[tor-project] Future of Tor Messenger

Sukhbir Singh sukhbir at torproject.org
Tue Oct 24 21:11:11 UTC 2017


As some of you may have already noticed, the Instantbird team (the chat client
on which Tor Messenger is based) has announced that it will no longer maintain
the user interface for Instantbird and instead will work towards improving the
existing chat support in Thunderbird:


So far, we have been maintaining two products: Tor Messenger and TorBirdy, and
this change is an opportunity to consolidate those efforts into one
application, which we are tentatively calling "Tor Communicator". By doing
this, we can continue maintaining Tor Messenger for our users and adding new
features to it, and also prototype the "Tor Mail" bundle as has been requested
in the past. (This change will only take effect at the next ESR major version
bump, in March 2018.) We would still like to stay within the Mozilla ecosystem
so that we can continue making use of technologies like Tor Launcher and the
secure automatic updater patches from Tor Browser.

While we have not done builds for Tor Communicator yet, we expect no
restrictions on the technical side as we have released "Tor Mail" bundles in
the past. Tor Messenger releases have been based on Thunderbird's ESR schedule
as Instantbird releases have been infrequent. This has been possible because
Thunderbird and Instantbird share a common source tree in the comm-central

There is also the question of the future of Thunderbird itself, summarized in
the "A Bright Future" section in the blog post detailing Thunderbird's future:


By making this switch:

    - Users will get access to secure chat from Tor Messenger and secure email
      from TorBirdy, in a single application
    - Thunderbird has a single-window chat interface which is different from
      Instantbird (and better)
    - We can continue supporting Tor Messenger as a chat client for
    - Users will get a Tor Mail application which has been requested for a

The idea behind this email is to brainstorm this switch and solicit feedback
from the community, so please share your thoughts!


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