Future OpenPGP Support in Thunderbird

Jeff Allen jrallen at runbox.com
Sun Oct 20 14:51:24 CEST 2019

On Sat, 2019-10-19 at 17:20 +0200, Patrick Brunschwig wrote:
> Jeff Allen via Gnupg-users wrote on 18.10.2019 16:02:
> [...]
> > My take on your original explanation of the reason for Enigmail's
> > pending demise is that a changed Thunderbird plug-in scheme makes
> > it
> > more efficient to build Enigmail functionality into the MUA.
> That's only the 2nd half of the explanation. 1st and foremost, the
> changed plugin scheme comes along with a completely new API (that
> does
> not even exist completely by now). This would require me to rewrite
> almost all of Enigmail from scratch. I don't have enough free time
> for
> doing that, nor would I be interested in it. This, and nothing else,
> was
> initially the reason why we started the discussion with the
> Thunderbird
> team.

I understand not wanting to rewrite Enigmail from scratch using a new
API.  If you have neither the time nor the desire to do it, I'm glad
the Thunderbird team is willing to take over.  My concern is how
OpenPGP support is to be implemented.  IIRC, you stated that it is too
soon to know how much of Enigmail's functionality will be included.  To
me that is less important than how much of GnuPG's functionality will
be incorporated.  I can live without Enigmail's key manager and per-
recipient rules if there is smartcard support and the ability to
encrypt to multiple keys and to keys without a UID that matches the
recipient's email address.  If Thunderbird uses another OpenPGP library
instead of calling GnuPG, I suspect some of those capabilites will

> > Why not stick with that and focus on what has made Enigmail
> > successful?
> What is the reason in your eyes that made Enigmail successful?

Enigmail enabled a popular cross-platform email client to interface
with GnuPG with all its capabilities.  I've been trying out Evolution
for the past few days.  It doesn't have the special features Enigmail
provides, but it does support GPG-encrypted email. It uses the keys on
my Yubikey and aliases in my gpg.conf group lines.  It is quite similar
to using the earliest versions of Enigmail.  Evolution's main
limitation is that it is Linux only, not cross-platform.  Windows and
Mac users are out of luck.

Jeff Allen
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