Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 6th Jul 2012 22:42 UTC
Mozilla & Gecko clones Mozilla has announced it's ceasing development on Thunderbird; one more version will be released, and it'll be security updates from then on. "Most Thunderbird users seem happy with the basic email feature set. In parallel, we have seen the rising popularity of Web-based forms of communications representing email alternatives to a desktop solution. Given this, focusing on stability for Thunderbird and driving innovation through other offerings seems a natural choice." Makes sense - I mean, there's only so much you can do with something that needs to send and receive mail, and I can't imagine Thunderbird having a lot of users. Strange, almost Microsoftian obtuse announcement, by the way.
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maccouch
Member since:
2012-03-14

Actually, although a bit sad for this "much dear friend", this is a good news!

I've been realizing that the most proclaimed and loved "quality" of opensource is simultaneously it's worst enemy and the single major reason why, unfortunately, opensource software is usually not an option. I mean this referring solely at "end-user software", not open-source libraries or small UNIX-style programs/packages.

The driving feature of opensource is it's community passion and desire to program something new and exciting. Something that "scratches their itch". So, as result opensource "new programs and projects" spring everywhere and for all things.

But a mature robust software, is not that very exciting. Simple bug correcting and security updates (the kind that Mozilla says that are the only ones they will be doing for thunderbird) is probably a PITA and dull as hell. I know i would probably hate it.

So, to keep developer momentum and joy, as soon as the program is mainly stable and stuff is just chugging along the way, some need comes along so that we just have to rewrite the entire stuff, or add a revolutionary new interface or just go in another completely f***ing direction.

I've first experienced this when i changed to linux back in 2007/2008. Switched a lot, try a dozen distros and finally decided i was really comfortable with KDE. Highly polished, highly usable Graphic environment. I assume there was some fundamental need for something different/security/touch/sound/fireworks in the sky or diamonds on strawberry hills and "they" had to change do KDE4. which was f****ing unusable back those days, and a complete departure from everything i liked about KDE3.

Switched to gnome after a lot of teeth grinding and adjusting, and when i was getting comfortable using and thought that a good "enterprise class" (stable, robust, simple and clean) product could probably be built on it, "they" had to build something different for security/usability/diamonds or the fireworks or whatever, and then came Gnome3 and/or Unity. And guess what, they're still pretty much a mess...

I've been realizing that of all the opensource software that i use, eventually they all either die in "abandonment" when they are in the "good-enough"/robust phase and all that's left is some boring maintenance and some loooooong development cycles; or they all got sent back to square one for a complete, utterly unusable, refit/redraw of the whole thing. There's some exceptions off course but on the whole that 's been my general experience.

So unfortunately, i've been unconsciously changing (i've realized later) to paid software (or backed by some big corporation/foundation) because it allows me my "found something that does what i want, how i want, then i don't ever change it and just keep using it as i want" behaviour. Which is also the behaviour of most people out there.

I don't see how this can be fixed in a voluntary driven environment, so i'm kind of pleased that mozilla decided to took this step. The truth is that Thunderbird is already good enough for most, so instead of killing it by abandonment or just dropping the whole thing and starting over, they are just slowly keeping it updated and working for us folks that just want use it and never thinking about it.

I would love that it had some new features though (as a more Mac OS integration or a slightly simpler and slightly cleaner interface) but on the whole the entire thing is pretty mush everything you could expect from a multiplatform, free mail client and it's hard to find a reason to complain strongly about it.


So thanks Mozilla! And may Thundebird keep working along, silently and efficiently for a long, long time!



PS: i started this as a comment but after reading it again, i think that it would make a good post, so i'm posting it on my website.

Edited 2012-07-07 01:33 UTC

Reply Score: 3

raboof Member since:
2005-07-24

of all the opensource software that i use, eventually they all either die in "abandonment" when they are in the "good-enough"/robust phase and all that's left is some boring maintenance and some loooooong development cycles; or they all got sent back to square one for a complete, utterly unusable, refit/redraw of the whole thing. There's some exceptions off course but on the whole that 's been my general experience.


That's a real problem.

So unfortunately, i've been unconsciously changing (i've realized later) to paid software (or backed by some big corporation/foundation) because it allows me my "found something that does what i want, how i want, then i don't ever change it and just keep using it as i want" behaviour. Which is also the behaviour of most people out there.


I'm unconvinced the 'proprietary world' does this better than the 'opensource world'. Vendors of proprietary software drop support, go out of business or force you into an 'upgrade path' just as well...

If anything, this should be a reason to choose open-source software over proprietary: as long as there's users, maintenance will be possible.

Reply Parent Score: 4

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

I've been realizing that of all the opensource software that i use, eventually they all either die in "abandonment" when they are in the "good-enough"/robust phase and all that's left is some boring maintenance and some loooooong development cycles; or they all got sent back to square one for a complete, utterly unusable, refit/redraw of the whole thing. There's some exceptions off course but on the whole that 's been my general experience.


So unfortunately, i've been unconsciously changing (i've realized later) to paid software (or backed by some big corporation/foundation) because it allows me my "found something that does what i want, how i want, then i don't ever change it and just keep using it as i want" behaviour. Which is also the behaviour of most people out there.


So, uh, they behave pretty much the same?

Reply Parent Score: 4

maccouch Member since:
2012-03-14

So, uh, they behave pretty much the same?


Well no, with Organization backed software (i'll just use this general category to define something that is backed by comercial ventures or very big foundations* as Mozilla or Linux Found.) they keep updating it with security fixes and OS compliance, so if change OS (in my case from one Mac OS X to another) i know that my program will work either at OS launch or a couple of weeks after.

You do pay for this kind of things/support but i've come to understand the "value" of not having to disrupt your workflow by struggling to find a replacement that doesn't fit exactly with what you used to do.

With the small voluntary team of developers typical of opensource this is not the case (in "general", not a full 100% blanket statement here). You can use a great piece of software for a couple of years but then happens the abandonment issue and you need to change OS/program or worse the "let's rewrite everything from the ground" and although it is "theoretically there" it's just not the same program any more and you either wait a lot for the wrinkles to be ironed out or just look for a substitute.

This is not an "attack" on open-source, more of a "critique". i love the concept, like the "movement" and i love some great pieces of software that came out of it, but the truth is that this, to me, seems a really flaw in the practical implementation of the concept.

And this is why i realized that, unlike my times at "Linux", i'm using mostly paid-software with very few exceptions. You can get almost as much open-source software for the mac as for windows (you can't get as much as for linux of course) but i like having the long term "just works" reliability.

I don't have an answer to this question, although i feel that using that small differential of "convenience" of app stores (download,updates, management in several computers) you could charge a couple of dollars/euros for it, and maintain the long-term viability of the software. and you could still allow the availability of the source in the project website. If you want to download, compile it, play around with it, go for it. If you want to contribute to it, come along. If you just want a piece of software that does it's thing, pay a euro and half every three years or so, and be merry.


* i realize that most "big projects" as KDE or Gnome, have foundations of itself, but i'm not sure if they have the scale or funding that Mozilla haves (linux i'm sure they don't.)

Reply Parent Score: 0