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

On Fri, 10 Dec 1999, Craig Sanders wrote:
> 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.

cool ... i had no idea.

> 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
> software.

well, yes.  it would probably go something like that.  i hope mutt would
speak for itself and most people would end up on mutt.  but the big
problem is that the system in question is not just for our freenet.  it is
called CSuite, and is a suite of free software (& not-so-free software ;) 
integrated, pressed on a CD, and distributed around across Canada and
around the world for use in freenets everywhere.  that's why i'm eager to
see them switch, and indeed i am told 3 years ago they *wanted* to switch
except they have so many patches that it would be a huge task to port them
all to mutt.  you see, they need a system that does not allow shell access
ever (which means each app must be hammered down tight so that can't
happen) and they therefore have lots of custom patches against pine to do

> 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.

except for the patching issue.

> 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.

yeah, exactly.  so whatever replaces it would have to be patched.

> 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)

i really don't think vi is all that user-friendly tho ... even with a menu
that shows keystrokes, and especially when the existing user base is used
to pico.  it's just so foreign.

> > are they good performers on very small systems (e.g. my 386sx/20
> > with 8M?)
> 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.

yup, jed's my favourite.  I'll try both on the 386 and compare.

> 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).

well, from the freenet's perspective, the fewer options, the better, as it
means a smaller support-load on the support team, and less work for the
CSuite development team too.

> 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 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.

except for the issue of not access the address book directly

> 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.

but then we're back to possible exploiting of shells ... also, it seems
terribly inefficient, whereas an integrated editor could do this sort of
thing inline

> 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.

might be worth looking into ... has someone announced an ITP for TIP? :)

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


> 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
> sites.

cool :)  well, my wife was a complete technophobe.  we met on the freenet
(she was on Victoria Freenet and I was on Chebucto Community Net)
basically using the freenet's telnet to get to a public access irc
network, where we met, of all places, on channel #finland.  anyway, she
learned computers by necessity, to keep in touch with me in our long-
distance relationship.  then she learned to love them.  she's by no
means a techie now, but she is a power-user who enjoys using her system
daily and finding new things to do with it.

> 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.

it's on my very long TODO list ;)

> i don't think these editors can (or should) be integrated with mutt in
> exactly the same way that pico is integrated with pine.

but perhaps *some* integration could be done, like providing hooks of some
sort, and modifying various external editors to take advantage of those
hooks, so users have a choice.

    nSLUG       http://www.nslug.ns.ca      synrg@sanctuary.nslug.ns.ca
    Debian      http://www.debian.org       synrg@debian.org
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