back to article Thunderbird 102 gets a major facelift, Matrix chat support

Open-source cross-platform email and messaging client Thunderbird has hit version 102, with a new look and improved functionality, including Matrix chat support. The latest release is the first major upgrade since version 91, which The Reg looked at last August. This is normal for the app – it follows the same approximately …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "102 has a modernized look"

    Oh dear. Still, it might be worth taking a look to see if it justifies moving away from Seamonkey which so far has provided similar facilities with a pleasantly unmodernised UI.

    1. aerogems Silver badge

      I just installed it and actually like the new look. Instead of just shamelessly copying Chrome, this time it seems they took a page from Vivaldi and have a sidebar with links to things like mail, address book, calendar, etc. It's more of a refinement of the 91.x UI than some massive overhaul.

      1. logicalextreme

        Did you have to download/install manually? My v91's claiming to be up-to-date.

        1. logicalextreme

          According to the comments here, they're holding off on that until they're confident. My upgrade hasn't gone well but I'm switching to a new machine soon anyway so it's come at an okay time.

        2. aerogems Silver badge

          Yes. Like 91.x before it, it's not being immediately distributed via the in-app update system.

          1. logicalextreme

            Cheers — missed the editing window, but closing and reopening the application sorted my missing mailbox. Looking good so far! I see what you mean about Vivaldi…just as Vivaldi Mail's been released :) I think in my current job I prefer a dedicated mail client though, so good to see Thunderbird coming along.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Compared to the Seamonkey mail interface it's extravagant in use of screen space. The tabs are part of the problem and the other is that the Reply/Forward etc buttons are in their own toolbar at the head of the message pane and the To and From are stepped down to make room for it which just takes up more vertical space. Seamonkey allows the detailed display of header information to be toggled. The sidebar can be hidden so that's not an issue.

        The default theme claims to take colours, menus & buttons from the OS. As far as button icons are concerned they're not from the OS so it's stuck with the line-drawing style icons which look like a cuneiform writer's attempt at hieroglyphs.

        I would, however like the conversation view if it didn't hide the folder pane. The fundamental problem here is the notion that the basic unit is the message so that by default sent messages can be kept separate from the received messages to which they're replying and received messages separate from the sent messages to which they are replying. The basic unit should be the thread (or conversation if you prefer); a singleton messages is just a thread which as yet has only a single message. It looks as if I'll just stick with Seamonkey until someone cracks that one properly.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      I looied on the site, no evidence of a traditional menu. I *DEMAND* the traditional menu!!!

      1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        [Author here]

        Do you mean a menu bar at the top of the app window? Yes, it has that, and yes it works. Including with keyboard controls, e.g. Alt-H, A gives me the Help | About screen.

        The menu bar _doesn't_ integrate with the Unity global menu bar, sadly, but perhaps it will when the Ubuntu-packaged version comes along. Waterfox does, and so does Chrome.

    3. Alumoi Silver badge

      What's with that colored folders and how do I revert them to something neutral?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.

    The last time that I upgraded, it buggered up my Usenet.

    1. Randy Hudson

      Re: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

      After the upgrade, I lost telegraph support

      1. aerogems Silver badge

        Re: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

        If it messes with my smoke signals Mozilla will be getting a strongly worded... oh wait.

        1. Frank Zuiderduin

          Re: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

          Seriously, though. Don't compress any folders without restarting afterwards. You might lose mail...

    2. logicalextreme

      Re: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

      I have just upgraded and while my Usenet is fine, being on a different box entirely, I don't seem to have any folders or emails. So yes, perhaps be a mite afraid.

      1. logicalextreme

        Re: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

        Missed the editing window, but closing and reopening the application sorted it. Looking good so far!

  3. VoiceOfTruth

    Incorporating Enigmail

    -> 102 has a modernized look and feel.

    I don't mind things being modernised, as long as they don't get in my way. As Doctor Syntax above mentions, pleasant and unmodernised sometimes go together.

    -> as is PGP support, which used to be an add-on called Enigmail.

    That alone might tempt me to have another look at Thunderbird. This is so long overdue. If security in email is important, it should be integral in the client. Getting people to install a plugin (which sometimes did not work - I had this experience more than once) was not a good experience, and no wonder so few people did it.

    -> [For Linux] The Thunderbird site offers only a tarball, which is not very helpful in 2022

    I disagree. It is sure to extract with the same command on whatever distro you have.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Incorporating Enigmail

      The tarball is a bit of a PITA right now as I've got Thunderbird installed on Linux Mint via the repo, and the updates not here yet.

      But it's only a PITA to wait, which I can do, so it's not really a PITA. I'm just keen to see if play nicely with my work O365 account which the currently iteration doesn't.

    2. HereAndGone

      Thunderbird PGP is NOT Enigmail

      Thunderbird's efforts to make PGP easy to use introduces severe security issues.

      Normally (as in Enigmail and all sane uses of PGP) your Private Key Passphrases resides only in your head and then briefly in memory while used, never to disk.

      The new Thunderbird requires your private passphrase upon import of your private key. It then removes your private passphrase and replaces it with it's own generated password. If you have multiple private keys, it replaces all of them with the same generated password. Of course now you no longer know your own new password so Thunderbird saves it to it's database on disk so that it can automatically use it for you.

      The saved single private key password is protected by your Thunderbird password. If you're not using a Thunderbird password, it's saved in the clear! If you are using a Thunderbird password, your new all purpose private key password is encrypted on disk with your Thunderbird password as the key to the key.

      Then there's the question of the encryption Thunderbird uses to save this master private key? I believe, but Thunderbird Devs refuse to respond, that the encryption used is the obsolete 3DES.

      I stopped using Thunderbird when the new development team made it better.

      1. VoiceOfTruth

        Re: Thunderbird PGP is NOT Enigmail

        I will take your word for it, but I will probably have a look anyway. If they have significantly weakened the way to use PGP as you say they should not have done it. They could just have easily requested the PGP passphrase each time.

      2. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

        Re: Thunderbird PGP is NOT Enigmail

        "I believe, but Thunderbird Devs refuse to respond..."

        I hope you weren't being toxic.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thunderbird PGP is NOT Enigmail

        I can confirm that their PGP implementation was done incompetently, to put it gently.

        The developer behind it hadn't even heard of stripped keys and for a while he refused to believe it was even a thing. Which means he's never used PGP in a serious context himself.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Incorporating Enigmail

      > That alone might tempt me to have another look at Thunderbird.

      Don't. Their PGP implementation is a pile of wank.

      And you can't install Enigmail at all post version 76 or so, which is why I've locked it to that version in my package manager. I made the mistake of upgrading on one computer and had to recover from backup.

  4. ovation1357

    Modern == Hamburger Menu?

    Like almost every major Linux app I use, Thunderbird is built on GTK.

    The GNOME project has thrown away the rulebook on desktop UI design and done some pretty nasty things like deprecating support for proper title and menu bars (replacing the menu with a hamburger plus some buttons embedded in what should be the title bar).

    These pretty much no escape from these changes and they affect anything using GTK even if you're using a traditional window manager like XFCE or MATE.

    Now, Mozilla have so far done pretty well on this front! Firefox has a hamburger menu as, I believe, does Thunderbird. But they've put in efforts to enable users to have proper menu and title bars (although as I understand it there ain't nothing and no how they can do to get proper scroll bars back)...

    I fear it's only a matter of time before GTK makes it so hard for them to support proper desktop UI elements that they are forced to go the way of the rest - do I dare to try this release and find out if this is the one??

    Like another poster said, modern doesn't necessarily mean bad but I chose tools such as Thunderbird specifically because of things like stable UI design and, most importantly, user configurable options. I really hope they do continue to be a bastion of user choice! So far as I'm concerned they can change the default user interface to their hearts' content so long as I get the choice to switch to 'classic mode' and get on with some real work.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Modern == Hamburger Menu?

      Vivaldi also allows you to go back to proper menu and title bars. I suppose the GTK way of doing things reclaims some of the space lost to needless tabs.

      Along with the scroll bars It's the handling of icons that's hard to get round. It means that a GTK app sticks out like a painfully sore thumb in an environment where the other applications aren't.

    2. PRR Silver badge

      Re: Modern == Hamburger Menu?

      > get proper scroll bars

      I got scroll bars but they are too wide. (Win7) The folder scrollbar partially covers the Size column. Which is optional but IMHO essential. And right-justified, no choice.

      This happened in FireFox a few versions back. At least I found a FireFox add-in for this. In T-Bird?

      I suspect an underlying misunderstanding or inconsistency of video dimension code. I have to run my monitor at 120 DPI, 125% of 'normal'. The mis-width of my scroll bars is just about that 25%.

      The Spaces toolbar seems particularly pointless. How many undiscoverable ways are there to open the address book?

      BTW: if you start deleting entries from a greedy address book, the cursor jumps to the top of the list every time. Like a RoloDex snapping-shut on your fingers. Even Windows File Explorer can save its place better.

      I actually like the new folder icons. The last ones were so bland it was hard to re-find my place. But the Junk icon looks like a bat (Remember The Bat! email? But that bat icon had claws.)

      1. PRR Silver badge

        Re: Modern == Hamburger Menu?

        late edit--- the well-hidden Config Editor has many entries like "widget.non-native-theme." Randomly poking these 0 to 1 or true to false gave me first a near-perfect scrollbar fit and then a too-narrow scrollbar. Confirming that the code is confused, nothing new.

  5. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    Modernised? I hope not

    I'm still using PCELM I got with Demon in 1993. I was wondering if I should upgrade to cheetah. Maybe my friends on uk.comp.misc.

  6. chroot

    Finally: the address book

    We can now have more than 2 email addresses per contact! And a whole lot of other stuff. This closes bug 118665 that was opened 21 years ago. Finally.

    BTW: I've been using Thunderbird since it was called Netscape.

    BTW2: Happily using it on Archlinux: it is "thunderbird-bin" in the AUR.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It looks like its new corporate sponsorship is working out,

    What cost to the end user?

  8. Graham 32

    Still no sensible layout for a widescreen

    The 3 column "vertical view" layout still thinks the email should cram the subject, sender, date and various icons on a single line. Many other mail apps split this across 2 or 3 lines to make it readable. Thunderbird's email list needs so much width it only works in "classic view" with the email list above the mail content, and that layout has been looking silly since people started using widescreen monitors.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Still no sensible layout for a widescreen

      So they're doing it right, then.

      The idea should be to discourage that idiotic three column view. The correct view is TWO columns, one with mailboxes and one with the list of date, sender, subject, and various other bits of data about the message.

      And that's it.

      For fucks' sake DO NOT EVER show me the message content until I double click it, and then open it in a new fucking window. I NEVER want to see message content with a single click. For the vast majority of email I just want to select the message and delete or junk it without ever reading it or being exposed to whatever stupid shit some bot emailed me about.

      1. Graham 32

        Re: Still no sensible layout for a widescreen

        The third column is the mail content. So obviously not doing it right, in your view.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Still no sensible layout for a widescreen

        > For fucks' sake DO NOT EVER show me the message content until I double click it

        Press F fucking 8 then mate. That hides the message pane (and is what I do when selecting potential spam before inspecting it with Ctrl+U).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh No Not Again

    What have they messed up this time? It is funny that Firefox and Thunderbird can waste thousands of manhours tinkering with trivia like how pretty things are, when they can't sort out the real mess thay created.

    Neither are useable without lots of addons. When is Thunderbird finally going to display the real sender ID without an addon?

    They seem to be deliberately helpng crooks and Phishing attacks.

    They hide various other items which I can't remember, that even Firefox does not hide, and I cannot remove the Google search.

    Why can't I remove Google completely from both - they just seem to become more dependent on Google?

  10. dajames

    If it ain't broke ..

    ... then don't fix it. Certainly don't change the appearance of the user interface just to make it look "more modern" (which, IME means "less functional")

    However, there are things in Thunderbird that are definitely broken. If they could fix the plain text message editor so that it can correctly handle flowable and non-flowable text, both in quoted text and in new text, that would be lovely ... but it's been broken for so long now that I doubt anyone at Mozilla can remember how it's supposed to work.

    RFC2646 is fairly clear, though. Perhaps someone at Mozilla should try reading it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If it ain't broke ..

      Not to mention no break fucking spaces, which are a required feature for writing properly in languages such as French and Czech.

      Thunderbird, in 2022, intentionally converts NBSP to regular space because of the whims of some idiot decades ago.

      Does it at least support right to left languages these days?

  11. Dizzy Dwarf Bronze badge

    Usenet news (yes, it still exists)

    Usenet is the only reason I use it.

  12. Nematode

    STILL no full Reply header

    For goodness' sake, please can they get round to supplying a built-in option for a full Reply header ("Outlook style" if you must, but whatever, with full info, not just "On [date] [someone] said" which is most uninformative). They still have it for Forwards, why not just use the same routine for using it in Replies too ???!!!! This has been a persistent lack in Thunderbird, hole filled by add-ons, but of course, 102 breaks ReplyWithHeader add-on which hasn't caught up with 102 yet. And some add-on Devs are getting fed up with Thunderbird's changes and given up, so at present we can only hope it will be updated for 102. Or, stick with circa v 66 as I have ! :) :)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah yes, PGP "support"

    Which doesn't support stripped keys. :/

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Matrix support…

    …there was some idiot from the Thunderbird team on Mastodon a few months back trying to get audience support for this "feature". Most people pointed out that if they want a matrix client they will use a matrix client not an email client, and that its XMPP "support" hasn't been touched in twenty years and is an embarrassment to both Thunderbird and the XMPP community, but he was too busy admiring the sound of his own voice.

    I know there are competent and dedicated people at Thunderbird, but it's the psychos who run the show, sadly. :(

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    is the CalDAV support…

    …as slow as it used to be with their plugin?

    Does it even support journals these days?

  16. 43300 Silver badge

    Does it have three-line display for emails in the email folder list now? It was about the only email client which had stuck with the cramped one-line display, with no other options.

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