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back to article Mozilla's next Thunderbird gives Gmailers hope

Thunderbird 3.0 was a less than stellar piece of software. Mozilla's email client was marred by some pretty serious bugs, such as the failure to import mail from past editions, which meant the suite had a habit of becoming unresponsive while indexing large mail stores. And while Thunderbird 3.0 had a number of nice new features …

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Flame

WTH ?

1 GB of ram !?!?! And for what exactly ? I dont see anything better for me.

WHy is it that new software uses just more and more ram and resources to do the same thing ?

I use computers that are slightly older. Limited in ram. Why do software makers never want to make nice thin clients ? If 2.0 could do everything important that 3.0 does why does 3.0 need 7 TIMES more ram ?

I disagree with 64MB being what 2.0 uses. I have used it forever and it AT MOST uses 38MB. Mostly it sits at 19MB..

Now what will happen is they will stop supporting 2.0 and force me to use a insecure 2.0 because if I use 3.0 the 250MB of ram usage will push me into disc mem swapping and slow my computer down a whole lot..

So... Screw 3.0 and come on software developers, are you so skillless you cant write efficient code ?

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RAM is a cache.

Reading and writing to RAM is much quicker than reading and writing to disk. Presumably a lot of the RAM usage is for the improved search features, which require a lot of shuffling and sorting of data. If you have umpteen thousand emails in your archive, the index for that archive is going to be a sizeable chunk of data in its own right.

IT is an evolving industry. Netbooks aside, there's no real reason for limiting your computer to 1GB of RAM. Your OS will certainly thank you for an upgrade and reward you with better performance—upgrading RAM is usually a better option than upgrading the CPU.

There are *mobile phones* with 8GB RAM as *standard* now. If you wish to step off the train of progress, you're more than entitled to do so, but that train is not obliged to terminate at your station.

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Re : WTH ? →

I'm rather interested in the amounts of RAM required for the different OSs.

Linux 64M (128M preferred)

Win 256M (512M preferred)

OSX 256M (512M preferred)

Thunderbird 3.0.4 is running on my 32-bit OpenSUSE laptop using 29M + 22M shared memory so I'd certainly want a good few multiples of that minimum as installed RAM. I'd be interested in what people are 'seeing' as real usage figures on other OSs

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Grenade

RAM

So according to your idea, I should have more than 4GB of RAM: 1GB for e-mail, 1GB for web browser, 1GB for IM, and 1GB for media player, etc etc ad infinitum.

I really do hate when programmers think my machine is dedicated to just his/her program and expect this on their crappy designed software. Some 40 years ago multitasking was invented! *shockers* Even if Apple says their iOS doesn't multitask, it does on the background *OOOH!* They're lying! *terror!*

And yes, there is a reason a computer is limited to say, 4GB of RAM: it just have 2 memory slots and its chipset only supports 2GB sticks max., etc.

And show me any phone bearing 8GB of RAM, mister.

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Re : RAM

Multi-tasking doesn't do away with the need for sufficient memory. If you have several programs running then you need enough real memory for them unless you are prepared to wait for them to be swapped back.

What do you imagine multi-tasking does - magic ?

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FAIL

@Renato

"And show me any phone bearing 8GB of RAM, mister."

Droid Does. 14.83 GB in mine (stock purchase) to be exact

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F A I L

"Netbooks aside"... Well wait a minute, Netbooks are really popular. So your saying just disregard this segment of the market and never mind that your software product causes their machine to page swap with disc like crazy when running your program slowing down the entire machine ?

A LOT of laptops just just a few years ago are not gonna do 4GB of ram ever. So count them out of the picture for your product too ?

And then there is the whole world of zillions of older machines that have 1GB of ram or even older ones at 512MB. The entire world of used machines.. Many people have no idea how to upgrade ram and will never do that.

And let me make sure I understand here.. Its all for search ? Well guess what, I use search once every 3-6 months.

I have 16,000 emails going back to 1991 in my thunderbird 2.0 running on a 1Ghz 512MB laptop and it searches them all just fine. In fact it searches them WAY FASTER on my machine rather then installing 3.X because 3.X starts page swapping and slows the computer way down...

SO... Like most software these days older is better.

AND what works quicker on a resource challenged machine will work faster and better on a high performance machine.

On my 3Ghz overclocked, 4GB ram, adaptec raid 0 with WD raptors machine, 2.0 is still quicker and faster at searching then 3.X .

So there are no new features I need in 2.X and 2.X performs better on both my old school laptop and high performance workstation.

So this newer software, like most new software, FAILS in many ways because the new generation coders have no clue how to write efficient code or are to lazy to do so. This is a epidemic that effects almost all current software companies not just this product. Yea Firefox is also a perfect example of just a complete resource hog.

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Re : RAM

Just to extend this. I'm currently running Firefox with 6 tabs open, Thunderbird and a system monitor on a 1GB laptop using openSUSE 11.2 32-bit and the total program memory usage is ~380MB including system, desktop and X - adds up to 135 processes having some memory usage.

FF has ~90 MB (which I find typical) + 24 MB shared

TB 28/20 MB

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Megaphone

RAM?

I have started using Thunderbird having used Outlook for years. Thunderbird is fine. If you want to enter the email account settings manually you simply click the "Manual" button. Easy. I set up 6 accounts with no issues.

Connects to GMail fine.

Not as fancy as Outlook but does the job an is a lot cheaper. I can get Office 2010 for £9 via work but with Open Office and Thunderbird even that £9 is looking expensive.

@Rasslin

You've got a phone with 14GB of RAM? I think you need to learn the difference between RAM and the SD card stuck in the back.

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It's the best e-mail client out there...

...which, unfortunately, isn't saying a lot.

I find the UI to be very inconsistent and confusing. Outlook, in particular, has a far better UI (just me? OK then) but is also so packed full of bloat that I refuse to use it. But if Thunderbird keeps this upward spiral of system requirements then it'll be no better than Outlook..

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Terminator

No problems importing Mail

Exactly what the title says; I have mail going back to my first "Freeserve" account and had no problems importing it into TB3, unlike Outlook Express which used to lose everything on a regular basis and NEVER managed to back up and restore successfully.

I will admit, the indexing feature is slow; ok VERY slow!!

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Pint

Same here

It was very slow to index everything (~2Gb) but it did from TB 2, when I installed TB3.0 several months ago. At least I've not realised it if I HAVE lost anything! But if I have, it left the old TB 2 directories in place (Windows XP) so I can always go back to my pre TB 3.0 email files - forever preserved in time.

TB manages all my emails back to the days of the mail client in Netscape 2 c. 1995; plus a merge of university email from Pegasus. All these text files make things much easier to manage than storing stuff in the ever changing proprietary fail of a .PST file that Outlook uses. Also means I can take my TB profile to another supported platform with little hassle. Doubt Outlook would support that.

I did this recently with Firefox - copying my FF3.7 profile from Win XP to Mac OS 10.6 and it just worked first time with all my bookmarks, stored passwords, search engines etc etc.

I'm a bit concerned about the 1Gb requirement though. Like another poster I use an older Windows machine with 1.5Gb of RAM. I can see TB 3.1 causing problems with that if it tries to mark out its full 1Gb territory requirement :(

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FAIL

Mork

As long as they are using Mork you can be sure they don't give a DAMN!

Google controls the Mozilla purse strings and they are deliberately shackling Thunderbird to force people onto Gmail.

Tinfoil hat maybe - what other reason for the lamentable lack of sharing/syncing facilities, Incompetence?

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Coat

search is not a selling point

compared to seamonkey search is next to useless, I use both and thunderbird is a real PITA to use.

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FAIL

And people run Thunderbird why???

When Opera does all this...

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Pint

Three reasons why

I've been using TB since the beginning :

- An excellent Bayesian spam filter

- The priceless ability to strip all html and display a message as plain text. Real life savior when you receive spam containing malicious scripts, web bugs and other tricks the bad guys are using.

- Ability to see the entire source of the message together with all smtp and mime headers WITHOUT opening it (i.e. without running the scripts). Very useful to check suspect messages.

Other than that, it's not very good looking, it could be a lot faster but I can live with that knowing that my email is as safe as it can be.

Last time when I checked (it was years ago) no other email client was doing this.So, is Opera doing all this or at least #2 ?

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Flame

Is it still stuck in 1994?

Not enough space on here to fully express just how much I hate that T'bird3 didn't have any kind of useful export facility. When you finally get fed up of its idiosyncacies and look for a proper email client it's about as helpful as AOL was in the nineties when it comes to escaping it's evil clutches I had to run the data through three different programs to export it into Outlook.

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FAIL

Wait, what?!

Thunderbird stores your email in the standard "mbox" format already... What other format would you want it to export to exactly?

If you other email client can't import mbox then that program sucks. Besides, why the hell aren't you using IMAP?

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Jobs Horns

How Much Memory?

1GB is insane for just an e-mail client.

Something like Outlook (which I hate) has built-in calendar/address book syncing, responds well even with large mailboxes, surely doesn't require 1GB. Albeit the search in Outlook truly sucks.

So the Address Book component doesn't support CardDav? That's a disappointment.

Also disappointed that the Account Wizard still exists as it's a horror story of interface design. Hopefully they've added a button to completely skip the Account Wizard at the earliest stage. And hopefully it supports this soon-to-be standard for automatic mail service discovery... http://datatracker.ietf.org/doc/draft-daboo-srv-email/

Have they really buried the HTML e-mail option 3 menus deep in prefs?

In 3.0.4 that I'm using at the moment I just go to View > Message Body As, if they've moved that menu then they've clearly lost it.

I've been hoping they deal with these bugs/enhancements:

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=562266

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=505035

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=468808

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=466060

https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=456596

One of the most irritating things about TBird is the way there was nothing in the UI to change the sort order and column display/order for all folders/sub-folders

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Boffin

RE: HTML e-mail option

I think TFA means the option over whether to *send* your mail as HTML or not.

Personally I don't mind *viewing* HTML email as long as it's sanitized of any web-bugs or other naughtiness, but I'm old and fogeyish enough to consider it bad netiquette to send the stuff.

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1 Gb Ram !

So, it won't fit in CD-Live distro, tiny distro, netbooks (for those still under XP). I wonder how much ram need Opera ?

But maybe the Opera's mail isn't as good as the browser part.

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MJI
Silver badge
Go

3.1 has a naff name - not cool

2 was cool 3 was cool, 3.1 isn't.

Why?

2 was a large hypersonic transport aircraft, 3 is a red rocket, but Gerry Anderson had no 3.1.

Thunderbirds are Go!

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Thumb Down

I am beginning to despair with Mozilla..

...I know it's free, but....

Firefox has been a serious memory hog for quite some time and on my Ubuntu boxes it has regularly been grabbing 500MB of RAM after running for a few hours with a few tabs open.

Thunderbird too is a memory hog as the Reg' has observed. Whatever happened to the lean philosophy? A gig of RAM is ridiculous for users of netbooks or lightweight laptops who may well be using Ubuntu UNR or XP with only a gig to start with.

Sort yourselves out Mozilla.

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Boffin

Upgrade Problems? What Upgrade Problems?

I just upgraded from 2.x to 3.0.4 and it seems to have imported all my email accounts and data ok.

So what was the problem exactly?

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Stop

here we go again

Well, if it worked fine for you, then it's obviously no issue at all, for anybody. What a relief.

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Boffin

Nearly

It's getting there but the "spinning cursor" you mentioned is still there. And there's this feller:

Alert: Unable to delete messages in folder Inbox because it is in use by another operation. Please wait for that operation to finish and try again.

Overall though it's a good program and the search facility is now better than version 2, which was definitely not the case with 3.0.

Guessing the settings of new accounts is still awful for non ISP emails though. If they are going to keep that feature they need an option before it of "Please sod off and let me put the correct settings in. I confirm that I am not a moron."

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Happy

GContactSync is available, just a little harder to find.

GContactSync is compatible with 3.1 and works well enough for me to import my GMail contacts. I do set it to "Fetch Only" mode though, as automatically adding people I reply to to my address book has caused me headaches in the past.

I wish they'd just bite the bullet and include Lightning into Thunderbird. Lightning for 3.1 is available here: http://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/calendar/lightning/nightly/latest-comm-1.9.2/ and works fine so far (there are also versions for 3.2 if you're brave enough to be running 3.2). One of my Google calendars wouldn't show up for some reason, so I had to re-add it. The other three worked fine...

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Alert

RC2

Just FYI - 3.1 is not final yet, it's RC2. Although most probably it will become final if they don't find anything serious in the mean time.

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Thumb Down

1GB RAM required?

You had me worried there for a moment! Still, 786 MB is a ludicrous requirement for an email client.

Minimum Hardware

* Pentium 233 MHz (Recommended: Pentium 500MHz or greater)

* Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP: 786 MB RAM (Recommended: 1GB RAM or greater)

* Windows 2000: 256 MB RAM (Recommended: 512 MB RAM or greater)

* 52 MB hard drive space

http://www.mozillamessaging.com/en-US/thunderbird/system-requirements/

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Grenade

Can't get worse

If only they'd sort out the many IMAP bugs....

Do serious IT people still use the POP3 protocol these days?

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Bronze badge

Re: Can't get worse

At work or at home?

At work, I never have done. At home, yes.

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3.0 works fine for me

On Ubuntu. And I use gmail.

Mind you, I'm not a huge email user, so maybe just haven't hit any nasties yet.

Although, I really don't like the tabbed interface - constantly hitting the wrong close button and having to re start everything. There must be settings to fix it but haven't bothered yet.

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SeaMonkey

Sad thing is that through my experiences, the current versions of SeaMonkey have been a lot more responsive than Firefox and Thunderbird have been as of late. Wasn't the whole point of Phoenix/Firebird/Firefox and eventually Thunderbird to have lightweight trimmed down browsers and email clients? Now the descendant of the "bloated" suite from which they were born runs better than they did while incorporating the main useful technologies introduced since and not dropping anything significant...

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FAIL

Crazy HDD Usage

I uninstalled Thunderbird 3 lately after checking my 'AppData' folder, only to find my Thunderbird settings taking up a cool 40+GB for my ~4gb gMail account. Nice one Mozilla, increasing the size of my inbox contents by a factor of 10.

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Linux

Linux FTW

According to the actual sys. reqs. page, I only need "64 MB RAM (Recommended: 128 MB RAM or greater)", win !

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Alien

Umm..

I'm running 3.0.5 and it's sitting at 44Mb in memory so has it really jumped that much?

The speed could be a lot better though.... I keep getting occasional several second waits switching between boxes. And it doesn't get rid of the letter notifier if I read all my mail but had it filtered out of the inbox beforehand, which is most annoying. Still prefer 2 atm....

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Gates Halo

Sorry, I'll take cross program integration

Office (2010 now) for me. Tried Thunderbird with the Lightning add-on (albeit a couple of versions ago): garbage.

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FAIL

Nope sorry

We dumped Thunderbird 3 recently because of the wonders of setting up accounts. The "guess the settings" is useless to us, leaving them in a mess and with several new users a day, we simply don't have the resource to explain how to work through the stupid thing.

Of course, it could be fixed with a simple option at the front like "do you know your account settings already?" but No. The conversations on the bug reports are very clear - the developers have simply stuck their heads up their collective arse and failed to provide a single sensible argument against implementing it.

Shame, because apart from that fatal flaw, most of the rest of 3 is fine.

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Grenade

I would respectfully invite you

To configure your beloved Outlook with a set of given smtp and pop/imap servers and then come back to me and tell me how user friendly it is.

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Dumbing down

This is a classic example of the current trend of software becoming totally dumbed down and wizard driven. Result is adept users get stuffed.

My email server does both imap and pop3. Thunderbird 3 detected POP3 (which I need running for other things) and then utterly refused to allow me to change to IMAP.

Absolutely no way to override it. I nearly threw my laptop out the window! Ended up having to shut down POP3 on the server, run the fscking account wizard which then only saw IMAP and then restart the POP3 server. Utterly ridiculous.

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FAIL

I know my account settings already!

No thought for the technical end user who knows EXACTLY what they're doing and just wants to type in the settings they so carefully and painstakingly crafted in years gone by. Mozilla are by no means the only offender but are surely one of the most notable.

It's like graphics editing programs that allow you to select or drag a region by mouse, but omit a spin box so that you are unable to do something to EXACTLY the dimensions or location required.

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FAIL

Wishlist

Dear Mozilla, for Christmas I'd like you to fix...

* When I shut down Thunderbird (or Firefox), I'd like it to actually go, not lurk is memory for up to ten minutes.

* I'd quite like you to fix the mess you made of my calendar when you upgraded Thunderbird to 3.0 and broke Lightning. We've been on 1.0b1 since January.

* I'd like to be able to interact with Google without needing 3rd party extensions.

* I'd quite like it if you reliably marked as read stuff the message filters are told to mark as read so that I don't get alerts for irrelevant reports or supposedly deleted spam every 2 minutes.

* I'd like it if my calendars didn't spontaneously duplicate themselves across all other calendars - including copying my wife's calendar onto my boss' calendar. He was most surprised to discover he had a smear test booked.

I'd keep going, but I doubt I'll get any of these, so I'm going down the pub instead...

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J 3
Alert

Will see...

TB 3 is broken for me, for some reason. I get an error message (below) and it does not go from there.

In TB 2.x, I get an error message when connecting to my IMAP inbox: "The current command did not succeed. The mail server responded: EXPUNGE Invalid or nonexistent document." But it happens once only, and then I just click on the "Get Mail" button again and it works normally, retrieving the messages. The error only shows up once after starting the app. This error appeared one day when I was trying out Evolution (crappy). So I went back to TB... and the error was there. I guess Evolution changed something in the server, is that possible? I Googled that message a few times, no success.

TB 3 gives the same error *every time* I click on "Get Mail" and then proceeds to not getting the mail... I changed every option I could find that seemed remotely relevant, but nothing.

Will try 3.1 tonight and keep my fingers crossed. Maybe I won't be able to use it anyway, since my 8 year old home computer has only 1 GB of RAM to begin with. It's running Kubuntu, but still...

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Stop

re: Three reasons why

Yes, Opera 10.5 does all of those in the mail client (which has had much work over the last couple of years..

I still find it bizarre that people use two instances of firefox's bloaty baggage, one for firefox and one for Thunderbird....

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Thunderbird 3.04 works fine for me.

I currently run 3.04 on XP SP3 with a dual core CPU and 3GB of memory. I access pop3, imap and webmail accounts via a add on. I had no problems switching fom 2.x to 3.x. I usually avoid .0's so I probably didn't upgrade until 3.01 or 3.02.

I never used a plugin to access GMAIL, you go to gmail's website, enable IMAP then follow Google's direction on configuring Thunderbird. They have excellent directions for a variety of email clients.

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WTF?

Nothing (Much) Wrong With 3.0

I've been using TB since the days of Netscape Communicator and TB 3.0 since it came out on Mac OS X, Ubuntu and Win7 and I've had only minor issues with it (the main one being 3.0 newly acquired inability to use the system alert sound the Mac to indicate new mail's arrival. Sadly not even 3.0.5 has fixed this.). It's been great otherwise, the upgrade was smooth on all platforms, the speed is fine and it handles Gmail IMAP as well as my ISP's IMAP server just fine. I haven't tried 3.1 yet, I'll let others debug the pre-release versions, but as soon as the real 3.1 is released I'll be installing it.

I have no idea what the writer of this article is talking about re lots of bugs and high resource usage, it's fast and stable and is still the best email client available, particularly if you need cross-platform software as I do.

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Old news

Personally I don't understand why anyone uses a mail client anymore. I use Gmail and before that both Hotmail and Yahoo, web mail is great since I don't have to back it up and I can access it (and all my archived mail) anywhere.

What exactly is the point of Thunderbird or Outlook again ?

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Paris Hilton

Speed vs RAM

It's a simple trade off.

HDD are the slowest component in modern hardware. You complained that it's slow? so they move it to RAM based indices.

You're probably comparing it to Outlook hooked up to exchange... which happy will use many GB of RAM to do it's job even for 1 mailbox.

If you really want to compare with Outlook then run it in local mode/offline.

PS. to all the idiots. It doesn't use 1GB, it's the recommended minimum spec so that you can still multi-task and get on with work without paging constantly. Seeing as it's the same for vista/win7, I'm not sure why anyone is complaining at all. OFC if you were running super light embedded linux then it's something to QQ about. (ie. on a hacked xbox or portable device)

svchost (single prcs), skype and MS security essentials all use more or same memory as thunderbird does on my machine and I can guarantee they don't offer as much functionality.

Paris because sometimes I think the average commentards and journalistards have the same IQ.

------

You can't win an argument on the Internet. State facts, list citations, walk away.

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what about usenet

I stopped using tbird for reading usenet, back in the 2.x days, because it could not filter on all headers, chuck out crossposts, or handle threading at all well.

How does it do now?

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FAIL

What Chris Stevens Said

Hell, I've got CAD machines in my office that max out at 2G. And I'm always trying to encourage users to multitask more and quit running with *every*single*damn*window* maximized.

It doesn't matter what is available, your software should be designed to function with as little memory as possible. If you wanna grab some more for a particular task (like indexing for a search) that's fine but don't hold onto it 24*7 the way a lot of people keep their email client open.

I have the same poor opinion of every single program wanting to install a "quickstarter" or an update checker that's running all the damn time, even if it is only 16M.

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