Thunderbird Update – Brief

August 5th, 2007

Thanks to everyone who took the time to respond to my mail/Thunderbird posts. (Well, to almost everyone anyway.) We’re assimilating those comments now. After speaking at some length with the lead Thunderbird developers (Scott and David) here’s what we’ve assimilated so far.

  1. Great interest in seeing Thunderbird move forward. Both in terms of a healthy existence, and in terms of development of new features.
  2. Option 1 of my initial post — a separate Thunderbird and /or mail Foundation didn’t generate much interest. This option requires a significant number of people deeply interested in the organization and administration of the effort; running a Foundation is work. This option is at the end of the list now.
  3. There’s a fair amount of desire for things to stay the same. That desire is not shared by Scott, David, the Foundation or the Corporation.
  4. There is some interest in Option 3, where the developers would form a independent company themselves to make the Thunderbird product based on the code in the Mozilla mail project.
  5. There’s also a lot of interest in seeing Thunderbird remain part of the Mozilla Foundation as a product. It will stay as a Foundation project whether we take Option 2 or Option 3. In either case the code stays in the Mozilla world under Mozilla policies. The open question is what group takes that code, makes the Thunderbird product from it, releases and supports that product.

Next Steps:

Scott, David and I are working on describing in more detail what Options 2 and 3 would look like; what would be needed, but the unresolved issues are, etc. We hope to get some more information posted shortly.

8 comments for “Thunderbird Update – Brief”

  1. 1

    MT said on August 5th, 2007 at 11:17 pm:

    This situation reminds me of the Palm/Palmsource debacle. A lot of time wasted on reorganizations, little time left to focus on the product. I don’t see how distracting the 2 full-time developers of the applications for a long period of time is going to benefit the application in the short/medium term. And if Thunderbird doesn’t add features in the short/medium term, there will be no long term prospects for the project…

  2. 2

    Azrael Nightwalker said on August 6th, 2007 at 3:28 am:

    There is also another option:
    Thunderbird could join the Software Freedom Conservancy, an organization composed of Free and Open Source Software projects, and a fiscal sponsor for them.
    This way Thunderbird would be separated from Mozilla Foundation, yet it wouldn’t have to create another foundation.

  3. 3

    Eddy Nigg said on August 6th, 2007 at 3:51 am:

    Disappointingly Scott and David haven’t explained their position, opinion and ideas on the mailing list. Neither have they participated in any discussion about the future of Thunderbird nor answered any questions directed at them. Nevertheless a group of interested individuals have created this report ( for you and whoever might be interested in it, as you know already. Cheers!

  4. 4

    Mitchell Baker said on August 6th, 2007 at 6:08 am:


    I know how much work it is to review and synthesize the number of comments; I’ve been doing that myself! It’s wonderful to see people willing to do this much work; thank you!

    There’s clearly interest in a broader Thunerbird roadmap. I’m not sure that the particulars you’ve outlined, but I am decidedly not the person to be determining features.

    Indeed, it is the issue of building teams and communities of people who are focused on what email could be and what Thunderbird can do to move that forward that is so hard inside an organization also trying to figure out what more the web can deliver.


  5. 5

    Eddy Nigg said on August 6th, 2007 at 12:30 pm:


    First of all you are welcome! And your thanks goes to anybody who helped with it. I suggest to look at the report as another tool on the way forward.

    Still, the ones, except yourself, who could do some explaining, have the deepest knowledge and could rally support for any step forward – not matter what’s the direction – decided not to do so… This was rather strange!?

    Anyhow, we answered the “Call for Action” in this way and look in anticipation forward to the next steps. 🙂

    Eddy Nigg

  6. 6

    sunnysardine said on August 7th, 2007 at 7:45 am:

    I don’t think that special call is done just for asking more people getting involved in Thunderbird! I don’t know why I have such bad feeling about her call, I just believe that there must be some conflict among CEO and developers, a conflict about vision and resource for Thunderbird. Well, is it having others to discuss about the conflict in cooperation, a value of openness and freedom? Or is it just like an ordinary general election debate, where each of them stands on own point of view, fighting for their own rights?

    Is Mozilla Foundation sick because of politics in organization? Please, please, please, solve the conflict if there is any, don’t let Mozilla sick. I LOVE MOZILLA! GAMBATEH!

  7. 7

    marc said on August 16th, 2007 at 9:51 am:

    I find thunderbird a really a good software. I would really find it very frustrating and disappointing that this product would stop its life. (Just look at the number of extensions, and I will realise how popular thunderbird gets).
    If there is anything I can do to keep Thunderbird evolving, just tell me.

  8. 8

    aeckz said on August 18th, 2007 at 3:31 pm:

    If Thunderbird can’t live inside Mozilla foundation, for sure it can’t live outside.

    The worse thing Mozilla foundation could do is try to fit a mail client inside Firefox, for that we have Opera.

    And for me webmail can’t be the future of email.
    Anyone can convince me that with a mail client installed, someone will see the mail by webmail. LOL

    Regards from Oporto, Portugal

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