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Mozilla Businesses

Email Client Thunderbird To Stay With The Mozilla Foundation, Sort Of (mozilla.org) 100

Philipp Kewisch, writing for Mozilla: The investigations on Thunderbird's future home have concluded. The Mozilla Foundation has agreed to serve as the legal and fiscal home for the Thunderbird project, but Thunderbird will migrate off Mozilla Corporation infrastructure, separating the operational aspects of the project. [...] The Mozilla Foundation has agreed to continue as Thunderbird's legal, fiscal and cultural home, with the following provisos:
1. The Thunderbird Council (see footnote) and the Mozilla Foundation executive team maintain a good working relationship and make decisions in a timely manner.
2. The Thunderbird Council and the team make meaningful progress in short order on operational and technical independence from Mozilla Corporation.
3. Either side may give the other six months notice if they wish to discontinue the Mozilla Foundation's role as the legal and fiscal host of the Thunderbird project.
In a conversation with Slashdot, a spokesperson of Mozilla acknowledged that the general sentiment is "Thunderbird code needs to be modernized and the dependencies on the Mozilla code framework need to be reduced. This may include re-implementing or migrating features to make better use of web technologies."

(Footnote: Back in 2012, Mozilla announced that it would reallocate most of the paid project members to other projects, handing off the responsibility for the project to the volunteer community that had formed around Thunderbird. This group met in Toronto in 2014 to discuss the future of Thunderbird and formed the Thunderbird Council, a group of individuals that has the power to make business decisions going forward.)
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Email Client Thunderbird To Stay With The Mozilla Foundation, Sort Of

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  • Stagnation (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Thunderbird is the best of a bad bunch, but it hasn't improved in ten years -- and it needs improvement.
    Firefox is dead at this point. It can't even compete with Chrome and what does Chrome offer exactly? Multicore tabs so CSS and javascript can bring even i7's to their knees. Great.

    My desktop feels like it's been standing still for the last ten years, where it hasn't been going backwards. This is across OSes, applications, windows managers and fricken monitor resolutions come to think of it. And suddenly w

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Firefox is far from dead. It has the best suite of privacy plugins.

      I don't care about javascript performance: enabling it by default is a HUGE attack surface. A large fraction of all the web based exploits of the last 10 years have used javascript to get their foot in the door. Even when they attack other things they usually use javascript to enable the attack. I enable it for my banking sites, and almost nothing else, so performance of the JS engine is something I care about almost as much as whether i

      • Re:Stagnation (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 09, 2017 @10:53AM (#54384195)

        It is true that FF has the best privacy plugins TODAY. But that is no longer going to be true once they change to Chrome's plugin architecture. [mozilla.org]. It will be on equivalent terms to other browsers then and a lot of low level customization potential is going to be lost.

        Face it, mass surveillance is winning on the web. Once all the major browsers restrict what you can do with plugins, and require all plugins be signed so there is top-down control of the whole ecosystem, you may as well give up.

        • Once all the major browsers restrict what you can do with plugins, and require all plugins be signed so there is top-down control of the whole ecosystem, you may as well give up.

          Or we could stop just accepting self-updating software that doesn't understand the difference between an important security patch, expendable changes in functionality or UI, and changes that actually reduce functionality and make things not work when they worked before. The latter is an area where browsers have been particularly awful for some time.

          There are already projects attempting to move in this direction based on the Firefox code. Perhaps we should do more to support them and raise their profile.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      tablets aren't a mistake ... trying to force everything to use a tablet friendly UI is a mistake.

    • Re:Stagnation (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Inviska ( 4955697 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2017 @10:47AM (#54384157)

      The lack of "improvement" is what keeps Thunderbird good. Could you imagine if it had been "improved" in the same way that Firefox has. The user interface would be a train wreck, it would have all sorts of wonderful plugins like Pocket, they'd be planning on breaking all extensions by the end of the year and every new release would remove features.

      No, I'm very happy that Mozilla have left Thunderbird well alone. Sure, there are a few bugs that could be fixed, but compared to the alternative of Mozilla continuing developing, I'd rather keep the bugs.

      • But then it would look and act like a mediocre Chrome-clone, and that's clearly what the consumers desire. How can you be so cruel as to deprive the consumers of their choice?
      • Re:Stagnation (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2017 @12:44PM (#54385093)

        Exactly. I don't really understand the need of everyone to continuously vary UI design, add/remove non-core "features," and turn a piece of familiar software into an unfamiliar one every year or two.

        Well, I understand the profit motive for proprietary software. But for something like Thunderbird? It's mature. It has had basically all the core email functions the vast majority of people want for many years. Why mess with it?

        Core software is often used as a TOOL. People want their tools to keep working the same way they always have, once a reasonably good tool design is achieved.

        Could you imagine if the software design folks did the same crap to actual real-world tools? How about Hammer 2.0?

        Designer: Welcome to the unveiling of our new carpenter's line, for the modern carpenter! Have a look at our new Hammer 2.0, designed for sleekness and portability.
        Carpenter: Uh, where's the claw?
        Designer: We decided to focus on the "core functionality" of the hammer in our new design. Most people use the claw less than the striking surface, so we installed a retractable claw that you access by swiping the base of the head and then pushing this button.
        Carpenter: [tries button] Woah! Okay. I guess that's cool. But wait, when I let go of the button, the claw retracts again. What if I want to pull a bunch of nails? I don't want to have to swipe and press the button every time. Holding it down is awkward.
        Designer: We installed an enhanced "safety" mode on all our hammers, to avoid accidents. You never know when you might fall on the claw of a hammer and hurt yourself!
        Carpenter: But, that basically never happens. I mean, sure it can, but there are loads of other accidents that happen around much worse tools. I just want a hammer that does what my old one did. I mean, what if I want to use the hammer to pry up something or maybe even beat the back of it into some old drywall to tear it down. You're telling me I need to hold down a darn button the whole time?
        Designer: Well, we have other tools that might be more appropriate for such a task. And our test users found Hammer 2.0 to be excellent for common tasks like hanging pictures and assembling Ikea furniture.

        Carpenter: Uh, I'm a carpenter. I use a hammer for a lot more than that. And it was just a simple device that could do a bunch of things. Why can't I just have a non-retractable claw??
        Designer: Oh, well, if you really insist, we sell a Legacy Claw Dongle for $19.95 that will allow you to leave the claw facing out without holding the button.
        Carpenter: That seems pretty pricey for what used to be a standard feature. Okay, well, I guess at least I'll try it. But wait, this thing is way too light. What's it made out of?
        Designer: It's a blend of components made of proprietary metallic features and some heavy plastic components.
        Carpenter: But I need a heavier hammer!
        Designer: Our testing scenarios indicated that people preferred a lighter and more portable product when doing common tasks like hanging pictures.
        Carpenter: Again with the "hanging pictures"... see, real people actually use hammers to do WORK. Like hammering nails into hard wood or even metal. Even if this material holds up to that sort of stress, I need a certain weight to the hammer to drive nails in efficiently!
        Designer: Sir, I think if you just try our Hammer 2.0, you'll realize its superiority!

        Carpenter: Okay, fine. I'll give it a shot. [Attempts to hammer nail; the hammer flies out of his hand and across the room.] WOAH! What the heck?!
        Designer: Oh, we forgot to mention -- you need to wear our special Handyman Glove 2.0 accessory or else you won't be able to grip the slick surface of the hammer properly, which we made out of new space-age materials.
        Carpenter: WHAA?! I can't use my normal work gloves or maybe just my bare hands?

        • Could you imagine if the software design folks did the same crap to actual real-world tools? How about Hammer 2.0?

          Very good! The Hammer 2.0 Slashdot post might be one for the ages. Wish I had some modders to hand out...

        • by Merk42 ( 1906718 )
          Meanwhile:
          Designer:: Welcome to the unveiling of our "house"! It protects from the environments keeps one safe and warm and even allows multiple levels!.
          Luddite: What? Me no need house! Me live in cave!
          Designer: Aren't you cold at night? Living in fear of animals and intruders? Dirty from the soiled ground?
          Luddite: NO! CHANGE BAD! CHANGE BAD!
          • by Anonymous Coward

            The "house" most of us live in keeps us tied to the almighty dollar, working our asses off all our lives so the bank doesn't take our house away. If I had the option of a mortgage-free cave to live in I'd seriously consider it. Fuck would life be a lot simpler.

        • Compare that to an alternative reality:

          Recently, DeWaldt released a new hammer. They hired engineers who understood hammering, metallurgy, and physics to improve the hammer. These people worked on it, and released a new hammer.

          Every aspect of the new hammer was at least as good as the old hammer, or better. To a casual observer, the hammer didn't look much different, but the weight was distributed throughout the body to maximize power and control. The head was serrated with an improved pattern to improv
      • Agreed. TB has been rock steady for me for years. I like that.

        • Exactly. I switched to KMail for a bit because of shiny features, but unfortunately KMail was being actively developed and the developers kept breaking it. Had to migrate back to Thunderbird so that I could count on my mail always working.

      • by bankman ( 136859 )

        The lack of "improvement" is what keeps Thunderbird good.

        But, but it doesn't have stories..... ;-)

      • by Malc ( 1751 )

        How long has it taken them to add maildir? There are plenty of improvements that they could have done long ago without getting in to faffing around with resource sucking eye candy.

      • Thunderbird never managed to deal with my 10GB IMAP mailbox. It kept randomly freezing for hours trying to re-index stuff even when disabling everything I could, and that's when it even managed to start.
        I moved to GMail, and learnt to deal with Google shit web UI, because at least it scales.

    • Thunderbird is the best of a bad bunch, but it hasn't improved in ten years -- and it needs improvement.

      Thunderbird does everything I want and nothing I don't. The best thing they can do is leave it alone as far as I'm concerned.

      What gives me the heebie-jeebies is when they say they need to "modernize the code base." If they can do it without breaking something then fine, have at it. Otherwise, leave well enough alone please.

  • That Mozilla will fix Thunderbird to connect to my iCloud account? That stopped working several months ago and I haven't found a fix for it.. I've had no problems accessing my dozen other email accounts, but none of those are iCloud accounts.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Good luck with that...

      https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=402132

      https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/1028205

      https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=562748

      They've left GMail IMAP partially broken, with drafts not getting cleaned up and just accumulating endlessly. I've got some threads where there's 50 freakin auto saved drafts of the same mail. This bug has been reported for over 7yr and the best response is "don't use drafts".

      How about also they allow the option of clicking on an accou

      • They've left GMail IMAP partially broken, with drafts not getting cleaned up and just accumulating endlessly. I've got some threads where there's 50 freakin auto saved drafts of the same mail. This bug has been reported for over 7yr and the best response is "don't use drafts".

        Huh. I've been seeing this same behavior accessing Gmail via IMAP from Apple Mail... are you sure this isn't actually an IMAP support bug at Google's end?

        On Apple Mail, the "solution" is to save drafts locally instead of on in Gmail's Drafts folder.

    • When I recently enabled two-factor authentication on my iCloud email, it broke Thunderbird.

      There is a workaround - app-specific passwords [apple.com].

      Fixed Thunderbird for my iCloud email, anyway...

      • When I recently enabled two-factor authentication on my iCloud email, it broke Thunderbird.

        I just turned off two-factor authentication for my iCloud account and everything works now.

    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      That Mozilla will fix Thunderbird to connect to my iCloud account? That stopped working several months ago and I haven't found a fix for it..

      Don't know what your issue is, but I have an iCloud account, Yahoo account, Hotmail account, and a Gmail account all set up in my Thunderbird and they all work fine.

    • I might be more incline to go with Alpine [washington.edu] email client. I used Pine for several years when I only had a dial-up UNIX account. Not sure if Alpine can handle a dozen email accounts.
  • by rklrkl ( 554527 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2017 @10:27AM (#54384045) Homepage

    I doubt it will happen now considering that Thunderbird has been in a no-new-features mode for years, but it's a shame they never got around to creating Thunderbird on Android. They've had Firefox on Android for ages and it does share some of the core code with Thunderbird (on the desktop version at least), so they wouldn't be starting from scratch on Android.

  • I use it daily. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wildstoo ( 835450 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2017 @10:32AM (#54384067)
    I've used Thunderbird as my primary POP3 mail client for about 12 years. I don't really care about new features or improved performance. Just fix bugs and security holes and keep it ticking along, and I'll keep using it.

    ...re-implementing or migrating features to make better use of web technologies

    This has started alarm bells ringing in my head...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Berzelius ( 558040 )
      Thunderbird is one of the few open source multiplatform mail clients I really like. I would be more than willing to make a periodic financial contribution. I know there are more users who feel the same about Thunderbird.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I'd be willing too, because there aren't many usable email clients left anymore after everyone has pushed to give their email to Google. I doubt there would be enough of us though. And even if we did, they'd probably still take the project in wretched directions. I'd be a lot more willing to fund them out of my pocket if they at least put a gentleman's-agreement out there about the direction they wanted to go with it. Then I can evaluate whether that's the direction I want to fund.

    • Exactly. Email is a nice, stable standard that mostly Just Works. An email client can be the same, and that will do just fine if the alternative is everything breaking every five minutes because someone couldn't follow a standard or didn't want to bother maintaining the ancient code they wrote last month.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      Ditto with SeaMonkey that uses Thunderbird's mail and Gecko engine (same as Firefox's).

  • by Jody Bruchon ( 3404363 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2017 @10:45AM (#54384145)
    The "problem" with Thunderbird is that it's a very mature product. It has quirks, yes, but it is very near the pinnacle of what an email client should be. It handles loads of messages (I've seen hundreds of thousands in a single folder) and accounts very well. It is easy to migrate from one machine to another. It is a cross-platform program in the sense that the exact same code base is used for all major platforms and behaves almost identically. It has calendaring and can integrate with Google services at no cost. It makes Outlook look like a piece of shit (hint: Outlook really is a piece of shit) and if there were some way to attach an Exchange account to it then Outlook would probably start to slowly die off.

    Security fixes and minor updates to keep it from crashing as systems evolve are all Thunderbird ever needs. Thunderbird was a mature product a very long time ago (in software development terms) and the main reason it keeps getting updated is because it shares a lot of code with Firefox and Mozilla is an organization that simply cannot resist fucking with things for the sake of fuckery and little else. The absolutely retarded "Correspondents" column introduction is a prime example of Mozilla just not being a good company anymore. Mozilla has become the Lennart Poettering of Web software: stupid decisions are "features" and closed with WONTFIX or NOTABUG. I stopped using their feedback system because they don't ever listen, so why bother? The one good thing about Thunderbird is that Mozilla has largely ignored it and that's exactly what Thunderbird users want, especially after the Chromification of the UI. Chrome's UI and options panel are both utter shit. Luckily you can turn the menu bar back on in Thunderbird and get the full options and functionality back.

    Someone above referred to how lame it is that there's no Thunderbird for Android. Check out K-9 Mail; it's a lot better than the stupid mail apps that come with phones and if Thunderbird ever made it to Android it wouldn't be far off from what K-9 is. Also K-9 lets you import/export your mail settings so you can migrate it to a new phone easily.
    • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) *

      It makes Outlook look like a piece of shit (hint: Outlook really is a piece of shit) and if there were some way to attach an Exchange account to it then Outlook would probably start to slowly die off.

      Have you looked into DavMail?

      davmail.sourceforge.net [sourceforge.net]

      • No. The functionality really needs to be part of Thunderbird itself, not a Java-based "repeater" of sorts. With Thunderbird proper I can tell a user how to install it over the phone easily. That program would require adding Java to the mix and a lot more links get added to the chain that can break and cause extra support issues.
    • I switched to Pale Moon for browsing several months ago, and couldn't be happier. It's what Firefox should be (and used to be).

      I used Thunderbird for about a year back in the mid-2000s, but it just seemed too heavyweight for me. I am not saying it is a bad email client at all. I just got tired of it and how slow it seemed. I switched back to what I used to use, and have been using it ever since. pine. Yes, you read that right. I run fetchmail to pull in several email accounts to my local one, and I u

    • Someone above referred to how lame it is that there's no Thunderbird for Android. Check out K-9 Mail; it's a lot better than the stupid mail apps that come with phones and if Thunderbird ever made it to Android it wouldn't be far off from what K-9 is

      Ruh roh

      After a couple years break, the K-9 Mail project participates in this year’s Google Summer of Code program. We are taking two students, who will join us in our ongoing effort to make K-9 Mail a modern, fully-featured, and easy to use e-mail client! [github.io]

    • Agreed with your comment. Thunderbird is a mature product that really doesn't need much additional work other than bug and security fixes. From Thunderbird, I can send and receive email with multiple services, including local mail.

      For those who want calendaring, the Lightning plugin works reasonably well. Enigmail similarly works for those who would like to actually have the ability to send send encrypted messages. For myself, I don't need much else. There is no reason to bloat on features just to have "d

    • I used to use K-9, but I think Aqua is even better: http://www.aqua-mail.com/?page... [aqua-mail.com]

    • We use Thunderbird at work for all our emails, and I agree that it is a mainly mature and stable system.

      For a mature product however it is odd to me that it still use 32 bit addressing for its POP3 storage - for a POP3 account it will store all the emails for a given mail folder as a single file and it will locate the particular email in that file using a 32 bit offset, which obviously means that the largest any folder in your email hierarchy can ever get is 4.2GB.

      4.2GB is a ridiculously low limit on an ema

    • I am able to use Thunderbird for our companies exchange server. Mail I connect through IMAP, calendar I use lightning with Exchange EWS, and contacts have native exchange ability. It took me about 30 minutes to get everything configured so it's not a real option for most users.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    To be taken seriously Thunderbird really needs native support for EWS and increasingly EAS. Nowadays it's getting harder and harder to use TB instead of Outlook because Exchange admins are quite happy to not enable IMAP.

    There are workarounds for EWS such as DavMail [sourceforge.net] but it's not brilliant (no fault of DavMail at all) but no solution where EAS only is enforced.

  • For people looking for EWS integration with Thunderbird... been using this for about a year now, without any issues:

    https://github.com/Ericsson/ex... [github.com]

    Not sure what, if anything, can easily be done to support the EAS side of things.
    • It's not actively developed and stopped working when TB 52 came out. A few people are trying to pick up the pieces and get it working again but IMHO EWS and EWS ought to be core protocols and not reliant on add-ons. EAS is awkward, although the protocol seems to be documented it's complex and there may be patent issues (thanks MS).
      • Explains a lot, I've apparently been rotting on 45.8.0 this whole time.
        • Well, since March. Haven't been keeping up with their release notes; I guess they ditched the rapid-release silliness to a degree... quite some time ago.
  • Thunderbird is the first software I install.
  • Need? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AndyKron ( 937105 ) on Tuesday May 09, 2017 @12:43PM (#54385081)
    It gets my mail, I read my mail, what updating does it need?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The main advantage of TB is that I keep MY mail on MY disks on MY system. I don't have to depend on some corporation to do it for me, and I can see my mail even if the internet is broken. If I want more safety, then I can COPY the stuff to the cloud wherever and in whatever encrypted or obfuscated form I like.

    The UI works just fine. Yes, it could be improved, but all the "improvements" to the UI in the past 10 years were useless bloat and distractions.

    The real danger is when ISPs block running mail serve

  • Thunderbird(s) are still Go! It's about perfect in my opinion.

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