Heading towards Calendar 1.0 Beta 1

The original plan regarding Thunderbird 3 Beta 2 was to release a beta of Sunbird/Lightning that fits together well. Due to other obligations this goal has slipped quite a bit. We have tagged the list of blocking bugs by bugs needed for the beta and those we can move into the next beta.

Currently, there is only one bug left that we really need to solve for this beta. It has a preliminary patch and will require string changes. Unfortunately, the mentioned bug is not quite trivial, since a lot of UI changes need to be done and we haven’t quite agreed on some aspects.

This means we will announce a string freeze as soon as the bug has been fixed and release 2 weeks afterwards, or sooner if all strings have been translated earlier.

Nevertheless, we’d like to provide a beta as soon as possible. To help make this possible what we need most at the moment is testing! Please download Thunderbird 3 Beta 2 at:


And our latest nightly version of Lightning:


Be sure to back up your data before using this version, since it upgrades your local storage database. Downgrading is not easily possible afterwards without creating a new profile.

IMPORTANT:Note however as we’ve announced in an earlier blog post this will be the last release for the time being that includes Sunbird. This means that now more than ever, testing is needed to make sure that Sunbird doesn’t contain any critical bugs.

If you want future Sunbird releases to happen and either have experience with the Mozilla build architecture or are willing to learn, please do send me an Email and I’ll send you some information to get you started.

We will make an effort towards releasing more beta versions of Lightning on the road towards 1.0 to make sure the next release will be as bug-free as possible and still contain the nice new features we have been working on. Remember that we need you to fulfill this goal! Without your valuable testing, we will surely be up for a surprise in case a critical bug has made it into the final version without notice.


  1. There are so many known bugs in Calendar which haven’t been addressed at all yet, e.g. printing bugs. Do we need that more testing? Wouldn’t we foremost need more bug fixing work?

  2. We need testing for any existing bugs in the original sense (i.e not features). I’m aware that there are many open bugs that would be nice if they were fixed, but given the low amount of developers we have, it doesn’t make sense to begin features that don’t have any prior work. Sorry!

  3. The goal of this release seam to make sense, I just hope that this goal will stay up to the final.
    just a word about : “If you want future Sunbird releases to happen and either have experience with the Mozilla build architecture or are willing to learn, please do send me an Email and I’ll send you some information to get you started.”
    why do you need to write a mail to get started, the wiki is open you just have to put your answer to that mail in the wiki a give the link here, I don’t think you should ask for more work when you already have too much todo to do it all. but if you think it’s better that way go for it, I just can’t see the advantage.

  4. @Philipp: I completely understand that you don’t want to start with new features. It’s also not what I’m talking about. What I mean are things like printing on Windows sometimes completely fails and that kind of stuff. But otherwise Calendar has become a really nice product.

  5. I agree with djo0012. I already pointed out the lack of up-to-date documentation. I don’t see why I would need to send an email to get information. As djo0012, I think the wiki is the place where I should find it.

  6. Philipp:
    Perhaps there are others like me who have been following the Lightning project with the hope it will someday (soon?) get to the point that we could use it as our primary calendar (getting closer all the time…). But, never having done any testing before, we’re not familiar enough with the “nitty-gritty” to know exactly how one goes about “backing up your data” and protecting the stable versions of Thunderbird/Lightning when downloading Betas. We all have very limited time, but I, for one, wouldn’t mind doing some testing if I felt confident that I could successfully restore things to their previous state should something major go wrong. Is there a link you can recommend that describes how to test safely?
    On an unrelated subject, I was trying to find a document (which I swear I’ve seen in the past) that describes globally how the developers see Lightning evolving in the future? I’m hoping to someday be able to connect Thunderbird Contacts to Lightning tasks/calendar events, thereby taking on a true “contact management” functionality. Again, can you direct me anywhere to see a little of Thunderbird/Lightning’s future?
    Thanks for all of your hard work!
    P.S.– I, too, share Arthur’s printing concerns…

  7. I think sunbird / lightning project is dead. Since Ver. 02 I’m on, but all the time there are not enough developers, features are skiped and so on. It seems that there is no plan how to get the project grow an getting new developers. The last decision, to stop sunbird, shows that this way is the wrong one. Why shoul anybody be interested in supporting this project – that is the main question.

  8. @Philipp
    With you don´t have more any time to keep the project.
    Other projects like songbird has a real plan what they want to do.
    I think you don´t have any plan to the future of the sunbird project.
    Create a subsidiary , like mozillamessaging or other.
    Put the project to some one that want create new features !?
    Some one with great ideas…
    But don´t kill it, please !

  9. Erik,
    let me make a few points perfectly clear:
    1. just because you don’t like our plan doesn’t mean that we don’t have one.
    2. Comparing Sunbird with a Venture Capital backed application like Songbird is like comparing apples and oranges. Believe me, if we had a few millions to spend on developers, QA engineers and marketing people, things would look differently.
    3. Both Mozilla Foundation subsidiaries (Mozilla Corporation and Mozilla Messaging) got a lot of seed funding at the beginning, which we won’t get. So again, you’re comparing apples and oranges here.
    4. You ask Philipp to hand over the project to someone else. May I ask who that would be? It’s not like dozens of people are lining up who would be willing and able to take over. But if you can find an able developer with a good ability for project management, I’m sure Philipp would be considering handing over his responsibilities to be able to just concentrate on his stuff.

  10. A somewhat practical solution for Sunbird could be something like Seamonkey – a small list of able individual preferring one solution over another banded together to maintain an app the original developer could not/did not want anymore.
    As I said in another thread, I’d be willing to support this initiative financially, but that’s all I can do :-(
    From what I can see, actually Lightning and Sunbird are 95% the same, thus probably it would need only a handful of people to maintain it (I know this mean these volunteer won’t be developing Lightning, but I suppose *maintaining* Sunbird builds requires a bit less skills than *developing* Lightning, thus they may not have been useful for plan A anyway…)
    My 2 cents – and much more if a community response emerge from this :-)

  11. I personnaly highly support Lightning and TB, since I find it to be the best solution, at leat for personnal use.
    For Sunbird, if the Calendar guys think killing this part of the project to work on Lightning and to at least have something well done, let them do that and don’t complain. Better one than nothing, agree?
    In the best of worlds, they’d do both, but they can’t (not enough ressources, human and financial). This the kind of hard decisions a manager has to make, and they did it (and it was certainly very painful).
    We’re better keep up the support, use and test their products, submit reports, and help them however we can. If each user gave 10 minutes of his time to Lightning, that would mean hundreds of hours of work Calendar’s developpers wouldn’t have to do, that’s a lot.
    So for me, that was the right decision if they couldn’t support both apps, wich appears to be the case. That proves they’re reponsible, wich is a very good point. The vast majority of people using Sunbird would be very likely to use TB anyways, so it’s a logical decision, even if painful.
    Keep up the good work guys, you have my support! (for what it’s worth). And you’ll probably get my recommandation on French translation when you’ll release the first translated beta ;-)

  12. Please don’t kill Sunbird.
    It is by far the best free and open source calendar client I have found…
    I use it as the front end on top of a webdav server running on Debian that provides the entire family’s calendars (except the one Google Calendar)… it integrates so well. Furthermore, I barely ever use Thunderbird…
    Maybe Lightning would be a replacement if all of the email features didn’t get in the way… or were able to be not so distracting (like being forced to enter an email account).
    All of my email is via webmail.

  13. This is great news – I’m very keen to see 1 and don’t understand some of the negative comments.
    Perhaps Karl Herricks message give a clue as to how sunbird can be kept. Could thunderbird/lightning interface be made so that one option is to hide the other almost completely.
    That way sunbird-only users could hide the email client & email-mostly-or-only users could hide the calendar. Perhaps a third option would be to have a mixed email/calendar interface for those who use both all the time. 1 program & everyone’s happy

  14. Hello Folks,
    Since many have asked what can be done to “save” Sunbird, I’m going to follow up with a blog post in the near future.
    Stay tuned!

  15. Yesterday, I installed Thunderbird 3.0 Beta 2 and the latest Lightning nightly as suggested above for testing purposes. Lightning installed without any problems, but my calendar did not work at all. It spit out errors on startup and my calendar did not show up. I copied my calendar database file from Sunbird 0.9 profile.
    I guess I can’t test it out if forward compatibility is lost.

  16. Philipp,
    I agree with the comments by users who recommend keeping Sunbird alive (or saved). Although I am certain that ThunderBird/Lightning combination is very handy, there are also many of us who only have a need for a calendar client.

  17. Since updating Lightning late last week I’ve barely been able to get Thunderbird to start. It takes hours and gigabytes of RAM before it does start, and then it runs quite slowly, freezing for several seconds at a time. Backing out doesn’t work, as warned above. I’ll be running Thunderbird in safe mode for a while until this gets cleaned up. Fortunately, I don’t have any major calender events for a bit. Unfortunately, I’m stuck falling back to Outlook for the few I do have.

  18. Suggestion regarding Lightning/Sunbird and Netbooks.
    I apologize, but I do not have the time to create a MozillaZine account and post there, nor the time create an account to post bug reports. I do have a somewhat important suggestions though and if somebody else feels it is reasonable and has the time to report it, please do.
    Most netbooks have a resolution of 1024×600. The 1024 horizontal is perfectly fine for all programs and viewing web sites and so on and has no problem with Lightning. However, the 600 vertical pixels in not enough for the New Event and New Task dialogs. You basically cannot use it because the title bar gets chopped off at the top of the screen and you can’t move it because of that. I would like to see the dialog either wider or have scrolling ability.
    Netbooks are getting extremely popular and will continue to do so over the next few years. Sales are skyrocketing. I know that this isn’t an urgent fix or anything, but please developers, add proper support for netbooks.

  19. I was sad to discover Sunbird would be dropped, I was so used to it…
    However, I just tried these latest betas of Thunderbird and Lightning, and I have to admit I can quite easily switch to Lightning
    The only thing which confuse me is that the calendar shall be called with a little icon far right on the new tab bar… possibility of adding an icon in the main toolbar would be really nice :)

  20. I never quite understand why people write angry mails about the slow progress of development of an open source project – as if they spent hundreds of euros/dollars on buying these applications… For an open source project without any real funding, Thunderbird has come a loooong way and I have been able to use Thunderbird/Lightning as my main mail/calendar/todo list client for years without any real issues. “Abandoning” Sunbird may be unfortunate, but a necessity. The future of this project very much depends on the success of Thunderbird, and the success of Thunderbird very much depends on adoption by business users (as I believe this is the area where people will continue to use desktop mail clients while private users will increasingly move to webmail and web-based calendaring). And business users want an integrated mail/calendar clients, like Outlook… That’s the reality, and the Lightning project made the hard but absolutely right decision to focus its limited resources on Lightning.
    If you would like to see faster development and/or Sunbird being “kept alive”, get involved or donate, but please, don’t be angry at the team. These guys are volunteers, whatever they do is a gift, and they are doing an absolutely fantastic job.

  21. Gary: it might not be due to Lightning. I had a similar issue and discovered that it was caused by the SendItLater add-on. If you are using this extension, you may want to disable it and see if the problem goes away.

  22. Giorgio: You are right in one thing: These guys are volunteers !
    Business users (like me) will use sunbird and not lightning.
    If there ar business users who need an email/calendar solution they will use outlook!
    I dont give any donation to lightning because I dont need it and dont want it.

  23. Of course dropping Sunbird will disappoint people who use Sunbird for one reason or another… But when development resources are limited, you have to make a choice, and accept the fact that your choice will be a disappointing one for some (who will of course voice their concerns). I’m sure the Calendar team has looked hard and long at download figures and market trends and I think they made the right decision. If I’m right (and maybe I’m not) that the future of desktop e-mail (and calendar) clients is primarily with business users, than TB and Lightning/Sunbird will be competing with Outlook more then ever, and therefore it is the TB/Lightning combination which should receive the most resources (add to this the server side component, like the Scalable OpenGroupware project and mobile device synchronisation solutions like the commercial BirdieSync add-on). While a standalone calendar is the right solution for some, my guess is that TB/Lightning is the solution for most, so while it is an unfortunate decision for some individuals, it is the right decision for the project as a whole.
    I think that in case there are enough Sunbird users who would be willing to support Sunbird either with donations or participation, the Calendar team would look into ways for keeping Sunbird alive.

  24. I think they (Thunderbird/Calendar) are better off separate. If you’re putting them together, you might as well put Firefox, Thunderbird, and Lightning all together and call it Mozilla Suite 2009. The idea of separating components in the first place was to keep things lean and mean.

  25. While there is not much sense in combining a browser and a mail client into a single application, combining mail and calendar/todo apps does offer many benefits – think of meeting invitations, busy/free schedules, converting mail messages to tasks etc. Of course again I’m speaking of business users (and not all, but in my opinion the majority of them). Give TB/Lightning a try, you might like it ;)

  26. Anything new about sunbird 1.0 final ?

  27. For anyone who is following along, after a bit of database surgery Thunderbird+Lightning is coming up promptly again. There was a huge amount of junk in my cal_attachments table (>200k rows, only 4 distinct) and some apparent redundancy in cal_events. I’ve had this database for a while, so the schema upgrade might have choked on something weird which had been there for a year or more. Maybe some database sanity checks on startup (perhaps at random intervals) or at least after schema upgrades would be a good idea.

  28. I have been using Sunbird as my calendar (personal & business) for several years. All would agree it is not perfect, but I can work with the limitations. I was disappointed to hear that it will no longer be developed but would be willing to give Thunderbird/Lightning a go, provided it has similar functionality and can use .ics files.

  29. I was disappointed to hear about the possible stopping of Sunbird but I understand the limited resources. I’m still crossing the fingers that it sees a little more development (e.g. printing bug!!)
    I am the network administrator and we use Sunbird as our calendar application in our office (approx. 30 employees.) From a business standpoint outlook is available with windows for free, that takes care of the emails. To use the shared calendar in outlook requires the purchase of Exchange. Why would we want to purchase 30+ licenses of Exchange when Sunbird can do it for free? I think is a niche that Sunbird can further exploit in the business users side.

  30. I JUST discovered Sunbird after months of using Thunderbird+Lightning on my Mac (but not using Thunderbird for email because I preferred Mail.app). I am extremely happy because I FINALLY don’t have to sit around waiting for the slow Thunderbird OSX version to load. Mail.app is much faster for me. I am greatly pleased that I can use Sunbird for my calendars. I could not use iCal to do the type of calendar sharing I wanted so Lightning was my only option until now. The Mac version of Thunderbird doesn’t have an option to launch directly into the Calendar, and it requires you to set up an email account just to use your calendars. I have a small business and no interest in keeping tabs on the free/busy status of my 2-person staff, nor do I care about sending email invitations to events all the time (we all watch the calendar, no need to be inundated with emailed event requests).
    I find Sunbird to be much lighter, faster, prettier, more elegant, and just as useful if not more useful for me than Lightning ever was. I hope this project continues to be maintained.