So occasionally GMail hiccups and does not let me in / authenticate.
And what does Thunderbird do in that circumstance?
It decides the password is wrong, forgets the password it knows, drops me into a dialogue where I have to click “Cancel” to continue, locks up until I do that, then continues to insist that GMail is broken, requires me to quit Thunderbird to get out of the loop, and on restart requires me to enter the password that it used to know – but forgot because of the authentication burp.
Here’s the thing: versions of this problem have been around since 2002, culminating in the farce we have today – see:
…and what kills me is that I can read in the trail of bug reports a collective of people dancing around the problem, and never quite getting there:
There is AFAIK no standard answer for a failed login.
The client doesn’t know if the login failed because of a username/password mismatch or other server problem.
TB must asks you again for the password because the password may now different on the server. We had reports that Accounts got be disabled because of a changed password on the server and sending 3 times wrong login information (old password). This is worse than asking again for the new password.
Gmails answer is at a very bad point of the connection (as answer to the login), they should deny the connection early (before the login starts) or accept the login but close the connection after it.
The IMAP log quite clearly shows that the root problem is on gmail’s end, in that it dies on password authentication. IMAP’s lack of a clear differentiation between “authentication failed” and “server borkage” makes the right thing hard to do, although it seems that gmail is sending a BYE at the same time as the NO, which may make this particular case easy to solve.
In any case, the fact is that authentication failure–for whatever reason–brings up an interesting point. I set up bug 435306 some time ago as a forum for deciding under what circumstances passwords should be forgotten; it is therefore relevant to this discussion.
…basically shifting the blame and/or saying why things were done that way and not addressing that things are broken, and/or occasionally going off into debugging la-la-land (“There are lots of connections in TIME_WAIT”).
My frustration is echoed in this comment
“This is a chronic problem that I’m sure thousands of users are experiencing. It is a major and extremely frustrating annoyance which is actually one of the worst software problems we’ve experienced with any software. If Thunderbird wants wider adoption, this would be a key problem to take seriously and address. I’m sure that user frustration from this problem will drive users to alternatives. Nothing will drive away users faster than chronic hourly frustration of a password request dialog boxes.”
Same problem here, and it’s driving me up the f*cking wall!!! Multiple Gmail IMAP accts, and I’m so g*d*amned annoyed with this, I’m about to dump T-bird altogether. The app is for all intents and purposes, worthless. Most of the time, the dialog asking for the password for one or more of the accts, is displayed behind other windows, so I don’t even know for as long as I have the front window(s) up, that Tbird has stalled and is waiting for me to enter a password, a password that it was remembering just fine the day or hour before.
And, in some cases, repeated failure to login successfully, when provided a guaranteed correct password (same one that worked an hour or day before), trips Gmail’s security feature, which then requires finding Google’s “clear CAPTCHA” form.
This also happens with non-Gmail and POP accts. This bug MUST BE FIXED, or I will be dumping Tbird for good. This is not something trivial I can just overlook, the d*amned app is critically broken, IMO. And I’m one of the most loyal Tbird and Firefox fans on the planet, but it’s impossible to overcome this problem.
It’s usually around this point that some rabid FOSS (Free / Open Source Software) advocate says something about “enough eyes” and “shallow bugs” and invites me to fix the bug myself, implying that if I do not then I must be a “freeloader” – but they miss the point that beyond a certain size the collective IQ of a FOSS project tends to the root-mean-square of their IQ less one sigma, and that I become just yet another voice in the wilderness without the code-commit-karma enough to get putback.
At this point I would also like to remind you this has been going on since 2002 – plus I have more than enough shit to deal with in other FOSS software without adding Tbird to the list.
There are people on that bug report who have the right idea, but in the end it comes down to one poor schmuck who alas does not – and thus Thunderbird remains at an impasse. Commercial software is not always better in this regard, but often it is; Mail.app got rewritten in the space between 2002 and 2007, and other clients have come and gone in that time.
I don’t expect anything will change with Tbird by virtue of my writing this post, but I will feel better, and maybe a few FOSS advocates will adjust their attitudes regarding the larger software ecology.
Just because it’s open source doesn’t mean it’s not shit.