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I heard the news today, oh boy. My favorite email package for the last ten years, Eudora, is going open source (via Kevin Werbach). The current version will be retired and replaced with one based on Mozilla Thunderbird. I was surprised; the only clue I had was that the promised Cocoa-ized version for Mac was way overdue.

Time to panic? Maybe. While I do long for an end to Eudora’s handful of significant shortcomings (principally its woeful support for HTML mail), I’m not looking forward to giving up Eudora’s numerous charms, including a myriad of useful features and unparalleled performance.

I was glad to hear that Thunderbird would be the basis of the new Eudora, since it was already my second-favorite email client. (I used it briefly at work before returning to Outlook for its better compatibility with Exchange.) Since one major reason I still use Eudora is its outstanding performance handling large mailboxes, I thought I would take Thunderbird out for a little proficiency run to see how it handled.

Moving my mail into Thunderbird was no fun; it crashed repeatedly after importing a mere 2150 messages from a mailbox, so I gave up on that tactic. Since both Eudora and Thunderbird store mail in mbox format, I tried simply moving the Eudora mailboxes to the Thunderbird folder. (Thunderbird automatically creates .msf files for each mailbox.) This worked fine, and I was relieved that Thunderbird didn't have much of a problem with the biggest mailbox I tried (~12,000 messages).

In briefly playing around, I noticed two problems. The header area of the message window does not spawn scroll bars, so if you choose to view full headers and they are longer than the screen, you won’t be able to see all of them. Another problem is that some messages simply would not display. I noticed that these all happened to be HTML messages, but with a content-type of multipart/alternative. When I changed content-type to text/html, the messages displayed fine. These messages displayed fine in Eudora, but it must be more lenient with inappropriate content-types.

The new project is code-named Penelope; I hope that doesn’t mean we will have to wait twenty years for the first version. Meanwhile, I’ll be keeping an eye on the project page. Best wishes to the entire team!


i have 22k+ emails in my local gmail folder in Thunderbird along with a smattering of others in 4 different email addresses. works like a charm. i love me some thunderbird. i used it at my last job, but at the new one, the dark lord of MS Office is king so to Outlook i must go once again.

I like the way I can use Eudora's filters to direct incoming email to whatever folder I deem useful for me.... So far I haven't been able to figure to use Thunderbird's filters for the same purpose.... So I'm hoping that the new Mozilla Eudora will include the old Eudora's filter/mail-directing abilities.

I hsd no problem redirecting a clearly identified mail list into a folder in T-bird, as well as some very persistent smut mailings which it would never flag now go directly to the trash.

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