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Configuration hierarchy

Configuration of Sympa may be classified into multiple scopes: "List", "mail domain", "site" and distribution default.


  • In earlier documentations, a term "robot" was chosen to refer to "mail domain" scope. If you see this word in the other place of this document, please replace it with "mail domain".

Configuration files


To find a configuration file, Sympa searches following four directories in order, i.e. from narrower to wider scopes:

Once desired file is found in a directory, Sympa no longer does search subsequent directories. By this hierarchical system, configuration applied to wider scopes can be customized for particular domains and/or lists.

For example, given following edit_list.conf configuration files placed:

On a list, the first file will be used. However, on the other lists of (e.g., the second file will be used. On the lists of the other domain (e.g., the third file will be used. The last file, distribution default, will never be used in this example, because the other file supersedes it.


  • On list scope, canonical path of configuration is:

    $EXPLDIR/mail domain name/list name/

    However, by historical reason, the lists of primary domain (the mail domain defined by domain parameter in sympa.conf) also allows the path in a style:

    $EXPLDIR/list name/.

    The former style is recommended. The latter style may be deprecated by the future version of Sympa.


Changing configuration files

When you customize configuration files, don't edit files under $DEFAULTDIR directly. Changes on the files under this directory will be overwritten by new version during upgrade process.

Instead, you should copy files under $DEFAULTDIR directory into the directory of appropriate scope (see previous section), then edit these copies.

Configuration parameters

Main configuration files have different names by each scope:

These files will not override the others. Instead, several parameters in these files override parameters in wider scopes by each. See documentation on parameters in sympa.conf, robot.conf and config files.

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