Roaming the open (source) plains

I’m looking forward to getting my hands on Vivaldi’s mobile browser and email client. If you haven’t guessed already, I like to have alternatives to tinker with.

I like to support Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) like Mozilla’s Firefox and Thunderbird programs. I think it’s important to have access to programs base code, so that people (far more knowledgeable than me about programming) can look through the code and look for security holes and to make sure companies aren’t exploiting user data.

The fact that they’re free doesn’t hurt any either. I’m not made of money, after all…

It’s nice to know that there are alternatives to mainstream software out there and that people love the projects enough that they’re willing to spend time and effort into making them better. I think it also helps keep proprietary software in check somewhat. If a free alternative can do the same or similar job as an expensive piece of technology, it makes it easier for more users to create and distribute their own work. It may also help keep prices for proprietary works lower (though I’m no sure how effective that is as a whole).

That’s not to say that I won’t use proprietary software. I love me some video games. I also understand that companies want to be compensated for their hard work and time spent in research and development.

What does this have to do with my original statement?

Well, Vivaldi seems to live in both worlds a little. Source code for much of the browser is based on Chromium (which is open source) and is available online (older versions, it loks like, are available here

I’m okay with not every scrap of code being available to look through. I wouldn’t know what to do with it all if I had access to it anyway. I was trained as a chemist and educator, not a computer scientist.

Firefox runs really well on desktop and… it runs on Android. I installed an extension that will allow me to fake my user agent to see if that speeds things up any. So I’m definitely excited about a new candidate as my primary mobile browser. I’m a little concerned that I’ll be bombarded with advertising though, as it’s been reported that there will not be an ad-blocker available (

On mobile, it’s not just about tracking, but page loading speed and not using so much mobile data. I’d also love to be able to log into Facebook Messenger through their mobile site. Right now, the only browser that lets me do that is Opera Mobile. The only work arounds I’ve found are to load the desktop page (the text is too small to be useful) or to log into their really basic mobile page, designed for feature phones ( if you’re curious).

I’m trying to stay clear of downloading a ton of apps.

For the email client, I’ve been happy enough with Thunderbird, but I’d love to see an email client built into the browser, like Opera’s earlier browsers (version 12 and earlier) or Seamonkey (which doesn’t update all that frequently anymore). It would be really nice if all of my login information and accounts were synced up. That would save me a ton of time when I distrohop.

Do I wish that Vivaldi was open source?… Maybe a little bit. Is that going to stop me from using it?… No, not really. But I will continue to bounce back and forth between Vivaldi and Firefox for the time being.

Especially until Vivaldi is still working on their mobile browser and email clients.

Wait a minute Mr. (email) Postman

I have an email problem.

I have way, way too many accounts. I should pare then down, but until then, I use a desktop email client to keep track of all of them. For that, I use Mozilla’s Thunderbird. It’s open source, connects with my Microsoft Exchange accounts, and is available cross platform. I can use it in Linux and in Windows (aside form an unfortunate theming issue with the Greybird theme in Linux) it does what I need.

My theme issue was in finding the button to turn off automatically marking emails as read. I prefer to leave some things unread, so they’re easier to find later. It’s a quirky thing, but it’s how my system/mind works.

But I’m not married to Thunderbird. I use it because it works, not because it’s my favorite.

Back in college, I used to use Eudora Pro (I want to say 3 or 4, but it’s been decades). I believe the software was available through my university’s software page. I loved that I could right click on the taskbar icon to check email whenever I wanted to.

I used Window’s native email clients in 95 and 98. There was something charming about the way the mail window looked like a little envelope, and I liked that it created a new, smaller window for writing emails. It made it so it didn’t take up so much screen real estate, back when that was an issue.

I played around with Netscape and later Mozilla and Seamonkey’s email client and used that for some accounts. I remember having some issues with Hotmail, but I think I eventually figured it out. I know that’s part of why I feel so comfortable using Thunderbird.

I liked the MSN Explorer browser, with it’s built-in Hotmail access. I ended up moving away when the program was discontinued.

Opera’s old Presto browser, with their built-in email client was awesome. It did everything I needed and I only had to have one program opened. I was a little sad when Opera shut down Presto, in favor of Webkit/Blink/Chromium. I understand the hassle of trying to maintain their own system though, and I appreciated Opera being compatible with more web sites. Their independent email program, Opera Mail, worked nice, but they stopped supporting it, which is such a pity.

Outlook Express and Windows Live mail where probably my favorite clients. Seamless Hotmail connectivity, RSS readers for my feeds (read “extensive web comic list”), fast, could handle a large list of email accounts… It had all the features I needed and did what I wanted the way I wanted it to work. I miss those programs.

Outlook took some getting used to, but with work, it’s one of my most used tools. I appreciate the calendar features, ability to create meetings, and connectivity with Microsoft Office. Unfortunately, every time Microsoft updates Office, I have to get used to old features in new places. It drives me a little nuts.

Windows 10 Mail is flakier than a layered breakfast biscuit. It’s feature light almost to the extreme, and it tends to shut down at the drop of a hat. It’s slow to load, doesn’t do everything I want it to, and is frustrating to use. I don’t know how they got it so wrong.

Pegasus email is one I’ve try every now and then. It’s tricky to set up, doesn’t have all the things I need, and is retro in the less fun way. It hasn’t aged as well as some programs.

I’ve tried a number of Linux-native clients. Evolution is feature rich, but it just doesn’t quite work for me. It’s not as snappy as Thunderbird, a bit of a hassle to set up, and I usually don’t stick with it for more than a couple of days. Geary is too light and if I have to manually set up an email account, I can’t figure out how to resize the window. Sylpheed and Claws don’t fare any better than Pegasus. I’m not sure I trust Nylas/Mailspring/whatever they’re calling themselves. I still can’t get rid of the folders N1 set up in my email folders.

Wow. I have used a ton of these programs over the years. It’s amazing how little has changed. Some things have gotten easier (Thunderbird will try and find your account settings), but aside from some interface changes, little has improved.

I’ve more or less found a forever email client until when (if?) Vivaldi ever releases their email client in their browser.

Did I miss any that anyone would recommend?