(Al)pine email – nostalgia vs impatience

Messing around on the web one night last week I went down a reminiscing rabbit hole that took me to the terminal based email client “Pine”. My mind conjured up fond memories from the late '90s of the winding route to the computer room at Van Mildert College in Durham University – left past the high table in the dining room, along a narrow corridor, before queuing up to go down a few steps on the right for my time to surf the fledgling internet with Netscape, or access my email via Pine instead.

I liked Pine. It had a nice, simple interface, with a navigation more in common with my Dad's Amstrad PCW that I'd used for GCSE coursework as a 15/16 year old than the PCs lined up in that basement computer room. The lack of a GUI made reading and composing emails a distraction free affair. Of course, most emails back then were to my fellow students as this was before email became the overused tool it is now. Mobile phones were only just starting to take off too.

I can't remember how I came across Pine but it gave me that same sense of walking a computing path just to the side of the main one that using Linux does today. So with a sense of nostalgia a quick exploration brought me to “Alpine” as the currently maintained successor to Pine. Installing it and firing it up was easy... configuring it was not!

Yes it has help pages and lots of menu options but I soon got frustrated trying to work it all out. Searches on DuckDuckGo weren't a lot of help to me either. I'm not all that much of a techie and the aim of this was to be a bit of light relief in the evening to wind down once the toddler was asleep. So maybe one day I will find the time and patience to set it up and actually send and receive emails – but for now, I'll settle for the warm nostalgia that comes from simply firing up a terminal window, typing in “alpine” and seeing the main menu appear!

Screenshot of Alpine terminal email client

Entry 99 of my participation in the “100 Days to Offload” challenge – find out more and join in!

2022-02-01 #100DaysToOffload #technology #Linux #CLI #software #nostalgia #undergrad

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