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Re: freedomization task list [was: Re: Dangerous precedent being set - possible serious violation of the GPL]

On Thu, Dec 09, 1999 at 09:44:05AM -0400, Ben Armstrong wrote:
> On Thu, 9 Dec 1999, Craig Sanders wrote:
> > prove it to yourself. find a 5 or 10MB mailbox file. load it up in
> > mutt, and check memory usage. then load it up in pine and check
> > memory again.
> A 5 or 10M mailbox file is *impossible* on the freenet, as it exceeds
> default quotas for the freenet.

it seems that pine no longer loads the entire mailbox file into memory,
so the memory usage is now reasonably static regardless of mailbox size
for both mutt and pine. so we have about 2.1MB for pine and about 1.4MB
for mutt.

mutt & vim together would be around 2.6MB, slightly less for mutt & jed.
mutt & joe would be around 2.2MB while mutt & either ae or pico would be
around 2MB.

> > ditto for my initial attempts at switching to mutt. however, i
> > persevered and it paid off. now my expectations of a mailer are
> > greater and i wouldn't even consider going back to pine - pine just
> > seems clumsy, inadequate, and slow compared to mutt.
> Hm, well maybe I'll give it another go, and if I succeed, I'll try to
> convince my users to switch.  Still, it means now having to deal with
> two mail interfaces (the freenet is still on pine/pico) instead of
> one.  Who knows ... maybe I can convince the freenet to switch too! (I
> can dream, can't I? ;)

there's no need to make your users or the freenet *SWITCH* to mutt -
but it certainly would be a good thing to have it as an option. perhaps
even make it the default option to encourage users to switch to free

i think you said that the freenet ran a lynx-based menu system (i wrote
one of those a few years ago for an "internet tent in a swamp" project
at ConFest, using a 486 debian box with 8MB and a bunch of vt-320 and
vt-340 terminals). adding mutt as an option to the menu should be easy.

similarly, adding an option to allow the user to set their preferred
editor is pretty easy - give them a choice between pico (or the free
pico clone), ae, joe, jed and maybe vi. it may not be desirable to offer
vi, though...one of the advantages of pico from a freenet's POV is that
it is impossible to get a shell or exec programs from it so there's no
possibility of using it as a backdoor to getting a shell.

it's not that hard to make that impossible with vi too, but it is extra
work...and you end up sacrificing some of vi's usefulness (e.g piping a
block of text through a paragraph formatter like par or fmt)

> > joe or jed are pretty good for simple yet reasonable editors.
> are they good performers on very small systems (e.g. my 386sx/20
> with 8M?)

don't know, it's been a long time since i used a 386 (no need any
more...you can get 486 boxes and even low-end pentiums for free these
days, even here in australia. or you can pay $50-$100 at most for a
P75 or P90 if you don't have the time/contacts to scrounge a free one.
they're considered junk because they're not good enough to run win95 or

i've still got one 486 box left on my home network, but that's got 40MB
RAM (i had a lot of spare 72 pin ram left over after upgrading my other

but back to your question. i would expect that joe would be a decent
performer on a 386, it's a very simple and light-weight editor. it's
basically a clone of the old WordStar from CP/M and early MS-DOS days -
which used to run well on 8088 machines with <=640K, and even on Z-80 or
8080 CPUs with 64K or less.

jed's more of a heavy-weight, and may not perform so well on a 386.
OTOH, jed's user interface is nicer...more "modern"...than joe's and is
probably easier to learn and use.

> > vi is hard to learn, but easy to use once you've learnt it, and vi
> > *IS* the universal unix editor....if a unix doesn't have vi, then
> > it's not real unix.
> well ... that's a hard sell to my users, which include my wife and
> four kids.  I don't think that's a real option for us.

well, i don't think you can MAKE anyone use vi. all you can do is
make it available as an option, and explain the advantages (both
technological and the ethical/moral advantages of free software).

most non-"geek" users would probably be better off with something like
joe or jed than with vi, they are a reasonable compromise between
functionality and ease-of-use/ease-of-learning for most users.

> > mutt's "set edit_headers" gives you much better than pine's
> > integration with pico. you can edit ALL headers with your favourite
> > rather than just those that pine allows by default, or those that
> > you've had the foresight to add to your ~/.pinerc for ^R ("Rich"
> > headers mode)
> Wellll ... I mean hot-keys to include attachments from the file
> browser and pick nicknames from your address book by browsing it.
> I don't think mutt has that level of integration with the editor
> (although I understand that this sort of thing is available from
> *outside* the editor within mutt).

yep, mutt does that kind of stuff within mutt itself. attaching a file
is at least as easy as it is in pine...in fact, attaching multiple files
is easier because (as well as a directory/file browser mode) mutt has
history recall and editing (and filename completeion where relevant) for
every prompt.

mutt also remembers the directory you last attached a file from (or
referred to) and uses that as the default for the next one.

i find the edit_headers option is very useful, trimming CC: lists or
changing the subject (or adding new headers) is easier in a text editor
than on a menu prompt.

of course, the text editor doesn't have direct access to your address
book, but mutt has excellent address-book facilities...and coupled
with lbdb (little brother database) is completely automated. btw, for
an editor like vi where you can exec external programs it wouldn't be
terribly difficult to come up with a script which queried lbdb and used
iselect or something to allow the user to select addresses from a pop-up
list from within the editor.

> > mutt uses less memory than pine. OTOH, vim uses more memory than
> > pico so it evens out.
> Well, I'd be looking at ae/joe/jed as alternatives.  I'll have to see
> what works best (and try different things on my users).  Still, a
> pico clone would be ideal, as my users are less inclined than I am to
> change.

somebody posted the URL to a free (GPL) pico clone in this thread a few
days ago. i think it was called TIP or something like that.

> Well, I do have the option of just being Draconian about it and
> deleting the evil non-free stuff from all of my systems.

nuke the files from orbit, it's the only way to be sure....err. sorry,
wrong movie.

> > OTOH, my partner picked up vi pretty easily. she uses mutt or pine
> > depending on whether she is at home or at work.
> Really?  My wife is completely non-techie.  

heh. i cheated. my partner turned out to be a tech without really
knowing it. she had very little interest in computers when i met her -
had been turned off them, basically because of crappy and unreliable
software (from a famous software mega-corporation). all she needed
was to be shown that computers don't have to crash, that they can be
reliable and solid machines and her interest in them sparked up...and
having me around to teach her stuff helped a lot :). 4 years later, and
she's now working as a system admin (and a quite good one, too), looking
after the servers (debian, of course) behind large web & e-commerce

> I'm not sure she'd do well with vi.

the trick to learning vi is to start with the half-dozen or so commands
that you really need (insert mode, cursor keys, ESC and understanding
vi's modality, delete, change)...and gradually pick up the rest as you
need it.

> If joe, jed, or ae can be made to emulate pico, and if mutt can be
> integrated with one of these editors to provide the hot-keys we're
> used to in pine, I think we'd be perfectly satisfied to switch.

i don't think these editors can (or should) be integrated with mutt in
exactly the same way that pico is integrated with pine. you can get
something similar, but there are some basic design decisions which are
different. pine tries to be an all-in-one program (i.e. jack of all
trades, but master of none). mutt's more in the unix tradition...it
tries to be the best possible text-mode mailer and leave the job of
editing text to other programs (which also try to be the best possible
at their job).

i.e. with mutt there will always be a "context switch" between
mailer-mode and editing-mode. pine disguises that if you use the
built-in pico...but it's there if you configure pine to use an external


craig sanders

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