Eudora E-Mail Just Wont Die

Qualcomm's Eudora e-mail is making a comeback as an open- source offering.

Some programs just wont die.

Eudora 8.0 is a mail and news application from Qualcomm based on the open source Thunderbird client from the Mozilla Foundation. After abandoning Eudora as a commercial product in May, six Qualcomm programmers have released the product to Mozilla for further development under the code name Penelope.

A beta of Eudora 8.0 went live Aug. 31. Users can download it and use it for free, while programmers can view the source code, make changes to it, and share it with others in the community.

"Qualcomm is committed to both preserving the Eudora user experience and to maintaining maximum compatibility, for both developers and users, with Thunderbird," the Qualcomm Eudora programmers wrote on Mozillas wiki. "It is our goal to build a single development community around Thunderbird and Eudora, so that both mailers advance faster than they previously have.

One thing it wont do is replace Mozillas Thunderbird, which while not as popular perhaps as the open source organizations Firefox browser, has some loyal users.


Click here to read about how the updated Eudora blocks unwanted e-mail.

Qualcomm, whose engineering team for Eudora includes Eudora creator Steve Dorner, said that while Eudora is a branded version of Thunderbird with some extra features added by the Eudora developers, Penelope is an add-on that is used in Eudora and can also be used with Thunderbird.

To wit, the developers said the Eudora installer includes the corresponding version of Penelope so there is no need to install Penelope if users are installing Eudora.

Ferris Research analyst Richi Jennings said the idea of this is that any Thunderbird user can install the extension and get a more Eudora-like experience. Thunderbird users, Jennings told eWEEK, potentially benefit, as Eudora has a few interesting features that might be useful, such as stationery.

The move is also obviously good news for loyal Eudora users, and Qualcomm is looking to capitalize on making that group happy.

"Qualcomm doesnt really want to do anything with Eudora, but it saw an opportunity to gain some good PR from the Eudora hard core and the open source community," Jennings said. "Eudora hasnt had a bright future for some considerable time—its hardly been a shining star on Qualcomms balance sheet.

The developers behind the Penelope project have added stationery, data and settings import to help with migration, and user interface options. Expect more features going forward.

"Once we finish version 1.0, we will divide our attention between bringing over some of the more obscure Eudora features and customizations, and doing new work," the programmer said. "We expect to track the Thunderbird roadmap, including calendar integration, and also to bring new ideas and capabilities to both mailers. We will flesh out this section of the roadmap based on user input from earlier in the process."

The resurrection of Eudora, used by millions of users before the bundling of Outlook into PCs rendered it roughly obsolete, is another example of how the emergence of the open source model can sustain innovation.


To read about how IBM based its new Lotus Notes and Domino 8 on Eclipse, click here.

Before open source, a product such as Eudora could easily become extinct, stamped out by the overwhelming market lead of Microsoft and other rival applications, including IBMs Lotus.

But with it, users loyal to the software can keep using it and, if they are so inclined, contribute to its development.


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