Google Summer of Code 2017 Ideas Page

Mailman is free software for managing electronic mail discussion and e-newsletter lists. Mailman is integrated with the web, making it easy for users to manage their accounts and for list owners to administer their lists. Mailman supports built-in archiving, automatic bounce processing, content filtering, digest delivery, spam filters, and more. Many open source denizens will be familiar with Mailman 2.1, which is used to manage many project mailing lists. All of our current work is on Mailman 3, which was released in 2015, but there's still lots of room for new features and ideas!

Not sure about how GSoC works? Check out the GSoC student Guide

Getting Started

The GSoC Student Guide has some great general GSoC information. Read it first!

Before you ask any questions about how to do anything in git or initialize your repository please read through the git howto and see if that answers your questions.

Here's a few skills that will make it easier for you to get started as a Mailman developer:

  • Python programming. You can be fairly new to Python, but you're going to have to be comfortable reading the Mailman code and asking questions if you aren't sure how it works.

  • Familiarity with any version control. We use git on Gitlab, but any experience will help you here.

  • Ability to setup a development environment for Mailman. You'll need access to a Linux machine or VM, and you can get help setting it up.

  • Ability to communicate with the Mailman developers. You'll be expected to post to the public mailing lists, ask questions, and describe the work you're doing.

Specific projects may have additional desired skills listed along with them.

What is Mailman Suite?

In Mailman 3, we've divided up the code into a number of sub-projects. We refer to the whole package as "Mailman Suite" and there's a few really important pieces you should know:

  • Mailman Core - This is the part that actually sends and receives mail and handles subscriber and list information.

  • Postorius - A web interface for managing Mailman lists (e.g. subscribing, changing preferences)

  • Hyperkitty - A web interface to access GNU Mailman v3 archives.

  • Mailman Bundler - An installer to help people who want to use those 3 big pieces together.

There's also a number of smaller projects that provide the glue to make these pieces work well together, or allow them to be used separately.

All the Mailman source is now on GitLab.

Documentation & Installation

Here are some useful links to get you started with Mailman Development:

Mailman is written in Python. Mailman 3 core is compliant only with Python 3 (MM3.0 works with Python 3.4 only, but MM3.1 will work with 3.4 and 3.5) and the rest of the projects work on python2 (2.7+). You are not required to use a virtual machine for Mailman development, although many people prefer to do so.

Development work on Mailman 2.1 has been frozen for some time, so all new project ideas must be related to Mailman 3.

Contacting us

The most successful GSoC students are the ones who work closely with the Mailman team. As you might expect from a group that makes mailing list software, our preferred method of communication is our mailing list, but we also have an IRC channel. Please do not send private messages or emails unless asked to do so or the subject is personal rather than technical, since we get a lot of similar questions and would rather the questions and answers happen in public so everyone can benefit.

Writing Your Application

You might also want to look at Last year's page


  • I am interested to contribute to Mailman and participate in GSOC, how do I start?

This page might be of some help.

This question has been asked tons of times on the mailing list (mentioned above) and IRC Channel (again, mentioned above). Both of them are logged publicly and are searchable. It would be really nice to go through them once before you ask the same question again. More specific questions are encouraged and receive more attention than "How do I start?". Mentors do try hard to reply to each and every email to the developers list, but in case you don't get any replies on trivial questions, don't be discouraged. Also, in case you are a student, helping others with small problems that you know about is also a great way to get noticed. Don't worry too much about giving wrong answers, list is constantly monitored by the core developers and your mistakes would be corrected.

  • I am a beginner, what is the best way for me to contribute?

Issues, bugs and tests are obviously a good way to contribute. But, writing/improving documentation is another great way to contribute for beginners. It doesn't have to be a real commit or patch, write up a detailed blog post about what problems you faced while setting up mailman for development. What parts of mailman you find are difficult to understand? What are awesome things about mailman?

  • My MR has been pending from a long time, what should I do?

In most of the cases the reason for a MR to be pending is that there is either something missing or something incorrect. In either of those cases if you think you need more feedback, contact me (maxking) and I can look into it, or ask the relevant person. I don't mean that you do that for each one, just the ones that haven't been noticed by anyone for a *long time*.

Project Ideas

If you have other idea you'd like to propose , please send it to for discussion! You can also look at the to-do list for Mailman 3.0 here, and see if anything is interesting enough that you would like to work on it through the summer.

Encrypted Lists I

Various kinds of encrypted or signed lists are frequently requested. The exact details are difficult (for example, consider the recent flap over an alleged "backdoor" in WhatsApp) without a good idea of the "threat model". This project will design and implement a minimal level of security, with the following goals and non-goals:

  1. All network traffic is encrypted.
  2. All archives are encrypted.
  3. Unencrypted posts refused.
  4. Optional authentication of posters.
  5. Optionally protected against list admins and moderators who are not members of the list.
  6. Security against site admins is *not* a goal.
  7. Some kind of support for "naive" users (ie, users who can't hack GPG for themselves).


  • Intermediate level
  • "Security mindset" (see Bruce Schneier's blog)

  • Knowledge of crypto libraries in Python a plus, knowledge of crypto math *not* needed


  • Abhilash Raj (maxking on IRC)
  • Stephen J. Turnbull (yaseppochi on IRC)

More project ideas coming soon!

For Mentors

If you're interested in mentoring, please join and let us know!

Current list of prospective mentors

  • Abhilash Raj (maxking on IRC)
  • Stephen J. Turnbull (yaseppochi on IRC)

MailmanWiki: DEV/Google Summer of Code 2017 (last edited 2017-02-08 08:38:24 by