Miscellaneous Ramblings

Miscellaneous Ramblings Review

Eudora 8 Beta 5 Making Progress, Not Quite Ready for Prime Time

Charles Moore - 2009.01.27 - Tip Jar

Rating: 2 and a half out of 4

The Mozilla.org Penelope project released the fifth public beta of its slow-gestating Eudora 8 email client replacement for Qualcomm's classic Eudora application earlier this month (the first beta was released in September 2006).

As a longtime Eudora user and consummate fan, I've been especially interested in tracking Eudora 8's progress, especially with a system upgrade (finally) to a Macintel machine in the offing, so I duly downloaded Eudora 8.0b5 for a looksee at the latest developments (see Appendix below). There are no major new features; this beta release is mainly about refinements and bugfixes.

The Eudora betas are a fairly big deal for those of us anxiously trying to find an adequate email client replacement for classic Eudora 6 and not having much luck.

The Eudora Legacy

IMHO, Eudora Classic was and remains the closest to perfection in an email application I've encountered, doing everything I need it to do and executing these various tasks well and without much hassle. Meriting particular mention are Eudora Classic's superb search engine and its very graceful and trouble-free support of multiple accounts and SMTP server configurations for outgoing mail.

I love Eudora Classic and have been unsuccessful in finding anything that even comes close to being an adequate substitute, not for lack of looking. Now I'm faced with saying farewell to PowerPC and not enchanted with the prospect of living without my Eudora.

I've tried OS X Mail and found it not to my taste. I like, nay, I demand full manual control, and Mail tries to do too much for me. I'm also underwhelmed by Mozilla's Thunderbird, which the Open Source Eudora 8 is also based on, and as much as I love the Opera browser, its mail module is improving but not yet there.

Odysseus, the Other Great Hope

The other great white hope for Eudora junkies is Odysseus, a new email client that Infinity Data Systems has been developing since late 2007. Odysseus is designed to be a real replacement for the classic Eudora application we know and love. The current release is the 1.0 Beta 9 build, which shows promise, has a reassuringly Eudora-esque user interface, and follows Eudora configuration conventions very closely, but unfortunately it isn't developing much faster than the Penelope project's Eudora replacement.

Compared to Eudora, Odysseus has the advantage of being a universal binary that works on both Intel and PowerPC Macs, and it is under active development by a software company that says it's dedicated to making Odysseus the best email client in existence. That includes improving on areas where classic Eudora had started to lag behind, such as integration with the individual operating systems that it runs on.

Odysseus will be commercial software (as Qualcomm's Eudora was) and not open source. It will sell for $39.95, about the same price point as classic Eudora. However, it's not ready for prime time yet with the 1.0 Beta 9 build, which was released on November 29, 2008.

Eudora 8

But back to Eudora 8, which thankfully has an optional 2-pane interface mode that supposedly causes mailboxes to open in a similar manner to Mac Eudora's 2-pane message list and message preview. The list of mailboxes will open in a separate window. Well, not quite, but it's an improvement on the Thunderbird interface. Unfortunately, one thing not improved is that you can't "select all" in a message and get the address and subject line info along with the body text - something that drives me nuts in Thunderbird and Eudora 8, as it makes frequent copy and paste tasks take literally twice as long.

Eudora 8 beta 5 screen shot

Eudora happily allows you to check your email accounts individually, which Odysseus doesn't do yet, as well as all at once, and as a dialup denizen (not by choice), I appreciate that it disables downloading of embedded images in email messages by default, leaving it to the user's discretion to manually bring them down with a convenient button.

I'm also skeptical that Eudora 8's Search/Find function will be as good classic Eudora's fast, slick, and powerful search engine, but I have to say I found it pretty good searching the sparsely populated archive I have so far accumulated in Eudora 8.

Eudora 8.0.0b5 seemed to be reasonably stable, so I imported all of my account settings and Address Book information, a process you will find under the Tools menu, and which was quite quick and slick. I especially appreciated being provided with the option of downloading only the configuration files from Eudora Classic and not being obliged to bring in my email message archives as well, as I'm not ready to switch just yet. There is also an option to just import everything.

22 Email Accounts

A particular point I wanted to check was how well support for multiple email accounts was working. I have 22 email accounts configured in Eudora Classic, some with different SMTP server configurations. I can report some success, but not across the board. Gmail accounts work very well, but I already knew that. Unhappily, I was unable to get my ISP's email server (which imposes the wretched Port 25 block) to work, or the SMTP servers of lavabit and clovermail. The error messages reference authentication issues, but I have been unsuccessful in fathoming where my configuration is wrong - obtuse and clunky SMTP server configuration being one of my longtime gripes about Thunderbird.

I should note that I experience similar outgoing mail issues with Odysseus, and that my ISP's SMTP server refuses to work when I'm running in Leopard, although it works just fine on my Tiger Macs using the same build of Eudora Classic.

Consequently, I provisionally deduce that there is an issue with support for email with my ISP as well as authentication problems particular to Leopard, at least on PowerPC Macs. Tiresome. Gmail gets around all that thanks to SSL support for its SMTP server. I also find task progress monitoring lame compared with Eudora Classic's excellent and informative Task Progress window.

Eudora 8 is making gradual progress, and in a pinch I think I could use it, although not happily at this point, and I do like the charming little new mail chime.

It's kind of difficult to give this application a rating, since it's a beta build and a work-in-progress, but I'll say 2-1/2 out of 4 provisionally, anticipating or at least hoping for more improvement in the context of making it more like real Eudora.

Eudora 8.0.0b5 is based on Thunderbird 3.0b, and includes the Penelope extension version 0.5a2. Eudora 8 is a branded version of Thunderbird with some extra features added by the Eudora developers, while Penelope is an extension (also called an "add-on") that can be used with either Eudora or Thunderbird. The Eudora installer includes the corresponding version of Penelope along with it, so there is no need to install Penelope if you are installing Eudora. Most features in Penelope can be accessed when used with Thunderbird, but there are a few that require Eudora in order to work correctly, and it's not something that gets tested.

Link: Eudora Releases

Mac System Requirements

  • Operating System: Mac OS X 10.4.x and later
  • Minimum Hardware
    • Macintosh computer with an Intel x86 or PowerPC G3, G4, or G5 processor
    • 128 MB RAM (Recommended: 256 MB RAM or greater)
    • 200 MB hard drive space


Changes in this version include:

Mailbox Window

  • "Show message preview pane" setting added to Penelope pref panel. If on (which it is by default), then the preview pane is shown at its last saved position. If it's off then both the preview pane and the splitter before it are hidden.
  • Fixed bug where double-clicking on a mailbox in a folder view other than "All Folders" (i.e. "Unread", "Recent", or "Favorites") would not open the mailbox.
  • Added prefs for opening mailboxes/messages in tabs rather than separate windows.
  • Fix for Bug 466046 - MsgOpenNewTabForMessage() broken when specifying a message
  • Added middle click to open folder/message in a tab.
  • Fixed bug 429440 - Preview pane must be visible for tabs to render.
  • Tabs are now hidden in the Mailboxes window.
  • Prevent opening windows in tabs in the Mailboxes window.
  • Added mail.tabs.autoHide setting, which hides the tab if there is just one in a window (default value is true).
  • Fix for Alt+click for group selection causing the menu to get the focus.
  • Fixed bug where double-clicking on the scroll bar of the thread pane would cause a message to be opened in a new tab.
  • Fixed Transfer menu and Transfer mailbox buttons on toolbar.
  • Added shift key modifier to the Transfer menu items and toolbar buttons to do copy vs. move.
  • Holding down alt/option when clicking on an open mailbox toolbar button will now do a transfer.
  • Keep thread pane scrolled to same place when switching tabs and back.


  • Fixes to Mac Customize Toolbar dialog to allow it to open multiple times.
  • Added "Cancel" functionality to the Customize Toolbar dialog on the Mac.
  • Added the Restore Default Set button to Windows and Linux Customize Toolbar dialog.
  • The default Penelope toolbar doesn't show text on the buttons, so when restoring the toolbar to the default state set the mode to icons only.
  • Fixed bug 417081 - Send Later toolbar button mapped incorrectly


  • Extra settings now imported from Classic Eudora: default mail check, mail check interval, skip big messages, skip big message threshold, submission port send, and SSL send and receive.


  • Fix for Bug 369964 "subscribe to IMAP folders window doesn't allow subscribing to folders below 2nd level". Turns out Exchange doesn't like LIST commands without a trailing % on the path.


  • Fixed open In/Out mailbox toolbar buttons.
  • Added Babelfish language translation to the default list of Selected Text URL tools.

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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, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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