Building documentation

The full documentation is located in the “doc” subfolder. It can be generated in various formats once you have installed Sphinx. To generate the HTML documentation, run the following command:

make -C doc html

The HTML files will be available in the doc/_build/html directory.

The documentation can also be browsed online at:

Communication channels

Hang out on IRC and ask questions on #mailman or join the mailing list

Setting up HyperKitty for development

The recommended way to develop on HyperKitty is to use VirtualEnv. It will create an isolated Python environment where you can add HyperKitty and its dependencies without messing up your system Python install.

First, create the virtualenv and activate it:

virtualenv venv_hk
source venv_hk/bin/activate

Then download the components of HyperKitty:

git clone
cd hyperkitty
pip install -e '.[dev]'

You will also need to install the Sass CSS processor using your package manager or the project’s installation documentation. You can either use the dart-sass version (dartsass) or the C/C++ version, called libsass (the binary is sassc). The configuration file in example_project/ defaults to the sassc version, but you just have to edit the COMPRESS_PRECOMPILERS mapping to switch to the dart-sass implementation, whose binary is called sass and which doesn’t recognize the short form of the -t/--style option.

We no longer recommend ruby-sass as there have been compatibility issues with recent versions.

Recent Debian and Ubuntu have a sassc package, which you can install with:

sudo apt-get install sassc


For a development setup, you should create a file example_project/ with at least the following content:

DEBUG = True
USE_SSL = False

It’s also recommended to change the database access paths in the DATABASES and HAYSTACK_CONNECTIONS variables. Absolute paths are required.

If you ever want to turn the DEBUG variable to False (by removing it from, you’ll have to run two additional commands then and each time you change the static files:

django-admin collectstatic --pythonpath example_project --settings settings
django-admin compress --pythonpath example_project --settings settings

Normally, to generate compressor content, you’ll need to set COMPRESS_ENABLED to TRUE and COMPRESS_OFFLINE to TRUE in However, you can force the generation of compressor content by adding the --force switch to the django-admin compress command, which will run the compressor even if the COMPRESS settings are not TRUE.

But for development purposes, it’s better to keep DEBUG = True.


Your django-admin command may be called depending on your installation method.

Setting up the databases

The HyperKitty database is configured using the DATABASE setting in Django’s file, as usual. The database can be created with the following command:

django-admin migrate --pythonpath example_project --settings settings

HyperKitty also uses a fulltext search engine. Thanks to the Django-Haystack library, the search engine backend is pluggable, refer to the Haystack documentation on how to install and configure the fulltext search engine backend.

HyperKitty’s default configuration uses the Whoosh backend, so if you want to use that you just need to install the Whoosh Python library.

Importing the current archives

If you are currently running Mailman 2.1, you can run the hyperkitty_import management command to import existing archives into the mailman database. This command will import the Mbox files: if you’re installing HyperKitty on the machine which hosted the previous version of Mailman, those files are available locally and you can use them directly.

The command’s syntax is:

django-admin hyperkitty_import --pythonpath example_project --settings settings -l ADDRESS mbox_file [mbox_file ...]


  • ADDRESS is the fully-qualified list name (including the @ sign and the domain name)

  • The mbox_file arguments are the existing archives to import (in mbox format).

The archive mbox file for a list is usually available at the following location:


If the previous archives aren’t available locally, you need to download them from your current Mailman 2.1 installation. The file is not web-accessible.

Before importing an archive mbox, it is a good idea to check its integrity with the hyperkitty/contrib/check_hk_import script and with Mailman 2.1’s bin/cleanarch script.

After importing your existing archives, you must add them to the fulltext search engine with the following command:

django-admin update_index --pythonpath example_project --settings settings

Refer to the command’s documentation for available switches.

Running HyperKitty

If you’re coding on HyperKitty, you can use Django’s integrated web server. It can be run with the following command:

django-admin runserver --pythonpath example_project --settings settings


You should use the development server only locally. While it’s possible to make your site publicly available using the dev server, you should never do that in a production environment.


Use the following command:

django-admin test --settings hyperkitty.tests.settings_test hyperkitty

All test modules reside in the hyperkitty/tests directory and this is where you should put your own tests, too. To make the django test runner find your tests, make sure to add them to the folder’s