Thunderbird and Ubuntu

Regarding Fabián’s concerns about Ubuntu and Thunderbird, I can assure you that Canonical’s stance has not changed: we will continue to ship the brightest and best Free Software by default in Ubuntu. In terms of email clients, today’s choice is considered to be Thunderbird…at another time it may be another app.

Importantly, Thunderbird will be supported with security updates for the next five years as promised with the current 12.04LTS.

For those of you who prefer other email clients, there are many wonderful options in the Ubuntu Software Center.

Part of assessing our default application selection is assessing vitality and upstream activity. This will undoubtedly be considered in the case of Thunderbird in future Ubuntu releases, but let’s not forget something: just because a commercial entity decides to scale back their investment in an application, it doesn’t mean the project is going to die or bit-rot. What it will do is put some additional pressure on that community to attract new developers and participants and to continue growing and evolving the application. There is a great opportunity ahead for the Thunderbird community to grow, expand, and attract fresh new blood.

If you are critical of the news about Mozilla stepping back from investing in Thunderbird, why not join the Thunderbird community and help? From what I can tell, there are many ways of helping the Thunderbird community; see here for how to join the project.

In terms of the relevance of email on the desktop, speaking personally, I don’t consider Thunderbird to have solved all email challenges. There are many opportunities for improving, extending and refining Thunderbird, and I think the app could see some great work in terms of design, desktop integration, and email within the context of a social Internet. I really hope the Thunderbird community focuses on the wealth of opportunity that still lies at Thunderbird’s feet, and continues to grow and extend their community. While I am busy with my own things here, I am more than happy to provide any input or guidance on Thunderbird community growth and ideas if needed.

  • Jo-Erlend Schinstad

    I think what worries people is 1) Mozilla is abandoning Thunderbird, and 2) people won’t mind because everyone is using web-mail anyway.  I believe both are wrong.

    The way I understand Mozilla is that development will continue, but that innovation is reduced. I see that as a good thing. There are bugs that I hope will get fixed, but I don’t think there’s any need to change how it’s supposed to work. One of the benefits of free software is the ability for products to be completed. In the proprietary world, completion is seen as a bad thing because it reduces the potential for renewal of licenses. But I see email as the hammer of the internet. It’s a tool that is working well and gets the job done.

    But the idea that we no longer need Thunderbird because Microsoft and Google provides good web-mail, is a little bit frightening. I think the idea that “all you need is web” is very exaggerated. I don’t see HTML &al as a real competitor yet, and I see no reason why it should ever be considered superior to native applications.

  • Stefano Costa

    “commercial entity”? Mozilla?

  • Benjamin Kerensa

    Good Catch. Mozilla is a non-profit :)

  • gamoe

    Though I do prefer desktop e-Mail clients, I find it hard to criticize Mozilla for leaving it behind, considering how many people have either left or never known desktop e-Mail clients these days. Mozilla after all, has a lot of work on its hands simply maintaining and updating Firefox and wants to enter into new areas (such mobile operating systems) in order to stay relevant and continue providing value and another open-source option.

    I’m not sure why you’re calling Mozilla a commercial entity, however. Is this merely an error? The issue for me is that Mozilla, like any other organization, especially a non-profit one, has limited resources and needs to choose how to use them wisely. Perhaps they found that a desktop e-Mail client no longer meets that criteria or demand.

    You are correct in that just because they aren’t supporting anymore doesn’t mean it won’t be around nor that people have to start freaking out. It can thrive, as long as there is a community there to support it. That’s the beauty of open-source and software libre.

  • Benjamin Kerensa

    Innovation is gone when it comes to paid employees working on Thunderbird although Critical Bugs and Security Fixes will continue. If you look at major feature commits to the Thunderbird Repo you will see much of the Innovation came from paid staff.

  • Anonymous

    Then please do and join the community conversation that we are having on Tb- planning  see

  • Manish Sinha

    There are two Mozillas. Mozilla Foundation and Corporation but the Corporation doesn’t deal much with projects

  • Craig

    The picture is awesome…  I’m hoping tbird doesn’t die.  Believe it or not, we in rural Maine don’t always have a cell signal, so emails stored on a laptop (or phone/tablet I guess) is a good thing.  Strictly web based email doesn’t work that way…

  • nll

    Yeah, it makes absolutely no sense for Free Software advocates to get into the closed-source Google apps bandwagon. Handing over a very important part of our lives to the spy/spamware corporations is just crazy.

    I’m a heavy user of Thunderbird both for e-mail and RSS and I’m very satisfied with its current state in Ubuntu. I understand what is the reasoning behind this decision by Mozilla, but I would be really sad to see it go. But this is good news in a way: Thunderbird is already the best e-mail client around, now it will become the most rock-solid one.

  • Jo-Erlend Schinstad

     It’s not so much paranoia that drives me. I’ve never seen a HTML UI that can be compared to a native UI witten in GTK/Qt or similar in terms of either usability or speed. I remember the last time people were hyping the web, with DHTML in the late nineties. Then too, the desktop was supposed to die. It didn’t. I think native applications aren’t going anywhere.

    I like Thunderbird very well as an email client, though it’s not perfect. There are some small issues with quotes in the composer, for instance. I hope those will go away in time, but it’s not a big deal anyway. But I really like the design as is. I see no need for more “innovation”. If it can now go into a long-term maintenance mode, I’d be very happy about it. If anything, I think I’d prefer that it was trimmed down somewhat. I’ll never use Thunderbird as my RSS reader, for eksempel. Nor will I use it as a PIM. For that, I have Evolution.

    Thunderbird should be an email client that does Email very well, and little or nothing else. I’m not even sure it should really have an address book. I see contact management as a completely different problem.

  • Martin Wildam

    I love Thunderbird and hope, it will not die in the long run. I find it perfectly ok to have the main functionality in the core product and having features that are not used by the vast majority delivered by plugins/addons. And of course the core functionality of email has not changed over the years.

    Of course, I want to see fixes to be continued.

    On the other hand, looking at Google’s GMail for example, I can see that there is definitely room for innovation compared to classic email clients. It is another question if people want to see drastic changes in a well working application like Thunderbird. I find it ok to do radical changes only in new products rather than running the risk destroying an existing one that works fine.

    Other question: Jono, what are you using as email client?