Computer Science Dept
August, 1999

Pine Basics

Note that Alpine replaced Pine long ago, but it looks the same and you may invoke Alpine by typing either "alpine" or "pine." All references to Pine in this document also pertain to Alpine. Pine/Alpine is an email client that conforms to SMTP (Simple Mail Transport Protocol), MIME, and IMAP Internet standards and works with the SMTP daemon and sendmail on sleipnir. There is a alpine email client for PC's (using IMAP for remote mail handling) but the client supported by the Computer Science Dept runs on sleipnir. The advantage to using alpine over other Internet mail clients (e.g. Netscape mail) is that it can be used from public/lab computers without setting any mail preferences and it can be accessed from home using serial communications (Netscape requires an Internet/ppp connection).

Starting alpine
You must login to sleipnir in order to run alpine. Since alpine requires vt100 terminal emulation make sure that your telnet or serial communications program supports vt100 and that your termtype on sleipnir is set to vt100 (this should be done in your .profile). If you get a message that says something about  'termcap' you can set the terminal by entering the following command on one line:

                                             TERM=vt100; export TERM

To start alpine type alpine at the system prompt.

You will probably want to setup your alpine client to keep track of messages in folders.  A folder is a file that holds many messages.  When a message is added to the folder it  is placed at the end of the file; the old messages stay as they were.  The alpine mail program, by default, will create these folders: INBOX, saved-messages, Trash, read-Mail, sent-mail, sent-mail-month-year, read-mail-month-year. Pine archives messages for a month only unless you save them into saved-messages or another folder. You have the option of making special folders yourself when you hit 'S' while reading a message. On sleipnir, the opening screen in alpine shows the folders that are currently setup.  The first one listed is named INBOX; and, as you may guess, it holds your new mail.
All alpine screens show the commands you may use at the bottom of the screen.  They are key commands similar to pico.  If a single letter is listed, press that letter to give the associated command.  If the letter is preceded with an up arrow (^), hold down the CTRL key when you press the letter.  Pine is not case-sensitive, e.g. you may press either s or S. When alpine is asking for information such as file names, there will be a dark line above the command menu.

Reading mail
With the INBOX folder highlighted, press enter for a list of new messages.  Use the arrow keys to highlight the message you want to read.  Press v to view it.  If the message is more than one screen long, you press the down arrow to scroll one line at a time or the space bar to scroll one screen at a time.

Once the message has been read, you need to decide what to do with it.  Some of the options and the keys to press to use them are:

      S  saves the message in the saved-messages folder
      D  deletes the message
      F  forward the message to another person.
      R  reply to the message
      E  save the message in a separate file.

If you choose to save the message, you will be asked to confirm that it is to go in the saved-messages folder.  Press enter if this is where you want it to go or enter the name of another folder on the dark line above the command menu.  If you choose to save the message in a separate file, you will be asked to enter a file name on the dark line above the command menu.

If you want to either forward the message or reply to it,  a new screen will appear.  To forward a message, you must enter the address where the forwarded message will go in the appropriate space.   Use the account name if the person who will receive the message is on the Sleipnir.  Otherwise, use Internet mailing addresses of the form  acct@domain.  Any text you want to send may be entered in the large space at the bottom of the screen.  When you have finished with your message, press CTRL x to send your message.  You will be asked to confirm that you want to send it.
When you are finished with one message, press i to go back to the message index.

Sending mail
 If you are at the list of folders (as when first starting alpine), press < to go to the main menu.  If you are at a folder index, press <  to go to the folder screen and then < again to get to the main menu.  Highlight COMPOSE and press Enter.
A full screen editor will appear with blanks at the top.  You must enter an address for the message -- either a Sleipnir account name or an Internet mailing address.  If you want to send a carbon copy to someone, enter the address in the CC: blank.  To send a file that is separate from the message, enter the file name in the Attachments:  space.
Type your message in the large blank space.  When you are finished, press CTRL x  to send it.  You will be asked to confirm that you want to send the message.  After it has been sent, you may save it in the SENT-MAIL folder by pressing S.  Again, you will be asked to confirm this choice.

To print messages
Hitting '%' while reading a message will send the entire message to whatever printer is designated in alpine's configuration file (.pinerc in your home directory on sleipnir). There is no default printer defined for student accounts created on sleipnir. All faculty accounts are setup to print to a department laser printer. This obviously is not useful if you are at home. To change alpine's default printer to one attached to your PC select 'S' from alpine's Main Menu; 'P' for Printer Configuration; and 'Printer attached to IBM PC".

Sending attachments
Pine supports MIME, the Internet standard for sending non-ascii data. When composing a message, in the Attchmnt line type the name of each file you wish to send separated by commas, e.g. cs212/hw1.txt, data.dat. This will send the file hw1.txt in the subdirectory cs212 and hw1.txt in your root directory. Note that the entire pathname after your home directory will need to be typed (do NOT begin with a slash).

If you desire to configure alpine to look for attachments in the current directory you are in do the following:

Hit 'm s c' (main menu , setup, configuration) and put an 'X' in the feature list for 'use-current-dir'. Hit 'e y' (exit and save the configuration).

When you are done
You may exit alpine at any time by pressing q. All deleted messages will be purged upon exiting.

To get help
All of the command options are listed at the bottom of the screen.  Note that the options are not the same for all screens and that sometimes you are required to enter only a single letter and other times you will have to press CTRL at the same time.  Pressing ? or CTRL ? (see the menu at the bottom of the screen to determine which one) will bring up the alpine help screens.

This is a short introduction to alpine. More in depth documentation is found on the Computer Science web site. You may also want to explore alpine's extensive help screens, and feel free to modify any of your local settings.