Stifling Thunderbird e-mail Client

Gerry T. on the Libreoffice-marketing e-mail list wrote, of the decision to deemphasize thunderbird:
“After that decision, the uptake of Thunderbird installations will go down in the long run (and even now IT staff will have hard time to convince management to migrate to a “dying” – exaggerated of course – platform). The result is that LibreOffice misses a competitive PIM programme vs. MS Office. This will unevitably reduce LibreOffice uptake. In bigger and cross-platform installations, there are no real Open Source alternatives to Thunderbird/Lightning. In my opinion, it will have quite some negative impact on LibreOffice.”

I don’t agree with this much. Folks who use Gmail, for instance, have little need for a local e-mail client and there are many other choices than Thunderbird.
“apt-cache search mail\ client|sort|less

alpine – Text-based email client, friendly for novices but powerful
balsa – e-mail client for GNOME
claws-mail – Fast, lightweight and user-friendly GTK2 based email client
dimp1 – dynamic webmail component for horde framework
evolution – groupware suite with mail client and organizer
icedove – mail/news client with RSS and integrated spam filter support
kmail – full featured graphical email client
mu4e – e-mail client for Emacs based on mu (maildir-utils)
opera – Fast and secure web browser and Internet suite
roundcube – skinnable AJAX based webmail solution for IMAP servers – metapackage
squirrelmail – Webmail for nuts
sylpheed – Light weight e-mail client with GTK+”

There are some big players in this field like Zimbra and Evolution. Notice that GNU/Linux is not limited to clients. One can easily set up an e-mail server and access it by a web-browser.

I think the move not to emphasize Thunderbird does not mean that it is deprecated but that it is perfected. There is no great effort needed to maintain something that works that well. As such, I don’t agree that uptake of LibreOffice is likely to be affected one way or another by Mozilla’s move.

If anything, this could be a catalyst to add an e-mail client to the LibreOffice suite. To the extent that e-mail is an essential element of most office environments, the office suite should have e-mail built in. Calendaring/organizing/management might also be considered to make LibreOffice more a one-stop shopping experience for desktop IT.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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21 Responses to Stifling Thunderbird e-mail Client

  1. notzed says:

    Oh, and I use gmail with thunderbird – personally I don’t think terribly highly of it, and it really looks like arse. But it’s fairly stable and mostly works, which is the main thing.

    I had to stop using gmail’s web interface when it got too slow in the browser, and as a bonus I don’t get adverts any more either.

  2. notzed says:

    Pogson, I think you’ll find email is a pretty big undertaking actually.

    Whilst most of the email standards are pretty stable now, there are still additions showing up from time to time – but the real problem is dealing with all the other broken email programmes out there and a couple of the stupid standards like multipart/signed (which forces the email client to treat each message as binary, as they didn’t properly define a canonical treatment for line endings!). And for calendering – the problem is about 10x worse – a complex and difficult to implement standard to start with, and very inconsistent and incompatible usage amongst all the implementations (even different versions of the same product).

    Of the 6 years I spent on evolution, most of that was with email. Apart from a lot of scaffolding dealing with C and performance and user interface crap, of the email-specific stuff about 1/2 of the time was implementing the standards properly, and 1/2 was dealing with the other broken shit out there – and there is a lot of it and it kept growing.

    Of course, unlike evolution, a new project wouldn’t need to write it’s own table widget, html widget, editor, indexing engine, object system, memory allocators, multi-threading primitives, etc etc.

  3. Oldman says:

    Your’re right Mr. K, I am worth ten times more than little twerps like you.

  4. kozmcrae says:

    @ldman wrote:

    “Speaking personally I am a pragmatic person.”

    Your pragmatism is based on your sense of overblown self worth.

  5. oiaohm says:

    oldman “I am a pragmatic person. if and when the software that I use now is available on another platform, be it Linux android or whatever. I will assess it according to MY needs and deal with it accordingly.”

    Thing is Android most likely will not be MS Office. But Office suites are still there.

    So the big question going forward is how many people truly do need the MS products.

    Go back a few years we would not even be having this problem. Going forwards with entry level machines at a 100 dollars Windows free.

  6. oldman says:

    “I’ve been noticing a trend in the Cult of Microsoft. At first I thought it was just an individual or two but now I’m seeing it basically throughout the entire tribe. They are losing what little relevancy they had. There is nothing worth reading in their posts. Just reminiscing the good times, bluster, revising IT history, and increasingly, verbiage.”

    Speaking professionally, And I have noticed that people like yourself bloviate alot about subjects that they know nothing about. But in the end it doesn’t matter. Those of use who work in IT will always be relevant – we have to adapt all the time and no matter who is in the cat bird seat, we will be there.

    Speaking personally I am a pragmatic person. if and when the software that I use now is available on another platform, be it Linux android or whatever. I will assess it according to MY needs and deal with it accordingly.

    But it will meet MY needs.

  7. kozmcrae says:

    I’ve been noticing a trend in the Cult of Microsoft. At first I thought it was just an individual or two but now I’m seeing it basically throughout the entire tribe. They are losing what little relevancy they had. There is nothing worth reading in their posts. Just reminiscing the good times, bluster, revising IT history, and increasingly, verbiage.

    It could be argued that that was always the case. But in trying to maintain the illusion that Microsoft is just as mighty as the Microsoft of 1995 they are tuning themselves into some kind of freak show.

  8. Clarence Moon wrote, “Everything that you blog about in that regard has been rural, Mr. Pogson, and, if anything, it is apparently the sum of any recent experience that you may have had that might be relevant to current issues.”

    I live in an urban setting. Oh, it’s the suburbs but I can throw baseballs to the neighbours’ yards. I live between two cities a few minutes drive apart. I shop at big box stores and smaller places. I have high-speed bandwidth and more IT in my home than some small schools. So, no, I don’t write only about rural issues or have only rural experiences. I have lived in cities about half my life.

    So, Clarence Moon is an ignorant twit.

    Clarence Moon wrote, “schools themselves, regardless of big city or boondocks issues, are not leaders in terms of product direction selection.”

    Crap! Schools crank out computer scientists and engineers who produce the IT of the world. Schools where I taught were leaders in terms of product selection. We had better IT that schools using that other OS. I have applied for jobs in schools where I learned in the interview no PCs were allowed in classrooms. I taught in many schools where clusters of PCs were in every classroom thanks to my designs. Schools where I worked got far better use of PCs than most schools. I know. I have attended teachers’ conferences where issues of IT were discussed.

    Schools introduce many students to IT and do set the trends. Students who use XP at home and at school are not likely to be impressed by “8”. They are impressed by GNU/Linux because they get a familiar look and feel with none of the baggage of that other OS: no phoning home, no malware, no slowing down, no EULA, and no re-re-reboots…

  9. Clarence Moon says:

    Nonsense.

    Everything that you blog about in that regard has been rural, Mr. Pogson, and, if anything, it is apparently the sum of any recent experience that you may have had that might be relevant to current issues. You rag about Win95 and XP and such, but those releases are long forgotten by most buyers, particularly the ones who re-buy with any frequency and so are the main interest of retailers and distributors today.

    And schools themselves, regardless of big city or boondocks issues, are not leaders in terms of product direction selection. They are the laggards of the business and simply take what is offered at a cheap price. Trends are set by the big corporations and that remains primarily Wintel.

  10. mirradric says:

    Icedove is a rebranded Thunderbird by Debian so it should not count as an alternative.

  11. Clarence Moon, out of ignorance, wrote, “your educational experience seems to have been with rural schools with miniscule budgets”.

    Nonsense. I have taught in university, a hospital, big city schools and rural schools over large geographical regions of Canada, not just the North. Of course, I prefer the North because fishing is better and so are the mushrooms. Schools need IT everywhere and I have not noticed much difference except in large and small organizations. The large organizations tend to have IT staff but no better IT… The largest school division I worked for had about 8 IT people and wasted their time visiting schools in person instead of remote administration and they used XP with Deep Freeze to keep it running. Despite all their efforts, IT there was the pits and was one reason I left. The much vaunted IT system could not enable printing for students until a few weeks before I left and after I had already submitted my resignation. That school had no PCs in classrooms and XP with 64MB RAM in the labs. Any student could crash it in minutes. I could set up much more reliable IT in schools with much lower costs easily.

  12. Clarence Moon says:

    Not mainstream?

    I’m afraid not, Mr. Pogson, but it is good to know where you are coming from and why your ideas seem so quaint at times. Even worse, your educational experience seems to have been with rural schools with miniscule budgets, if your anecdotes are representative of what you did. That is why they do not even seem to describe realistic educational situations.

  13. Chris Weig says:

    I don’t agree with this much. Folks who use Gmail, for instance, have little need for a local e-mail client and there are many other choices than Thunderbird.

    Go visit an office of a real company once in a while. Gmail? That only shows your cluelessness, and that you’ve swallowed the Google rhetoric whole.

    apt-cache search mail\ client|sort|less

    This shows even more that you have no clue what real companies need.

    It’s troublesome enough that Thunderbird was the most sane (and only relatively sane) choice available in FLOSS. Soon there will be no choice anymore.

    Yes, FLOSS has this troublesome tendency of burning bridges and reinventing the wheel.

  14. Clarence Moon wrote of promoting IT in education, “an experience totally irrelevant to mainstream usage”.

    Nonsense. Education is a huge business and something that touches every member of our society. Not mainstream? Bushwah.

  15. Clarence Moon says:

    I have been a promoter of IT in education for many years.

    Which is an experience totally irrelevant to mainstream usage, Mr. Pogson. The hand to mouth sort of financial pinches that schools are constantly facing seems to have warped your view of life and has prevented you from seeing how people who view PCs as an opportunity to gain wealth rather than as an unavoidable expense make decisions.

    “Good enough to get by” seems to be the mantra for FLOSS folk and you expect that message to be appreciated by the rest of us, but you are missing the boat. “Better and more interesting and still affordable” is the more common theme and, if you are at all honest with yourself, you can see how that had accounted for the past 30 years of personal computing.

  16. kozmcrae wrote, of developing an e-mail client, “such a massive undertaking”.

    I am not so sure it is a massive project. They have the advantage of being able to review the code of several e-mail clients, review the performance/usability of several e-mail clients and get many heads together to refine the concept. It might only involve blessing one implementation and merging it with LibreOffice. e-mail is a very old concept. It’s not as if there’s anything new and subtle there. The calendaring is probably where some creativity is needed and there is FLOSS for that. Starting such a project might convert the fire of LibreOffice into a huge campaign. I could see IBM regretting sticking with OpenOffice.org…

  17. oiaohm says:

    Really anyone who has looked at the LibreOffice OpenOffice source would call the death of Thunderbird a godsend. There is a bastard child of Mozilla in the source base of OpenOffice and LibreOffice that needs to be destroyed extra motivation to get rid of it.

  18. kozmcrae says:

    Robert Pogson wrote:

    “If anything, this could be a catalyst to add an e-mail client to the LibreOffice suite.”

    That’s exactly what I was thinking as I was reading your post. I would not be surprised if the Open Document Foundation announced the start of such a project within the next year.

    They have the chutzpa to start such a massive undertaking and the brains to pull it off.

  19. Clarence Moon wrote, “Clearly you do not have any regard for the modern office culture which is what proliferates the entire PC market.”

    Absolute nonsense! I have been a promoter of IT in education for many years. The last school where I worked had less than 1 PC per classroom when I arrived and several when I left. The modern office culture is based on doing everything the fastest, easiest and cheapest way and that is with using computers everywhere people are doing things. I think it is wonderful that an organization can double its use of IT or do IT at half the cost by using FLOSS. It’s the right way to do IT.

  20. Mats Hagglund says:

    I used Thunderbird with Gmail and have been pleased with it.

  21. Clarence Moon says:

    I don’t agree with this much.

    You do seem aware that the driving force behind MS Office sales and consequent Microsoft profits running into the tens of billions of dollars annually is due to corporate uptake of office automation products. So how is it that you can make such a hopeless post? Clearly you do not have any regard for the modern office culture which is what proliferates the entire PC market.

    “If only there were FLOSS (read Linux) products on the retail shelves!” you are fond of postulating, but you do not seem to have even a glimmer of understanding of why those products do not exist on the shelves. It is the expectation of consumers for what they have grown used to having, i.e. Windows computers, and that expectation started in the office where savings in office operations due to everyone doing their own memos and documents paid for the development of office suite software.

    This expectation gives rise to the retail store only selecting things to present to customers that the customer is known to be interested in buying. Get a clue, Mr. Pogson, Linux PCs are not on that list.

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