Why we need Gecko updates

R Kent James kent at caspia.com
Thu Dec 10 17:20:39 UTC 2015

Although "demand" can have have the meaning in English of "an insistent 
and peremptory request, made as if by right" it can also mean "to call 
for or require as just, proper, or necessary"  I don't think that 
Mitchell intended to say that Thunderbird has been unreasonably 
insistent in their interactions with Mozilla.

Specifically in response to "Is there code in m-c that they want to 
remove but can't because of TB? " one good example is the cache 
directory, which has been superseded by cache2 in FF but is kept for 
Thunderbird. Another is the "deprecated" interface to the proxy code. 
There have certainly been examples that I am aware of in character sets 
as well, though they have been more aggressive there about removing 
unneeded things.

There are also countless little ways throughout infrastructure in which 
Thunderbird has code that is maintained, and places some burden on 
Firefox. Think of AMO, BMO, Dataviz (that measures ADI), SUMO, Nucleas 
(where release notes are written), and practically any other 
infrastructure item, and there are little Thunderbird-specific features 
that demand small amounts of attention from MoCo staff. Frequently 
Thunderbird does not keep up with the current state of things, so the 
versions that they maintain for us are older and therefore harder to 
work with (think the old SVN website for example, where Kohei has 
single-handedly brought us out of the old world into the new 
Django/Bedrock world).

I also suggest that you listen to some of Chris Beard's speeches on Air 
Mozilla about planning for 2016. One of the points he makes is that the 
attempt of Mozilla to refocus on desktop Firefox requires that they 
identify things that they used to do that are not adding value to 
Firefox, and try to eliminate them. At the highest management levels, 
they are looking around for what can be cut to allow better focus. 
Thunderbird is an obvious target of this. (Apparently, so is Firefox OS 

I also do not think that we have the full story, and probably never 
will. In my talks with Doug Turner about our infrastructure migration 
(in which he was extremely cooperative and encouraging, by the way), 
there were a couple of subtle hints about issues with Thunderbird. For 
example, he thought we probably were not looking at crash stats (but 
then I said we of course do, and our crash rate is lower than Firefox), 
and he made comments about mostly unmaintained fundamental network code, 
like for SMTP security. I don't think he is well informed here, and 
probably has no need or desire to be well informed, but I took that as a 
hint that Mozilla management may be concerned that Thunderbird is not 
able to maintain the quality that they think should be associated with 
the Mozilla brand.

Although there are lots of little points of intersection between 
Thunderbird and Mozilla that could be the source of our tax, the area 
they have asked us to focus on is release and build. I have not seen 
anyone step forward and way, "Yes! I want to work on that". We really 
need to find ways to solve this and move forward. Mozilla needs to see 
that the Thunderbird team is willing to take on areas that cause high 
levels of taxation in the Firefox world. How can we reorganize to do that?


On 12/10/2015 3:02 AM, Aceman wrote:
> What is that tax really?
> Is there any noticeable work by FF devs to code stuff for TB?
> They even called it "demands" from TB in the official message. Is there anything in m-c that was added just by TB requiring it? Is there code in m-c that they want to remove but can't because of TB? I am not aware of these cases, but maybe there are some. That is why I ask.
> Or is it just that TB building/tests run on their servers? But then that does not affect the future direction of Firefox in any way.
> ______________________________________________________________
>> Od: R Kent James <kent at caspia.com>
>> Komu: <tb-planning at mozilla.org>
>> Dátum: 09.12.2015 22:14
>> Predmet: Re: Why we need Gecko updates
>> On 12/9/2015 11:37 AM, Magnus Melin wrote:
>>> I'd like to add to the above that forking m-c isn't likely as long as
>>> we could still build Thunderbird from it. If building gets impossible
>>> then you'd have to go from there.
>>> Besides lacking security updates you'd also build on dead-end
>>> technology and nobody really wants to work with that a few years down
>>> the line.
>> I fully agree with this - up to a point. But the issue we face is this:
>> MoCo is telling us that they do not want to spend any time on
>> Thunderbird-related issues. If we take them at their word, then all of
>> these requests we make to m-c for changes to support Thunderbird will no
>> longer be accepted. In that case, m-c changes WILL break us. The option
>> you are presenting is one that MoCo is telling us is not possible.
>> As I see it, you are asking that we assume that MoCo will continue with
>> the status quo of the last few years, that is that they will give
>> minimum attention to Thunderbird, but they will still keep us building.
>> What I keep hearing them say is that they want to stop doing this,
>> because the tax on Firefox is too great.
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