is a free software
Free software, software libre or libre software is software that can be used, studied, and modified without restriction, and which can be copied and redistributed in modified or unmodified form either without restriction, or with restrictions that only ensure that further recipients can also do...
email client developed at the University of Washington
University of Washington is a public research university, founded in 1861 in Seattle, Washington, United States. The UW is the largest university in the Northwest and the oldest public university on the West Coast. The university has three campuses, with its largest campus in the University...
Alpine 1.0 was publicly released on December 20, 2007.
The name "Alpine" stands for Alternatively Licensed Program for Internet News and Email.
Alpine is a rewrite of the Pine Message System that adds support for Unicode
Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent encoding, representation and handling of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems...
and other features. Alpine is meant to be suitable for both inexperienced email users and the most demanding of power user
A power user is a user of a personal computer who has the ability to use advanced features of programs which are beyond the abilities of "normal" users, but is not necessarily capable of programming and system administration...
s. Alpine is developed at the University of Washington, as was Pine before it. Alpine can be learned by exploration and the use of context-sensitive help
Context-sensitive help is a kind of online help that is obtained from a specific point in the state of the software, providing help for the situation that is associated with that state....
. The user interface
The user interface, in the industrial design field of human–machine interaction, is the space where interaction between humans and machines occurs. The goal of interaction between a human and a machine at the user interface is effective operation and control of the machine, and feedback from the...
can be customized.
Alpine is licensed under the Apache License
The Apache License is a copyfree free software license authored by the Apache Software Foundation . The Apache License requires preservation of the copyright notice and disclaimer....
, version 2. November 29, 2006 saw the first public alpha release, which forms a new approach since the alpha test of Pine was always non-public.
Alpine shares many common features of console application
A console application is a computer program designed to be used via a text-only computer interface, such as a text terminal, the command line interface of some operating systems or the text-based interface included with most Graphical User Interface operating systems, such as the Win32 console in...
s, like a rich set of shortcut keys, using keyboard instead of mouse to do all navigation and operation. In fact, all operations in Alpine have corresponding shortcut keys.
Unlike other console applications targeting developers and experienced users, which often require users to edit a configuration file, Alpine lets users change most configuration options within the software. This makes alpine one of the most easy to learn console-based email clients.
Alpine supports IMAP, POP
In computing, the Post Office Protocol is an application-layer Internet standard protocol used by local e-mail clients to retrieve e-mail from a remote server over a TCP/IP connection. POP and IMAP are the two most prevalent Internet standard protocols for e-mail retrieval. Virtually all modern...
, SMTP and LDAP protocol natively. Although it does not support composing HTML email, it can display emails that only have HTML content as text.
On 4 August 2008 the University of Washington Alpine team announced that after one more release, incorporating Web Alpine 2.0, they would "shift [their] effort from direct development into more of a consultation and coordination role to help integrate contributions from the community." This is likely to be interpreted that the UW team no longer maintains Alpine, and is leaving development to others. One current continuation is re-alpine.