Mozilla Thunderbird to Find New Home as Mozilla Foundation Focuses on Mozilla Firefox
Thursday July 26th, 2007
On her weblog, Mozilla Corporation CEO Mitchell Baker has announced that Mozilla Thunderbird is to move to a "new, separate organizational setting" as the Mozilla Foundation continues to focus ever more closely on Mozilla Firefox.
While the Mozilla Foundation supports a number of projects, its taxable subsidiary the Mozilla Corporation is responsible for only Firefox and Thunderbird. However, it has become increasingly clear that Firefox is the priority. The resources allocated to Firefox dwarf those allocated to Thunderbird and recent projects such as the initiative to improve Mozilla support exclude Thunderbird.
Mitchell outlines three possible options for a new organisational structure for Thunderbird. One is to create a entirely new non-profit, which would offer maximum independence for Thunderbird but is organisationally complex. A second option is to create a new subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation for Thunderbird, which would keep the Mozilla Foundation involved but may mean that Thunderbird continues to be neglected in favour of Firefox. A final option is to recast Thunderbird as community project, similar to SeaMonkey, and set up a small independent services and consulting company to continue development. However, there are concerns over how the Thunderbird product, project and company would interact.
On his new weblog, lead Thunderbird developer Scott MacGregor has posted his thoughts on the finding a new home for Thunderbird. He states that he favours the third option. Scott explains that this means that Thunderbird would continue to use Mozilla Foundation infrastructure, such as the CVS repository and Bugzilla, and the new company would perform a similar role for Thunderbird as the Mozilla Corporation does for Firefox, developing, releasing and supporting the application.
Observers of the Mozilla community may have seen Thunderbird's new home coming. In April, former Firefox lead developer Ben Goodger wrote a weblog post discussing autonomy for non-Firefox projects. He suggested renaming the Mozilla Corporation to the Firefox Corporation and pointed to a newsgroup message in which Mozilla Corporation CTO Brendan Eich declared "Thunderbird will have to fly free". Ten days later, Mitchell Baker wrote a weblog post on the Mozilla Foundation's focus on Firefox, stating that the Foundation's resources would be used to "assist other Mozilla participants and projects, but not equally with Firefox and not at significant cost to Firefox".
Update: In the text above, the sentence "While the Mozilla Foundation supports a number of projects, its taxable subsidiary the Mozilla Corporation is responsible for only Firefox and Thunderbird" was potentially misleading. The Corporation provides significant support to projects other than Firefox and Thunderbird in terms of hardware, services and personnel.
It would be more accurate to say that Firefox and Thunderbird are Mozilla products, which means that they get released, distributed and supported as end-user applications by the Corporation. Other applications, such as SeaMonkey and Camino, are Mozilla projects, which are made into products by volunteers or other organisations, if at all.
#44 IceWeasel & LightningBuzzard
Tuesday July 31st, 2007 12:16 PM
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I really caution Mozilla from doing this in a non-committal manner. Wasn't it enough to let Nvu fail? Now, Thunderbird is going to fall apart too? What is going to happen is similar to what you saw with IceWeasel. Someone will fork the project and they will be left with nothing but a black eye to show for it. I suggest the the entire Mozilla group, foundation, or whatever it is called now, get back to the basics and stop trying to reason your way out of things. End users do not want to hear complaining about it being too hard to manage more than one big project. They want options. They need to let it go completely if there is any doubt they can support it and let someone else pick up the gauntlet before it turns into two separate projects which destroy each other.