Freeing the IMAP Clients

Over the past year, the IMAP-client landscape has become more free. Two IMAP clients, Mulberry and Opera, have switched from charging a fee to being free/gratis. Pine will soon switch from having a fairly restrictive license to having a more free/libre license. Mulberry is planning to switch from closed source code to open source code.

Here are the details about what's happening with the major IMAP clients. By "major" I mean IMAP clients that are multi-platform and support IMAP keywords. [*]
IMAP ClientDates Price Business ModelSource Code
Mulberry 4.0.4-<2005-Sep-30$35Cyrusoft/ISAMET
Mulberry 4.0.5+>2006-Aug-200Cyrus Daboo
closed, but
switching to open
Opera 8.49-<2005-Sep-20$39Opera Software
Opera 8.50+>2005-Sep-200Opera Software
Pine 4.64-<2006-Nov0University of Wash.
open [**]
Pine License
Alpine (Pine 5.00+)>2006-Nov0University of Wash.
Apache License
SeaMonkey Suite
0SeaMonkey Council
0Mozilla Corp.
(as of 2005-Aug-03)

This is all good news for IMAP users as well as software users in general. What's happening in the IMAP world is representative of what's happening in the entire software world. We are definitely living in interesting times -- these times are interesting from philosophical, technical, and business perspectives!

2006-September-24 Update: For more about the freeing of software, see Matt Asay's blog item titled Dana asks: "Can open source deliver serious numbers?" Especially interesting is this prediction, which I agree with:
Five years from now, no one will bother selling proprietary bits anymore. Why would they? The only thing that is lacking today is understanding of the business models that are driving open source success. They're out there. You just need to grok them and deploy them properly.
If you are interested in free/libre open source software (FLOSS) or business, I recommend Matt's AC/OS (Matt Asay on Open Source) blog. As you can see in my Portal, it's one of my daily deflexions.

[*] If you know of any other IMAP client that is multi-platform and supports IMAP keywords, please post a comment.

[**] Pine for MS Windows, aka PC-Pine, is closed source.

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Multi-platform and supports IMAP keywords? Well, there's Polymer of course. Runs on Windows and UNIX, and probably Mac OS X too, and it's open source.


Hi Dave,

I would love to try Polymer and I've had it listed in the "Tools I'm Considering" section of my sidebar for a long time. As soon as there's a version that's *easy* to set up on Mac OS X, I'll try it and if it's decent, which I bet it is, I'll add it to this list. I appreciate very much all the work you've done with IMAP, ACAP, etc., and I'm looking forward to whatever you and your new employer, Isode, produce in the world of IMAP and Internet messaging in general!


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