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Open Source Crypto is Hard: Part 7846

ComputerWorldUK - Glyn Moody - Last week I wrote about the importance of Thunderbird as a platform for encrypted communications. That produced some comments from Gervase Markham, who works for Mozilla. Here's one particularly interesting suggestion he made:

I think you are unlikely to succeed [in getting Mozilla to invest more in Thunderbird]. So can I suggest alternative ways of reaching your goal? The Firefox OS mail app is an email client which is supported by Mozilla and, because it's a web app written in HTML and JS, could be installed on Android, shipped on the desktop, or even turned into a webmail client. This codebase is much more likely to produce a vibrant Mozilla-supported email client than the Thunderbird one. (And I say this as a long-time Thunderbird user.) It's not ready to replace Thunderbird yet, but I think you are far better off pushing in that direction than trying to get decisions about Thunderbird itself reversed.

That's certainly an idea worth exploring, although, as I replied to Markham, I have some concerns about how robust implementing OpenPGP in Javascript would be (but see his comments on that, too.) We certainly need other open source mail clients that can be used for secure communications. When I wrote about Thunderbird back in 2013, I mentioned a new project called Mailpile. That has been progressing steadily, and recently released a beta version. Here's what feedback revealed:

Obviously we had hoped things were almost ready for public consumption, that we were close to making a proper release. The testing did it's job alright: we know now we were a tad overoptimistic. Just a tad! So we're going back to work instead of pushing for a 1.0 right away.

Some of the key take-aways from our beta tests were: