Change of release and governance model for Thunderbird

Ben Bucksch ben.bucksch at
Sun Jul 8 20:12:14 UTC 2012

Hello all,

this is what I posted to Michell Baker and JB. I'm reposting just for 
public reference.

I am glad to recognize the critical importance that Thunderbird has.

"Thunderbird is one of the very few truly free and open source 
multi-platform email application available today and we want to defend 
these values."
This is true. In fact, this is totally in like with the Mozilla mission, 
to defend the open Internet. Internet, as you well know, is more than 
just the Web. Thunderbird is our client which is covering most of the 
non-Web Internet protocols: email, chat, calendaring.

Email is one of the primary and most useful uses of the Internet for 
many people, both professionals working online and grandmas. Protecting 
it is vitally important. If Thunderbird were removed as a competitive 
choice, most businesses are left with no alternative to Outlook. This, 
in turn, locks them to Windows. There are several huge organizations 
that use the Linux desktop, and from what I know, they all chose 
Thunderbird and they would be left high and dry, if it was no longer a 
competitive choice. What's worse, Linux would have no chance to gain 
more foothold on the desktop, the last area where Linux is *not* yet 
dominating (it's already dominating servers, cellphones, supercomputers, 
home routers, and even TomToms).

Web clients are not an option for some users, be it speed or privacy. 
Also, I expect webmail clients to degrade in terms of adding more and 
more advertizing and promotions. The automatic account setup wizard I 
created was directly targetted at helping users, who couldn't set up 
Thunderbird before and thus were forced to use webmail, to get set up 
quickly and painlessly.

What we're still lacking in professional setups is a calendar. Lighting 
is almost there. We just need to ship it and then polish it.

However, if you are honest, you cannot expect Thunderbird to take off, 
if you hide it on the website. I could barely find the 
Thunderbird page even though I was actively looking for it, much less 
can you expect usage numbers to raise this way. If this is the reason 
for this latest org change, please be honest and admit that you never 
gave Thunderbird a fair chance by really marketing it with strong force, 
as you marketed Firefox in the beginning and now. Despite this, 
Thunderbird usage remains to be fairly high, being one of the biggest 
open-source projects in terms of usage, so obviously people like it. 
Please give it a fair chance.

We must not allow Outlook and web clients to be the only realistic choices.

 From what I understand of your message, you intend to pull all full 
time contributors from Thunderbird, and stop making 6-week releases. 
However, Thunderbird cannot live with some core people:

  * David Bienvenu for the protocol implementations
  * Mark Banner for the organization and being the "good weasel"
    (driver, build system, oiling the system, picking up tasks needed to
    be done but nobody caring for it)
  * Kewisch for Calendar

Thunderbird and Lightning needs these people. Bienvenu has been on 
Thunderbird since Netscape 3.x in 1996, I think. Please let him see the 
20 year anniversary :).

Mozilla Corporation really has sufficient money. While it may not be 
your focus, Thunderbird by itself is incredibly important for the world 
as a whole and for the open innovation on the Internet (Mozilla 
mission). Keeping 5-10 people on Thunderbird does a lot of good for the 
Internet. It costs you, let's say 2-3 millions per year, that's 1% of 
Mozilla's income, but they really make a difference for the world.

So, I ask for 2 things, please:

  * Do not pull the core staff.
  * Market Thunderbird. Put it on the frontpage, make news about it,
    push news articles. Give it a fair chance.

Alternatively, I think that a complete re-implementation is also a 
viable option, if and only if:

  * It remains a desktop-only client with no server needed, so that I
    can install it and just point it at an IMAP, POP3, calendar, XMPP server
  * The basic philosophy of privacy, independence (no web pings) and
    efficiency in mail processing stays

But we really really need a competitive, efficient desktop email client.

Thank you,


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