Mozilla identifying home for Thunderbird as it focuses on Firefox

The decision follows the foundation's move in 2012 not to focus development resources on Thunderbird

To better focus on Firefox and its other products, the Mozilla Foundation decided in 2012 to address the on-going stability of the open-source Thunderbird email client rather than new development, which was passed on to volunteer developers. 

The rationale for the decision was that in view of the growing popularity of Web-based alternative forms of communications, Thunderbird was not likely to be a source of innovation and was seen more or less as a settled product with a basic set of features that users were happy with.

"Once again we’ve been asking the question: is Thunderbird a likely source of innovation and of leadership in today’s Internet life? Or is Thunderbird already pretty much what its users want and mostly needs some on-going maintenance?" wrote foundation chair Mitchell Baker in 2012.

Baker, who says she uses Thunderbird to organize vast parts of her life, now believes that the email client will thrive best if it does not rely on Mozilla for development resources and, in some cases, on Mozilla technology. "The current setting isn’t stable, and we should start actively looking into how we can transition in an orderly way to a future where Thunderbird and Firefox are un-coupled," she wrote in Mozilla's public governance forum  on Monday.

Firefox and Thunderbird have lived with competing demands for some time now, with engineers working on Firefox, for example, uncertain as to whether and how much they should contribute to Thunderbird. "These competing demands are not good for either project," she added.

Many inside the foundation, including an overwhelming majority of its leadership, feel the need to focus on activities like Firefox that can have an industry-wide impact, Baker said. Thunderbird is not seen as playing such a role at Mozilla.

"Today Thunderbird developers spend much of their time responding to changes made in core Mozilla systems and technologies. At the same time, build, Firefox, and platform engineers continue to pay a tax to support Thunderbird," Baker wrote.

A Mozilla spokesman, who confirmed that the post was from Baker,  did not immediately comment on whether the foundation was considering handing over the Thunderbird project to a group outside the organization.

In a follow-up post to that of Baker, the foundation's executive director Mark Surman wrote that it is talking to "at least one org who is considering supporting Thunderbird," besides looking at adding an user donation function, supplemented by the foundation's own assistance "in a small way," to support the Thunderbird community.

Baker wrote that she wanted to make sure that Thunderbird has the right kind of "legal and financial home" that will help the community thrive.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?