Beta is a test and development channel where users of beta get fixes and feature changes before they are made available in regular releases. Because it helps improve Thunderbird, we love having users try beta versions, report bugs, and help other beta users.
Because of frequent code changes and add-ons that may not work, the beta channel is considered to be unstable and not recommended for production. But you can run multiple installations and multiple channels, without one affecting the other by, by using a data profile for each with multiple profiles - use one profile for beta and one for production.
Betas serve multiple purposes:
- Users can participate in improving their favorite open-source software, requiring little or no techincal skill. And because beta gets fixes before release, you might get relief from a problem that is not yet fixed in a normal release.
- Beta is a test bed for patches and features which have landed in the daily build channel, because they need more users and more testing before being shipped in a release version.
- Overall stablility and quality is monitored, so that regressions are found and fixes verified before the code moves to a release version.
- Add-ons authors use the beta channel to develop, update, and fix their add-ons.
While beta is considered to be unstable, quality and stability are goals for beta and are normally sufficiently high for adventurous users to use it on a daily basis. And you giving feedback helps make that possible.
Installation and updates
You can download the beta from the channel page. Thunderbird updates are pulled from the "beta channel" so that you get beta updates, not normal release updates. Updates occur every 4 weeks, and as needed by developers and Thunderbird release management.
You can also run the normal release of Thunderbird "at the same time" by installing the beta into a different directory than the release version. (And when the normal release is running, its updates come from the "release channel", not the beta channel.)
User feedback and investigation is essential to the improvement of Thunderbird. You are encouraged to :
- Post beta specific questions and ideas, and see what others are reporting
- Help other beta users
- Ask non-beta specific questions in the Thunderbird support forum
- Reproduce problems in safe mode and file a bug report for Thunderbird or Calendar
Add-ons frequently may not work in the beta environment. If you require many add-ons you should consider using the normal release.
That said, if you have issues with an add-on please:
- Refer to Unable to install add-ons (extensions or themes) in Thunderbird.
- Contact the add-on developer via the support information provided on their add-on page on https://addons.thunderbird.net.
- Use beta-compatible versions (the add-ons site in some cases has difficulty providing beta versions of add-ons):
A channel is a mechanism for managaing the update process. When you download and install Thunderbird it is set for a specific channel, and that installation receives updates only for that channel according to the configuration setting in the program directory.
Thunderbird has three channels
- Release - the most stable channel, with major new versions roughly every 10 months, and minor versions every 4 weeks
- Beta - pre-release channel described above
- Daily - is a highly unstable testing and development channel, the initial location where developers land patches for new features and fixes. You can get daily at channel download.