[buug] TonStanco is at it again...
rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Sep 27 18:24:33 PDT 2000
Since the matter of pine/pico licencing keeps coming up (in various
places), I've FAQed it, at http://linuxmafia.com/~rick/faq/#pine .
(HTML is quasi-rendered to ASCII, below.)
Q: What's wrong with using Pine?
A: Many people are fond of the University of Washington "Pine" mail
reader, because it's solidly constructed, easy to understand, and
familiar to many long-time Unix users. It is, however, somewhat slow,
not very extensible, and not very actively maintained. The latter may
be related to my primary objection: It is no longer free (aka
open-source) software, as the copyright owner has taken it proprietary.
(Many coders would rather contribute to open-source alternatives.)
Through version 3.91, Pine's licence stated the following: "Permission
to use, copy, modify, and distribute this software and its documentation
for any purpose and without fee to the University of Washington is
hereby granted...." Starting with v. 3.92, Pine changed to a
more-restrictive licence. Since that change, U. of W. has alleged,
retroactively, that even the _old_ licence never allowed distribution of
modified versions. In other words, they say you may distribute the
software, and may modify it, but may not modify it and then distribute
the result. U. of W. threatened to sue the Free Software Foundation
distributing modified binaries. This is not a trivial matter, but
rather a key right.
Egil Kvaleberg's MANA (http://www.kvaleberg.com/mana.html) is a modern,
genuinely free (open-source) update of Pine 3.91. However, MANA remains
under the shadow of U. of W.'s licence interpretation.
Because of this licence problem and legal stance, Pine is omitted from
machines I maintain -- likewise MANA, because of its related legal
issues (as long as it still includes U. of W. code). If you support
free (open-source) software, you should do likewise. However, there are
ways to accomodate long-time Pine users:
The Mutt mail reader (http://www.mutt.org/), by "Elm" author Michael R.
Elkins, is a next-generation effort based on lessons learned from many
mail programs, including Pine. As a convenience for Pine users, it
includes a Pine-emulation mode (a Pine.rc file) to adopt the most-used
Pine command keys (keybindings). To use it, put the following script in
/usr/local/bin as "pine", and chmod it to 755 (executable):
/usr/bin/mutt -F /usr/doc/mutt/examples/Pine.rc
This is (necessarily) an incomplete emulation: It does not make Mutt
display Pine's menus, just honour its command keys.
The Pine package also furnishes the popular simple text editor Pico --
which therefore suffers the same prohibitive licence problem.
Fortuately, Chris Allegretta has created a free-software clone, nano,
(http://www.asty.org/nano/), whose emulation of pico is said to be
perfect. After installing nano, create symbolic link
/usr/local/bin/pico, pointing to it.
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