    SUBSCRIBE listname <>
is just one of dozens of LISTSERV commands that you can use by sending an e-mail letter to LISTSERV@UA1VM.UA.EDU (or to any other LISTSERV address) with a command in the body of your letter!

First off, what is a LISTSERV? Well, a LISTSERV is a mailing list program designed to copy and distribute electronic mail to everyone subscribed to a particular mailing list. We will talk much more about LISTSERVs and LISTSERV commands in MAP05: LISTSERVs and MAP06: Other Mail Servers, but LISTSERVs work on a concept called "mail explosion." A single piece of e-mail is sent to a central address (the LISTSERV's address), and the LISTSERV then "explodes" the letter by duplicating that single letter and sending one copy of that letter to every single person subscribed to a particular mailing list (1). This "mail explosion" concept is what allows anyone subscribed to a LISTSERV to communicate with all the other subscribers with just a single e-mail letter sent to a central address.

Note from the Roadmap Workshop Webmaster:
When I was subscribed to the Third Roadmap Workshop (the one you're reading right now), this is how I received all the lessons.

What we are going to talk about, however, is the LISTSERV file server. In an effort to keep this group's mail volume to a minimum, I've placed many of the "optional" workshop files on the University of Alabama's LISTSERV file server.

What is a LISTSERV file server? Well, besides distributing letters, LISTSERVs can also serve as a "library" of files -- files that you can retrieve using nothing but a simple e-mail letter sent to the LISTSERV's address with a few simple commands in the body of that letter.

If you had subscribed to the Roadmap list, you would have mailed an e-mail letter to LISTSERV@UA1VM.UA.EDU with this command in the body of your letter:

    SUBSCRIBE list-name <>
To get files from the University of Alabama's LISTSERV file server, you can send a letter to LISTSERV@UA1VM.UA.EDU with a new command in the body of your letter:
    GET filename filetype F=format
Now that may look a little intimidating, but you are about to see that the GET command is as easy to use as the SUBSCRIBE command. Let's break the GET command down into its individual parts:
GET
tells the LISTSERV that you want it to send a file to you.

filename filetype
tells the LISTSERV the name of the file that want it to get
(for example: COPY NOTICE, ROADMAP 94-00001, RFC 1462, etc.).

F=format
tells the LISTSERV how you want the file sent to you. For what we are doing, lets use F=MAIL (that way the LISTSERV will e-mail the files to you).
Now suppose I tell you that there is a file on the LISTSERV file server at the University of Alabama called COPY NOTICE. What do you have to do to retrieve this file? Well ...
  1. Address an e-mail letter to LISTSERV@UA1VM.UA.EDU (remember, you are about to send a command, and all commands must be sent to the LISTSERV address).

  2. In the body of your letter type GET COPY NOTICE F=MAIL
How about if I told you there was a file on the LISTSERV file server at the University of Alabama called RFC 1462? Well, again you would send an e-mail letter to LISTSERV@UA1VM.UA.EDU, but this time the body of the letter would say GET RFC 1462 F=MAIL

Think you can handle this? I hope so ... because this is your first homework assignment (eeeeek!). There are three files on the LISTSERV file server at the University of Alabama (LISTSERV@UA1VM.UA.EDU). Those files are:

     filename   filetype          description

COPY NOTICE The Copyright notice for the entire
Roadmap workshop, along with the
workshop's acknowledgments.

NET INTRO My own special explanation of what
the Internet is and how it works.

RFC 1462 The OFFICIAL "What is the Internet"
RFC/FYI by Krol and Hoffman (this is
kind of advanced stuff)
What I want you to do is use the GET command to get at least one of these files (you can get more than one if you want). What do I want you to do with the file after you get it? READ IT!! (As I said in the last lesson, please do not send the files back to me -- my mailer can not handle the volume of your responses).

That's your homework.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You must write a new letter to LISTSERV@UA1VM.UA.EDU for your GET commands to work. Replying to this letter will not work!


What if the GET doesn't work? First, realize that it may take several hours for the LISTSERV to process your request and send the file back to you (hence the patience quote at the opening of this lesson). 25,000 requests, even at one second per request, is going to take a LONG time to process!

If, after an incredible amount of time has passed, you have not heard back from the LISTSERV,

  1. Double check that you used the correct address:
      LISTSERV@UA1VM.UA.EDU
    That's "you-ay-won-vee-em".
  2. Make sure the GET command is in the BODY of your letter.
  3. Finally, make sure that you have included all of the parts of the GET command:
      GET filename filetype f=format
If, after all of this, the command still does not work, talk with your local Internet service provider (do NOT write to me). Chances are, the problem is that your mail program is putting the wrong return address onto your letters. This is a local problem, and your local Internet service provider should be able to give you some suggestions. (Again, do NOT write to me!)

Have fun :)

Posted bySumedh at 11:46 PM  

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