Enigmail and PGP/MIME (was Re: META)

Robert J. Hansen rjh at sixdemonbag.org
Mon Jan 30 16:34:32 CET 2012

On 1/30/12 4:42 AM, Steve wrote:
> I don't understand why Enigmail still uses inline as a 
> default setting...

There is no "Enigmail-approved" reason.  Everyone on the Enigmail team
who's contributed to this decision has their own reasons for their
support of PGP/MIME or lack thereof.  These are mine.

Fact one: we estimate we have a few tens of thousands of casual users,
many of whom send us their problems directly rather than going through
the mailing list or forums.

Fact two: it's easy to find MUAs, MTAs and other software in the chain
that don't support (or outright break!) PGP/MIME.  Outlook is a good
example of this, and until fairly recently Mailman was, too.  Over time
PGP/MIME support gets better, but today it's still nowhere near perfect.

Add those two facts together and you'll see that I advocate defaulting
to inline PGP for sake of my own sanity.  Speaking for myself, I do not
believe PGP/MIME is ready for mass deployment to end-users.  The
infrastructure isn't there: there are still too many buggy clients.
This has been getting better and it will continue to get better.  Once I
go a solid year without getting a message from a frustrated Enigmail
user telling me that Enigmail has a bug because his or her signed posts
to a mailing list keep on breaking, then I'll support switching to
PGP/MIME by default.

The last time I got one of those messages was November.  Let's hope...

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