Geek / Technical

Paying for Free Tools I Use Everyday: Thunderbird

The short version: I just signed up to contribute monthly to Thunderbird, and I think you should, too.

Here’s the link: Give to Thunderbird

Thunderbird is “the leading open source cross-platform email and calendaring client, free for business and personal use,” and I started using it when I was using Debian GNU/Linux as my main distro. I remember when Debian became very strict about licensing and I had to remember to call it “Icedove” due to trademark issues that have since been resolved.

I just checked, and I still have emails from 2004 at the earliest. For almost 20 years, Thunderbird has been a constant on my desktop computer. I don’t tend to delete a lot of emails, so my archive of folders and newsgroups totals about 7GB, and it acts as a great supplement to my memory. I think it would be larger if I didn’t delete any emails, but I do in fact do some tidying up occasionally.

While it is possible that there are other email clients, I have never found a reason to jump ship. I love having offline access to my email. I love the calendar extension which allows me to have offline access to my otherwise online calendars, much like how my phone’s calendar app fulfills that function for me. I like that encryption just works. When I was part of a trade association that used private newsgroups, I liked that I was able to participate without needing to find another application. I like the rules I setup to filter newsletters and other subscriptions into appropriate folders. I like that it is incredibly easy and fast to search through those 7GB of email for a receipt for a purchase I made or a phone number of someone I met at a conference.

I am sure I could be taking advantage of more plugins and extensions. Feel free to tell me your favorites! But I have been very happy with Thunderbird for a long time. It does its job, and it does it well. It’s a key part of my daily life.

Also, not only is Thunderbird free-as-in-speech software, it is also free-as-in-beer. Unlike other “free” options, I don’t have to worry about advertising or data harvesting. It is truly free, and I really like that fact.

The other day, I saw this appeal:

Keep Thunderbird Alive appeal page

I don’t keep tabs of Thunderbird’s relationship with the Mozilla Project. I know at one point it was spun off as its own thing, then came back, and now apparently it is part of MZLA Technologies Corporation, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Mozilla Project.

My understanding is that Firefox is the big world-impacting project, and Thunderbird is not nearly so. Everyone browses the web, but not everyone needs an email client or a newsgroup reader. Most people use webmail of some kind.

So while the Mozilla Project focuses its love and care on Firefox, especially in terms of financial support for necessary infrastructure, it seems like Thunderbird needs to find its own help more and more.

But I’ve found great value in this email client, and I decided that I could afford to make a monthly contribution.

I admit that the $5/month I contribute isn’t much. I don’t make much of anything with this business yet, so another $5/month expense is a little painful. When I do start making more, I will be increasing my contribution.

But for now, I know that $5 is more than $0, and every bit helps. And I can write this post to encourage you to chip in, especially if you find Thunderbird as useful as I have. Give here: