Thunderbird is GO: Mozilla prepares to jettison mail client

Software Conservancy and Document Foundation seen as ideal new homes for project

The Mozilla Foundation, which last year flagged its intention to push Thunderbird out of its nest, reckons it's identified possible new homes – including itself.

In a report provided to Mozilla by Simon Phipps, the Software Freedom Conservancy and The Document Foundation are named as possible hosts for the project. Phipps suggests Thunderbird could only remain under the Mozilla Foundation under an unspecified “new arrangement”.

The Mozilla Foundation has long been concerned that Thunderbird needed resources better spent on Firefox, and late last year made it clear it wanted the software to survive on its own.

That's easier said than done, because as Phipps notes it's not just about cutting code. The resources needed to support Thunderbird include:

  • “Technical hosting”, which goes beyond just the source code to include build management, testing, issue tracking, release management, Thunderbird's online presence, discussion forums and mailing lists;
  • Finance and staffing;
  • Governance, dispute management, leadership, and trademark management.

The Software Freedom Conservancy has already agreed to take over Thunderbird if asked, Phipps says. Its member projects include git, Inksape and QEMU.

On the other hand, The Document Foundation in Germany (home to LibreOffice) is close to the “largest national community of Thunderbird users”.

Other organisations he discussed Thunderbird with included The GNOME Foundation (thanks, but no thanks); and the US-based Software in the Public Interest (which holds assets for the Debian project, but lacked the technical infrastructure and governance structures for Thunderbird). ®


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