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Mozilla The Internet Communications Software

Thunderbird to Leave Mozilla Foundation 239

An anonymous reader writes "MozillaZine is reporting that Mozilla Thunderbird is to move to a 'new separate organizational setting' as the Mozilla Foundation focuses more and more on Mozilla Firefox. Citing a blog post by Chief Lizard Wrangler Mitchell Baker, MozillaZine outlines the three possibilities for Thunderbird that are being considered: 'one is to create a entirely new non-profit, which would offer maximum independence for Thunderbird but is organisationally complex. A second option is to create a new subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation for Thunderbird, which would keep the Mozilla Foundation involved but may mean that Thunderbird continues to be neglected in favour of Firefox. A final option is to recast Thunderbird as community project, similar to SeaMonkey, and set up a small independent services and consulting company to continue development. However, there are concerns over how the Thunderbird product, project and company would interact'. Lead Thunderbird developer Scott MacGregor favours the third option."
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Thunderbird to Leave Mozilla Foundation

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 26, 2007 @05:48PM (#20003061)
    Before it even hit MozillaZine... and what do I get? Nothing.
  • Poor thunderbird (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Umbral Blot ( 737704 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @05:52PM (#20003095) Homepage
    You have to wonder why thunderbird doesn't compete as well in the email marketspace as firefox does in the browser market space. I suspect its because thunderbird doesn't really offer anything more than its competitors and because it has few must-have extensions. But it could also be the prevalence of web mail. So what would make a killer email client?
    • by slapout ( 93640 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @05:54PM (#20003113)
      And when you try to find Thunderbird extensions, they're all mixed in with the firefox ones and you can't tell which is for which.
      • Re:Poor thunderbird (Score:5, Informative)

        by superbus1929 ( 1069292 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @06:00PM (#20003179) Homepage
        The few plug-ins I run on Thunderbird are actually listed as Firefox extensions. They're nothing major - dictionaries and the like - but they're not specifically Thunderbird extensions, either. So if they're mixed, that's probably why, but I had confusion looking for them, too.
      • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Thursday July 26, 2007 @06:35PM (#20003613) Homepage

        Also, when you go to a web page and browse for Firefox extensions, you're doing it in Firefox. You click on the link to an extension, it automatically installs, and takes effect immediately. The Thunderbird, you still browse for extensions in your web browser, you have to download them, and then install them into Thunderbird through Thunderbird.

        The whole process feels very different.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Zantetsuken ( 935350 )
          I don't see why they don't solve this by having a custom prefix to the extension download URI - something like thunderbird://*/*/tbird_extens i on.xpi. Even if you don't have Thunderbird open at the time, it would open automatically, and then realize its being fed an .xpi format extension and automatically prompt to install it.

          Maybe it introduces security risks I suppose, but the extension could be signed with an encryption key and checked against a Mozilla/TBird-team database to make s
    • Re:Poor thunderbird (Score:5, Informative)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @06:00PM (#20003187) Homepage Journal
      Actually the latest version of Thunderbird is really nice.
      It has folders which I really do like but it also has tags for those that are into tagging. What is really brilliant is that it allows you to create "folders" that are based on the tags.
      Plugins work fine but you just don't need a lot of them for Email. I use GPGP for signing and encryption. The plugin manager could work better. I would say it isn't great for normal end users.
      I find it fast and a much better program than Outlook. Now if you compare it to Outlook plus Exchange then it really isn't in the same league.
      To me that is the problem. FOSS need a server that will interface with Thunderbird and offer all the same features as Outlook plus exchange and with the same ease of use.
      As I Thunderbird user I can not say I am pleased.
      • by keithjr ( 1091829 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @06:05PM (#20003239)
        In the enterprise world, it's not uncommon for companies to not use Outlook but still rely on an Exchange infrastructure. Thunderbird as a standalone mail client is fine, but if it wants to compete it's going to have to integrate much better with robust calendar and resource scheduling programs. Lightning or Sunbird betas aren't going to cut it.
        • The ability to automatically print extensions . . . that's right there in outlook, but isn't in the Thunderbird print dialog.

        • by sparkz ( 146432 )
          It'd be good if Outlook/Exchange were robust, too.

          I (have to) use Outlook/Exchange at work, but if the "appointment" specification was public, I would be able to get away from it.

          In particular, I find that if I receive an appointment, start to reply (maybe giving a "Tentative" response), then cancel that message, it has already disappeared from my Inbox, into my Calendar. I have to find the date (I memorised that, just in case, right?!), find the appointment, and then continue from where I was, giving an "A
          • For future reference, just uncheck the box next to "Delete meeting request from Inbox when responding". Options > Email Options > Advanced Email Options (at least in Outlook 2007, I don't have any earlier versions handy).
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          it's not uncommon for companies to not use Outlook

          Holy triple negative batman!

      • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Thursday July 26, 2007 @06:50PM (#20003787) Homepage

        I find it fast and a much better program than Outlook. Now if you compare it to Outlook plus Exchange then it really isn't in the same league. To me that is the problem.

        I think you're right-- that's the problem. How to solve that problem, I don't know, but that is most likely the reason why Thunderbird doesn't have a larger user base.

        I think most people who use e-mail fall into a couple groups.

        • The first is the business power user, for whom nothing matches Outlook+Exchange+Blackberry/WindowMobile. This is a huge market
        • The second group would be very casual users, for whom being able to read their e-mail is sufficient. They'll just use whatever comes on their computer, or else webmail. They really don't care as long as they can send and receive e-mail. This is a huge market.
        • For the sake of the discussion, I'll lump everyone else into a third group, and those are people with particular preferences or specialized needs. These people use the e-mail client they choose or else the e-mail client they need to. This group probably goes to Thunderbird pretty often, but there are still people using things like Pine, or some totally random client.

        The only real group that Thunderbird could go after would be the business users. However, in order to do that, you need to be able to connect to Exchange and do calendars, notes, task lists, and Exchange contact lists. Of course, you could also replace Exchange with something else, but that something else would have to have the same sorts of features, and Thunderbird would still have to connect to it.

        Contrary to what many geeks think, Exchange/Outlook is very helpful for a lot of businesses. Connecting tasks, calendars, e-mail, and contacts all together, and making that available through client software, on the web, and on mobile devices has turned out to be the big-business killer app.

        • by Pav ( 4298 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @08:01PM (#20004503)
          The pieces are JUST starting to come together re: replacing MS Exchange... although, granted, it's still VERY alpha/beta it's quite an exciting development.

              OpenGroupware (nightly builds) support CalDAV, and Thunderbird /w Lightning talks to it. There are other Thunderbird plugins which use GroupDAV for shared address lists and free/busy information through the OpenGroupware server.

              This works today(!), though it's non-trivial to set up, and you have to be careful about versions. The combination to use is Lightning 0.3.1, the latest Thunderbird, OpenGroupware nightly, and the latest GroupDAV free/busy and shared address lists plugins. Unfortunately the latest Sunbird/Lightning (0.5) doesn't work right now, but bugs have been filed and the developers understand the problem... and a fix will happen in time.

              OK, it's less functional and robust compared to the dominant player... but it's cheaper.
          • OK, it's less functional and robust compared to the dominant player

            Unfortunately, that will kill it dead in the corporate space. Cheaper isn't cheaper if you lose money because the server keeps going down (or whatever).

            Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loathe Outlook and regularly curse the fact that I'm required to use it at work, and would dearly love there to be a viable replacement. As such, I'm quietly rooting for any such project.

            But make no mistake, "cheaper but less functional and robust" (than Outlo
        • by sparkz ( 146432 )
          On paper, what Exchange/Outlook provides looks good; if it was an open standard, I would applaud Free Software implementations of clients (and - hey - servers too, why not?!). Outlook is still seriously flawed. I work for a major MS partner, I should have the best possible MS WinXP/Outlook/Exchange setup possible. My personal email is on a resold co-located Linux box somewhere in Canada (I don't even know where!). To open a 10Mb file from Canada (Linux) takes about a minute; that's about the same time as i
        • The first is the business power user, for whom nothing matches Outlook+Exchange+Blackberry/WindowMobile. This is a huge market

          It is. You're right. And actually this is the core issue with OSS versus MS. The OS doesn't matter to business users, but Office and Exchange are the key reasons MS has domination of the OS -- because business needs these to be compatible and familiar across the board.

          Trouble is, most OSS developers don't work in that kind of World (which is good for them admittedly), which does

        • My company forces me to use Lotus Notes / cry
      • Re:Poor thunderbird (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Vidar Leathershod ( 41663 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @08:30PM (#20004791)
        I would much prefer that they develop a peer to peer syncing for address book and calendar. I'm tired of dealing with server-side stuff for a business with 3 employees, all on an internal network. Apple Mail should do this too. I keep hearing about CalDAV and the iCal standard, but have yet to see any products that fully support what should be a basic functionality.

        Calendar functionality should be an option during install, and however it needs to be done, compatibility with Mobile devices for synchronization should be implemented. Personally, I use a cell phone, and don't or even like PIMs, but I can't stand having to deal with Outlook just so someone can use a Blackberry.

        Finally, something needs to be done in terms of simple profile migration, and the import/export features need to be more robust. For example, if you want to switch someone to Thunderbird from Outlook Express, you have to activate a profile in Outlook Express. If Thunderbird can't find it in the default location, it doesn't let you choose a WAB file. That is pitiful. Same goes for importing Thunderbird stuff into Thunderbird. It shouldn't be that difficult to prompt for a file location and take it from there.
      • I really like Thunderbird 2.0.x It is more stable than the ver 1.5.x especially with the Lightning calendar extension. Mozilla should highlight one feature that could make more people want to use Thunderbird: it can be used as an excellent backup tool for various web based email including Gmail and Yahoo mail.

        Finally, many probably don't realize that Thunderbird/Lighning Calendar could bidirectionally sync to Google's Calendar via the Provider for Google Calendar extension. Here is a link to an article co

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by snoyberg ( 787126 )

      It could just be that when it comes to e-mail, there are plenty of competitors. It's not that Thunderbird is bad in anyway, but it's a matter of taste. Some people like Evolution, some like GMail, some (for some reason) like Outlook. There are many more freely available mail clients than web browsers. It would be very unlikely for Thunderbird to meet the reception that Firefox did.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Denis Lemire ( 27713 )
        I'm curious as to what you cite as competitors? Might be just different for my needs but Evolution has broken IMAP support last I used it. Outlook chokes the minute your mailbox begins to get large. Apple Mail is quirky and not cross platform.

        I guess that's the just of it, what other mail clients are there that are cross platform (Mac, Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, etc) and have IMAP support that isn't broken?

        Then again, 90% of the world probably couldn't care less if their mail app of choice wasn't cross platfo
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by snoyberg ( 787126 )

          Frankly, the only mail clients I use are GMail and Thunderbird. However, I don't know anyone else (outside of online contacts) who use Thunderbird. My wife uses the Apple mail client, at work we use Lotus Notes, etc. There just seem to be a lot more options, even in the FLOSS spectrum (eg, KMail, Pine, Mutt, etc).

          For whatever reason, it seems like mail clients are much more about taste than a web browser is.

    • I suspect its because thunderbird doesn't really offer anything more than its competitors and because it has few must-have extensions.
      I use Thunderbird as my only email client at work, but in my opinion, Thunderbird doesn't offer more, it offers less. Not less such as in less bloated, but less such as in features-that-I-would-like-and-I-can-find-in-other -email-clients. The addressbook sucks. Search too. As you said, there isn't enough good extensions so far (e.g. the pitchdark theme that I like so much as not been updated to TB2.0). No support for user tags (no, the "tags" they included in 2.0 (which were there in previous versions) does not count as support for tags). Poor support of non-english characters. etc.

      But why do I keep using it? Because I hope it will become as good as Firefox and switching email clients is never as straightforward as one would like. And I'm not saying FF does not have flaws, in my opinion benefits outweighs the flaws. I'm not sure if this is true with TB. I have no idea, and I'm probably not alone failing to predict the future, if a new status for Thunderbird will actually help the project or not... I guess we'll find out in a few months/years!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by fm6 ( 162816 )

        ...and switching email clients is never as straightforward as one would like.

        I'm guessing that you receive your email via a POP server. If you used an IMAP server, and you could switch between clients 10 times a day with no grief.

        That said, I agree with you about Thunderbird's shortcomings. So why do I stick with it? Because other email programs usually have more features, but their implementation is always too Rube Goldberg []. Usually, I can't even find a simple obvious way to say "show me the next unread

        • I'm guessing that you receive your email via a POP server. If you used an IMAP server, and you could switch between clients 10 times a day with no grief.

          Actually, I use IMAP at home and at work, but I don't know how to use it efficiently: since I have over 5,000 emails (much more in fact), many that I want/need to keep for work-related purposes, I move them in specific folders. Doesn't this defeat the purpose of IMAP? IMAP is not meant for syncing thousands of emails, am I wrong? Because of this, I always felt that even if my email is IMAP, this was more or less useless since my email archive is not IMAP compatible because if its size. (tell me and wrong a

          • Sorry to be so blunt, but you did ask to be told. :-)

            There aren't any particular limits on IMAP, and it's not really designed to "sync" mail. It's a way for mail (however many folders, subfolders, or whatever) to live on a central server, while your client downloads a list of them and then asks to see whichever one you click on.

            Most clients also have an offline mode, where it copies everything locally, but there is exactly one master mail store. And you can change clients 10 times in a day with no grief

          • by Wordplay ( 54438 )
            It's nice to eventually archive stuff off the IMAP server onto a local drive, but the database size isn't that much of a limitation. It's not like IMAP brings the whole thing down to your local drive at once, which is kind of the point. The idea is the data lives on the server, and the client provides a window to it. The only time you have to copy stuff down in bulk is for archiving or for offline use. Otherwise, the client caches as you go, often keeping headers and such around so it can add its own ta
          • Do you run your own mail server at home? If so, try changing to Dovecot []. They passed 1.0 (1.0.2 now) and they deserve it. Handles maildirs, GSSAPI, and it's fast. I have 5,981 messages in my Inbox alone, probably 5 times that in all the other folders, every non-spam e-mail I've ever sent or received since I started running my own mail server ... God, it was 6 years ago now. Anyway, I had to switch away from Courier-IMAP about 9 months ago because it's a dog when you have large maildis, and Dovecot was the o

            • second that!

              I use dovecot on my server over imaps and connect with mutt in a screen session on my main machine. i get mail anywhere in the world that has terminal emulator w/ ssh. And it rocks. The only one dovecot chokes on is my debian-user archive which typically has about 20k messages in it. (don't ask, I'm an addict). but even that only takes a little bit (maybe 20 seconds) to sync up and sort.

            • Aww, wtf, Google ref stuck in my link. That'll teach me. Here's the right link. []

          • by fm6 ( 162816 )

            Actually, I use IMAP at home and at work, but I don't know how to use it efficiently: since I have over 5,000 emails (much more in fact), many that I want/need to keep for work-related purposes, I move them in specific folders. Doesn't this defeat the purpose of IMAP?

            Which purpose is that, and how is using folders defeating it? Somehow, I doubt that IMAP's designers added support for folders (and many folder features) but didn't intend folks to use them.

            I myself have almost 6000 messages in my work IMAP

            • by Rich0 ( 548339 )
              Hmm - 24888 files in my .maildir - and IMAP works just fine.

              I don't delete mail as a matter of principle (well except for email used only for large file transfer - I save files and delete emails). It only consumes 1GB, and that is all of about 50 cents these days (even with RAID5). Why would I spend my time to shave 20 cents off my infrastructure costs? And at the risk of accidentally tossing something important?
      • I'm not into the KDE thing, sorry. People send me non-text data, and I've just gotten used to the whole GUI thing lately. That leaves me with what?

        I see several GNOME-friendly alternatives. All of them are horribly buggy. Evolution has had a whopper (your inbox corrupted) for over 5 years last I checked. All of them are half-done, except maybe Evolution which is just shockingly buggy and slow. (Evolution was written by retarded monkeys who smoke crack -- but at least it reports the weather! Wait, REPORTS TH
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      But it could also be the prevalence of web mail.

      I think you hit the nail on the head. People who require Outlook/Exchange for work use Outlook as their client; those who don't generally use Gmail or some other web mail service. There isn't much room in between for a standalone email client anymore.

      • If that's true, it's unfortunate. Webmail isn't very pleasant to use, even gmail. I'd much rather use even outlook.
        • I hated having to refresh pages for every email, and webmail just always seemed so slow. GMail is better than the rest, and I really like the tagging features, and built-in chat. I use Outlook at work, because Outlook+Exchange really is nifty, I hate to say it. I own my own domain and have a few web servers, so I could easily do my own mail service, but I just forward those all to GMail. While a traditional Thunderbird/Outlook type client might be a tad faster, I really love some of GMail's features. I
    • I think the reason why Thunderbird doesn't do as well against Outlook as Firefox does against other browsers because until recently it wasn't a functional replacement. With Tbird extensions providing calendaring options, it'll do better. I understand that there purists out there that would prefer their apps to do one thing and do it well, bu the reality is that many users prefer to have calendaring and messaging in one app.

      I think the question this leaves on the table is one of software system architectur

    • Anyone besides me wish that you could run Thunderbird in a tab inside Firefox, ala FireFTP? If the interface was Gmail-esque and ran in a tab, with a shared Sunbird calendar in another tab, that would be the killer arrangement for me. If those apps all came bundled in server side application suite along with a portal and company wiki so you could either setup and manage it internally or hire out hosted services, that might be very appealing in the business world.

      My sense is we're on the verge of moving

    • I used (and was very faithful to) Thunderbird for a long time (well, ~ 4 years). Loved the extensions, and the skinning capability. However, it started corrupting its files, so that old emails were lost, it couldn't start correctly, etc. I've since switched to KMail, have much better filtering capabilities, and better addressbook support. It's not nearly so pretty as Thunderbird, but a helluva lot more stable.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheLinuxSRC ( 683475 ) *
        I have also seen T-bird corrupt files, but I have never seen it lose email. Usually, when I have problems with T-bird it is the summary files (*.msf) that are corrupt. Have you tried deleting the *.msf files and rebuilding them (to rebuild, just open T-bird and click on the folder in question)?
    • by guaigean ( 867316 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @07:09PM (#20004011)

      You have to wonder why thunderbird doesn't compete as well in the email marketspace as firefox does in the browser market space.

      One word: gmail
    • by suv4x4 ( 956391 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @07:19PM (#20004103)
      You have to wonder why thunderbird doesn't compete as well in the email marketspace as firefox does in the browser market space.

      Because there's no reason it would. First wave of Firefox adoption was developers and savvy users. They got development extensions and they cared about good CSS/JS support.

      You don't develop for e-mail. You could assemble the occasional HTML email but that's hardly "development".

      Second wave of adoption came from the fact not that Firefox is good, but that IE was bad. No tabs (the mythical tabs) and poor security led companies and users to switch.

      There were some VBS related exploits for Outlook (part of Office) but nothing last few years about Outlook Express (part of Windows). Outlook Express is a very decent mail client, and people just use it for what it is.

      Killer features can't push people to adopt Thunderbird since people care to receive and send their email only. Thunderbirds spam filtering isn't noticed by anyone using Outlook Express. (hm.. what about email tabs...? naah).
    • "I suspect [it doesn't compete well in the email marketspace] because thunderbird doesn't really offer anything more than its competitors"

      It could also be the fact that it sucks. My experience with it has been that set up is equally as annoying as the MS alternative. It cannot format email consistently. Sometimes I like to set the size and font to one setting for quotes and another for replys, but Tunderbird likes to reset evrything to Helvetica 14 point. In my experience, it was not stable. It wou

    • You know what I love about thunderbird? The way it wont "get mail" on my pop3 account if I also have an IMAP account in the same client. Isnt that wonderful! Beautiful design. Just silently failing to pick up messages from one account. Thats the kind of service I want from my mail app! Sure I can get it by right clicking and then clicking on the individual account but come on...

      But really the fact it doesnt have a calandar is why it cant be deployed in an office environment. Theres some way on outlook to se
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by slaker ( 53818 )
        My Thunderbird has three IMAP accounts and three POP3 accounts, and I get mail on all of them all the time.
        Maybe it's not Thunderbird?
    • You have to wonder why thunderbird doesn't compete as well in the email marketspace as firefox does in the browser market space. I suspect its because thunderbird doesn't really offer anything more than its competitors and because it has few must-have extensions. But it could also be the prevalence of web mail. So what would make a killer email client?

      Thunderbird is just plain clumsy to use. To see this, just try the file open dialogue, it is excruciatingly painful. In particular, try to type in the name of a file rather than navigating with the mouse. Try the filter setup, compare to kmail. See how much work it is to set up a filter for, say, a mailing list, compared to kmail. Hundreds of little fit and finish things, for example, after you set up a new filter, it is not selected by default for running, this takes an extra click. Restarting Thund

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by richlv ( 778496 )
        oooh. that file open dialog is not thunderbirds dialog. it is the famous gtk file dialog, the sucky one that gives bad name to all gtk apps.
        i am cursing whenever i use them in thunderbird or gimp (or very rarely - firefox).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vic-traill ( 1038742 )

      You have to wonder why thunderbird doesn't compete as well in the email marketspace as firefox does in the browser market space

      I am not trolling, but my karma's probably going to get hosed here because there's no faster way to get people whipped up crooked-ass bent out of shape, making vi vs emacs look like a kiddie-time quarrel, than to tell people their email environment is going to change, should be used differently, is not as good as another environment, etc. Discussions about e-mail clients == religious war.

      For me, e-mail clients are dead. Post gmail, webmail is good enough for me, particularly with the keyboard interface

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I found this comment by Eyal Rozenberg over on the referenced blog:

      "Over time, the Mozilla Foundation's mission has evolved to focus on advancing the open web through browsing and related activities. Today, Thunderbird, as a desktop mail client, does not supports this mission."


      Over time, Google bought us, so the Mozilla Foundation's mission has evolved to focus on ad-revenue-stream-related activities, and the number of mail&news developers has evolved towards 0. Today, Thunderbird, as

  • Third option (Score:2, Interesting)

    by snoyberg ( 787126 )
    If the Mozilla Foundation isn't as interested in Thunderbird, why would a subsidiary of it (ala the 2nd option) or a brand-new entity (ala the 1st) bring a whole lot of enthusiasm? Let the users have it.
    • Re:Third option (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ekstrom ( 941853 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @06:10PM (#20003321)
      Eudora's home page [] says that the paid mode Eudora is no longer available, and that an open source version of Eudora is being developed by Mozilla. An article at 0078 [] says that the new Eudora will be based on the Thunderbird engine. This is apparently the Penelope project [] , which claims not to be trying to supplant Thunderbird, but may be about to do so. Would an insider please clarify all this?
      • by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
        it looks like it is becomeing a tradition for companies, after being crushed by microsoft to sink a dagger in Gate's back by open sourcing their product and letting a more efficient development process carry on.
      • by dn15 ( 735502 )
        I think the idea is it's a win-win situation for Eudora and Thunderbird. Eudora maintains some level of goodwill by directing users to an alternative app that reminds them of Eudora. Thunderbird gains more users as a result of Eudora funneling their customers in that direction. And Penelope isn't really a whole new application, it's more like an extension that makes Thunderbird look and feel more like Eudora for users who want that. But it's unclear (at least to me) whether an actual rebranded app will be r
  • I use Thnderbird at home. Every day @ work using Outlook reminds me why I prefer Thunderbird.

    I do have some gripes when it comes to the way most extensions and plugins are handled for it though, much like other people are saying...

    I'd rather see it stay in the Mozilla foundation but if it must leave then I would prefer the third option as well. The second one really sucks...
    • by sparkz ( 146432 )
      Same here. Thunderbird isn't perfect, but it's far more pleasant to use than Outlook. Having said that, I am considering reverting to pine...
  • by kimba ( 12893 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @06:06PM (#20003251)
    This is disappointing news, and begs the question why the Mozilla Foundation can't provide the needed resources to Thunderbird?

    Given the Mozilla Foundation HAS a substantial amount of money, presumably spinning Thunderbird out into a separate entity will mean Thunderbird will have even less money than it has today because it can not be cross-subsidised by Firefox's search revenues. Spinning Thunderbird out, which will cost it more and earn it less, doesn't sound like a recipe for success if your problem is lack of resources.
    • by pavon ( 30274 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @06:11PM (#20003327)
      Whatever little Mozilla Foundation is providing to Thunderbird has to be better than nothing, which is what they would be getting from them if they went their own way. Unless the foundation is hindering development in someway, I really don't see the point of spinning off.
    • by sootman ( 158191 )
      What a long, strange trip it's been.

      First there was Netscape, the browser, which of course grew to include a mail reader (as all apps must), then with NS4 it became a suite with an HTML editor and what-all else.

      Then it became Mozilla, which started life as a NS4-style suite, but people wanted a non-bloated browser, so they made Phoenix/Firebird/Firefox (which of course went on to become quite popular) along with the suite, then they started offering all (most? whatever) portions of the suite available as se
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by trawg ( 308495 )
      Given that Microsoft's big, big hold on everyone in business at the moment is Office+Outlook, it seems that NOT supporting Thunderbird is just a completely bizarre course of action.

      Every time a post comes up on Slashdot about Thunderbird, I see the EXACT same comments - "our business uses Outlook, we've tried Thunderbird but it doesn't compete. If it did, we'd switch in a second."

      Our business is the same; we'd happily make the switch away from Outlook+Exchange if Thunderbird was a viable alternative. It's n
  • Don't Crap On Tbird (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tarsi210 ( 70325 ) <nathan&nathanpralle,com> on Thursday July 26, 2007 @06:09PM (#20003295) Homepage Journal
    I, for one, am not looking forward to the idea of having Tbird as a community project, unless it is headed by a small team of very focused individuals. A mass free-for-all will simply destroy it due to feature bloat and a multitude of ideas around what an email client should be.

    What should an email client do? How about -- email. Just email. Not email and newsgroups, not email and collaboration, not email and Facebook -- just plain old simple email. Sure, I'll concede to HTML email for you folks who can't stand to not have a little color in your lives and insist on spamming my box with your yellow backgrounds and pink text, but it's still email.

    Tbird is awesome and makes almost no waves because of a) marketing -- the browser wars are much more publicized, b) marketing -- Microsoft isn't really trying to take over the world with Outlook, because they know it sucks, and c) marketing -- There's not much word-of-mouth going on because email mostly works with just about any client and people put up with it, so there's not as much of a scramble for a "good" email client.

    I love the app. It works and works and works and doesn't break and doesn't screw up one of the most important things in my online life, electronic mail. I don't want to see it backburnered by the Foundation, either, but at the same time, I'm happier thinking that the Foundation has their finger on where it's going and so far, I trust that they're not going to make it suck. So I'd be preferable to leaving it their hands for that reason.

    • by Malc ( 1751 )
      Since the last major revision it's been bringing my mail server to its knees if I use IMAP. I don't have a powerful server, but it's been chugging away happily and problem free for years. New version of Thunderbird has started opening more and more IMAP session/connections until I exit the app. I guess more poor little server doesn't respond quickly enough or something. Who knows, but it's really irritating. I only use Thunderbird because it was a natural progression from Netscape - I still have some m
      • by Malc ( 1751 )
        Oh and then there's it's moronic behaviour with updates. Google search shows it's been a known issue under limited user accounts for a very long time. How much effort is it to put the update files in the All Users folder and prompt for admin credentials to install?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Haeleth ( 414428 )

      What should an email client do? How about -- email. Just email. Not email and newsgroups

      No thanks. Newsgroups make up a significant part of my Thunderbird usage. Take them away, and I'd have to switch to something like Outlook Express - not a pleasant thought.

      Basically, you're making the mistake of reducing Thunderbird to what you see it as useful for. But Thunderbird isn't an "email client". It's an email/NNTP/RSS client. To make it into a pure email client would be to change its very nature, and at t

  • Someone with no technical knowledge cannot run a technically oriented company. The Mozilla Foundation needs someone competent. Winifred cannot be the leader of something she doesn't understand. That's Winifred Mitchell Baker [], the CEO [] of Mozilla, an extremely socially uncomfortable lawyer who became CEO when no one thought there was an opportunity. Now that Mozilla Foundation is making millions from making Google the default browser, Winifred can afford to hire people to make herself look good.

    There are many, many quirks in Firefox, not just Thunderbird, that should be fixed, but no technically oriented manager to organize that. For example, the CPU hogging bug has been there for at least 5 years. Winifred has insufficient control over those who work for her, because she doesn't understand what they do. The Firefox CPU hogging and memory gobbling bug would take some serious troubleshooting to find, and no one wants to do the work, apparently. See Firefox development sometimes resembles playing. []

    Don't let ignorant and managers destroy your programming efforts. Find some way to have them removed.
  • What about Eudora? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by richg74 ( 650636 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @06:28PM (#20003519) Homepage
    Not too long ago, Qualcomm, the publisher of the Eudora E-mail client, announced that future Eudora versions would be based on Thunderbird. Back in the bad old days when I still had to use Windows, I used Eudora for E-mail -- it was streets ahead of MS Outhouse. Perhaps Mozilla can cook up a deal with Qualcomm.
    • by maggard ( 5579 )

      Qualcomm, the publisher of the Eudora E-mail client, announced that future Eudora versions would be based on Thunderbird.

      Which was preferable to saying "We've got this odd legacy product we don't want to publicly kill but aren't interested in it and the minimal revenue stream we see from it." So the solution was to gift it to the Mozilla Foundation and let them be responsible for it's sinking or swimming.

      Since that magnanimous gesture (and I'm being overly cynical, it probably was the best thing thing f

      • by maggard ( 5579 )

        Yeah, replying to myself...

        Penelope [] is the Thundora name. It's got a Talk [] page, mostly full of wishlists.

        The great news is it looks like the entire Qualcomm team went with Eudora, so it's skilled coders well familiar with the territory. How they interact with the Tbird team is hard to tell from a cursory lookover.

        Frankly I'm betting their value is as a team of experienced email developers, and any code they can reuse from Eudora is just gravy compared to their skillsets and understanding of the problem

  • Oh my.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Brad_sk ( 919670 )
    Already Thunderbird is not that great a product, especially when compared to Firefox. I don't know whats gonna happen now - Hope it will not become just another open source project with just handful of folks using it:(
    • by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
      this should be good for the thunderbird project. right now it is always second fiddle to firefox and mozilla.

      as a spin-off with it's own group progress would be more steady and less tied to progress with firefox.
  • by Ant P. ( 974313 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @06:35PM (#20003617) Homepage
    Why not split off Firefox instead, since it's getting most of the attention? Maybe then the Mozilla project can go back to making good software.
  • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @06:41PM (#20003673)
    "Stop fawning over Firefox so much and develop the projects more equally" isn't even mentioned.

    It's just a case of glory seekers. From the Mozillazine forums/Bugzilla, it appears MScott is pretty much the only truly dedicated developer of Thunderbird. It's not as "sexy" as Firefox, so people want to contribute to the browser instead. Firefox has brand recognition to almost make it a household name like IE is now. Thunderbird, not nearly so much.
    • by slapout ( 93640 )
      I haven't checked, but I wonder how difficult it is to compile Thunderbird. I looked at what you had to do to compile FF on Windows and you had to jump thru all kinds of hoops.
      • by Nimey ( 114278 )
        I imagine it'd be about equally hard, since they were forked from the same tree and share the Gecko engine.
  • This saddens me. I'm convinced that this is essentially because Thunderbird is not the cash cow that Firefox is, and the Mozilla Foundation/Corporation have lost interest.

    Firefox is cool, and exciting - and it generates millions of dollars in kickbacks from Google from the default search bar. Thunderbid enjoys no such advantage. What's more, there are several good alternatives to Thunderbird, and a smaller development community. I can't help thinking this mainly comes down to politics within Mozilla,
  • by mmcguigan ( 677816 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @06:57PM (#20003871)
    If anyone is surprised by this move, they weren't paying attention.

    MoFo/MoCo are owned in a serious financial way by Google. Remember the Mozilla Suite was dumped in a similar, though worse, manner just a few years ago when Google poored money all over the cash strapped Mozilla that AOL left behind. Google wasn't interested in financing the suite. Google probably stipulates that their financing only go to Firefox development, where Google is front and center in the users face. Google isn't likely to help finance a mail client where they don't see any return on investment. Google wants you to use Gmail for the ads.

    The funds Mozilla had before the Google deal were likely diverted from the suite to Thunderbird and other applications. Mozilla has likely exhausted those funds now. Thunderbird developers should join the SeaMonkey community. Together the community and the projects might survive this.

    Future prediction of a friend: When the government cracks down on MoFo's shady tax history, MoFo will go under and Google will likely buy MoCo and spin it as if they saved Mozilla. []
  • by RonBurk ( 543988 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @07:01PM (#20003915) Homepage Journal
    Just like closed-source, for-profit orgs. OSS is really growing up! :-)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    While Thunderbird is a great product (use pine myself), Mozilla are failing to rise to the challenge. Resigning themselves to one success story and passing the buck isn't a long term strategy. I've installed Thunderbird on many customers desktops because when it fits the bill, it is IMHO the best client.

    Perhaps Mozilla need a business orientated product manager to take Thunderbird out into the world. In ditching XULRunner and now looking to rid themselves of TB, they're left fighting a losing battle. Imagin
  • gmail (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @07:10PM (#20004021) Homepage
    Thunderbird has to compete with not only client-side apps like Outlook and Eudora, but also webmail packages, which are becoming very sophisticated thanks to AJAX. Years ago, webmail sucked - limited space, no search ability, etc. But now it is really good, and I'm finding I envy my colleagues who don't need Remote Desktop to check their email. I even wonder if POP3's future is looking grim.
  • by Orion Blastar ( 457579 ) <> on Thursday July 26, 2007 @08:04PM (#20004533) Homepage Journal
    I hope they make Thunderbird have features like Outlook has, but without the security flaws.

    The Calendar extension needs more work, and so does the Address book. I need to be able to get the Address book to export to Outlook CSVs so that I can import them into my Yahoo address book, or my Timex Datalink Watch or iPaq because the Thunderbird CSV files don't work with those applications.

    Having data syncing with the calendar and address book with mobile devices, PDAs, watches, etc would be a good thing as well.
  • by neurocutie ( 677249 ) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @08:04PM (#20004547)
    From the website:

    The Mozilla Foundation was established in July 2003 as a California not-for-profit corporation dedicated to the public benefit.
    There are many different ways of advancing the principles of the Mozilla Manifesto. We welcome a broad range of activities, and anticipate the same creativity that Mozilla participants have shown in other areas of the project.
    It seems that in focussing on Firefox, Mozilla is forgeting the whole point of their existence. It is a dangerous path...

    - They are becoming beholden to Google and a single project (Firefox). We don't need another Opera (nothing wrong with Opera per se), or another browser created by yet another software company. OSS is supposed to be a *different* business model, with a *broader* vision, benefitting the public, not just Google proxies or lackies.

    -It would seem that they endanger their status as a 501c3 public charity/foundation, and thus their tax-exempt status. IIRC, a 501c3 cannot accept more than 10% of their funding from any one source. At the moment Mozilla is rapidly looking like they are doing coding for hire (Firefox for Google).

    - Pushing Thunderbird forward *within* Mozilla would at least maintain some sense that 1) they are promulgating a broader mission, 2) they are doing more than what Google asks them to.

    - If Google's funding is truly earmarked for Firefox (as suggested in this thread), Mozilla should end that right now, and stipulate to Google that at least some reasonable fraction of their "donation" (e.g. 30%) MUST be in the form of an "unrestricted grant", that could and will be use for other projects in the foundation, like Thunderbird.

    Mozilla is nuts for focusing on Firefox at the expense of Thunderbird. They are losing sight of their entire unique contribution to the community, and their larger mission.

    Email is an essential function of the Internet and modern computing. If Thunderbird isn't doing so well, Mozilla should be fixing the problem and addressing those issues head-on, rather than jettisoning and punting on it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dghcasp ( 459766 )

      Email is an essential function of the Internet and modern computing.

      No, email has become an essential function for informing me how I can use {herbal, synthetic, generic} products to expand my {penis, breasts, volume}.

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead