Mozilla's Spark, Eudora's New Life

Once popular e-mail client gets code injection from Thunderbird.

Eudora is back. Well, almost.

Qualcomm's Eudora e-mail client is taking its first steps in a comeback attempt with the beta release of Eudora 8.

Eudora 8 is the first version of Eudora to be based on code from the open source Mozilla Thunderbird e-mail project. The effort to resurrect the once dominant e-mail client with a Mozilla base was first announced nearly a year ago in October of 2006.

The work for Eudora 8 is still being led by QUALCOMM staffers though it's now also under the auspices of a Mozilla project called Penelope. QUALCOMM according to the Penelope wiki is donating the time of its staff members to the project.

The goal of the effort is to preserve the Eudora user experience and not to create a competitive project with Thunderbird.

"Whereas Eudora is a branded version of Thunderbird with some extra features added by the Eudora developers, "Penelope" is an extension (also called an "add-on") that is used in Eudora and can also be used with Thunderbird," the Penelope wiki explains. "The Eudora installer includes the corresponding version of Penelope along with it so there is no need to install Penelope if you are installing Eudora."

According to beta release notes, the Eudora 8 email client is synced to the Mozilla Thunderbird release code branch which is the most current point release in the 2.x series.

The first beta is by the developers own admission not entirely complete yet either and it has its fair share of rough edges.

"Note that if you are a current Eudora user who wishes to give Thunderbird a try, the Thunderbird importers for Eudora are a bit rough, especially for MacOS users," the wiki states. "It may be worth waiting to try to import your mail until we make some improvements to the importers."

Importing mail from the older classic version of Eudora is likely to be a key issue for many. In a mailing list posting to a Eudora support group one Eudora user asked if anyone had figured out how to import mailboxes from Classic Eudora's Mail folder into a comparable format in Eudora 8. The user noted that he had about 15 years worth of email archives stored away and wanted to be able to search them and open individual emails from them.

That said, the release notes for Eudora 8 beta 1 specifically note that, "importing mailboxes and messages from the original Eudora in to the new Eudora has been substantially improved under Windows." Developers also claim that import times are now 5 times shorter and that basic message attributes and status are now maintained.

Eudora's developers have pledged to track the Mozilla Thunderbird roadmap but will still aim to keep bringing over Eudora features and customizations to the effort. Above all though, participation and community involvement will remain key to the success of the effort.

"We encourage people to help the progress of Penelope, whether you know how to write code or not," the Mozilla Penelope wiki states. " This was one of the main drivers to our decision to go open source with Eudora."

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