Centerim, Irssi, Alpine on Screen

I’ve recently acquired access to my own shell from

This allows me to carry out development, testing, and any on-line activity anonymously.
All via SSH.

One of the tasks I needed to do,
was to set up my date/time to my local time zone.
Rather than set the system wide time,
because there are many users on this machine,
I needed to set the time zone on a per user basis.

The behaviour of your interactive shell is defined by your ~/.bashrc and ~/.bash_profile files.
Edit one of these files and append or alter the TZ as follows:

 vim /home/myuser/.bashrc

where myuser is just that, my user name.

Append the following:

export TZ="/usr/share/zoneinfo/yourcountry"

Where yourcountry is one of the country files in /usr/share/zoneinfo/


Screen is a Linux shell session manager.
It’s great, because you can leave multiple sessions running and switch between them,
all in a single console.
Then you can just detatch from screen, leaving your programmes running on it.
Terminate your SSH session, and re-connect from another machine,
re-attach to screen, and carry on working where you left off,
with your programmes all still running.

This is a quick run down on what it is and how to use it.

Create a new screen session:


List screens:

screen -ls


Ctrl-a, d

To re-attach to a screen:

screen -r


screen -raAd

Reattach (-r), do some sizing stuff (a,A), and detach (d) before reattaching if necessary.
If your screen session is attached elsewhere, using -raAd will detach that session, and reattach it here.

Cycle through each screen:

Ctrl-a n
Ctrl-a p

You can kill a screen by typing exit.

Terminate a screen:

screen -X -S ID kill

Where ID is the id of the screen you want to terminate.

Useful links
Full list of commands and their usage


CenterIM is a Linux command line instant messenger client.
Getting started
with CenterIM

Setting up GTalk in CenterIM:
Assuming you have centerim installed.
cd into your .centerim directory and edit the config file.

vim config

Add the following to the file:

jab_osinfo 1
jab_prio 4
jab_ssl 1

Enter the command mode by pressing the Esc key.


This will write and quit.
run centerim:


or better, run it in screen…

screen centerim

Press F4 for the general menu.
Select Accounts..

Under the Jab protocol, you will now see the connection details reflected.


Irssi is a Linux command line IRC client.
When I use Irssi,
these are the links I use most commonly.
IRC command reference
and full help for commands
For the beginner
The Full manual
Splitting Windows

I’ll probably end up adding more to this.


Alpine is a Linux command line mail client.
is an accurate guide on how to setup your GMail accounts using IMAP in alpine.
I used this for my first account setup.

When you need to setup multiple accounts,
you have to do a little bit more configuration.
I followed this.

Then create a Role.

I run all my external shell apps on screen.
So I run the following command…

screen alpine

You should be presented with the Main Menu.

Press S (Setup), L (collectionLists)

Press A (Add Cltn)
Add a Nickname that makes sense to you to reference your account by,
and the Server, as you did in the initial account setup,
save as you did in the initial setup.
Your Setup Collection List should look similar to the following.

From the Main Menu, press S (Setup), C (Config).
Scroll down until you find “Enable Incoming Folders Collection” and turn the radio button on.

Press E (Exit), and Y (Yes) to the Commit changes prompt.
You should be back on the Main Menu now.
Now you need to add a role for each account you’ve just setup.
Press S (Setup), R (Rules).

Then choose R (Roles).
Press A (Add).
Setup each role like the following.

Press E (Exit Setup), and Y to the save prompt.

Again in the S (Setup), C (Config).
Some of the settings that need to be turned on are:

  • alternate-compose-menu is optional
  • confirm-role-even-for-default

I set the following fields, so they show up in new messages you are composing.

Create a new message

There are a few ways you can compose a new email message.
This depends on where you start the process from.
If you’re in one of your mail folders,
you can press C (Compose).
You’ll be asked which role you would like to use to compose the message.
These are the role’s you set up before,
each one applies to one of your email accounts.
Once you choose one,
you’ll see a template with the fields you set up before.
Fill out the fields.
When your done composing your message,
press Ctrl-X to send.

Move a message from folder to another folder

  1. Select the message you want to move.
  2. Press the S (Save) key.
  3. If you have multiple email accounts, press Ctrl+N (Next Collection) or Ctrl+P (Prev Collection) to cycle through your accounts.
  4. Press Ctrl+T (To Folders).
    You will be presented with the collection of your email folders for your account.
  5. Select Which folder you want to put your message into.
  6. Press enter, unless you have to move the message down another level.
  7. If this is the case, press ‘/’ (the slash key).
  8. Then either the Tab key twice, or Ctrl+X (List matches).
    This will show you the next layer of folders to choose from.
    Either select the folder you want to move your message to and press Enter,
    or to go to another level, repeat steps 5 to 8.
  9. Once you’ve located the target folder (and selected it) to save (move) your message to,
    you’ll be provided with the path that you are about to save to.
  10. Press Enter. The message [Saving DONE] will be displayed.
    You message is now moved.
    When you return to the source folder,
    you will be asked if you want the message that is there deleted,
    so that you have moved, not copied the message.
    You have the option to either copy or move.

Multi selecting (Selecting multiple emails)

  1. Select the email and press the ‘;’ (semicolon) key.
  2. You will be prompted chose a selection criteria.
    I selected C (just select current message).
    When you do this, zoom will come into effect.
    So you will only see the currently selected messages.
  3. To un-zoom, so you can see all messages from the folder you were in, just press Z
    You will now see an ‘X’ next to the messages you have multi selected.
  4. Press the Z key again to zoom to the selected messages.
  5. Press A (Apply), then select the command you want to apply and that’s it.
  1. Select the link.
  2. Press Enter.
  3. Right click the link and select “Open link”.

Enable Spell Check in Alpine

First check that it’s not enabled

When composing a message, press  Ctrl+T
If you don’t get spell check, you’ll need to do the following.

Make sure you have aspell installed

On a debian based system, you can run

dpkg-query -l '*aspell*'

This will show you the aspell components installed

Or more precisely, just search for aspell

dpkg -l aspell

Once you find it, you can run

dpkg-query -W -f='${Status} ${Version}\n' aspell

This will tell you whether or not it’s installed.
If it’s not, you’ll need to install it:

sudo apt-get install aspell

From the Main menu in Alpine, S (Setup), C (Config).
Look for “spell”.
You can press ‘W’ to search and type in “spell” without the quotes.
Press Enter.
The first option you will find should be “Spell Check Before Sending”.
You can turn this on if you like.
Press ‘W’ again, accept the default, press Enter.
You should now see the option “Speller”.
Press Enter, and type in

aspell -c

Press Enter to accept.
Press ‘E’ to exit config.
Press ‘Y’ to the Commit changes prompt.

If you run the following at the command prompt


You should get a little information about what the -c switch does.


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2 Responses to “Centerim, Irssi, Alpine on Screen”

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