Eudora 8 Beta 6 Ready for Everyday Use
The Mozilla.org Penelope project recently released the sixth public beta of its slow-gestating replacement for Qualcomm's classic Eudora email client application last week (the first beta was released in September 2006).
I've been a Eudora user since I first got online, and these Eudora betas are a big deal for those of us looking for a satisfactory replacement for Classic Eudora 6, which has been the closest to ideal I've encountered in an email application, doing all I need it to do and executing tasks elegantly and with delightful flexibility. Especially deserving mention are Eudora Classic's superb search engine and its discrete support of multiple email accounts and SMTP server configurations for outgoing mail.
The proverbial writing has been on the wall since Qualcomm terminated Eudora development in 2006 and handed-off the Eudora brand to Mozilla.org to use on what is a "Eudora-ized" version of its Open Source Thunderbird email application, designated Eudora 8.0.
Classic Eudora took a performance and stability hit with the Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" release in 2007. I continued using Eudora 6.2.4 in Leopard on my G4 PowerBook, but it didn't work terribly well, and when I upgraded to a Core 2 Duo Unibody MacBook with Apple's external USB modem in February, I couldn't get the old program to send or receive messages over my finicky dialup connection, so that was the end of the road.
OS X Mail isn't to my taste. I like manual control; Mail tries to do too much for me, and I prefer my email client to have its own discrete address book. I also wasn't smitten with Thunderbird, but after some dithering, I decided to go with T-bird provisionally. After a period of acclimatization, I came to the view that it's more than decent email software.
It's not Classic Eudora, but it's not bad, with some welcome features old Eudora didn't have, such as good HTML support and disabled downloading of embedded images in email messages by default, leaving it to the user's discretion to manually view them if desired, something especially appreciated by users like me on slow connections.
Supports Thunderbird Application Folder
Part of my reason for going with T-bird, at least as a "bridge" solution, is that Eudora 8.0 supports and runs from the user profile(s) in Home > Library > Thunderbird Folder with no adjustment or conversion required when switching back and forth between the two apps, making it unnecessary to import and configure archives contacts and accounts more than once.
Other UI elements, such as the Address Book, look pretty much as they do in Thunderbird.
I was skeptical that Eudora 8's Search/Find function would be as good as Classic Eudora's fast, slick, and powerful search engine - and it isn't, although it's better than I expected and adequate.
I checked out Eudora 8.0.0b5 back in January and imported all of my account settings and Address Book information from Classic Eudora, a process you implement from the Tools menu, but when I switched to the MacBook, I found beta 5 still not quite as stable as I wanted, so I went with Thunderbird 2.0 (currently version 220.127.116.11) as my workaday email client.
Eudora 8.0 beta 6 is another story, and I'm finding it finally ready for production service. If the stability I've been getting so far holds up, I'll will continue using it.
Eudora's 8.0b6 is based on Thunderbird 3.0b2 source code, so add-ons that don't work with Thunderbird 3.0b2 probably won't work with this Eudora beta either - not a problem for me, since I don't use any plugins with these applications.
Installation is easy. Just download the disk image, mount it, and drag the Eudora icon to your Applications Folder.
I should note that there's another contender for catching the baton from classic Eudora. MailForge (formerly known as Odysseus) is a Eudora style email client that Infinity Data Systems has been developing since late 2007, and which was just released as a version 1.0 final this week.
See Eudora Successors Face Off: Eudora 8 Working Well, MailForge Almost Ready to Ship for a recent look, and I'll be checking out version 1.0 soon.
Appendix: Changes in Version 8.0b6
Changes in Eudora 8.0b6 include upgrades to Penelope version 0.5a3 and the Thunderbird 3.0b2 source code. (Eudora 8 is a branded version of Thunderbird with some extra features added by the Eudora developers, while Penelope is a feature-expansion extension that can be used with either Eudora or Thunderbird.)
Other improvements include a better way to remember the state of folder and thread panes when switching between message and mailbox tabs, and when the preference for opening mailboxes in tabs is turned on, auto-open of mailboxes will now detect if the mailbox is already open in a tab and not open a new copy.
There's now a Add New Toolbar function in the Formatting tab of the Customize Toolbar dialog, and special toolbar items, such as separators, spaces, springs/flexible spaces, have been removed from the Extras panel. The Customize Toolbar dialog now repositions when the toolbar changes.
Use of cmd+M to initiate mail checks has been improved, and there have been a raft of bug fixes.
Mac system requirements are Mac OS X 10.4.x or later, a Mac with an Intel x86 or PowerPC G3, G4, or G5 processor, at least 128 MB RAM, and 200 MB of free hard drive space
For more information and to download, visit <https://wiki.mozilla.org/Eudora_Releases>
See <http://wiki.mozilla.org/Penelope_Extensions> for Penelope version notes.
Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, and he is a news editor and columnist at Applelinks.com. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.
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