alpine - an Alternatively Licensed Program for Internet News and Email
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Alpine is a screen-oriented message-handling tool. In its default configuration,
Alpine offers an intentionally limited set of functions geared toward the
novice user, but it also has a large list of optional "power-user"
and personal-preference features. alpinef
is a variant of Alpine that
uses function keys rather than mnemonic single-letter commands. Alpine's basic
feature set includes:
- View, Save, Export, Delete, Print, Reply and Forward
- Compose messages in a simple editor (Pico) with word-wrap
and a spelling checker. Messages may be postponed for later
- Full-screen selection and management of message
- Address book to keep a list of long or frequently-used
addresses. Personal distribution lists may be defined. Addresses may be
taken into the address book from incoming mail without retyping them.
- New mail checking and notification occurs automatically
every 2.5 minutes and after certain commands, e.g. refresh-screen
- On-line, context-sensitive help screens.
Alpine supports MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions), an Internet
Standard for representing multipart and multimedia data in email. Alpine
allows you to save MIME objects to files, and in some cases, can also initiate
the correct program for viewing the object. It uses the system's
configuration file to determine what program can process a
particular MIME object type. Alpine's message composer does not have integral
multimedia capability, but any type of data file --including multimedia-- can
be attached to a text message and sent using MIME's encoding rules. This
allows any group of individuals with MIME-capable mail software (e.g. Alpine,
PC-Alpine, or many other programs) to exchange formatted documents,
spread-sheets, image files, etc, via Internet email.
Alpine uses the c-client
messaging API to access local and remote mail
folders. This library provides a variety of low-level message-handling
functions, including drivers for a variety of different mail file formats, as
well as routines to access remote mail and news servers, using IMAP (Internet
Message Access Protocol) and NNTP (Network News Transport Protocol). Outgoing
mail is usually posted directly via SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol).
The command line options/arguments are:
- Send mail to address. This will cause Alpine to go
directly into the message composer.
- -attach file
- Send mail with the listed file as an
- -attachlist file-list
- Send mail with the listed file-list as an
- -attach_and_delete file
- Send mail with the listed file as an attachment, and
remove the file after the message is sent.
- -aux local_directory
- PC-Alpine only. When using a remote configuration (-p
<remote_config>) this tells PC-Alpine the local directory to use for
storing auxiliary files, like debug files, address books, and signature
- Exit if the pinerc file does not exist. This might be
useful if the config file is accessed using some remote filesystem
protocol. If the remote mount is missing this will cause Alpine to quit
instead of creating a new pinerc.
- -c context-number
- context-number is the number corresponding to the
folder-collection to which the -f command line argument should be
applied. By default the -f argument is applied to the first defined
- Produce a sample/fresh copy of the system-wide
configuration file, pine.conf, on the standard output. This is
distinct from the per-user .pinerc file.
- -convert_sigs -p pinerc
- Convert signature files into literal signatures.
- -copy_abook <local_abook> <remote_abook>
- Copy the local address book file to a remote address book
- -copy_pinerc <local_pinerc> <remote_pinerc>
- Copy the local pinerc file to a remote pinerc folder.
- -d debug-level
- Output diagnostic info at debug-level (0-9) to the
current .pine-debug[1-4] file. A value of 0 turns debugging off and
suppresses the .pine-debug file.
- -d key[=val]
- Fine tuned output of diagnostic messages where
"flush" causes debug file writing without buffering,
"timestamp" appends each message with a timestamp,
"imap=n" where n is between 0 and 4 representing none to verbose
IMAP telemetry reporting, "numfiles=n" where n is between 0 and
31 corresponding to the number of debug files to maintain, and
"verbose=n" where n is between 0 and 9 indicating an inverse
threshold for message output.
- -f folder
- Open folder (in first defined folder collection, use
-c n to specify another collection) instead of INBOX.
- -F file
- Open named text file and view with Alpine's browser.
- Help: list valid command-line options.
- Start up in the FOLDER INDEX screen.
- -I keystrokes
- Initial (comma separated list of) keystrokes which Alpine
should execute on startup.
- For PC-Alpine only, this option causes PC-Alpine to prompt
for some basic setup information, then exits.
- Use function keys for commands. This is the same as running
the command alpinef.
- -n number
- Start up with current message-number set to
- Open first folder read-only.
- -p config-file
- Use config-file as the personal configuration file
instead of the default .pinerc.
- -P config-file
- Use config-file as the configuration file instead of
default system-wide configuration file pine.conf.
- -pinerc file
- Output fresh pinerc configuration to file, preserving
the settings of variables that the user has made. Use file set
to ``-'' to make output go to standard out. <IP>
-registry cmd 20 For PC-Alpine only, this option
affects the values of Alpine's registry entries. Possible values for
cmd are set, clear, and dump. Set will always reset Alpine's
registry entries according to its current settings. Clear will
clear the registry values. Clearsilent will silently clear the
registry values. Dump will display the values of current registry
settings. Note that the dump command is currently disabled. Without the
-registry option, PC-Alpine will write values into the registry only if
there currently aren't any values set.
- Use restricted/demo mode. Alpine will only send mail
to itself and functions like save and export are restricted.
- -sort order
- Sort the FOLDER INDEX display in one of the following
orders: arrival, date, subject, orderedsubj, thread, from, size, score,
to, cc, or reverse. Arrival order is the default. The
OrderedSubj choice simulates a threaded sort. Any sort may be reversed by
adding /reverse to it. Reverse by itself is the same as
- Some options may or may not be supported depending on how
Alpine was compiled. This is a way to determine which options are
supported in the particular copy of Alpine you are using.
- For PC-Alpine only, this option causes PC-Alpine to remove
references to Alpine in Windows settings.
- -url url
- Open the given url. Cannot be used with -f or
- Version: Print version information.
- Version: Print version information.
- -x config
- Use configuration exceptions in config. Exceptions
are used to override your default pinerc settings for a particular
platform, can be a local file or a remote folder.
- Enable ^Z and SIGTSTP so alpine may be suspended.
- Assign value to the config option option e.g.
-signature-file=sig1 or -feature-list=signature-at-bottom (Note:
feature-list values are additive)
There are several levels of Alpine configuration. Configuration values at a
given level over-ride corresponding values at lower levels. In order of
o built-in defaults.
o system-wide pine.conf
o personal .pinerc
file (may be set via built-in Setup/Config menu.)
o command-line options.
o system-wide pine.conf.fixed
There is one exception to the rule that configuration values are replaced by the
value of the same option in a higher-precedence file: the feature-list
variable has values that are additive, but can be negated by prepending
"no-" in front of an individual feature name. Unix Alpine also uses
the following environment variables:
DISPLAY (determines if Alpine can display IMAGE attachments.)
SHELL (if not set, default is /bin/sh )
MAILCAPS (semicolon delimited list of path names to mailcap files)
/var/spool/mail/xxxx Default folder for incoming mail.
~/mail Default directory for mail folders.
~/.addressbook Default address book file.
~/.pine-debug[1-4] Diagnostic log for debugging.
~/.pinerc Personal alpine config file.
~/.pine-crash Debug information useful to debug a crash.
~/.newsrc News subscription/state file.
~/.mailcap Personal mail capabilities file.
~/.mime.types Personal file extension to MIME type mapping
/etc/mailcap System-wide mail capabilities file.
/etc/mime.types System-wide file ext. to MIME type mapping
/etc/pine.info Local pointer to system administrator.
/etc/pine.conf System-wide configuration file.
/etc/pine.conf.fixed Non-overridable configuration file.
/tmp/.\usr\spool\mail\xxxx Per-folder mailbox lock files.
~/.pine-interrupted-mail Message which was interrupted.
~/mail/postponed-msgs For postponed messages.
~/mail/sent-mail Outgoing message archive (FCC).
~/mail/saved-messages Default destination for Saving messages.
pico(1), binmail(1), aliases(5), mailaddr(7), sendmail(8), spell(1), imapd(8)
Alpine-info, at https://www.washington.edu/alpine/alpine-info/
Main Alpine distribution site:
Alpine Technical Notes, included in the source distribution.
C-Client messaging API library, included in the source distribution.
This software is the result of the contribution of many individuals
who have dedicated their time to support, improve and suggest ways
to improve Alpine through the years. This software would not be
possible without the support of the University of Washington in
Seattle, Washington. The Alpine community extends its most sincere
thanks to all contributors and invites everyone to join in and
contribute to this project.