Earlier this year, I wrote about how the hosting industry is losing customers to proprietary mail platforms.
Free software mail clients can be better and can successfully compete with the likes of Gmail and Exchange – which is why at the time we backed Geary, the email client from Yorba – the authors of Shotwell.
Unfortunately, the Geary campaign didn’t reach the target they set and you can read Yorba’s blog post with their thoughts about why.
Even though that campaign didn’t work out, I still believe that supporting the development of free software through crowdfunding is a positive way to create beautiful, functional and feature-rich applications which enable the industry to grow using open standards, not limited interoperability with giants.
And now thare are even more reasons why good, open and free email clients are important.
The recent revelations by Edward Snowden about the apparent monitoring of private email communications by the NSA have opened the minds of users who would have otherwise simply signed up for more Google Apps or Office 365 accounts. They’ve also raised an interest in email encryption, using tools like PGP.
The problem is, encryption on most clients is clunky and ugly. Even on existing popular clients like Thunderbird, OpenPGP support is an external plugin. As Cory Doctorow said, “easy-to-use mail crypto [has been] the holy grail of email for decades”.
That’s why we’re supporting Mailpile: a modern, web-based email client offering user-friendly encryption and privacy features.
Mailpile is being developed by a three person team in Iceland with excellent design, privacy and free software credentials.
For hosting companies like ourselves, Mailpile looks to be an email client that our users have come to expect, but without being tied to the big names. They’re offering search and speed: two things that have come up time and again as lacking in existing offerings. Their focus on making strong security usable by everyone also comes at exactly the right time.
We’ve pledged $2,048 to Mailpile. Even though they’ve already reached their stated target, more will help sustain the development and produce an even more attractive email client. That can only be a good thing.
In addition to that, we’ll be starting on the work to include Mailpile with Symbiosis, our Debian-based hosting environment for managing websites and email This way, we can help get the benefits of a fast, modern and secure webmail client out to our own audience.
Ultimately, free software is all about choice, and enlightened self-interest. Supporting the development of Mailpile means we can offer an even better choice to users, steer our industry back towards open standards, and sell some more servers too. If that’s something you support, then take a look at Mailpile and see how you can help.