Thunderbird 3 Beta

I decided recently to give a new mail client a whirl. Evolution, while an excellent client, appears to be a bit clunky with IMAP. I specifically have all of my mail go through GMail, and I access with IMAP. Evolution seems to be a bit slow when doing this. I had heard about the new IMAP speed enhancements in the Thunderbird 3, Beta so I figured I would give it a go.

Traditionally, I have not stuck with Thunderbird. I used to use it years ago, but I have got used to the integration niceties that Evolution gives me. I like that Evolution integrates into my desktop, gives me a nice panel applet, hooks into Tom Boy and my clock applet and other things. Right now Thunderbird still feels like an application that merely runs on top of the desktop as opposed to integrating into it. Thunderbird 3 is better with regards to this, but still has a way to go. So, I installed Thunderbird 3, installed the Tango theme Add In (to get as much integration as I can), adjusted my fonts to the same as Evolution and started trucking.

So far, it seems like a really nice client. Thunderbird offers some incredible opportunity. Messaging is a critical part of everyone’s use of computers, and Thunderbird has the opportunity to become a household name in this very area. It would be incredible to have a cross platform, native messaging application that talks to the different types of mail protocols and hooks into webmail services such as GMail. Fortunately, Thunderbird provides the guts of this approach: its IMAP and POP works well, and setting up GMail POP or IMAP access is a breeze.

There was however one snag with GMail IMAP access. Today Thunderbird threw the following dialog box at me:

Alert Dialog: Lockdown In Sector 4 (Failure)

This message is completely meaningless. Whoever is responsible for the error, Thunderbird or Google, should consider how on earth a regular user such as myself is going to interpret that message. It sounds like something from Doom III. After a bit of Googling it turns out that this error means that I have been locked out of GMail for up to 24 hours when it detects excessive traffic. This is strange for two reasons. Firstly, I have not been using excessive traffic: in fact, my email traffic dropped last week with UDS going on. Secondly, when I log into GMail via the web interface, everything works fine. So, it seems GMail is blocking access to Thunderbird. Arse.

I have never seen this when accessing GMail via Evolution. Maybe the Thunderbird folks should check into seeing if the client is hammering GMail too hard?

Overall, Thunderbird shows incredible promise, and as I said earlier, it contains pretty much all of the core functionality that I would need (of course, Windows fans will need Exchange support, and I am not sure of the progress on that). Where I would like to see Mozilla Messaging spend their time is on focusing on the integration side of the client and the user interface. In terms of integration we should see Thunderbird neatly fit into the desktop, taking on the resident theme, menu icons, accessibility, font settings, dialog button ordering, MIME types, and also have an unobtrusive panel applet for notifications (the current huge notification is ugly).

It would also be useful for Mozilla Messaging to spend some time on interaction testing. Some of the development work going into the exptoolbar is looking interesting, but I would love to see an assessment of how people work with mail, how approaches to messaging vary and how Thunderbird can capitalise on this.

Thunderbird offers an incredible opportunity for a client that feels native, effective and matches a variety of workflow approaches, making the most of Operating System integration and a consistent messaging platform. Keep us all updated Mozilla folks. :)

  • timri

    It’s a gmail thing: http://mail.google.com/support/bin/search.py?query=lockdown&ctx=en%3Asearchbox

    From time to time Google thinks I am spamming (to:myself and bcc:mynewsletterrecipients) and I get that lockdown. Have to go through the web interface, login, solve a captcha and it’s unlocked again. Very annoying.

  • http://marnanel.org Thomas Thurman

    “Lockdown in sector 4″ is a GMail error. It means you’re accessing your mail over IMAP or POP in a way they don’t like (i.e. their server probably thinks you’re spamming or using the service as a filestore). The support message gives these reasons:

    • Receiving, deleting, or popping out large amounts of mail (via POP) in a short period of time
    • Sending a large number of undeliverable messages (messages that bounce back)
    • Using third party file-sharing or storing software, or software that automatically logs in to your account and that is not supported by Gmail
    • Multiple instances of your Gmail account opened
    • Browser-related issues. Please note that if you find your browser continually reloading while attempting to access your inbox, it is likely a browser issue.
  • timri

    Oh, sorry. Forgot to add I use Thunderbird 2 + pop.

  • Smarter

    “I specifically have all of my mail go through GMail, and I access with IMAP. Evolution seems to be a bit slow when doing this.” You might want to take a look athttps://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2008-December/026981.html

  • http://blondechris.com/ Chris Cunningham

    This looks like it’s Google’s doing (just in case for some reason you hadn’t, umm, Googled this yet).

    • Chris
  • http://blondechris.com/ Chris Cunningham

    And I should read blog posts more carefully. Argh. Feel free to baleet that last comment.

  • http://automorphic.blogspot.com Sandy

    Jono, nice post. I downloaded beta 1 and am happy with the performance improvements over TB2. Where did you get the Tango Theme? I went to addons.mozilla.org, but when I tried to install it I was told it wasn’t compatible. Should I be going somewhere else?

  • http://www.alexhudson.com/blog/2008/12/15/thunderbird-3/ Thunderbird 3 « Alex’s Blog

    [...] Jono, whose experiences with Tbird 3 are worth a read, I’ve been a loyal Thunderbird user for a few years now – in fact, [...]

  • http://gordallott.blogsite.org Gord Allott

    I too use thunderbird because of problems with evolution (namly not up to par gpg support and bad imap support), this is not a good situation to be in, its nearly 2009, why do we still struggle to create a good email client?

  • SW

    I can’t even post to usenet with TB3 beta. Back to TB2 for me… works just fine.

  • http://www.happyassassin.net Adam Williamson

    It’s odd, people have been complaining about IMAP in Evo for years (and Evo’s IMAP support has been basically rewritten more than once), but I’ve been using it in an IMAP setup for ages and I find it fine.

    It could possibly be because my server isn’t really remote – I run my own IMAP server on the local network, and that’s what Evo is connecting to. But in my setup, Evo performs perfectly well. I’ve tried Thunderbird, Claws and couple of others on occasion, and liked them considerably less than Evo. They just don’t feel right. I haven’t tried a recent TBird beta, though – I read it’s grown GNOME integration now. That might be nice.

  • jono

    Smarter:

    You might want to take a look athttps://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-devel/2008-December/026981.html

    Thanks for that. Downloaded the packasge via PPA and going to give it a go when my access is back. Thanks!

    Sandy:

    Jono, nice post. I downloaded beta 1 and am happy with the performance improvements over TB2. Where did you get the Tango Theme? I went to addons.mozilla.org, but when I tried to install it I was told it wasn’t compatible. Should I be going somewhere else?

    Thanks, Sandy! Check out https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/addon/2258 :)

    Adam Williamson:

    It could possibly be because my server isn’t really remote – I run my own IMAP server on the local network, and that’s what Evo is connecting to.

    I suspect so. I never had issues when I ran an IMAP server.

  • Jason

    It always amazes me when people obtain a beta product released for testing purposes, and then complain and point fingers when they come across programming/development error or debug messages. That module or piece of code may be right in the middle of full development, or specifically cryptic so that the developer can track or ‘force’ users to report it without ignoring it or looking for workarounds, and the issue is never reported.

  • http://www.happyassassin.net Adam Williamson

    “I suspect so. I never had issues when I ran an IMAP server.”

    Ah. I guess that explains why I’m always scratching my head when people talk about Evo’s terrible IMAP support, then. :)

  • http://www.visophyte.org/blog/ Andrew Sutherland

    Thunderbird 3 introduces auto-sync logic with a default preference to store all IMAP messages offline by default. Although Thunderbird is not ridiculously aggressive about the downloading, it is automatically fetching things, which is certainly more aggressive than previous versions’ not-downloading.

    The error message is a result of Thunderbird just presenting the user with what the server said. Clearly, it would be useful to have Thunderbird say “The google server said:”, but it’s still an odd/not so useful choice for an error message that needs to get shown to the user…

  • jono

    Jason:

    It always amazes me when people obtain a beta product released for testing purposes, and then complain and point fingers when they come across programming/development error or debug messages. That module or piece of code may be right in the middle of full development, or specifically cryptic so that the developer can track or ‘force’ users to report it without ignoring it or looking for workarounds, and the issue is never reported.

    Sorry, Jason – this was not meant as an unconstructive gripe. It was more of an observation. You are right though, I should file a bug. I am just not sure whether I should file it with Google or Mozilla – I guess the stupid error is a Google bug, but it would be nice for TB to pretty it up a bit.

  • http://www.calcifer.org/ Germán Póo-Caamaño

    For Gmail, you can improve the performance of Evolution showing only subscirbed folder. You can subscribe to everything, except Gmail/All Mails.

    Evolution 2.24 feels slow because it tries to fetch the headers before to give the control back, and the “virtual” folder Gmail/All Mails is a bit big.

    I never have used it before, so it is not a big deal to no subscribe it.

  • http://berndth.blogspot.com/ hb

    Concerning your remarks about integration into GNOME: This is not only to be blamed on Thunderbird, but GNOME sometimes tends to make it hard for 3rd party applications to properly integrate into the desktop. Lets take an example that you mentioned: Having your calendar events show up in the clock applet. Instead of allowing a standard event interchange format, such as iCal subscriptions, GNOME only allows feeding the clock applet from EDS exclusively. Just compare the enhancement bug reports to GNOME and Xfce.

  • http://linuxoutlaws.com Fab

    Oh sweet mother of God! That popup is priceless. The Doom comment is spot on as well…. :lol:

  • Alberto

    Well, I’m still stucked on Thunderbird 2 (using KDE) but I want to change to Gnome and one of the issues if e-mail software.

    I haven’t been able to send attachments on GMail over IMAP. There is no way. Always the server rejects the message.

    And I know to people who use Evolution, and got no problems.

    So, I want to change my e-mail software to Evolution.

  • http://automorphic.blogspot.com Sandy

    Thanks, Sandy! Check out https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/addon/2258 :)

    Yeah, that’s what I tried, and TB tells me it’s not compatible when I try to load it. But I see it might have problems for Lightning users, so I’m better off not using it anyway, I guess.

    Really hoping the tango updates Bryan et al have been blogging about get into TB3 soon! :-)

  • http://boycottnovell.com/2008/12/17/64-bit-java/ Boycott Novell » Links 17/12/2008: 64-bit Java, Toledo for F/OSS

    [...] Thunderbird 3 Beta [...]

  • http://www.gastongarcia.com Gaston

    I had been using the previous version, Shredder 2. After installing Thunderbird 3 Beta I had problems like yours.

    I delted the account. Added it again, and now it’s working perfectly.

    I’ve got no explanation to the problem, but doing it twice did the job.

  • Peter

    If you want to access Yahoo mail via imap and Thunderbird, then please read and download at:

    http://www.aliasbailbonds.com/KeeForm/category/thunderbird