>> 1/ backing up the hacked [mailman] files and restoring them later (but I
>> will
>> overwrite the newer files with older ones perhaps breaking something).
>> 2/ making them read only (but the end result will be the same and
>> upgrading as root I will overwrite them anyway).
> Keep in mind mailman is all python.  There really is nothing to recompile
> after a system upgrade.  (Unless you are upgrading python which you aren't).

I am not so sure. According to

"All third party software will now need to be rebuilt and
re-installed. This is required as installed software may depend on
libraries which have been removed during the upgrade process. The
ports-mgmt/portupgrade command may be used to automate this process.
The following commands may be used to begin this process:"

So my thinking is that by issuing portupgrade -af both python and
mailman will get reinstalled. However, the option suggested by Roland
(thank you!) of touching /var/db/pkg/mailman/+IGNOREME seems very
interesting. I must read more about it.

Thank you all!

Zbigniew Szalbot
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