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Thunderbird in Crisis? 422

Elektroschock writes "The two core developers of Thunderbird have left Mozilla. Scott McGregor made a brief statement: 'I wanted to let the Thunderbird community know that Friday October 12th will be my last day as an employee of the Mozilla Corporation.' Meanwhile, David Bienvenu blogged: 'Just wanted to let everyone know that my last day at The Mozilla Corporation will be Oct. 12. I intend to stay involved with Thunderbird... I've enjoyed working at Mozilla a lot, and I wish Mozilla Co and the new Mail Co all the best.' A few month ago Mozilla management considered abandoning their second product and setting up a special corporation just for the mail client. Scott was more or less supportive. David joined in. While Sunbird just released a new version no appropriate resources were dedicated to the missing component. And while Thunderbird became the most used Linux mail client it has been abandoned by Mozilla for 'popularity reasons'. Both messages from David and Scott do not sound as if the founders will play any role in the Thunderbird Mail Corporation. What happened to Mozilla? Is it a case of pauperization through donations?"
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Thunderbird in Crisis?

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  • by thatseattleguy ( 897282 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @02:16AM (#20894661) Homepage
    I'm in the midst of attempting a conversion from my PC-based mail client (Eudora) to Thunderbird on a Mac. It's been a horror show from day one - the Thunderbird import function turns out to be more buggy than a
    New York City apartment in the summer. If I didn't have lots of GNU command-line tools and a hex editor to fix the many things that choke Tbird, I'd have abandoned the effort and switched to some proprietary client a long time ago.

    Let's hope as a separate entity they can do better.
  • Re:Still good... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dascritch ( 808772 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @02:52AM (#20894885) Homepage
    I think that Eudora staff will probably do the right stuff : Rethinking the keyboards shortcuts that are just sucking (i use a french locale, and sometimes, i have the worng focus, so instead of typing a mail, i do "something" with my inbox)

    IMHO MoFo should be reorganized : the Xul Foundation, with everyone implied into (Firefox, Thunderbird, Songbird, CeltX, Disruptive Innovations,...) for-profit and non-profits organizations, and Firefox, FirefoxCom, Thunderbird should be independent corporations or foundations.
  • by Angostura ( 703910 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @03:16AM (#20894999)
    I converted from Thunderbird on the Mac to on the Mac and never looked back. Give it a shot if you haven't already...
  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @03:18AM (#20895013) Homepage
    So that is the real problem competition with Gmail and Evolution or more specifically successful competition against both those products are having an impact on future thunderbird development.

    So in a nut shell, there appear to be limited corporate revenue opportunities for thunderbird, it is just a useful, simple, easy to use, end user interface for managing email, fit for purpose rather than fit for profit software.

    No corporations are really going to get behind it, especially not google or any other company involved with email servers.

    So thunderbird will keep quietly ticking along, doing the job it needs to do, with out any major changes, just continual refinement. I use it and I am pretty happy with that. To put it simply, I am sick of software changing for change sake and to generate upgrade profits. As for privacy invasive web mail, eww, I only use that for G-mail (garbage mail) and questionable web sites.

    The next big thing might be email address portability, much like postal address not being bound to the people making the deliveries, one could envisage a government controlled email address router to allow end users to retain a permanent email address, not bound to a particular supplier or as a marketing tool for that particular supplier ie. an address that avoids customer lock and ensures competition in email services. It would really hurt web mail but of course not as much as cheap internet serving appliances, IPv6 and free email software servers, privacy invasive web mail is doomed ;).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2007 @03:20AM (#20895027)
    ADVERTISING! I'm assuming you are like me and are using something like Adblock Plus and wouldn't even know about the existence of internet advertising, but it certainly exists. I prefer my daily life to be as free of advertising as possible. *I* make the educated purchasing decisions and *I* do so based on the best prices, shipping arrangements, warranty, customer feedback, etc. Advertising is an insult to intelligence, a waste of money and completely inefficient and blind method of making purchasing decisions.

    The key problem with the much hyped "web based application services" is that there is no *I* left in your usage of computers/the internet.
    - *I* should be able to do whatever I want with my email (and have assurance my actions on the email have been carried out permanently)
    - *I* should be able to view it and export it any way I wish
    - *I* should be able to increase the size of the GUI controls to 3x if I have eyesight difficulties
    - *I* should be able to sign/encrypt my email so the email provider can't read it
    - *I* should be able to have assurance that my email/data won't be held hostage for a sum when the company chooses to start charging for email
    - *I* should be able to see how my emails are handled behind the scenes and what information is stored on me
    - *I* should be able to do all of this for FREE and FOREVER on a level playing field without any annoying advertising
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2007 @03:23AM (#20895045)
    And I'd say exactly the opposite. I've switched over to sylpheed precisely because it has less integrated, is simpler and faster and most of all stable. I can agree with the idea of a separate calendar program which directly gets access to calendar messages from thunderbird; but ideally it's even simpler. There should be a calendar program which reads the same mail feed as your mail program and handles calendar information.

    Why copy Microsoft's idiot design with all of it's terrible maintainance and security problems? Separation gives you:
    • the ability to change your calendar whilst staying on the same mail software (or the other way round)
    • limitation of security bugs in mail to only your mail
    • smaller upgrade packages
    • easier use on small systems (where you only need one of the programs running)
    • better scriptability and control
    • faster compile times
    • etc.

    One of the main strengths of free software is that we can all work together. The reason Microsoft does feature bundling is that they know you need their mail program so they want to use that to force you to use their calendar solution. Since free software developers don't care (in the same way) and just want the best solution for the user they aren't bound by the stupidities of marketing.
  • Re:Still good... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jkrise ( 535370 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @03:26AM (#20895055) Journal
    Given the possible split from Mozilla, I'd like to see take an interest.

    What? And make it bloated, semi-compatible to Outlook and totally useless?

    TB is a hundred times better than Evolution for reading mail on a Linux box. Because its GPL, I'm sure interested folks will be able to fork it and release useful extensions.
  • by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @03:36AM (#20895105)
    I'll throw in the odd vote for, for two features I just can't live without:

    One, the aggregate Inbox - I can view all my inboxes at once without actually merging the folders. It's so handy to be able to see all my new messages at a glance, or separated into accounts, so quickly and intuitively.

    Two, filtering IMAP messages by body text. I've tried half a dozen other email programs and none of them seem able to filter IMAP messages this way. I can't see any valid explanation why other clients refuse to do this. I can sort quasi-spam (ads from companies I've placed orders from, for example) far more effectively with body filters.

    If Thunderbird could duplicate those two features I'd probably give up Thunderbird is far more extensible and has quite a few features Apple's client lacks, like good IMAP folder management and Bayesian filtering.

    Yet both Thunderbird and Firefox feel largely stagnant these days - Firefox 3's promises seem nebulous and the release never seems to come any closer, and neither program is doing anything all that innovative in the meantime. The most impressive new feature I've seen in the past year (which wasn't an extension) has been Thunderbird's categories, which is itself is a copy of Gmail's keywords feature and rather similar to's smart folders. What are the devs doing?
  • Crisis? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2007 @03:46AM (#20895137)
    All I see is some useless drama. Developers quit all the time. And structures change. That's life, not a crisis.
  • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @04:08AM (#20895271) Homepage
    I used Outlook for calendaring and contact management, actually, and was using it with Thunderbird as the mail client. At a certain point, I realized that was one more executable more than I needed running, and migrated to Outlook for mail, as well. Outlook's IMAP performance is, in my experience, smoother than T-bird's (which often seems to "forget" that it copied messages to my offline store, making them unavailable when I'm offline.)

    Once you start dragging and dropping from your inbox to your to-do list, contact list, and calendar, it's hard to give that up.
  • May I suggest... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2007 @04:22AM (#20895357)
    Claws Mail? []
    It's much faster and powerful than Thunderbird, and it's multiplatform. I was tempted to swap it with Thunderbird some months ago and went back as soon as I discovered how unstable is Thunderbird when managing a dozen or so accounts.
    For the normal user Thunderbird is a good email client, but when you need something fast, powerful and stable, I'd strongly suggest to try Claws Mail.

    That's the power of Open Source. Should Thunderbird "die", it would be mantained by someone else in a matter of weeks, but in the very unlikely situation it dissolves without the development being taken over by other developers, we already have a great alternative.
  • by darthflo ( 1095225 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @04:36AM (#20895475)
    I'm not saying the Unix approach to this matter is bad, but good PIM software may be doing a tiny little bit more than just piping text from one tool to another. Additionally: If a great Application like Outlook (v12 "2007" is great, stable and not as memory-consuming as previous ones) does all the tasks better than three, five or seventeen mini-apps, I am going to use the monolithic thing. Seems kind of similar to the [Gentoo/LFS]/[Ubuntu/Novell/RedHat], [Firefox + Thunderbird + n Extensions/Opera or Build your Computer/Buy it built debates. The former ideas may be compelling to try stuff out, do it yourself, and have some advantages in few scenarios (a wee bit faster and custom-compiled, more flexible, really capable of gaming) but if you want to get work done, you'll stick to the latter ones and save yourself hours of update, configuration or build time.
  • by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @05:08AM (#20895621)

    2) When I decide to just quit all windows of my web-browser to clean up my desktop I hate that the mail gets closed too.
    Don't close the tab you run Gmail in...? What are you "cleaning up your desktop" for if you want some stuff to remain open? Sorry, I must simply not get this part.
    It's pretty simple, if you have a heavy mail client all you have to do to close a couple of dozen browser windows is bring one into focus and hit [CMD]+[Q] or whatever key combination you use in WIndows/Linux to get rid of all of them instantly. The moment you start using a web browser as your e-mail client you have to close each browser window individually using [CMD]+[W] ([ALT]+[F4] on Windows IIRC) to filter out the one you want to keep. I usually use Safari for browsing but I always open my web-mail in Firefox for this very reason. This may seem to be a very strange thing to do but It works for me and it obviously works for the author of the OP. It's one of those things you have to file away under: 'Computer holy wars', sSub category: 'Heretical behavior'.

    Anyway, one big advantage for me with webmail is that it has the environment independence going for it. Not just platform or software independence, but usually not even dependent on your OS configuration or software installs. That's a pretty big one for me.
    And web-mail's greatest disadvantage is precisely what the OP pointed out, plus a few others. Basically web mail has it's uses but it won't replace heavy mail clients any time soon for all sorts of reasons starting with lack of integration and it goes on from there, right through issues like lack of privacy and security to crappy gripes like the fact that the admin of my web-mail client at work decided that for security reasons it should log me out after a certain period of inactivity. It's a nice rule, and from a security standpoint it makes a lot of sense to me and I agree with it 100% but it's pretty annoying if you want to use your web-mail client as a heavy mail client substitute since it means logging back into the thing a couple of dozen times a day.
  • by iwbcman ( 603788 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @05:31AM (#20895781) Homepage
    Their first day at the newly founded Thunderbird Mail Corporation? After all they, Scott and David, would have to leave the Mozilla Corporation, if they play to continue with Thunderbird, because TMC and MC are two *different* corporations....
  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Monday October 08, 2007 @06:54AM (#20896327) Journal
    Thank you. I knew there was a good reason I subscribe to Slashdot. I just thought I was sending 10 bucks to the only place in the Universe that my Karma is "Excellent".

    Seriously. Since I started using AdBlock, I do try to donate to the well-designed community websites that I use.

    Sort of like the way I try to buy music directly from the artists I like best, since I refuse to deal with any of the largest music retail channels.
  • Re:Try Claws Mail (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Crayon Kid ( 700279 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @06:56AM (#20896349)
    Version 3, which has been out for a little while, is really awesome. I'd say it's one of the most configurable and powerful graphical email clients out there. Too bad it's not that strong in groupware features as well.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @07:43AM (#20896709) Journal
    Calendar sharing is something of a problem. Fortunately, Apple seem to be working on solving it. In Leopard, the updated iCal supports CalDAV, a set of extensions to WebDAV for better supporting calendaring. Oh, and they've released the server as open source software []. Mozilla Sunbird already supports CalDAV, as do a few other projects [].
  • Re:Still good... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nossie ( 753694 ) <IanHarvie@4Devel ... inus threevowels> on Monday October 08, 2007 @10:36AM (#20898663)
    I hate to be the tinfoil hat wearer here but I blame google....

    Google has no incentive in TB surviving....
    Google provides Mozilla with LOTS of funding and has a director on board?

    coincidence? :-|
  • Maildir is luke warm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Monday October 08, 2007 @01:52PM (#20901275) Homepage Journal
    maildir is not a good option if you want to search your e-mails. You'll get an open/close for each and every e-mail, and when there's tens of thousands of e-mail messages, this takes time and ties up IO on the box.

    Too many files, and you'll even thwart normal shell expansions, like grepping for a string in * and getting "Arguments too long".

    I much prefer standard mbox format, with external index files. Not only can the files be read by pretty much anything, but searches are also MUCH faster.

Today is the first day of the rest of your lossage.