Thunderbird 78 without Enigmail but with OpenPGP!

A couple of days ago, the Thunderbird developers announced that they want to support OpenPGP as part of Thunderbird itself in the future. At the same time, Patrick Brunschwig, the developer behind the popular Enigmail extension, wrote that Enigmail will not supported for Thunderbird beyond version 68 due to changes to the extension API. He will still maintain Enigmail for Postbox, though.

The proposed OpenPGP integration for Thunderbird will be one without relying on GnuPG, though. This will have the consequence that it won’t be possible to share your keyring between GnuPG (and other mail clients using that like Mailmate). Because of that, since I’m using OpenPGP not only for encrypting e-mails, I will have to have two keyrings that I need to keep in sync.

This custom implementation will have other effects as well:

Will OpenPGP cards be supported for private key storage ?

Probably not, because we don’t use the GnuPG software that’s usually required to access OpenPGP smartcards.

Right now I have my primary key on a YubiKey and always with me. Due to that change I will most likely have to move to a sub-key of that “master key” that is then available only on the machine running Thunderbird. I’ll have to think about how I could make such a setup work for me, but I at least have another 12 months time for that πŸ˜‰

For onboarding new users these are fantastic news, though! They won’t have to install two additional pieces of software (Enigmail and GnuPG) after installing Thunderbird and debugging possible error will be much easier thanks to just a single implementation.