Project Zebra: Hippocrates himself expounded on the virtues of salt ►

◄ Dinosaurs! Or, strictly speaking, pliosaurs

2023-07-14 📌 Project Zebra: Signal the final curtain call in all its atomic pageantry...

Tags All Linux Tech Personal

This entry is part of my Project Zebra series covering migration to Linux for personal computing use.

Title reference: So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish by A Perfect Circle (2018) which I'm only just finding out about now. I never dived into Tool or APC and am less sold on the rest of the album, but it's a great track.

I was going to say that this really a part two to the last entry I just wrote, this part focusing on some "news" topics rather than technical detail. But that was apparently two weeks ago now.

There's been recent concerning news about new versions of Thunderbird, which have significant code and interface changes that haven't reached most Linux distros yet. On the face of it there's the usual MO for major interface changes in longterm software projects: alienate existing users and fail to win new ones. Firefox has been doing this for years, plus mobile browsing has eroded it further:

What am I talking about here?

The developer rationale has been explained at in this community thread with some fair discussion at

In fact there's an entire downstream project mentioned there dubbed Betterbird to undo what its developers see as poor decisions with Thunderbird, although I'm not tempted to try it. Browsers, email clients, etc, are things that require a high level of trust.

So, being proactive, I thought it best to try a new version by grabbing a Snap copy in a virtual machine. Memo to self: for Kubuntu in VirtualBox, use VBoxSVGA for auto fullscreen. Once at a desktop, you can do: sudo snap install thunderbird --candidate (since the regular version is still 102).

Despite my concerns that the stock screenshots look like Gnome headerbar/CSD enshittification of the user interface, it was a few minutes to untick "Hide system window titlebar" in Settings and put my usual small selection of icons into the main toolbar with the search box made smaller and non-centred. I also found the font size and white-space density settings easy to set to taste. And this is on a completely new install, it remains to be seen how the upgrade will work with existing installations. It might be polite and adapt some of the user's configuration choices, although it's difficult to see how much it could directly translate.

A limitation that I think should still be looked at by devs is that if you want to display a normal menu bar (which is available) then it shows underneath the toolbar, it's basic etiquette for designers to respect conventions in particular desktop environments (even Gnome) but to be honest a burger menu is fine in this case personally. I rarely need to dig into Thunderbird options and it gets back a bit of vertical screen space for listing mail items.

Overall the changes seem to provide future-proofing and provide lots of new layout options for people who are more familiar and comfortable with webmail interfaces, whilst keeping the layout options grognards who actually default to desktop client software use and want. Provided that small-c conservative options are used when upgrading existing installations, hopefully it won't have the effect on usage past Firefox changes have.

In other quick wind direction news:

IBM continues to run Red Hat into a brick wall, actively trying to kill off derived distros and probably breaching licensing conditions

A reminder to archive anything of actual value from YouTube, as it enters a further phase of enshittification and a comment thread there mentions and

Three signs that Wayland is becoming the favored way to get a GUI on Linux Interesting for the take on MATE and Xfce, and comparison with systemd adoption and linked video of a lively presentation by Konstantin Bläsi

It might be time to start doing a bit of testing with Wayland, at that. But I think I'll pencil it in for when Plasma 6 has had any sharp edges rounded off and more other projects have wrangled with changes required.