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Managing a domain using the Hermes menu system

Logging in

Use an SSH program to connect to Hermes, e.g ssh hermes.cam.ac.uk. Enter your login name and password as requested.

  • Your user name must be entered in lower case.
  • Upper and lower case letters in your password must be entered correctly.

The Hermes menu system

The Hermes user interface consists of a number of separate menus controlled by single letter codes. To operate any of the menus within Hermes:

  • Type the digit associated with a menu item and then RETURN in order to perform that action or move to a sub menu.
  • In order to get HELP information about items on that menu, type the letter H and then RETURN.
  • To QUIT from a particular menu, type the letter Q and then RETURN. At the top level menu, QUIT breaks your login connection to Hermes.

The central menu of the Hermes system looks something like this:

   ---------------- Hermes Message Store Main Menu ----------------
   Please enter the code for the action you require, and then press RETURN.
    1  PINE     - Run the Pine mail user agent to access your mail.
    2  EDITOR   - Submenu for the Pico editor.
    3  FILES    - Submenu for file management.
    4  TERMINAL - Change the terminal type setting for this session.
    5  MISC     - Submenu for user info or printer and spell check setup.
    6  DOMAINS  - Domain management (for authorised users only).
    7  ALPINE   - Run the Alpine mail user agent to access your mail.
                              
    H  HELP     - Help on Hermes
    Q  QUIT     - Terminate Hermes session.

Domain management

When you select the DOMAINS item on the main Hermes menu, you will be asked to enter the name of the mail domain that you manage. You can enter either the fully qualified domain name, or just the first component (e.g. uis or uis.cam.ac.uk). After the Hermes menu system has verified that you are a registered manager for the particular domain, the DOMAINs menu is displayed.

   ---------------- Hermes Domain Management Menu ----------------
   Please enter the code (1 to 9, E, M, H or Q) for the action you require,
   and then press RETURN.
   Working with domain: ucs.cam.ac.uk
    1  ADD PERSONAL  - Add personal aliases
    2  ADD ROLE      - Create individual role alias
    3  REMOVE        - Remove personal or role aliases
    4  LIST          - Show aliases for this domain
    5  BATCH ADD     - Add aliases (takes data from file)
    6  BATCH REMOVE  - Remove aliases (takes data from file)
    7  IMPORT        - Import aliases from file (overrides existing aliases!)
    8  EXPORT        - Export aliases to file
    9  CHECK         - Request a list of invalid addresses
    E  EDIT          - Edit alias file directly
    M  MANAGERS      - Edit domain managers

Mail Aliases

The managed mail domain system supports two types of mail alias which are conceptually different, although there is a large degree of overlap in actual use.

Personal Aliases

Personal aliases are a set of 'friendly' email names associated with a particular CRSid. For example, for the personal CRSid dpc22 the the following personal aliases exist in the uis.cam.ac.uk mail domain (colons represent the relationship 'is aliased to').

   d.p.carter:dpc22@uis.cam.ac.uk
   david.carter:dpc22@uis.cam.ac.uk
   dpc22:dpc22@cam.ac.uk

Here we see that the friendly names associated with the CRSid are aliased to a single point (dpc22@uis.cam.ac.uk) which is itself then aliased onto the @cam address.

Role Aliases

Many mail domains require a set of special contact points that are associated with specific posts or roles within the institution. Some possible examples: Secretary, Admissions, Director, Bursar. In many cases these can be managed simply as additional personal aliases assigned to specific individuals in a domain. However, there are times when this may not be appropriate.

For example, the address unix-support@uis.cam.ac.uk is aliased to a mailing list cs-unix-support@lists.cam.ac.uk. The former is a more memorable address to list in newsletters and other publications. Using a mailing list in this fashion is a simple way to delegate authority for a mail address in your domain. In these circumstances, it is the list manager rather than the domain manager who decides exactly who receives messages sent to the address.

Setting up Personal Aliases

When you select the ADD PERSONAL option from the DOMAINS menu you will be asked to enter a CRSid account name, and then a list of personal aliases that should point to this name. For example:

   Please enter the CRSid name of an account that you wish to add to this domain
   Enter "quit" to abort.
   Account name (CRSid) 1? dpc22
   Please enter a list of aliases that should point to this account name
   e.g. firstname.surname
   Enter one alias on each line and finish with a blank line.
   dpc22: Alias 1? david.carter
   dpc22: Alias 2? d.p.carter
   dpc22: Alias 3?

You should enter one alias on each line, and finish with a blank line. When you have finished entering aliases for one CRSid, the menu system will ask for a new CRSid to work on. This makes it easier to make a large number of additions at one go. Enter a blank line in order to install the changes that you have entered so far. The complete set of aliases to be added will be listed together with reports of any problems:

   Updating file::
   Adding alias: d.p.carter --> dpc22@uis.cam.ac.uk
   Adding alias: david.carter --> dpc22@uis.cam.ac.uk
   Adding alias: dpc22 --> dpc22@cam.ac.uk
   Update complete

Changes are only made to the master copy of your domain alias file when you explicitly confirm that you wish to commit your actions.

Setting up Role Aliases

The ADD ROLE option on the DOMAINS menu allows you to set up a set of role aliases:

   Please enter the name of an alias that you wish to add to this domain.
   Enter "quit" to abort.
   Alias 1 ? unix-support
   Where should mail sent to unix-support@uis.cam.ac.uk be directed?
   Address or addresses (comma-separated list)? cs-unix-support@lists
   Using alias: unix-support --> cs-unix-support@lists.cam.ac.uk

Any mail addresses that you enter will be tested to ensure that they are valid. This involves a lookup on the mail domain name which can take a few seconds to complete. You can enter a whole list of mail addresses separated by commas.

Changes are only made to the master copy of your domain alias file when you explicitly confirm that you wish to commit your actions.

Removing aliases

The REMOVE option on the DOMAINS menu allows you to remove both individual aliases and entire clusters of aliases. You will be asked to enter a list of names, ending with a blank line. If you enter the names of individual personal or role aliases, those single values will be removed. In contrast, if you enter a CRSid name, all aliases that point to that name will be removed. For example, for input dpc22:

   Updating file::
   Removing alias: d.p.carter --> dpc22@uis.cam.ac.uk
   Removing alias: david.carter --> dpc22@uis.cam.ac.uk
   Removing alias: dpc22 --> dpc22@cam.ac.uk
   Update complete

Changes are only made to the master copy of your domain alias file when you explicitly confirm that you wish to commit your actions.

Listing aliases

The LIST option on the DOMAINS menu lists all of the aliases in your domain that match a particular name. For example:

   Alias file for domain: uis.cam.ac.uk
     (Only entries that match "dpc22" listed)
   d.p.carter:dpc22@uis.cam.ac.uk
   david.carter:dpc22@uis.cam.ac.uk
   postmaster:dpc22@uis.cam.ac.uk
   dpc22:dpc22@cam.ac.uk

If you do not enter a name then all aliases in your domain are listed, one page at a time.

Batch updates

When you initially set up a domain, there may be a very large number of aliases that you wish to assign. Rather than forcing you to enter the entire list manually, the IMPORT and BATCH ADD options allow you to add aliases using a file that you have uploaded to your Hermes account using SCP, SFTP or FTP. This file can list personal aliases in one of two possible formats:

  1. A list of account names (that is, CRSids) each of which is followed by a series of indented lines with one mail alias on each line. For example:
        
        dpc22
           david.carter
           d.p.carter
     
  2. A traditional style alias file using colon separators (but which allows you to group several aliases on a single line). For example:
        
        david.carter d.p.carter : dpc22
        postmaster              : dpc22
     

N.B. these two formats automatically create an alias for the CRSid that points to the associated @cam address.

You can also introduce role aliases using the colon separated form by providing addresses that point outside your own mail domain. For example:

postmaster mailer-daemon  : dpc22@uis.cam.ac.uk

You can use whichever format is more convenient for you to create (and even mix the various styles freely in a single file).

BATCH REMOVE allows you to remove a whole collection of aliases. This option takes data taken from a file but otherwise behaves identically to the REMOVE option that was described earlier. The file should normally contain a simple list of names (either aliases or CRSids). However, for convenience, any of the three formats described above can also be used. Names will be extracted as appropriate.

The EXPORT option saves the current set of aliases into a file in your home directory using one of four possible formats:

  1. VERBATIM: Straight copy of alias file, no sorting whatsoever.
  2. SINGLE: Groups related aliases together as a series of individual lines. For example:
        
         david.carter:dpc22
         d.p.carter:dpc22
     
  3. MULTIPLE: Groups related aliases using multiple entries on a single line. example:
        david.carter d.p.carter:dpc22 
  4. INDENTED: Groups related aliases using indentation. For example:
        
        dpc22
           david.carter
           d.p.carter
     

Any of these formats can be edited offline and later used as source for the BATCH ADD and BATCH REMOVE operations. The sequence of operations: EXPORTBATCH REMOVEBATCH ADD, using a single file, removes all aliases apart from the postmaster alias from a domain and then restores it to its original state.

Editing the alias file directly

The EDIT option on the DOMAINS menu allows you to alter directly the alias file associated with your domain. This may be the fastest way to make a number of unrelated changes to your domain. However, fewer safety checks are possible.

In addition, the menu interface automatically groups related aliases together and adds date stamp records to record particular changes. None of this is possible when you edit the alias file directly. Each line of the alias file should consist of a name, followed by a colon (:) and then a mail address. Don't try to enter several aliases on each line or add extra space characters.

Changing the list of managers for your domain

The MANAGERS option on the DOMAINS menu controls the list of people who are authorised to manipulate your mail domain. This should obviously be restricted to a list of trusted individuals. You should enter a single mail address on each line. The left hand side of each address must be a CRSid and also a valid Hermes account. The two recommended forms are name@cam and name@hermes.

Checking for invalid addresses

The CHECK option on the DOMAINS menu allows you to request an automated check of your domain.

The program can detect most invalid addresses. It can fail to detect an invalid address if the host system does not thoroughly verify recipient addresses or if there is a persistent problem which does not allow us to determine that an address is definitely invalid. For example, it cannot identify Hermes users who forward their email to invalid addresses or who are perpetually over quota.

The results of a test run are emailed to you after the updated domain configurations are pushed out to the live servers. This occurs once an hour.

Last updated: August 2016