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endell esq
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Betterbird

Are there any plans to include Betterbird as a portable app?

Thanks.

John T. Haller
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Likley Not Now

It's unlikely right now due to time constraints. Like Thunderbird, it requires a separate installer for each language. And I'm mostly the only one packaging.

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Abraxian
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Already Portable

You can get a portable version of Betterbird here https://www.betterbird.eu/downloads/ I have been using the portable for quite some time now and really like it.

Use Portable Apps on both Flash Drive and HDD/SSD.

John T. Haller
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Fully?

I looked through the launcher code and it doesn't seem like they are portablizing paths or cleaning up local stuff, just running it with the -profile switch. As such, I would think it's not fully portable with stuff having issues as you move paths. Have you tested this?

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Abraxian
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Works Fine if I Move It

I just keep it in the one path, John. I only use portables so that I can keep my portables on a partition separate to the system partition, so if I need to reinstall the system I don't have reinstall every program I use. However, for some detail on the Betterbird portable see this webpage and look for the information with the title What's the story with the portable version?

https://www.betterbird.eu/support/index.html

P.S. I just did a quick check and made a copy of the Betterbird portable installation folder to my ramdisk. On launch of that it works just fine, as it does in its (normally) fixed location. So it seems moving it around isn't a problem, with the exception noted by the Betterbird portable folks in the link I give above.

Use Portable Apps on both Flash Drive and HDD/SSD.

John T. Haller
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Somewhat Incorrect

First off, they've got multiple things wrong with discussion of Thunderbird Portable. We work with Mozilla and have for nearly 2 decades. We're the only ones with permission to package Firefox and Thunderbird portably. It also says that Thunderbird Portable leaves empty folders behind, which it doesn't. Thunderbird and Betterbird write to those local paths when running. But the Thunderbird Portable cleans all that up and stores the important stuff between sessions.

Second, it seems like Betterbird leaves things behind. And it has stuff like extensions break as you move paths requiring manually deleting a file. It may not be affecting you, but it will affect others. I wrote code to handle portablizing the addonStartup.json.lz4 file that contained within the Thunderbird Portable and Firefox Portable launchers so extensions and stuff work as you move around or cloud sync between machines. It sounds like Betterbird is only 'kinda portable'. While that works for your use case, it won't work for others.

Odd that Betterbird didn't just make a proper portable version based on the Thunderbird Portable code. It's GPL so they could.

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jorgk
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Excuse the incorrect statement

Hi, this is the maintainer of Betterbird. Thanks for your comments.

I regret the statement on our website that Thunderbird Portable leaves empty directories behind. I tested this again now and corrected this statement.

Would you like to share some details of what "we work with Mozilla" means? I've been the Mozilla-employed Thunderbird maintainer from 2016 to 2019 and also Thunderbird Council member during this time and I never came across association between you and Thunderbird.

You are quite correct in stating that BB portable is only "kind of portable", there are issues with extensions when moving profiles which need a manual process to resolve. However, neither your portable nor our portable addresses the absolute file paths in folderCache.json. As you move the profile, invalid stale entries accumulate.

As for the packaging: Our packaging is very simple, while we package BB for different languages (all with the same English installer (and no one has complained so far)), we also put together a ZIP file with the "core" folder. Thanks for your offer to use your code, but for the moment we're staying with the simple method.

We noticed that you're packaging both 32bit and 64bit executables hence doubling the download size. We're only shipping BB for 64bit systems and in three years had one request for a 32bit build. Given this situation, you may consider reducing the bandwidth by 50% by dropping the 32bit code.

Kind regards, Jörg.

John T. Haller
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Thanks, Mozilla, folderCache.json, 32vs64, etc

Hi, Jörg. Thanks for testing and fixing the incorrect statement.

I've been packaging Firefox since 2004 as the first modern portable app and Thunderbird soon after. I've worked with Mozilla on branding, naming, bugs and patches that affect portability and performance, etc over that time. The names "Mozilla Firefox, Portable Edition" and "Mozilla Thunderbird, Portable Edition" were negotiated with Mozilla management and legal from the original Portable Firefox and Portable Thunderbird names. As were the "Mozilla®, Firefox® and the Firefox logo are registered trademarks of the Mozilla Foundation and are used under license." notifications you'll see in the Firefox/Thunderbird apps, stories, and homepages on our site. The splash screens were worked on together to ensure they fit the branding guidelines with legal and design at Mozilla.

Michal Berman and I worked together to help the licensing deal with Sandisk for Firefox for U3 that I built back in 2007. I worked with Dietrich Ayala back in 2008 after Mike Shaver noticed that Firefox 3 was going to impact performance significantly on USB drives. I wound up doing some special code to let end users enable/disable the new Firefox Session Store on first launch based on speed of their drive approved by Kev Needham and Michal Berman to avert end user issues (ah, memories). I connected with Yoshitake(吉武), Shigeru(茂) on getting the first build of the Japanese version in 2008 as they had a specific partnering need before I'd started more widely working on multilingual support. There's been a lot over the years. I'd wager you didn't hear much about it on the Thunderbird team as Mozilla was mainly concerned with Firefox as that was their bread and butter for a lot of that time, at least with respect to the portable versions. Most of the work we did landed in Firefox Portable first and then was adapted to Thunderbird based on that where it applied.

Thank you for letting me know about the folderCacher.json. I wasn't aware of that previously. I've packaged a test launcher build that fixes the issue for folks to test ahead of the next release.

On the 32-bit vs 64-bit front, we have a less technical audience than BetterBird does. And quite a lot of users that use both 32-bit and 64-bit machines between home, work, school, etc. We also have a ton of users using much older hardware than you'd expect so Windows 7 32-bit is still in active use amongst a decent number of our users. It's one reason I continue with things like Firefox, Portable Edition Legacy 115 for instance.

I'd be happy to help with adapting our Thunderbird Portable packaging and launcher for BetterBird if you're interest.

Kind Regards,
John

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jorgk
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All interesting

Hi John,

thank you, all interesting information. I commented on folderCache.json over in the other thread. I'll have to correct our website again to state that you're doing this correctly now Wink

Just out of curiosity: How's the collaboration with FF in recent years? You may have heard Mitchell's statement of Mozilla's "razor-sharp focus" on Firefox a few years back.

Kind regards, Jörg.

P.S.: I'd really like to stay with our simple launcher program, but fixing-up addonStartup.json.lz4, folderCache.json, extensions.json and prefs.js should be added.

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Sure

It's not yet corrected, but will be in the next release, so it's accurate as of now.

No major stuff with Mozilla in years. Portable is a small part of the Firefox and Thunderbird userbase, so I think they're content with my continuing to put out good packages. An occasional bug pops up here or there that a dev will reach out to me about.

If you change your mind about the portable packaging, I'm happy to help.

Best
John

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jorgk
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Already reworded

I've reworded https://www.betterbird.eu/support/, "What's the story with the portable version?". Please let me know if you have a suggestion to make the wording better. Now I realize that you need to have a trademark deal with Mozilla, otherwise this sort of thing happens:
https://github.com/portapps/phyrox-portable/issues/11

John T. Haller
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Better, Illegal Packaging

I think that's better, yeah.

portapps has been packaging, modifying, and redistributing software in violation of licenses for a while, which is why I'd wager Mozilla didn't want to allow them to do Firefox and Thunderbird. portapps is still repackaging Skype as a portable app, for instance, taking closed source binaries and repackaging them in violation of the license. Likely only because Microsoft doesn't know about it.

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jorgk
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Problem with folderCache.json and addonStartup.json.lz4

Just letting you know that simple substitution won't work on folderCache.json due to it's encoding scheme:
C:\temp\bb115-portableéé\profile\
becomes
C:\\temp\\bb115-portable\u00e9\u00e9\\profile\\
So going from "portable" to "portableéé" worked, on the way back, "portableéé" and "portable\u00e9\u00e9" won't match.

In addonStartup.json.lz4 they use: "rootURI":"jar:file:///C:/temp/bb115-portable%C3%A9%C3%A9/profile.

So have you tried moving the profile folder to a non-ASCII path?

John T. Haller
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Generally Unsupported

We generally don't support running from non-ASCII paths due to the fact that many apps can't run from them. LibreOffice and OpenOffice, for instance. If a given app has a specific piece that won't run from non-ASCII, I may try to come up with a workaround for it, but it won't be something I'd spend a lot of time on due to the niche factor and my limited time.

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jorgk
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The space is running out

I've implemented this now. Likely people will have their installation in their user folder, and user names can easily have non-ASCII characters outside the English-speaking world. That are Umlaute in German, accents in French, Spanish, Portuguese and a lot of Slavonic language. I don't want to start with Greek, Hebrew, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, etc.

As of the percent encoding, "bb115-portable a$%&(huhu)" stays the same and the space, $ % & are not percent encoded, only non-ASCII characters. So with pure ASCII you can't do any damage.

John T. Haller
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Good Points

Good points on that in terms of username. We've had a few Greek users ask about that previously with respect to LibreOffice and OpenOffice. For apps like Thunderbird and Betterbird if they aren't moving around at all and only using it in their user folder, the ability to adjust the paths won't matter. The path adjusting routines are only called when the path changes, anyway. But if someone has Dropbox in their User folder and non-ASCII characters in their name and happens to sync with their laptop which happens to have a different username, that could be an issue. Niche, yes, but it's a possibility.

Added a note to the Firefox and Thunderbird Portable homepages for now: "Non-ASCII Paths and Portability - Some features may not be fully portablized if this app is used from a non-ASCII path and then moved to another location (settings, extensions, etc)."

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jorgk
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Betterbird portable now fully portable ;-)

As a result of this discussion I made BB fully portable, tested on paths with áé and ß and テスト. The code is not so pretty since file I/O and charset conversion are ugly on Windows. You can see which files it processes and how here:
https://github.com/Betterbird/thunderbird-patches/blob/main/BetterbirdLa... and the following 13 lines. I integrated the LZ4 library into this so it's all in the one executable.

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Nice, First Implemented, Work on Second

Nice to hear. Thunderbird Portable 115.3.0 now has the updated portablization listed for testing above. I'll likely work on the Unicode encoding for the next release.

UPDATE: Unicode handling is complete within folderCache.json in Thunderbird Portable 115.6.0. Percent unicode encoding in addonStartup.json.lz4 and extensions.json will be handled in an upcoming release.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

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