Documentation for server-admins

This document refers to Schleuder version 4.0. To read about older versions of Schleuder please see the older docs.

Setup Schleuder


You can install schleuder either from Linux distribution packages or rubygems. Currently there are supported distribution packages for Debian (“buster” and above), CentOS 7 and Archlinux (via AUR). If you use one of the directly supported platforms, you should choose the packages over the gems.

Don’t use the packages provided by Ubuntu in all releases up to and including 17.10, they are severely outdated. On Ubuntu 18.04 only use the package if it has at least version 3.2.2.

Besides schleuder you should also install at least one of schleuder-cli (the command line tool to manage Schleuder lists), and schleuder-web (the web interface to manage and maintain Schleuder lists).

Additionally we recommend running an entropy source such as haveged. This ensures Schleuder won’t be blocked by lacking entropy, which otherwise might happen e.g. during key generation.


The step needs root privileges

We maintain schleuder and schleuder-cli in “buster” and above. (For production usage we recommend Debian “buster”.) To install the packages

apt-get install schleuder schleuder-cli

Running schleuder install afterwards isn’t necessary, the package takes care of it.


For CentOS 7 there is a maintained copr-repository using Software Collections.

All steps need root privileges

Install the repository & the SCL repository

yum install centos-release-scl
curl -o /etc/yum.repos.d/schleuder-schleuder-epel-7.repo

Now you are ready to install schleuder and schleuder-cli

yum install schleuder schleuder-cli

Afterwards run schleuder install to finalize the setup of Schleuder. This creates necessary directories, copies example configs, etc. If you see errors about missing write permissions please follow the advice given.

The copr-repository also provides you with a package for schleuder-web. Please read the documentation of schleuder-web on how to get it up and running.


For archlinux there are the AUR packages for schleuder and schleuder-cli.

See the official AUR documentation on how to install AUR packages or use one of the many available AUR helpers to manage AUR dependencies.

Once you have installed the schleuder package you need to run schleuder install as the created schleuder system user. See also the schleuder wiki page for information about installation and configuration.

From Ruby-Gem

For instructions on how to install from rubygems please see the README of Schleuder.


To ease the installation and configuration of schleuder, schleuder-cli and schleuder-web, and to help with the creation and deletion of lists, you can rely either on…

  • an ansible role, which works for Debian, or

  • a puppet module. Currently it works for CentOS 7, but we would like to make it work for Debian as well - help would be highly appreciated.


Schleuder reads its basic settings from a file that it by default expects at /etc/schleuder/schleuder.yml. To make Schleuder read a different file set the environment variable SCHLEUDER_CONFIG to the path to your file when running schleuder. E.g.:

SCHLEUDER_CONFIG=/usr/local/etc/schleuder.yml /path/to/bin/schleuder ...

For explanations of the possible settings read the default config file (also available in the repository).

The default settings for new lists are read from another config file. By default Schleuder looks at /etc/schleuder/list-defaults.yml. To make Schleuder read a different file set the environment variable SCHLEUDER_LIST_DEFAULTS analogous to above. The possible settings are explained in the default config file, which is also available in the repository.

Once a list is created, it is not affected by these configuration files any more. Existing lists have their configuration stored in the database. The settings in the database can be shown and set via the schleuder API, available through schleuder-web or schleuder-cli. Run schleuder-cli lists help and schleuder-cli lists list-options for more information on the latter.

Hook into Mail Transport Agent

In “work”-mode, Schleuder expects the list’s email-address as second argument (first one is “work”) and the incoming email on standard-input.

To enable Schleuder to receive emails, your Mail Transport Agent must be configured accordingly. How to do this with Postfix is documented in detail below.


This section describes only those parts of a Postfix-setup that are relevant to Schleuder. We assume that you have a sensible and tested Postfix-setup already.

Firstly, to hook Schleuder into Postfix adapt these lines (path and maybe user) and add them to

schleuder  unix  -       n       n       -       -       pipe
  flags=DRhu user=schleuder argv=/path/to/bin/schleuder work ${recipient}

Then you have to chose how postfix should decide if a message should be delivered to Schleuder. There are two options:

  1. Configure it for each list individually. That’s the way to go if you don’t run many lists, or use the respective domain also for a varying number of email accounts or aliases.
  2. Dedicate a whole domain to Schleuder. That’s the way to go if you run more lists than email accounts or aliases on that domain.

To configure each list individually, add these lines to

schleuder_destination_recipient_limit = 1
transport_maps = hash:/etc/postfix/transport_schleuder

Now adapt the following lines for each list and add them to /etc/postfix/transport_schleuder:          schleuder:  schleuder:    schleuder:   schleuder:  schleuder:

Afterwards run postmap /etc/postfix/transport_schleuder and restart postfix. Remember to repeat this also for newly created lists later.

Another way to tell postfix which domain and list can be piped to schleuder is to get that information out of the sqlite database. A requirement for that is the postfix-sqlite package, which isn’t in the standard repositories of CentOS, but Debian.

To dedicate a whole domain to Schleuder, add these lines to

schleuder_destination_recipient_limit = 1
virtual_mailbox_domains = sqlite:/etc/postfix/
virtual_transport       = schleuder
virtual_alias_maps      = hash:/etc/postfix/virtual_aliases
virtual_mailbox_maps    = sqlite:/etc/postfix/

Then adapt and add at least the following exceptions from the All-to-Schleuder-rule to /etc/postfix/virtual_aliases:    root@anotherdomain         root@anotherdomain root@anotherdomain          root@anotherdomain

Afterwards run postmap /etc/postfix/virtual_aliases.

The file can ask the schleuder sqlite database (this will delegate the whole domain to schleuder):

dbpath = /var/lib/schleuder/db.sqlite
query = select distinct substr(email, instr(email, '@') + 1) from lists
        where email like '%%%s'

And the file can also get the information from the schleuder sqlite database:

dbpath = /var/lib/schleuder/db.sqlite
query = select 'present' from lists
          where email = '%s'
          or    email = replace('%s', '-bounce@', '@')
          or    email = replace('%s', '-owner@', '@')
          or    email = replace('%s', '-request@', '@')
          or    email = replace('%s', '-sendkey@', '@')

From now on each Schleuder-list will instantly be reachable by email once it was created.


This section describes only those parts of a Exim-setup that are relevant to Schleuder. We assume that you have a sensible and tested Exim-setup already.

As with any exim email routing, we need to configure essentially a router that accepts and directs a mail to a transport, which knows how to hand-over an email to schleuder.

Within the begin routers section of your exim.conf you can add the following router:

  driver = accept
  address_data = ${lookup sqlite,file=/var/lib/schleuder/db.sqlite {select email from lists where email = '${quote_sqlite:${local_part}@${domain}}'} {$value} fail}
  local_part_suffix = +* : -bounce : -sendkey : -request : -owner
  transport = mlschleuder_transport_local

This router will look directly in schleuder’s sqlite file to check if the given recipient is a legitimate list’s email address. For this to work, exim needs to be able to read that file. One approach to achieve this is to add the user exim is running as to the group the file belongs to and make the file group-readable. For Debian the following commands will achieve that:

adduser Debian-exim schleuder
chmod g+r /var/lib/schleuder/db.sqlite

If that is not possible, you can instead add the following router:

  driver = accept
  require_files = /etc/exim/schleuder-lists
  address_data = ${lookup {$local_part@$domain} lsearch,ret=key {/etc/exim/schleuder-lists} {$value} fail}
  local_part_suffix = +* : -bounce : -sendkey : -request : -owner
  transport = mlschleuder_transport_local

/etc/exim/schleuder-lists is a simple textfile containing one list-address per line. You can for example create it by executing schleuder-cli lists list > /etc/exim/schleuder-lists after creating or deleting any lists.

In more advanced setups you might have different conditions depending on how you manage the inventory of your schleuder lists and decide to accept a mail for a list.

Within the begin transports section of your exim.conf you then configure the transport:

   driver = pipe
   user = schleuder
   group = schleuder
   # schleuders generates nice log messages for some of the problems
   return_fail_output = true
   home_directory = /var/lib/schleuder/lists/${domain:$address_data}/${local_part:$address_data}
   command = "/usr/bin/schleuder work ${local_part:$address_data}${local_part_suffix}@${domain:$address_data}"
   message_size_limit = 10M

Please note that we keep the $local_part_suffix when handing the mail over to schleuder, so schleuder can e.g. detect bounces or sendkey emails properly.

Restart exim and you have your working schleuder+exim setup.

Remember to repeat dumping the list of schleuder-lists to /etc/exim/schleuder-lists also for newly created lists later.

Schleuder API

The Schleuder API is provided by schleuder-api-daemon. Configuration clients (schleuder-web, schleuder-cli) use it to access information about lists, subscriptions, and keys. As you probably want to at least use schleuder-cli from localhost, setting up schleuder-api-daemon is useful even without remote clients.

Schleuder does not use schleuder-api-daemon to process emails. You can stop schleuder-api-daemon at any time without breaking the email flow.

To run schleuder-api-daemon, depending on the type of operating system and the setup you are using, you can either start the systemd-unit-file:

systemctl start schleuder-api-daemon

Or you can run it manually in a shell:


Please take care to run schleuder-api-daemon as the user that owns the directory of schleuder lists (by default /var/lib/schleuder/lists) to avoid running into file permission problems!

Transport encryption

schleuder-api-daemon uses transport encryption (TLS) for all connections. The required TLS-certifcates should have been generated during the setup (schleuder install). You can generate new ones at any time by executing:

schleuder cert generate

If the file systems permissions allow it, Schleuder will write the certificate and the key directly into the correct files (paths are read from the configuration file). Otherwise you might have to move them. Please read the output of the above command for possible instructions.

In case you already have a suitable certificate you can use that, too. Its hostnames do not matter. Just copy it to the paths specified in the configuration file, or change those paths.

In order to verify the connection, each client needs to know the fingerprint of the API-certificate. The fingerprint will be shown when generating the certificates. Later you can always have it show again by executing this:

schleuder cert fingerprint

Use secure channels to transport this information!


The Schleuder API uses API-keys to authenticate clients.

You can generate new API-keys by executing:

schleuder new_api_key

To enable the client to connect, their API-key must be added to the section valid_api_keys in Schleuder’s configuration file.

Provide each client with their own API-key, and use secure channels to transport this information!

There is no authorization of clients, yet. Each client is allowed every action. So be wary who to give an API-key to. schleuder-web does its own authorization, but schleuder-cli does not!

Managing a list

To create and manage lists you have two options: schleuder-web and schleuder-cli.

Both require a running schleuder-api-daemon. Please see the previous section on how to set that up.


To create lists with schleuder-web log in as root@localhost. Managing lists is allowed to each list-admin.


To use schleuder-cli please see the output of

schleuder-cli help


Please take care to have the following commands run by the user that owns the directory of schleuder lists (by default /var/lib/schleuder/lists) to avoid running into file permission problems!

Schleuder can check all keys that are present in the list’s keyrings for (upcoming) expiration dates, revocation, or other reasons for not being usable.

Call this command weekly from cron to automate the check and have the results sent to the respective list-admins:

schleuder check_keys

Schleuder can also refresh all keys in the same manner. Each key of each list will be refreshed from a keyserver one by one. If you’re using gpg 2.1, it’s possible to configure a TOR onion service to be used as keyserver! See the config for an example.

Call this command weekly from cron to automate the check and have the results sent to the respective list-admins:

schleuder refresh_keys

The available packages for Debian and CentOS both install a weekly cron job that check and refresh keys. Listadmins will be notified about issues with or changes to their keyring.

An additional maintenance command is available that allows you to pin subscriptions to their best matching key. If there is no key assigned, schleuder will try to select a key from the list’s keyring that distinctly matches the subscription’s email address.

This feature should be used with care. It’s easy for a malicious (or inexperienced) person to inject additional user-IDs into the list’s keyring. This can lead to situations in which people suddenly receive emails that are encrypted to a key they don’t own.

You should better not run this command automatedly, and you should always examine the output closely to check for unintended consequences.

schleuder pin_keys

To participate in the development use the issue tracker. Please take note of our Code of Conduct.