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Pegasus and Mercury Circling the Drain

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the check-is-in-the-mail dept.

The Internet 217

Daemon Duck writes "One of the web's oldest and most respected email clients is flickering out of existence. Pegasus mail and its companion SMTP server, Mercury32, have been discontinued due to lack of funding for the ongoing development. On the website, the author David Harris states that if some funding becomes available he would consider opening the source code or continuing the development."

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nothing to do with... (1)

rich_r (655226) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510300)

port.ac.uk finally migrating away, was it? :P

Re:nothing to do with... (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510958)

I used Pegasus mail when I was at Portsmouth. It did the job quite nicely until they upgraded it in around 2000 and then suddenly everything had that God awful my prefix.

I always wondered what became of Pegasus mail, guess I know now.

Re:nothing to do with... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17511318)

Mercury corrupted large amounts of my email at port.ac.uk and caused me absolute nightmares. I'm tempted to open a bottle of champagne tonight to celebrate it going down the drain.

A dying breed.... (2, Insightful)

shaneh0 (624603) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511704)

The BlitzMail system at Dartmouth is also being replaced. There is a real sense of loss when these things get replaced, at least for geeks like me. I probably spent as much time blitzing people as I did with any of my classes. These systems--and on campus Blitz is basically your number 1 conduit to other students--are really serving the role of a "3rd Place" that coffee shops and bars and such try to fill. It will be like the day that MySpace goes offline: People spent hundreds and hundreds of hours with it. It's an important character in the history of your life.

Will the day ever come that we treat works of great software engineering with the same reverence that we treat 'traditional' forms of engineering? If someone unearthed an Abacus they would giddily rush it to their local museum. If they unearthed pristine copies of VisiCalc floppies they would probably be pissed off that somebody buried trash in their back yard.

Never heard of it (-1)

RVT (13770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510308)

So, this is important why exactly?

Re:Never heard of it (1, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510538)

It hasn't been important since Eudora was freed, and it's been totally, utterly, and completely irrelevant to all but DOS users (no idea if pmail for dos is even still around) since Thunderbird came out and made Eudora irrelevant.

pmail was highly useful back in the DOS days as it was the only free-as-in-beer client to come with a GREAT DEAL of functionality. A lot of Novell/DOS shops used it for just this reason; it even played well with Netware.

Re:Never heard of it (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512070)

I thought Eudora was being merged with Thunderbird?

Re:Never heard of it (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512226)

Eudora is being replaced by Thunderbird. AFAIK they plan to develop any functionality missing in Thunderbird, and call the result Eudora.

Re:Never heard of it (1)

zuluechopapa (919551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510552)

I'd hazard a guess that it was something one of the editors used long ago, and he got sentimental readint the articles. I think I may have heard of it.. never used it. slightly puzzled over the 'most respected' title it's picked up. I have little respect and mostly loathing for anything PC based. but that's hardly a shock to most. :)

Re:Never heard of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17510796)

I used it several years ago. It worked pretty well, but I think I abandoned it because it had either no or poor IMAP support.

Re:Never heard of it (5, Informative)

markhb (11721) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510688)

Well, it's important because David Harris has been producing a very high-quality gratis email client for Windows for nearly 17 years, funded entirely by voluntary manual purchases and support subscriptions, and he cannot do so any longer. For an idea of exactly how advanced the capabilities of Pegasus Mail are, take a look at his still-available-if-you-know-where-to-look Overview page [pmail.com] , and especially at the "history of Pegasus Mail" link thereon.

So far as opening the source goes, I'd love to see it happen (actually, I'd love to see someone hire him to run it as an open-source project), but I don't know how dynamic a community could be forged around a Win32 codebase that I understand to be optimized for performance and minimum resource use over modularity, portability, and ease of future development.

Re:Never heard of it (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17510936)

In other words, it's only important to Dave Harris, and not that important even to him anymore.

Re:Never heard of it (1)

alexgieg (948359) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511018)

Not only that. The original was for DOS, is still around, and able to do both POP/SMTP as well as Netware mail. Same thing for the Windows 3.1 client, which can still be found and still works pretty well.

long time user. (1)

LullySing (164221) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510310)

I was a user of pegasus for the longest time. In fact, I switched from pegasus to thunderbird only last year when i learned i could finally manage multi-pop using thundy. I for one am going to miss the pegasus.

Re:long time user. (5, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510468)

That's just it of course: Pegasus was a great product for its time, but has failed to keep up with competitors. Nearly everyone has already switched over to Thunderbird or something else. Pegasus is being replaced by technologically superior products, and now the developer can't find anyone willing to pay him to develop it anymore. This is no real surprise.

The post is really just an attempt to get some money. The fact that he would continue to develop it if he were paid probably goes without saying. However, he's also saying he would "consider" opening the code if he were paid enough, suggesting that if no donors come forward, he would simple delete the code and completely kill the product. This suggests to me that he's not really interested in open sourcing anything, but that he'll write that he will (if paid) in order to increase his chances of getting press on open source-centric sites like Slashdot.

Re:long time user. (4, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510848)

Gee he has provided this software FREE of CHARGE for 16+ years. While he never said what the problem was the Author is claiming that he is having some money problems and is no longer going to have the time to work on this program.
He would have to do a lot of work to open source it since he is using a third party editor component he is offering to take it open source if he can make a living at it. I guess he could just toss the code out to the wolves after striping out the editor but it would honestly just die at that time.

There's nothing wrong with making money. (2, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510952)

I guess he could just toss the code out to the wolves after striping out the editor but it would honestly just die at that time.

Not sure why he wouldn't do this at least to begin with; I think it would quiet a lot of the skeptics (myself included) who aren't particularly swayed by the thought that he would "consider" making it open source given appropriate funding. Stripping out the editor but opening the rest might actually be a good way to spur development because it gives a tractable problem to some other programmer: figure out a way to shoehorn an existing open-source editor, or a new one, in place of the one that's been removed. Sounds like a good thesis project for a comp-sci student somewhere.

I don't fault the guy for wanting to make money, I really don't. (I work on closed-source software to pay the bills, and we don't even give it away free-as-in-beer.) But he's not going to win any friends by holding the code effectively hostage; since he's not known as being an OSS developer, he's going to have to take the first step if he wants to receive funding from people who are ideologically motivated in that direction. A good first step would be opening up whatever code is his to release in whatever form it's currently in, just to prove that he's not playing Pit and the Pendulum with the Delete key on the whole project.

Re:There's nothing wrong with making money. (5, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512414)

"Not sure why he wouldn't do this at least to begin with; I think it would quiet a lot of the skeptics (myself included)"
Why should he care what you think? Honestly your post is a great example of why he would do it.
If he just released the code in a currently unusable form all that would happen is people would complain about how crappy it is. That is the problem with most free software users lately. They feel that by using a free program they are doing the authors a favor.
Frankly I just hope he hits delete. Hell he is even helping write migration tools for current users free of charge.
What a bunch of ungrateful people users are.
I hope him all the best and thank him for the gift of his time and talents.

Ob-Simpsons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17512836)

"What? He's given you years of updates for free. What could he possibly owe you? If anything, you owe him."

"Worst. Email client. Ever."

Gratis vs. Libre (3, Insightful)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511672)

> Gee he has provided this software FREE of CHARGE for 16+ years.

Which kind of demonstrate why I prefer to use free software vs. merely gratis software. Free software will live on as long as their is an interest, while merely gratis software depend solely on the owners ability to find a way to justify continuing the work on it.

Re:long time user. (1, Troll)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 7 years ago | (#17513040)

I have used the program for a long time; still use it. While the author is to be respected for giving it freely for so long, I have to say that I'm apalled by the way it has been pulled. No announcement, no chance to get the final version. The website is now just a "I would work on it if paid" page. The removal of the ability to get the current version leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Yes; I understand that at shut-down the author doesn't want to suddenly incur large bandwidth fees and he could get hit with a lot of requests for the final version after making such an announcement, but one would think that he could at least post links to mirrors or even a torrent for the final version of the program. Without such an effort I'm left with a bit of a negative feeling for a programming effort I've long respected.

Says something about motivations. (0, Troll)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510850)

The post is really just an attempt to get some money. The fact that he would continue to develop it if he were paid probably goes without saying. However, he's also saying he would "consider" opening the code if he were paid enough, suggesting that if no donors come forward, he would simple delete the code and completely kill the product. This suggests to me that he's not really interested in open sourcing anything, but that he'll write that he will (if paid) in order to increase his chances of getting press on open source-centric sites like Slashdot.
What's more, it sort of confirms that the developer doesn't particularly care about the survival of the product, it's purely a cash cow that's threatening to run dry. That in itself doesn't really encourage me to fund it; I'd rather give my funding to someone who wants the product to succeed, and needs the money in order to deal with practical concerns (keeping in food, electricity, equipment) that would otherwise interrupt their ultimate goal, which is producing something. There's a strong fundamental difference between the ultimate goal being production of a product, and the ultimate goal being an income stream.

Re:long time user. (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512454)

This is rather odd, if he gets funding he'll open the source, but if not he'll kill it? If code is 'dead' then that's the ideal time to give it away, since no more money can be made.

I guess he means 'if I can't make money by open sourcing it, no-one else will'.

It would be a real shame if he just destroyed the code. Even if it failed to get a new following as open source, I'm sure there must be something in there that other projects can use.

Why not open it now? (2, Insightful)

Cerberus7 (66071) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510328)

If the funding has dried up, and he's prepared to move on to other things, why not open it? Pegasus was my first mail client, and I for one would like to see it bloom as an open source package rather than die a slow, horrible death as abandonware.

Re:Why not open it now? (2, Funny)

Secret Rabbit (914973) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510494)

No shit! It's like this guy is looking for a bribe to open the code.

Re:Why not open it now? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17510570)

To think that the project will automatically bloom by virtue of it becoming open source seems a bit presumptuous to me. Sure, it will definitely help towards it remaining a viable project, but taking a look at all the dead unmaintained projects in SourceForge tells me that having it open source is by no means a guarantee that it will bloom.

Re:Why not open it now? (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510650)

> To think that the project will automatically bloom by virtue of it becoming open source seems a bit presumptuous to me.

It's very presumptious, I agree. But no more so than presuming that without funding, it will die if it's opened up.

Here's how you maintain pegasus:

1. Delete all DOS assumptions. This is best accomplished with rd/q/s pegasus
2. Download another open source mail client. ...
3. Profit. Or don't.

Re:Why not open it now? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512366)

taking a look at all the dead unmaintained projects in SourceForge tells me that having it open source is by no means a guarantee that it will bloom.
But most of those are weekend projects by a college student that never reached version 1.0, and "this is not that."

Then again, personal email solutions are a dime a dozen. At most.

Re:Why not open it now? (1)

OfficeSubmarine (1031930) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511136)

Some people find it annoying to spend a huge amount of time on a project, find that they can't make money off of it, and then see it make some other company rich when open sourced. Not saying it's right or wrong, but it's something a lot of people feel strongly about.

Re:Why not open it now? (1)

EveLibertine (847955) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511964)

I'm sure the author feels more strongly about this two, and the fact that he even mentioned opening it means he's at least given some thought to that. But, at this point it seems that he feels he deserves some money for all his efforts over the years, and I'm inclined to agree with him. It's not that it sounds like he doesn't want to open it, it seems like he does. But if he just opens it straight away, he might not have the leverage he needs for this last opportunity to make some money off of it. It sounds like he could use some cash right now, and opening the code would require even more work with still no promise of being paid.

I'd bet that it is likely that once his money problems are resolved, whether through working on this project or another, we will at least see work on this project resumed if not opened up completely. I'm sure he doesn't want to see his work go to waste just as much as you.

What does funding have to do with making it open? (3, Interesting)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510360)

I went to the web page and see that, as reported by Scuttle Monkey, the author says he might continue working on it or make it open source with some funding. What does funding have to do with making it opern source? He could make it open source today if he really wanted to. It just seems to me that he's yet another guy who's pissed off that he can't make a living off the internet, so he's holding his source code hostage. I have to admit I know nothing about his program, but I fail to see the connection between open source and him getting paid.

Is it so complicated? (4, Insightful)

cascadingstylesheet (140919) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510496)

>I have to admit I know nothing about his program,
>but I fail to see the connection between open
>source and him getting paid.

1. One or more people want it to be open-sourced.

2. The author (like you, unless perhaps you are
a monk) wants money.

An exchange either will or won't happen.

If there aren't enough people in #1 above, or if they
don't want it badly enough to pay, then maybe he will
eventually give it away for free, like something that
wouldn't sell in a garage sale or on EBay.

He doesn't have to give his work away for free if
he doesn't want to.

Re:What does funding have to do with making it ope (4, Insightful)

Zigg (64962) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510512)

He may be considering the inevitable time investment that would come from helping people actually understand the released source. Or (though less likely), there may be IP rights involved.

Re:What does funding have to do with making it ope (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511664)

That is all fine and dandy, but today ther are no less than 30 Open source apps that already do what pegasus does and more. This is not like Blender where there was no decent 3d app for Linux, there is a mountian of email apps that are as good as or better than pegasus.

I know some people still like it, but in my mind it is certianly not worth it even if he open sourced it.

I don't blame him. (4, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512770)

If his code looks anything like mine, he's just too damn embarassed to show the world his tangled mess of strings, variables, and "Mystery Science Theater 3000" references that can only be called "code" due to its inarguable existence as electronic data that someone could tentatively try to run through a magical compiler if one were extraordinarily optimistic that the whole wretched thing would somehow do something not all that far from its intended function without damaging anything or anyone else near the computer desk physically or emotionally.

Re:What does funding have to do with making it ope (1)

Oddscurity (1035974) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510518)

And he already had a support structure in place as well, to make money off. Assuming users migrated away from Pegasus to other clients because of features that he couldn't provide as a single programmer, he may even make more money opening the source. Provided it's picked up by a community, of course.

Re:What does funding have to do with making it ope (2, Insightful)

micromuncher (171881) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510610)

Moving something to open source and give it a chance at survival is a lot of work. I tried to move a bunch of my libraries to open source only to discover a total lack of documentation; not just API but architectural. If its put out without polish, its DOA.

Re:What does funding have to do with making it ope (3, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510684)

"What does funding have to do with making it open source? He could make it open source today if he really wanted to. It just seems to me that he's yet another guy who's pissed off that he can't make a living off the Internet, so he's holding his source code hostage."

I used to use this program a long time ago. It was a very good program.

1. Holding it hostage? He wrote it so he can do with it what he wants.
2. He did a lot of work. He would like to get paid for his work so funding is important. Things like food, mortgage, health care....

So it comes down to this. He will sell his work to the community if they pay him. It is his work so he has that right. If no one wants it enough to pay for it he is going to walk a way. If you don't like it use thunderbird.
These programs have been around for a long time. I used it on a Novell V3 system for email.

Takes some work to open source something. (3, Insightful)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510870)

You can't just open source software, there is work to do to open source it. First, you have to inspect the licenses of any module/code that you include to make sure that it is open sourceable. You also have to have a build system in place that works with open source. Is it truly open source, if you have to buy Microsoft's Visual Studio to build it?

I finally got the source code for Post Road Mailer (native OS/2 application). Before I can start working on it, I have to build a project file for Visual SlickEdit, then linting (or is it de-lint) it, then port it over to Watcom or Gcc. There may be some legal some issues that prevent me from open sourcing it, but I hope to get it working well enough to start distributing it -- legally, free as in beer.

And I forgot. (1)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512914)

And I forgot, you have to remove the obscene language used in variable names and comments such as "// my %%@!! boss XX must be on drugs if he thinks that I will do this."

Re:Takes some work to open source something. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17513124)

I finally got the source code for Post Road Mailer (native OS/2 application).


Life is short. Rather than reviving an OS/2 application, why don't you find a girlfriend? You'll be happier on your deathbed.

Re:What does funding have to do with making it ope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17511748)

so he's holding his source code hostage
Holding his *own* source code hostage? How does one hold something they own hostage?
It's his right to release it or not release it; it is not your implied right to have access to the source code of something you didn't develop.

Opening the Source (2, Informative)

TrailerTrash (91309) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510368)

From TFA:

if sponsors could be found to provide modest ongoing funding, I would be happy to
continue developing the programs, and would even consider opening the source.

-------------

Does it cost to open the source? It's not as simple as opening a SourceForge account and posting the source under the GPL?

Re:Opening the Source (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510536)

There is a small opportunity cost, he loses the ability to sell the source to someone who would be satisfied with the open source version. Admittedly, rather theoretical, but he basically incurs no costs by doing nothing; sure, he doesn't get whatever amount of good will he would have gotten by opening the source, but if he is interested in money, that isn't going to bother him much, if at all.

Re:Opening the Source (5, Informative)

heroofhyr (777687) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510606)

Here's a note I found in Google, but comes from the Pegasus site [pmail.com] :

As discontent with Microsoft's "business practices" grows, we have seen unprecedented interest in alternative solutions for operating systems and applications. As a natural consequence of this, I have received numerous, or maybe even innumerable requests for a Linux version of Pegasus Mail. As a corollary to these requests, I have had a lot of people suggest that I also move to an Open Source basis for maintaining the Pegasus Mail and Mercury source code.

In the past, I have taken a cautious "wait-and-see" approach to the idea of Open Source. I am now willing to accept that it is a valid model, and that it is producing some genuinely excellent packages (such as FireFox, of which I am inordinately fond). Ideologically, I believe that Open Source and I are a good match, and I would like to consider going that way.

There are still some major problems with the idea of going Open Source though: the most important is "How do I survive in an Open Source environment"? While Pegasus Mail and Mercury do not require a huge amount of money to develop and support, the fact remains that they *do* require a level of funding, and I am not entirely sure how this would work within an Open Source model. I feel it is significant that the majority of Open Source initiatives are either funded externally (Mozilla), or basically not funded at all (OpenLDAP, OpenSSL): it seems to me that while Open Source is an excellent technical solution to the problem of large-scale development using widely-spread teams, the area of Open Source business modeling is one that still has not been completely resolved.

The other major issue with Pegasus Mail is that it uses a proprietary third-party product as its core editor, and I would not be able to take that product with me into an Open Source environment. The same problems do not exist with Mercury, because I have written every line of the package myself, but with Pegasus Mail, the problem is significant.

So, there you have it: I am now favourably disposed to the idea of moving towards Open Source, but have to overcome some important issues before I go down that track. I am actively considering the issues and hope I can find workable solutions (such as a large, friendly, wealthy sponsor) in the not-too-distant future.

Hopefully this update to my position will reduce the amount of hate-mail I have received in the last three years from Open-Source zealots. While I understand the passion and admire the zeal of these people, I would suggest that a positive approach is always going to work better than trying to rip out my liver and feed it to the dogs. After all, this *is* my baby - I have been working on these programs and providing them free of charge for over fifteen years now, and I don't believe it's too much to ask if I expect a little basic human courtesy.

If you have suggestions and are willing to present them to me in a positive, encouraging manner, I will be happy to receive them.

David Harris
Owner/Author, Pegasus Mail and Mercury Systems,
April 20th 2005.

Re:Opening the Source (2, Insightful)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512274)

and I don't believe it's too much to ask if I expect a little basic human courtesy.

You must be new here.

Re:Opening the Source (3, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510584)

Does it cost to open the source? It's not as simple as opening a SourceForge account and posting the source under the GPL?


Lots of people seem to be asking this, but the question that they don't ask is this: is the source to Pegasus and Mercury 100% an original creation of David Harris? If not, he may have to pay off other authors who wrote libraries or other code written by Harris. One reason so much of the Netscape source code had to be rewritten to produce Seamonkey (and ultimately Firefox), aside from so much of it being crufty, is that there was a ton of third-party code that came from Sun and other companies.

Re:Opening the Source (2, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511030)

Theoretically, he could open the parts that he owns and leave it to other developers to replace the bits that he can't give away. Or ask you to download them yourself, the way you have to download lame separately from Audacity due to licensing issues.

Nobody ever guaranteed that any particular piece of open source would compile.

Evolution in action (3, Insightful)

Generic Guy (678542) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510376)

One might be inclined to think Pegasus is flickering out of existance because is isn't open source. I remember early on moving from Pegasus to Eudora email because Eudora's simplicity and features were better. When Eudora became an advertisement-laden mess, the open source Thunderbird showed up to fill the gap and I haven't looked back. Now Thunderbird offers in-place spell-check and other features which were considered very advanced just a few years ago. Evolution in action.

Re:Evolution in action (3, Funny)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510448)

No Evolution is that outlook like email app that comes with gnome...

Re:Evolution in action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17510834)

Riiiiight. Because so many other closed-source applications are dying off because they're not open. Like Photoshop, InDesign and Acrobat. Totally dying. Oh, and Windows is too, along with Office.

Do you actually USE your brain to think, or is it only for show?

Re:Evolution in action (1)

Evangelion (2145) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511026)


Uhh, no, his point was that Pegasus might be old and venerable, but it had a horrible, clunky UI.

Eudora started with a simple, elegant UI (my mother still runs Eudora 3 Light). Now that Eudora's UI has become garbage, another simple, clean email client will come along.

Not really, though. What's happening these days is people are migrating to webmail. The dedicated email client is slowly becoming a special purpose program.

Re:Evolution in action (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17511922)

Riiiiiight. Because WordStar, Harvard Graphics (Nee: Applause by Ashton-Tate), Lotus 1-2-3, and so many other closed source projects that lost touch with people's needs live on because they're closed source.

Do you actually use your body along with that brain, or is it for show as well?

Re:Evolution in action (1)

boyko.at.netqos (1024767) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512872)

Now Thunderbird offers in-place spell-check and other features which were considered very advanced just a few years ago. Evolution in action.

No - Evolution is a different client.

Pegasus for windows (2, Interesting)

Claws Of Doom (721684) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510384)

It was a godsend for me when I first found it. Working for a rural publisher meant we got *big* files down our 56k line. The ability to see and manipulate the mail queue for those of us not fortunate enough to be on *nix was truly empowering. There was no webmail, no alternative. We had been downloading 30Mb files overnight to try and get at our email... Heh. Good old simple "viruses come on floppies" days :)

what? the demise of pegasus mail? (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510398)

see the look of inconsolable sadness on my face: :-) Too bad my university won't have migrated away to a proper email system (by which I mean one where I can access my email from outside uni by using something other than squirrelmail) by the time I leave.

well then... (4, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510424)

It is official; Slashdot now confirms: *Pegasus is dying

One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered *Pegasus community when /. confirmed that *Pegasus market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all clients. Coming close on the heels of a recent /. survey which plainly states that *Pegasus has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. *Pegasus is collapsing in complete disarray, as fittingly exemplified by failing dead last in the recent Sys Admin comprehensive networking test.

You don't need to be a Kreskin to predict *Pegasus' future. The hand writing is on the wall: *Pegasus faces a bleak future. In fact there won't be any future at all for *Pegasus because *Pegasus is dying. Things are looking very bad for *Pegasus. As many of us are already aware, *Pegasus continues to lose market share. Red ink flows like a river of blood.

There can no longer be any doubt: Pegasus is dying.

Re:well then... (4, Informative)

Pegasus (13291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512690)

No, I'm not dying. I'm very much alive.

In fact, I've just changed jobs and got a new pair of wings :)

Open source them (1)

randomErr (172078) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510438)

When this story was on Digg last week I said the same thing: I really hope he decided to open source both pieces of software. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Possible replacements? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17510594)

I run my own mail server at home for myself, my friends and my wife's small business. Does anyone have any suggestions on decent replacements for Mercury32 that run on Windows? I know I could find lots at SourceForge, but I'm hoping to tap in to the experience people have here to strip out the ones that are less useful.

And no, moving to Linux is not an option at this time.

They would have been long gone by now... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17510602)

...but BSD was plugging up the drain hole. Or so I've been told from time to time.

Correct me if I'm wrong... (2, Insightful)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510618)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the lack of funding indicate that nobody wants to use it anymore? Free market in action and all that?

Further, what would Pegasus do that thunderbird or outlook doesn't do? Would it be better money spent writing custom plugins for thunderbird?

Re:Correct me if I'm wrong... (1)

pkcs11 (529230) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510754)

Outlook (full & Express), Thunderbird, Evolution, gmail.....
The market has spoken. Capitalism accelerates Darwinism.

Re:Correct me if I'm wrong... (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511212)

OK you're wrong.

The free market does not give people everything they want. It doesn't give them everything they need.

What it does is efficiently distribute resources provided that certain criteria are met. It is, in effect, the most ruthless and effective system of rationing ever devised, precisely because it doesn't really care what you want or need; it only takes into account what you are willing and able to spend.

Within its scope, the free market is highy efficient. But it doesn't do a good job at things where the benefits of purchase or costs of production are not limited to the goods and money changing hands. That's why the reaction of pharmaceutical companies to a successful drug to treat Hypercholesterolemia (Lipitor) or erectile dysfunction (Viagra) is not to find other diseases to cure, but to find other drugs to treat the same diseases (e.g. Zocor,Cialis). It would be better for Mankind if they turned the resources they spend on mee-too drugs to other diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis or juvenile macular degeneration.

So, the fact that there is no market for an alternative Windows email client doesn't mean the world doesn't need one. It' means you can't do it commercially when Microsoft gives Outlook Express away for free and bundles Outlook with the office suite everyone must use.

Re:Correct me if I'm wrong... (1)

caldodge (1152) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511880)

> It would be better for Mankind if they turned the resources they spend on mee-too drugs to other diseases such as Cystic Fibrosis or juvenile macular degeneration.

Ah, yes - if only you were king, you'd know just what to force them to do, and make everything better.

Or Google (tm) for "How to rid the world of all known diseases" for a slightly less dictatorial approach.

The "develop just one drug for this disease, then move on to some other problem" approach ignores the fact that the first drug available for disease treatment may not work for one person, or may have unhealthy side effects.

Case in point - my wife has pigmentary glaucoma, which is resistant to most types of treatment. The first type of eye drops we tried lowered her ocular pressures for about a month, and then stopped working. We went through the "try this type of drop" and "try this laser treatment" process 3-4 times before finding a medication which kept working (Trusopt).

With your strategy (which, IIRC, is Canada's approach (that is, approving a limited number of medications - typically the ones with the lowest cost)) she'd be blind by now.

So I'm happy that drug manufacturers compete, and try to find better treatments for the same diseases.

Curses! (1)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510658)

This will be worse than the end of the horse-drawn zeppelin! Mark my words!

Well, old dinosaurs always whither... (4, Informative)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510710)

Old dinosaurs wither...

Pegasus mail was great when it started. Then a Windows version emerged, with was potent, flexible and useful, despite some quirks (you could not select anything less than a line in message text -- this gave me the habit I still follow to put URLs in e-mails on a single line without unrelated text).

But it is obviously a product that evolved by slapping-on additions haphazarldy; the configuration was nothing but unified. Related features were spread accross several configuration screens amongst several configuration options, without a grand master plan.

In the end, it was a sorry kluge that was easily replaced by other clients (Eudora, Thunderbird) who eventually evolved to Pegasus' capabilities, but without the configuration nightmare.

So it arrived at it's natural end of life. It cannot compete against nimbler and swifter clients, so it now belongs in the annals of internet paleontology as a reverable footnote, much as the Great Eastern does in steamship paleontology or The Rocket in locomotive paleontology.

R.I.P. Pegasus, you won't be forgotten, but certainly not missed.

It's time to move on. Perhaps Mr Harris could bring his expertise and experience to Thunderbird, where he would be more than welcome.

Open Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17510792)

I loved Pegasus and ran it on all of my office's workstations. I remember a few years ago the author, after being bombarded by Linux users, stated in a FAQ that he would never open source the software.

A rather hasty reaction (4, Insightful)

Control-Z (321144) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510868)

I subscribe to the Mercury mailing list and last week David Harris (the author of Mercury and Pmail) posted a message about the future semi-commercial direction Mercury would take in 2007. There was one follow-up post that complained (in a polite way) about having to pay and David, in my opinion, went off the deep end. That same day he posted on pmail.com that they were both discontinued.

    The only money he ever asked for Mercury was for a set of manuals. I never needed a set of manuals, Mercury is easy to set up and use, and of course the mailing list is a good resource. I think a Donate button in Pegasus and Mercury would have kept him much more interested. As someone on the Mercury list said, if Pegasus Mail has 1 million users and everyone donated a dollar, that would make things much more interesting. Mercury was stagnating, new versions were few and far between.

Re:A rather hasty reaction (3, Interesting)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511060)

I think "it takes money to make money" is still as valid a saying as ever. The problem David Harris has is shared by MANY software developers out there. They initially get motivated to "build a better mousetrap", and they succeed. Their product is adopted by millions of users (often because it costs them nothing to use it, but has obvious benefits worth the switch and learning curve). Over time, the author feels that he/she deserves financial compensation for the now highly-regarded product and becomes disenchanted with the situation. Development stagnates, and new products overtake it.

To overcome this, I think the real answer is to invest some money in advertising a newer, more advanced version of the software product. (The old one can then serve as a "lite" version, maintained simply to help keep your "brand" alive, and to introduce new people to the product's existence.) Otherwise, you can't really break free of the "development/ascent/decline" lifecycle that all products undergo.

Re:A rather hasty reaction (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511690)

I think the real answer is to invest some money in advertising a newer, more advanced version of the software product. (The old one can then serve as a "lite" version, maintained simply to help keep your "brand" alive, and to introduce new people to the product's existence.)

I'm sure I'm blinded by my primary dependence on Free software, so can you cite a few products that have had long-term success with the lite-is-free, full-is-pay model? I mean I've seen plenty try it, but over the long term I don't recall any having much long-lasting success.

The only one that comes to my mind is Ghostscript where new releases are free-as-in-beer (and sold to various OEMs) and then move to GPL when the next major release happens. Which isn't quite what you described.

Re:A rather hasty reaction (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512076)

Isn't the Grand Theft Auto game series a bit like that? New game costs money, after X years it suddenly becomes a free download on the developer's website, and so on. Quake is similar too - every time a new Quake game comes out, they GPL the one before it.

Re:A rather hasty reaction (2, Informative)

FLEB (312391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512636)

Trillian, Doom (and a thousand other Shareware titles), MS Outlook (via Express), Winamp (although I don't know if that's "succeeding" or merely "subsidized")

Re:A rather hasty reaction (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512964)

Trillian, Doom (and a thousand other Shareware titles), MS Outlook (via Express), Winamp (although I don't know if that's "succeeding" or merely "subsidized")

Other than Trillian, your list is bogus. ID Software does not in any way market their older games as free "lite" versions, and the thousand other shareware titles are exactly what I am talking about - none of them particularly successful. No one buys outlook as an express upgrade, outlook is sold to business, express is just bundled with the OS (if it were otherwise, you could cite wordpad and ms-word too).

More details here (2, Interesting)

alexgieg (948359) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510950)

You can find more detailed information on this move the following link, by a Pegasus Mail beta tester:

http://www.vandenbogaerde.net/pegasusmail/dh_upd1. html [vandenbogaerde.net]

By the way, I'd love to see Pegasus Mail open sourced. It's a marvelous e-mailing package. It's UI isn't the most intuitive around, but once you get used to it, it becomes a very powerful tool for your mail needs. Many years ago I evaluated a lot of e-mail softwares, including Eudora, and ended up choosing Pegasus Mail. It's really worth it.

I would surely help if a fund for purchasing and open sourcing it was established.

Re:More details here (2, Interesting)

peeping_Thomist (66678) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512856)

From http://www.vandenbogaerde.net/pegasusmail/dh_upd1. html [vandenbogaerde.net] :

"I will probably never be able to describe just how horrible it has been to be me for the last three or four years, and I certainly will not insult you now by attempting to do so; suffice it to say that anything must be better than this dubious existence. [...] I will be shutting persephone down for an indeterminite period while I try to work out whether I have a future."

That sounds to me like the guy is borderline suicidal. It's sad.

goodbye to a great email client (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17510956)

Sad news. I used pegasus from the moment I had an email address until I discovered thunderbird. Thanks to pegasus my house was never tainted by any incarnation of Outlook.

Yes, I'll miss Pegasus (2, Interesting)

rueger (210566) | more than 7 years ago | (#17510978)

In the year since I moved to an Apple machine I've come to understand how solid and useful Pegasus Mail had become. In twelve months I've moved from Apple Mail (which I found much too limited), to Eudora [eudora.com] (what a bizarre interface, at least for me) to Thunderbird, and now to Gyazmail [gyazsquare.com] .

Each of these lacks at least a couple of must have features that I used extensively on Pmail. Thunderbird tries hard, but it always seems that the feature that I need most isn't quite finished.

Gyazmail comes close, but still has some gaping weaknesses, like the apparent inability to add addresses to the Addressbook from within the program, and a good Search function.

Ultimately Pegasus was probably best loved by those who live and breathe e-mail, and who need power and flexibility, as well as reliability. yes it was free, but it was one of those programs that I would have paid for because it suited my needs so well.

but, I'll miss the powerful filters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17510990)

I was a long-time user who shifted to Thunderbird in the last year because Tbird handled IMAP better. However, I continue to miss the power of Pegasus Mail's filtering system -- for me it was easy to set up, easy to understand, and could do a lot. Thunderbird's system doesn't even come close (it seems easy to set up but does not work consistently or automatically and refuses to be applied to anything but the inbox).

An Old Warhorse - out to pasture. (1)

sherpajohn (113531) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511072)

Back in the late 80's I worked at a college that ran Netware (3.12) and everyone, from the dean to the part-time night students used the DOS version as their email client. It was rock solid. At that time I would hazard a guess that many colleges and universities which ran Netware and DOS machines used Pegasus as well.

I was quite sad to read its being discontinued.

server vs client (1)

Chicken04GTO (957041) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511256)

I wont miss the client (ugggh!) But I will miss the server, one of the better free email servers for windows based solutions.

We still use pegasus... (1)

maharvey (785540) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511456)

I generally use webmail these days but I still use pegasus to download and archive mail. However my wife uses pegasus exclusively, and she won't be happy about switching. Plus we have hundreds of megabytes of pmail archives. It's been a solid and reliable program, never had a need or desire to switch.

Ah well, guess it's time to look at alternatives. People say good things about thunderbird... it'll have to be a client with an open mail archive format, so I can hack a conversion script. (Pmail is easy, it's just a slightly modified unix format.)

its about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17511512)

I'm glad that both of them are going to die. I'm glad that I was able to stop supporting both years ago.

The only people who stayed with them for any time at all is the type of person who enjoys ugly over-complex tools.

Sad day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17511584)

Very sorry to hear of the demise of Pegasus. I used Pegasus for many, many years, and had family members using it as well. It is only in the last year or so that I stopped use of Pegasus, as I found Thunderbird to be a more full-featured mail client. While I was using it, it was the tops, better than anything else I had tried. Farewell, Pegasus, you will be missed.

To: David Harris (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511604)

Mr David Harris, I was a user of Pegasus Mail for years because was lightweight and other features, then moved to Eudora, and then Thunderbird, and finally Gmail.

Thanks for your good work!

--Tei

Funding? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17511844)

On the website, the author David Harris states that if some funding becomes available he would consider opening the source code or continuing the development

Hmm... why would it cost him anything to release the source code? He could just post it on SourceForge.

Looks like someone wants a monetary incentive to release it. I'll bet nobody will complain about it, however. Far easier to just call MS evil for daring to charge money for software (and while praising Apple for doing the same thing, of course).

Gmail, anyone? (1, Offtopic)

calderra (1034658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511862)

I'm done with POP mail pretty much altogether- I'm tired of server settings, and odd issues with clients connecting, and updates to a program freaking out my connection to the mailserver, etc etc. I use Thunderbird at work only because it's the reccomended method (read: ensures no one can claim delays any different from the rest). When I pop onto Gmail (with lots of auto-spam filtering) or indeed Hotmail (set to Exclusive mode for registrations, etc), my mail just works.

And I can check it at work, or at home, on pretty much whatever OS I please and I never have to worry about carrying my settings, or what client is available, or whether my mails are deleting from the server, or firewalls- unless freemail is blocked of course, in which case POP mail certainly would be as well anyway, making it a moot point.

As far as I'm concernt, POP mail altogether needs to be seen as a dinosaur. There has got to be a better way. Personally, it's Gmail.

Moo (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#17511898)

Even if Pegasus itself goes away, the indelible mark it leaves on many subsequent clients will still be here.

Dear David (2)

Henk Postma (703916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512050)

Thank you very much for a Pegasus Mail, so solid, so powerful, and my email program exclusively from 1992 to 2005, when I finally completely ditched my windows partition in favor of running Ubuntu exclusively. I had been running Pmail under wine from 2003. I really loved the filtering system, it was wonderful!

I am sorry to see you won't be continuing the program. Open sourcing is a nice idea, but my guess is it will then become a weak Eudora or Thunderbird copy.

I wish you all the best in your future. So long, and thanks for all the fish!

BG/BSG? (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512198)

I thought the story was about Battlestar Galactica [scifi.com] until I read the summary. :)

One of the best free W32 Mail servers available (1)

cjmt (967208) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512206)

Whilst Pegasus might be the better known product Mercury [pmail.com] , to my mind, was better. I ran our 50 odd seat business with Mercury as the primary POP3/SMTP/IMAP server for years. Whilst we are spoilt for choince with great free mailservers in the *NIX world, they are few and far between for Windows. I moved on to Communigate for the main domain, but still use Mercury internally and its so relaible its easy to forget its there.

I hope David reconsiders, theres surely a place for a small, battleproven mailserver in the Windows world. I'll miss Mercury if I finaly have to move on entirely.

Just open source it (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17512286)

I understand that this guy is skeptical of an open-source *funding* model but I think he is missing the point. His concern is that continued development is going to cost him time/money. But if he opens the source, he doesn't have to develop the software himself, or at all. Other people can fork the project and not even bother him about it -- "his baby" can be left intact the way it is. At this stage he's not going to profit from the software either way, so really it boils down to how he wants the project to die -- locked up on his hard drive, or as source code that other people can use to learn something about email. Personally, if I was thinking about the legacy of the software, I'd opt for the latter.

I think, really, he is just being hopelessly optimistic that some company is going to come and buy him out. But between Outlook and Thunderbird, and the prevalence of web mail, there is simply no market for end-user email software with a one-man dev team, and especially not on Windows.

PMail (1)

Simon la Grue (1021753) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512538)

A small consulting company that I know of in central Illinois used Pegasus way back in the mid 90s and used the term "PMail" instead of "EMail" in their conversations... ala "Did you read that PMail I sent you?" This was even funnier after they migrated to Outlook and kept on using "PMail"! Some of their folks still use the term to this day!

Good Riddance (1)

Improv (2467) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512590)

Some time ago, I wrote a Perl-based mail program called PMail. The Pegasus folks decided that, despite their product never having been called that, they "owned" the name and threatened me with a lawsuit to make me change its name. I'm glad to see them finally swirl the drain.

Exporting mail out to something else? (1)

brain159 (113897) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512754)

Pegasus handles my secondary email, and my parents' primary email. It's always suited us, becase we're juggling multiple mail accounts and identities, but don't need to be "locked apart" from each other (sometimes it works nicely that my dad can read my mum's emails - she's happy for him to do so, etc.).

Can anyone offer any insight on exporting the masses of back emails out to some other client? (We can probably switch to Thunderbird I guess, if we can take our old emails with us)

Cheap Noisy and Effective (1)

unfortunateson (527551) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512866)

Those three attributes have always been my term for something that gets the job done, but may be a little ugly.

I set my wife's biz up with Thunderbird, but there's two big areas we still use Pegasus for:
1) Quick forms, such as notifications of shipment, are impossible to do in T-bird without significant XUL programming
2) So far as I am aware, T-bird still doesn't do mailing lists where the "To" address shows as a list name, rather than listing out all the recipients

It's got its problems (command line creation of mail messages re-wraps the source message, rather badly too), but it's been dependable.

If it goes away, it will be missed.

Mercury mail server (1)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 7 years ago | (#17512938)

Although I don't haven't used it beyond testing, I must say it's the easiest to install and configure email server I've tried. Exchange 2003, for comparison, was and still is a nightmare.

Re:Mercury mail server (1)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 7 years ago | (#17513118)

I should read before I click submit.

A Tech Support Take on PMail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17512958)

I've supported many users in PMail for the last few years, and here's my take on it

Good:
Highly Configurable: It is the Linux of mail clients compared to Outlook/Thunderbird
Mailing Lists: Easy to make, use, etc
User Interface: Solid interface, easy to use, if not the prettiest on the block

Bad:
Hard to configure: Ever tried to walk a user through setting up an account? Not quite a cakewalk.
Chokes on large email: If a user tries to send a large (>10MB) attachment, PMail will send it, and then either crash on it being stuck in the message queue or choke on the bounce since it is too large. Only way around that is to manually remove the offending file directly out of the mailbox location (again, ever tried to do that over the phone).
Hard to migrate to/from: Right now, the best we can do is set up an IMAP connection back to the mailbox, and then drop the mail there. I hope we find something better soon, or moving away from it will be a nightmare.

Bottom line: It was great, it served a purpose, but for most users today, Thunderbird makes a much better choice. It is easy to install/configure/troubleshoot, and so closely resembles Outlook Express that most users cannot tell the difference.

I'm sure that David Harris has his reasons, but I say it is about time. Thunderbird is just too mature to compete with anymore.

Gimme $$$s (1, Redundant)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#17513132)

David Harris states that if some funding becomes available he would consider opening the source code or continuing the development.

While I can understand the need to eat and keep a roof over one's head while continuing to provide and improve free software, how much does it cost to simply open source the code?

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