Mozilla Thunderbird 60.0
|Developer(s)||Mozilla Foundation (formerly Mozilla Messaging)|
|Initial release||July 28, 2003|
|Stable release||60.0 (August 6, 2018) [±]|
|Preview release||60 beta 10 (July 10, 2018) [±]|
|Operating system||Windows 7 or later; OS X 10.9 or later; FreeBSD; Linux Previously supported (and through August 2018 for Firefox 52 ESR): Windows XP and Vista|
|Available in||59 languages|
|Type||Email client, news client, feed reader|
Mozilla Thunderbird is a free and open-source cross-platform email client, news client, RSS and chat client developed by the Mozilla Foundation. The project strategy was modeled after that of the Mozilla Firefox web browser. It is installed by default on Ubuntu desktop systems.
On July 6, 2012, Mozilla announced the company was dropping the priority of Thunderbird development because the continuous effort to extend Thunderbird's feature set was mostly fruitless. The new development model shifted to Mozilla offering only "Extended Support Releases", which deliver security and maintenance updates, while allowing the community to take over the development of new features.
On December 1, 2015, Mozilla Executive Chair Mitchell Baker announced in a company-wide memo that Thunderbird development needs to be uncoupled from Firefox. She referred to Thunderbird developers spending large efforts responding to changes to Mozilla technologies, while Firefox was paying a tax to support Thunderbird development. She also said that she does not believe Thunderbird has the potential for "industry-wide impact" that Firefox does. At the same time, it was announced that Mozilla Foundation will provide at least a temporary legal and financial home for the Thunderbird project.
Thunderbird is an email, newsgroup, news feed, and chat (XMPP, IRC, Twitter) client. The vanilla version was not originally a personal information manager (PIM), although the Mozilla Lightning extension, which is now installed by default, adds PIM functionality. Additional features, if needed, are often available via other extensions.
Thunderbird can manage multiple email, newsgroup, and news feed accounts and supports multiple identities within accounts. Features such as quick search, saved search folders ("virtual folders"), advanced message filtering, message grouping, and labels help manage and find messages. On Linux-based systems, system mail (movemail) accounts are supported. Thunderbird provides basic support for system-specific new email notifications and can be extended with advanced notification support using an add-on.
Extensions and themes
Extensions allow the addition of features through the installation of XPInstall modules (known as "XPI" or "zippy" installation) via the add-ons website that also features an update functionality to update the extensions.
Thunderbird follows industry standards.
For Email there is:
- POP. This enables you to move your mail from your remote email server to a local folder. IMAP does not.
- IMAP. IMAP itself has many capabilities, and Thunderbird selected many of them, plus added their own and added the de facto standards by Google and Apple.
- LDAP address completion.
- S/MIME Provide encryption and signing, relying on X.509 keys provided by a centralised certificate authority.
- OpenPGP This is not native, but through add-ons such as Enigmail instead.
Thunderbird follows internet protocols as they evolve. For example, As of 2018, they are on IRCv3.1 (but don't support IRCv3.2). For usenet news groups they offer the latest NNTPS. And so on. But see § Limits and known issues.
File formats supported
Thunderbird provides mailbox format support using plugins, but this feature is not yet enabled due to related work in progress. The mailbox formats supported as of July 2014 are:
Thunderbird also uses Mork and (since version 3) MozStorage (which is based on SQLite) for its internal database. Mork was due to be replaced with MozStorage in Thunderbird 3.0, but the 8.0 release still uses the Mork file format. The current version of SeaMonkey, version 2.14.1, also still uses Mork for its indexes for both POP and IMAP mail folders (at least).
Big file linking
Since version 38, Thunderbird has integrated support for automatic linking of large files instead of attaching them directly to the mail message.
HTML code insertion
Limits and known issues
Thunderbird has some email issues.
- POP3 folders are subject to filesystem design limitations, unlike software that uses its own blob (computing). This is the well-known 32-bit limit for 4 GB files. Each folder is one such file. Data corruption possible if this size is exceeded, although Thunderbird can detect and prevent this. The limit was being actively worked on by developers in 2013 and remains open. It does not affect IMAP mail storage. Compaction of near-4 GB mailboxes is slow.
- POP3 folders with long filenames are subject to local-machine filesystem limitations. By comparison, storing folder names on an external machine can allow nested email folders with arbitrary length paths and filenames.
- The ISO-8859-1 charset is not fully supported.
Unofficial ports are available for:
The source code is freely available and can be compiled to be run on a variety of other architectures and operating systems.
Internationalization and localization
With contributors all over the world, the client is translated into more than 50 different languages, although email addresses are currently limited to ASCII local parts. Thunderbird does not yet support SMTPUTF8 (RFC 6531) or Email Address Internationalization.
Thunderbird provides enterprise and government-grade security features such as TLS/SSL connections to IMAP and SMTP servers. It also offers native support for S/MIME secure email (digital signing and message encryption using certificates). Any of these security features can take advantage of smartcards with the installation of additional extensions.
Originally launched as Minotaur shortly after Phoenix (the original name for Mozilla Firefox), the project failed to gain momentum. With the success of the latter, however, demand increased for a mail client to go with it, and the work on Minotaur was revived under the new name of Thunderbird, and migrated to the new toolkit developed by the Firefox team.
Significant work on Thunderbird restarted with the announcement that from version 1.5 onward, the main Mozilla suite would be designed around separate applications using this new toolkit. This contrasts with the previous all-in-one approach, allowing users to mix and match the Mozilla applications with alternatives. The original Mozilla Suite continues to be developed as SeaMonkey.
On December 23, 2004, Project Lightning was announced which tightly integrated calendar functionality (scheduling, tasks, etc.) into Thunderbird. Lightning will support the full range of calendar mechanisms and protocols supported by the Mozilla Calendar infrastructure, just as with modern (post-0.2) Sunbird.
On October 11, 2006, Qualcomm and the Mozilla Foundation announced that "future versions of Eudora will be based upon the same technology platform as the open source Mozilla Thunderbird email program." The project is code-named Penelope.
On July 26, 2007, the Mozilla Foundation announced that Thunderbird would be developed by an independent organization, because the Mozilla Corporation (a subsidiary of the foundation) was focusing on Mozilla Firefox development.
On September 17, 2007, the Mozilla Foundation announced the funding of a new internet communications initiative with Dr. David Ascher of ActiveState. The purpose of this initiative was "to develop Internet communications software based on the Thunderbird product, code, and brand".
On February 19, 2008, Mozilla Messaging started operations as a subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation responsible for the development of email and similar communications. Its initial focus was on the then upcoming version of Thunderbird 3. Alpha Preview releases of Thunderbird 3 were codenamed "Shredder".
On July 6, 2012, a confidential memo from Jb Piacentino, the Thunderbird Managing Director at Mozilla, was leaked and published to TechCrunch. The memo indicated that Mozilla would be moving some of the team off the project and further development of new features would be left up to the community. The memo was slated for release on July 9, 2012. A subsequent article by the Executive Chair of Mozilla, Mitchell Baker, stated Mozilla's decision to make a transition of Thunderbird to a new release and governance model.
On November 25, 2014, Kent James of the volunteer-led Thunderbird Council announced on the Thunderbird blog that active contributors to Thunderbird gathered at the Mozilla office in Toronto and discussed the future of the application. They have decided that more staff are required working full-time on Thunderbird so that the Thunderbird Team can release a stable and reliable product and make progress on features that have been frequently requested by the community.
On December 1, 2015, Mitchell Baker suggested in a company-wide memo that Thunderbird should be uncoupled from Firefox's infrastructure. She referred to Thunderbird as being a tax on Firefox and said that she does not believe Thunderbird has the potential for "industry-wide impact" that Firefox does. Mozilla remains interested in having a role in Thunderbird, but is seeking more assistance to help with development.
On May 9, 2017, Philipp Kewisch announced that the Mozilla Foundation will continue to serve as the legal and fiscal home for the Thunderbird project, but that Thunderbird will migrate off Mozilla Corporation infrastructure, separating the operational aspects of the project.
The beta version of Thunderbird 58, released in December 2017, begins to make changes influenced by Firefox Quantum, including a new "Photon" user interface, Microsoft Outlook import support, and the deprecation of XUL-based legacy add-ons in favor of WebExtensions.
Thunderbird development releases occur in three stages, called Beta, Earlybird, and Daily, which correspond to Firefox's Beta, Aurora, and Nightly stages. The release dates and Gecko versions are exactly the same as Firefox; for example, Firefox 7 and Thunderbird 7 were both released on September 27, 2011, and were both based on Gecko 7.0.
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