Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Only a minor feat

Minotaur, the Mozilla-based stand-alone mail client, finally reached the stage where a public build could be released this week (which, by the way, can be downloaded from It’s only at version 0.1a, and currently only available for Windows, but it’s a start.

Seeing as Mozilla Mail is my email weapon of choice, I thought I’d check it out. It weighs in at a hefty 12MB – the size of Mozilla itself – and as yet has no installer – you download a zip file, extract it to a folder and then run it, like you do with Phoenix (or whatever it’ll be called). It also uses your existing Mozilla profile, unlike Phoenix which keeps its data separate – this is a bad thing because it may mean that you not only mess up a minotaur installation, but your Mozilla one too.
I fortunately had Mozilla running at the time so I was asked to create a new profile (since Moz blocks access to the settings). After adding an email account, it was up and running. And then something dawned on me.

It looks exactly the same as Mozilla Mail. In fact, other than a slightly more streamlined Preferences dialog, I couldn’t find anything unique to it. What’s worse is that you’re stock with the ‘Classic’ theme, which I can’t stand – give me Orbit 3+1 any day. You can see how it looks in the screenshot. It did also seem a little slow at loading, and there was no splash screen to divert my attention…

Of course, it’s early days yet, and much work has been promised. Hopefully it will become as good as programs like Ximian Evolution or Outlook Express (or Lookout! Distress! as I’ve seen it referred to). Like Phoenix, its aim is to be cross-platform, so expect Linux and Mac OS X builds to arrive eventually (unless someone goes and creates Camino Mail or something), and I gather that some Phoenix features, like customisable toolbars, will make it into minotaur at some stage. Anyhow, I’ll give the developers the best of luck.

For a little linkage, try the minotaur Help site (from the people who brought you the excellent Phoenix Help) and reviews from bloggers Chris Gonyea and jorge. There’s also the Talkback discussion at MozillaZine, and it even has its own set of MozillaZine forums.

While we’re (sort of) on the subject of Phoenix, ‘duck’ seems to be the most popular name so far, with the least number of votes. However, the MozillaZine Forums seem to suggest that a name has already been chosen. Now, to update my Phallus Extensions…

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