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There are lots of email applications choices available for Unix users. This section offers an introduction to ELM and PINE.

Here's how they work in general. All Unix mail readers access a "spool" file called the inbox. The inbox is where incoming email is stored automatically. The inbox file is probably stored elsewhere on the Unix system. When you execute an email application, it checks your inbox to see if you have any mail. If you do, your email program will display the messages you've received. You can then read, respond, and send email.


ELM is a very popular and intuitive email application. To begin using it, just type elm. Message summaries will appear on your screen that will look similar to this:
Mailbox is '/usr/spool/mail/letterman' with 4 messages 
[ELM 2.3 PL11]

->  1 Feb 14 Connie Chung	(26)	Your Mother in Norway 
  N 2 Feb 15 Larry Bud Melman	(38)	A great Light Bulb Joke 
  N 3 Feb 15 Paul Schaffer	(1039)	New Song Lyrics 
  N 4 Feb 16 Hal Gurnee	(10)	Tonight's Top Ten List

You can use any of the following commands 
		by pressing the first character: d)elete or u)ndelete mail, m)ail a message, 
		r)eply or f)orward mail, q)uit 
To read a message, press <return>. 
		j = move down, k = move up, ? = help
In this example, there are four messages in David Letterman's inbox. This screen is ELM's "index" of messages. The first column indicates the status of the messages, whether they've been read or not. Here, messages two through four have not been read. To read a message, position the arrow or the cursor on the desired message using the arrow keys, or type "j" for down and "k" for up. The arrow in this example is pointing at message one. To view this message requires that you only hit the {return} key. You can then page through the message by hitting the space bar to continue each page (or type q to quit the paging process).

If David wanted to reply to Connie Chung, he would position the arrow or cursor line on message 1 and type r. ELM will ask him if he wants to include a copy of the original message, to which he types "y" or "n." (The default is "n.") It will then let him edit the subject of the message (at the "Subject of message:" prompt); he can leave it the way it is (by pressing {return}), or change it. The next prompt, "Copies to:", lets him specify other recipients of this message by typing in other email addresses (he might decide that Larry Bud and Hal need to be in on this). After completing this last question, he's whisked into an editor, which will probably be one of the three mentioned above. When he finishes editing, ELM gives him the following prompt:

Please choose one of the following options by parenthesized letter: s
e)dit message s)end it
edit h)eaders f)orget it.

The default command is "s" for send, so if he types s or {return}, his message will be sent. Typing f aborts the sending process, a very handy command to have. Also, the h command is very important--it lets you view your headers, which specify whom the message is going to, among other things. (You should get in the habit of checking the "To:" and "Cc:" headers to make sure that this message is going to end up where you want. Or break out the Maalox, as recommended in Chapter 3.) Finally, the e command will put him right back into the editor.

After Dave has sent the message, there are several things he can do: save this message, forward it to someone, delete it, or do nothing. To delete it, all he has to do is type d , and the letter "D" should appear to the left of the message. To save it, he types s . ELM will ask if he wants to save it in a file that is named for the sender of the message. It will attach a "=" (equals sign) to the beginning of the filename, which means that it will save it in the mail directory (which is most likely named "Mail" or "mail"). In this particular case, it asks if he wants to save the mail folder as "=cchung". If he just types {return}, it will be saved in the Mail directory as cchung (this is also written as Mail/cchung). He can, of course, name it anything he wants.

You should save important messages in folders, which are named either by subject or sender. You can then refer to them later in the mail program by typing c for "change folder," and then typing the name of the folder (prefixed by "=" to indicate the standard mail directory). For more information about changing folders, type ? at the "Change to which folder" prompt. The help screen will show you the names of the folders in your mail directory.

Once you get more proficient with ELM, you may want to customize it a bit to suit you better. You can do that by typing o for options at the index command level. Some of the things you can set include your editor, your default mail directory (where you save your mail messages), your name, your editor, and how ELM sorts your messages (by date, by sender, by size, by subject, and so on).

ELM also lets you create aliases, or your own email directory of names and addresses. Aliases are a really nice feature--they eliminate the need to type long and complicated email addresses. Once you've created an alias in ELM, all you have to do is use that name instead of the long address. To enter the alias database, at the index command level, type a. To "make" an alias, type m. ELM will prompt you for the alias name (the nickname), the full name of the person, and the email address for the person. There are quite a few other things you can do here; type ? for more information.

To quit ELM, at the mail index, type q. If you haven't emptied your inbox, ELM will ask you what you want to do with read or unread messages. It's up to you whether you want to keep them in your inbox (so they're shown next time you read email) or move them to a "received" folder. Answer the questions ELM asks you, based on what you want to do with your inbox messages. You can also bail out and not save any changes that you've made to your inbox by typing x.


Another very popular email application, PINE, was developed by the University of Washington, and stands for "Pine Is No-longer Elm." (It used to stand for Pine Is Nearly Elm.) PINE is an extremely easy mail agent with lots of help and menus.

To execute PINE, type pine. This will bring up the PINE main menu which looks like this:

PINE 3.89      MAIN MENU    Folder: INBOX 4 Messages

? HELP Get help using Pine C COMPOSE MESSAGE Compose and send a message I FOLDER INDEX View messages in current folder L FOLDER LIST - Select a folder to view A ADDRESS BOOK Update address book S SETUP Configure or update PINE Q QUIT Exit the Pine program

Copyright 1989-1993. PINE is a trademark of the University of Washington

[Folder "INBOX" opened with 4 messages]

? Help P PrevCmd R RelNotes O OTHER CMDS L [ListFldrs} N NextCmd K KBLock

The very first thing you should do, of course, is take advantage of PINE's help facility, so type ? to get started. To compose and send a message, type c. This will put you into PINE's editor, PICO, which was described above.

PINE 3.89 COMPOSE MESSAGE Folder: INBOX 4 Messages
To :
Cc :
Attchmnt :
Subject :
----- Message Text -----

As you can see, there are four fields to complete for the email message. Use the arrow keys or tab key to jump from field to field. You need to specify who you're sending the message to, the subject, and any carbon copies. PINE has the MIME capability, which was mentioned in Chapter 3, so you can send non-text (binary) files very easily. Just type the name of the file in the "Attchmnt:" field. If it's a file you created on your PC or Macintosh, remember that you need to upload it first to the Unix system using a file transfer protocol such as Kermit before you can attach it to your message.

Once you've filled in all the blanks, you can start typing your message in the "Message Text" buffer. When you're done, type ^X to send. PINE will ask you if you want to send the message--type "y" or "n." If in the middle of editing, you decide you want to cancel the whole process, just type^C, and then respond with y to indicate that you really want to abort the sending process.

PINE has a nice feature that eliminates the need to send yourself a carbon copy. It automatically appends every message you send in the sent-mail folder. The first time you run PINE, it will probably ask you if you'd like to create a sent-mail folder. Type y to create it, and all your outgoing email will be saved in this folder. You can then call it up by changing email folders (see the PINE main menu for that option).

The next option on the PINE main menu is the Folder Index. Type i to look at your inbox. The screen will look very similar to ELM's above, and many of the commands are the same. Use your arrow keys to position the cursor on the message you wish to read, and hit {return}. You can delete this message by typing d, save the message by typing s, reply to it by typing r, and so on. Make sure that you type ? to read the help manual. To return to the main menu, type m.

Another neat feature about PINE is the Folder List menu item. From the PINE main menu, type l. PINE will list all of your saved mail; each file is actually a mail folder. You can select which one to open by using your arrow keys to position the cursor on the folder. Then hit {return}, and the folder's index is displayed. It will look a lot like your inbox index. If you saved email from your mother in a folder called mom, you could then use this feature to reference all the email your mother sent to you. Or you could ignore it until she calls you asking why you never write her email.

Next on the PINE main menu is an "Address Book" feature that lets you create an address book. Type a to enter this directory. If this is your first time, you probably won't have any addresses listed. To create an entry for David Letterman, type a for add. At the New full name (last, first): prompt, type Letterman, David {return}. You'll be asked for a nickname, so type dave {return}. And lastly, you need to input the email address for Dave at the Enter new e-mail address: prompt, so type And there you go! Now when you send email, you don't have to type every time in the To: field. You can just type dave! For more information on creating an address book, type?.

Last on the PINE main menu is the "Other" menu. Here you can check on the status of your disk space or set your printer. This is a really nice feature if you're dialed-in. Setting the printer to attach-to-ansi will, in many cases, let you print directly to your own printer. Be sure to read the help files while in the "Other" menu to find out more.

Quitting PINE is easy. From the main menu, all you have to do is type q. PINE will ask you if that's really what you want to do. Type y if it is.


The last section in this Unix survival guide will help you get started in reading USENET news. By just using your news reader, you're able to read articles that have originated from all over the world. Don't worry how they got to your computer, though. That's another book.

The news reader discussed here is called tin. There are many other news readers, so if you don't like this one, ask your Internet provider what other applications are available and try them out.

The First Amendment Upheld on the Internet

"Those who want to censor pornography on the Net at the source have missed the point. For the first time in history, we can provide the digital tools to individuals to censor what they receive on their screens according to their own values, while letting those who produce exercise freedom of speech. Which is no longer, as it has been in Broadcast, an obligation to listen. That's why I think computer bulletin boards, locally tailored by parents, teachers, or guardians of young people, can make ideal 'front ends' to the Internet. We can have it both ways now."

Source: Dave Hughes in post on the Com-Priv Internet Maillist, January 8, 1994.

News Reader Basics

Every Unix news reader accesses a file in your home directory called.newsrc. Notice that this filename is prefaced by a dot. This means that it's an "invisible" file, and it probably doesn't show up when you list your files (using ls). But it's there, and if it isn't, your news reader will create it the first time you execute it.

The .newsrc file lists each and every newsgroup that is accessible on your machine, one newsgroup per line. Part of the file looks like this:

rec.arts.books: 1-73875,78896,80480

When you first start reading news, you are automatically "subscribed" to every single newsgroup in your .newsrc file. The operative subscription character in that file is the colon after each name--that indicates a subscription. There are several ways to "unsubscribe" from newsgroups. One is through your news reader. The other is a "brute force" way--that is, by editing your . newsrc.

Why do you care about unsubscribing anyway? Because you may be a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of newsgroups--thousands and thousands. You simply cannot read all of them regularly, so don't even try! Paring down to the ones you want to participate in and adding others later on will make reading news a bit more manageable.

To edit.newsrc, use your favorite editor, and replace all the colons of the newsgroups with an exclamation point, "!". You can do this really quickly with vi. Type the following commands:

vi .newsrc


For those who are interested, the second command means, "from lines 1 through the end of the file (1,$), substitute ( s/) every colon (:/) with an exclamation point (!/)."

You can then subscribe to the newsgroups you want by replacing the exclamation points with colons. This may take you awhile, because some sites carry thousands and thousands of newsgroups. You certainly don't have to do this all in one sitting; you can edit your .newsrc at a later time when you hear about newsgroups that interest you. (Or you can subscribe to a newsgroup using your newsreader.)

If you decide to go ahead and page through all of these newsgroups, there's an easy way to search for keywords using vi. In command mode, type/keyword, where keyword is the word for which you're searching. For example, using vi to search for the keyword "music," type/music. The cursor will position you at the next occurrence of that word, and you can then change the exclamation point. To keep searching for that word, just type n(for next). When you're finished editing, you can exit and write your changes by typing:wq.

Tin is a full-screen news reader that lets you read and post to USENET newsgroups. It's a very powerful application, and this section cannot cover all the various options and commands--it will only give you enough information to get started. Be sure to check out the manual page, man tin, to find out more about this news reader.

Here's how tin works in general. When you fire it up, you'll be at the top level, the Group Selection level. This is a newsgroup table of contents from which you pick a newsgroup to read. When you've selected the desired newsgroup, you advance to the next level, the Article level or Thread Selection list. Here you can select articles within a chosen newsgroup to read (the reading level). You can post an article at any time during your tin session. To use this news reader, type tin. You'll see some messages that look like this:

tin 1.2 PL2 [UNIX] Copyright 1991-93 Iain Lea. Reading news active file . . .
Reading attributes file . . .
Reading newsgroups file . . .

If there are newsgroups that have been added since your last session, tin will ask you if you want to subscribe to each of them. Type y or n.

After any newsgroup additions, you'll see the Group Selection screen, a newsgroup table of contents. The Group Selection screen shows you every newsgroup you're subscribed to, one per line. If you want to quit when you're at the Group Selection screen, type q. To get complete command help listings at the Group and Article screens, type h.

Navigating. In order to read a newsgroup, you must first select it. When you start tin, the first newsgroup will be highlighted. To select another newsgroup, move the highlighter bar up and down the screen. You can do this by using the up and down arrow keys, or by typing j (for down) and k (for up). You can jump directly to a newsgroup by typing the corresponding number. Finally, you can search forward for a newsgroup by typing/keyword , where keyword is a word you're looking for in a newsgroup name. In the example above, if you wanted to position the highlighter bar on the soc.culture.japan newsgroup, you could type /japan or/soc.culture.japan .

Let's read the newsgroup. Since this group is already highlighted, all you need to do is type {return}, and you'll be at the next level of tin, the Article or "Thread" level. You'll then see a screen that looks similar to the Group Selection screen above. This one, however, lists all the articles in the newsgroup instead of listing newsgroup names.

To advance to the next unread article from the Group Selection index, you can also press the {TAB} key instead of {RETURN}. You can use the {TAB} key within the newsgroup to advance to unread articles. In this case, when you hit the {TAB} (or {RETURN}) key, you'll get the article index screen for the newsgroup: (105T 409A 0K 0H R)			h=help

1 + Where's Dave's World? Mike Steele 2 + The funniest joke . . . Rocky Frisco 3 + 5 .signature Rose Marie Holt 4 + Cows May Get Fluorescent Leggings Cheryl Kaye Bryant 5 + 13 Be amazed. Be very amazed. Nep Smith 6 + 2 Child development milestones gordon hlavenka 7 + 2 Hey Dave Barry 8 + 14 Interesting cuisine ideas Andy Moise 9 + Letter #5, "Dear Dave . . ." Richard Evans 10 + 3 This is Dave's feed, Eric A. Seiden 11 + Not Making Up Thesis Title . . . Rangerus Pernickle 12 + 3 New Menace: TWINKIE VAMPYRES Roger A. Hunt 13 + 8 REQ: Exploding Whale Video Available? Jack Parker 14 + 6 Sad news for Chuckletrousers fans Brad Templeton 15 Dave's skivvies John G. Skosnik 16 + 6 POP TARTS BURSTING INTO FLAME Allen A. Hinrichs,

{n}=set current to n, TAB=next unread, /=search pattern, ^K)ill/select, a)uthor search, c)atchup, j=line down, k=line up, K=mark read, l)ist thread, |=pipe, m)ail, o=print, q)uit, r=toggle all/unread, s)ave, t)ag, w=post

As you can see, this screen looks a lot like the title screen of newsgroups. Moving around works the same way, using numbers or the arrow key (or the "j" and "k" keys). In this case, the highlighted selector is pointing at the very first unread article.

This level--the Thread or Article level--will let you follow discussion threads. A thread is two or more postings devoted to one topic in a discussion. For example, you might post an article to the newsgroup about Dave Barry's dogs, Earnest and Zippy. People who are reading your article can then respond to what you said. This creates a discussion thread. At this article level, discussion threads are normally referenced by the original poster's article. From there you can follow the thread and post a follow-up, if you wish.

In the above example, the first line indicates the name of the newsgroup, followed by some numbers in parentheses. These refer to the number of threads (in this case, 105), the number of articles (409), the number of "killed" (thrown-away) articles (0), and the number of "hot" (preselected according to a certain standard) articles (0). If you have the "R" switch toggled to "on"--meaning, show only articles that haven't been read--that will be indicated here too, in this case, by the "R."

The next section lists the articles in this newsgroup. The first column specifies the article number. If there's a "+"sign after the article number, then there are articles in the thread that haven't been read. If there's another number, it indicates the number of articles--follow-up discussions--in the thread. The next column is the subject of each particular news thread. The last column specifies the author of the original thread.

At this point, if you wish to return to the Group Selection index, either type q (for quit the Article/Thread index), or use the left arrow key.


The bottom of the screen lists a summary of some of the commands you can use in this level. Here's a brief explanation:

{n}		Set current article selector to article number {n}. 
{TAB}		Position the selector at the next unread article. 
/{keyword}	Search forward in the article index for keyword.
^K		Kill specified threads (for you only).
a {author}	Search forward for articles by author.
c		Mark all articles in newsgroup as read (catchup).
j		Move selector down. 
k		Move selector up.
K		Mark the selected thread as read.
l		List the thread (all the articles in the thread).
|		Pipe the current article to a Unix command (advanced command).
m		Mail the article or thread to someone.
o		Print the thread or article.
q		Quit; return to Group Selection level.
r		Toggle: show all or just unread.
s		Save article or thread.
w		Post an article

Navigating and Reading News. Navigating this level is the same as the Group Selection level. You can either start at the beginning or move the highlighter bar down to a desired article/thread. Once the article is selected, hit either the {RETURN} or {TAB} key. The {RETURN} key will advance you to the first article in that thread. The {TAB} key will place you at the next unread article. When you're reading an article, you page through it just like you do using the "more" program mentioned above--that is, by using your space bar. If you want to return to the Article/Thread index level, type q

(If you haven't realized by now, the "quit" command can be used at any level to return you to the previous level. When you use it at the Group Selection index, you exit tin.).


To find out more about a command, use the man (for manual) command. For example, to find out about the change directory command, cd, type man cd.

File Commands
ls 		list files
more, page 	display a file at your terminal
cp 		copy a file
mv 		move or rename files
rm 		remove files Editors
vi 		editor
emacs 		editor
Directory Commands  
cd 		change current directory
mkdir 		make a new directory
rmdir 		remove a directory
pwd 		print working directory
Command Information  
apropos 	locate commands by keyword lookup
whatis 		display a command description
man 		displays manual pages online
Useful Information Commands  
cal 		print calendar
date 		print date and time
who 		print who and where users are logged in
mail Applications  
elm 		email
PINE 		email
News Applications 
rn, trn, tass, tin, nn, vnews 

Posting. At some point, you'll want to tell the world what you think by posting your own articles. There are several ways to do this in tin. To post an article "from scratch"-- you're not following up another discussion--is very easy. At any level, type w (for write). You'll then be asked for a subject. Type the subject (be descriptive), and hit return. Tin will put you in an editor, probably one of the three editors described above. At this point you can type your article. Make sure you leave a blank space between the headers ( Subject:, Newsgroups:, Organization:, Summary: Keywords:, etc.) and the text of your article. When you're finished, exit the editor. Tin will then prompt you to do the following:

q)uit, e)dit, p)ost:

If you want to abort this article, type q . If you want to go back and edit the article again, type e . And if it's ready to be posted, just type p .

The next common way to post an article is by following up a discussion. So, when you're reading an article, you can type f (which will include the text of the message to which you're replying), or F (which won't include the text of the article).

If instead of posting your reply to the entire world you'd rather keep it private between you and the poster of the article, you can send him or her private email. To do this, type r (includes the text of the article), or R (won't include the text of the article).

Finally, when you're done using tin, you can either keep typing q until you exit the program, or you can type Q , which will let you make a quick exit.

You may feel as though you've earned an Internet advanced degree by now. But, unless you already have access through your office or college, you're probably itching to get connected to the Internet. The next chapter deals with the nitty-gritty of getting on the Internet: finding the right modem and software, deciding what kind of access you need, and locating commercial or alternative Internet access. So stay tuned--you're almost at home on the Internet!

Backward Forward Copyright © 1994 by Tracy LaQuey and Editorial Inc.

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