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Pine Rides Again January 21, 2008

Posted by gordonwatts in computers.

How many of you use the 1960’s email reader, pine? This trusty old goat of a IMAP mail reader is everywhere. It is written by my home institution, University of Washington. I think (!?) the history is it was written as a test client to the original IMAP server – IMAP was built at UW. But somehow it became the default mail reader. If someone is using a text mail reader, they are using pine.

I hate it. The reason is that I can’t send embeded plots, hard to format things properly… Modern mail readers are much nicer from that point of view. People used to complain bitterly if I accidentally sent around a HTML formatted email message to a mailing list – “turn your Microsoft crap off!”. Now, I don’t get complaints any longer if I do it – what with everyone using modern Linux mail programs and also the mass injection of Mac’s. At any rate — I’m very happy to see this change.

I’m continually amazed by how many people use pine. Really. Modern GUI’s are so much more powerful for managing the 100’s of messages we get a day. But pine survives and, as far as I can tell, thrives. I don’t get it.

Of course, my opinion hasn’t stopped UW from moving forward. UW got a grant to rewrite it. The next version will be called Alpine. Actually, it is more an evolution of pine, but still.



1. anon - January 22, 2008

I’m not one to be the first to tout how much of a computer stud I am, but since no one else has done it yet, I guess I will be this time.

Come on, I used a text-based email client up until just a few years ago and it wasn’t Pine…Pine was too fancy with all its menus and such. I used Unix’s “Mail.” Next you’re going to say that everyone using a text-based editor is using Emacs (the non-gui version)! As if! VI rules (vim is fine too).

With that said, I do see a number of people at conferences still using Pine, and every once in a while a Unix Mail user. I was basically forced to use a GUI client, not because of attachments, but because of silly University IT rules preventing me from running my own Sendmail daemon.

Anyhow, we can all still complain about silly Microsoft attachments especially in this transition to Office 2007 with its crazy docx files and the like.

2. gordonwatts - January 22, 2008

I’ve seen the IT rules that kill sendmail, but those places usually have your mail stored on an IMAP server — didn’t someone write a mail clone that worked with IMAP – so you could keep the same command structure?

Yeah — everytime I save a file i’m going to send around I need to save it as a old version rather than one of these new docx files. 🙂 I’m one of the crazy people!

I still remember the days of VMS mail. Now, that was a good command-line mailer. Nothing compares to it on the unix side, as far as I’m concerned. 😉

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