Pine (e-mail client)

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Pine is a freeware, text-based e-mail client developed at the University of Washington. The first version of this client was written in 1989.[1] Source code was available for only the Unix version under a license written by the University of Washington. Pine is no longer under development, and has been replaced by the new Alpine client, which is licensed as free software.


Supported platforms

There are both Unix and Windows versions of Pine. The Unix version is text user interface based—its message editor inspired the text editor Pico. The Windows (and formerly DOS) version is called PC-Pine. WebPine is available to individuals associated with the University of Washington (students, faculty, etc.)—a version of Pine implemented as a web application.


Many people believe that Pine stands for "Pine Is Not Elm", in the manner of "GNU is Not Unix", i.e. a recursive acronym. However, one of its original authors, Laurence Lundblade, insists this was never the case and that it started off simply as a word and not an acronym, and that his first choice of a backronym for pine would be "Pine Is Nearly Elm". Over time it was changed by the university to mean Program for Internet News and E-mail.[2]

Licensing and clones

Up to version 3.9.1, the Pine license was similar to BSD, and it stated that

The University did, however, register a trademark for the name Pine.

From version 3.9.2, the holder of the copyright, the University of Washington, changed the license so that even if the source code was still available, they did not allow modifications and changes to Pine to be distributed by anyone other than themselves. They also claimed that even the old license never allowed distribution of modified versions.[3]

The trademark for the Pine name was part of their position in this matter.[4]

In reaction, some developers forked version 3.9.1 under the name MANA (for Mail And News Agent) to avoid the trademark issue and the GNU project adopted it as GNU Mana. Richard Stallman claims that the University of Washington threatened[5] to sue the Free Software Foundation for distributing the modified Pine program, resulting in the development of MANA ceasing and no versions being released.[6]

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