Patches for Pine and Alpine

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Patches for Alpine
Patches for Pine
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Help for Alpine
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Welcome, this site distributes patches for Pine and Alpine.

This effort started in October 1999 when I was a student at the Mathematics Department in the University of Washington. The first patch was the one that helped me write foreign characters in an email message. I did not actually did this for me, I did it for some visitors to the Mathematics Department from Finland. I actually wrote the patch because I had a sending filter in Pine, which allowed me to write a message as one wrote Latex, but since the filter had some bugs, and I could not see the output before it was sent, I had to do the Latex-style input before the message was sent.

After I released my first patch, a few more followed. I added patches at a rate of one per week for about a month. Maintenance was not very hard, since Pine evolved very slowly, and this gave me time to fix bugs and release updated versions. Eventually, two of them followed: fillpara and rules. The former was requested by a computing support person in the Department, while the later was a request from too many people and myself.

Originally, I submitted my first patch to the Pine team, but their lack of interest in it (no reply) made me realize that I should not be writing patches for Pine for later inclusion, but write them for those that would be interested in them, and so Patches for Pine became a project by itself, independent of upstream. Since my intention was to help others do more with Pine, this project had enough justification to continue; after all, that is how it started in the first place. In general, I would say that I write patches based on needs that I perceive exist in the Alpine comunity, as well as personal interest.

Eventually, as the site grew, I realized how difficult it was to do some basic operations, such as updating the site between releases of Pine, or integrating them into one big patch (all.patch), so this required me to script this part of the process, and I wrote scripts (and later a C-program, for speed) to do this. I eventually ended up creating more scripts that add text to the release notes, and create each of the web pages in this site, and all.patch (including overcoming failures in patching). Eventually this made a huge difference into how I maintain this site, since there was no difference between maintaining a page with 10 or 60 patches. The solutions I had created scaled nicely, and now it made it easy to concentrate only on writing patches.

I started embracing new technologies, and eventually added a feed for my web site; in it I announced that this web site would be discontinued since the Mathematics Department had announced my account would be closed. By a mistake of one of the readers of the site, the announcement made it all the way to slashdot. Many people contacted me as a result, offering to host the site. One of the people that decided to help came from Computing and Communications at the University of Washington.

At the end of 2006, this site moved to be hosted by Computing and Communications at the University of Washington (UW), where it was hosted free of charge until April 2011. Here happened the transition from Pine to Alpine. This was possible through a remote shell account with a quota of 1GB that gave me direct access to the web server.

One of the problems that I had using a remote shell was that the version of the autotools that Alpine required to create makefiles and such was not available in the machine I was using. This required me to install them and use part of my available quota to be able to build Alpine. Unfortunately, it was not possible to install them using a --prefix option, but I eventually found that I could set environment variables during the compilation of these tools so that they could find each other, and so just figuring out this fact took time, and ended what was a painful process. I did not install the full suite of autotools, but only what was required for compilation, due to my limited quota and the difficulty involved in this process. For example, I did not install autoreconf, because I did not have a need for that to build Alpine, and I did not have the need to modify the configure script either. As a result of this, I had reduced my quota just to be able to write patches for Alpine. Fortunately, I had to do this only once!

Eventually, we all received the bad news that Alpine would be discontinued, and later I received the bad news that my site would be discontinued; again I had to find a new host. In between these two events, re-alpine was born. I joined that project, and used the resources at UW to develop it. This reduced more the resources that I had to do development.

I added a few contributions to re-alpine, but then it was decided (without consultation) to change the build system in the snapshot, which made it impossible for me to build re-alpine, since I did not have the full suite of tools to reconstruct re-alpine (and hence test my contributions). I sent a message on August 4, 2009 to warn about this, but the message went unanswered. The next day I sent another message to try to make others notice that the change was causing me trouble. After three days of not being able to convince the other developers that this was a problem, I decided to leave the re-alpine project, since I would not be able to develop it given my current constrains. At this time I am not involved with the re-alpine project, nor plan to be involved again on it.

After the hosting of this site was concluded at UW, I had to find a new place to host my patches. I spent a lot of time trying to find the right place. I had to do a lot of research, particularly reading the agreement statements. I found many places that would require me to give the copyright of my contributions away to them, or that did not give me enough flexibility as to how I would control each page in the site (e.g the look of the page). Therefore, after "Patches for Alpine" was closed at UW it was not hosted by anyone else for about a month.

Currently this site is hosted by I thank them for hosting this site free of charge. I did an extensive search before I decided to sign up for this service, and I found this to be the best free service. I highly recommend it. Give it a try!

At the beginning of 2013 my efforts shifted. I am still writing patches, but the goal is to incorporate them in new versions of Alpine, which I started to maintain myself. Unfortunately, re-alpine was not moving forward, and its last release in December 2012 (version 2.03) had removed code only. Because there was not progress, I gathered many of my patches and released version 2.10 in January 2013. Seven months later, version 2.11 was released.

Follow the links on the left to get patches for Pine and/or Alpine.

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Copyright © 1999-2013 Eduardo Chappa. All Rights Reserved
Last updated 11:39:20 MDT Wed May 8 2013.