Instantbird 1.0 release, 3 days later

Servers load

Instantbird 1.0 has been very quickly downloaded over ten thousand of times. In fact, it happened so fast (especially immediately after we have been featured on lifehacker) that our server couldn’t handle the load.

We have very quickly been able to mirror our main website on another server, which allowed people to keep discovering and downloading Instantbird 1.0, but we had to close the add-ons website for a while as the load it couldn’t handle was also putting down other services that we really needed to keep online, especially our bug database.

We have tried to re-open the add-ons website at a quieter time, but the server was unresponsive again within half an hour. This morning we tried to improve the website’s performance by adding some caching mechanism and reopened again (at a time when most Americans are asleep) for a try. Again it fall down.

Some people very kindly offered help and proposed to host the website on their server, but it’s difficult to trust someone we barely know to host a website that requires our SSL certificate.

As the add-ons website had been closed for almost 2 days already (sorry for the inconvenience!) and extensibility is a key differentiator of Instantbird compared to other similar IM clients, we decided that this situation couldn’t last any longer and we solved the problem by throwing money at it: we ordered a beefier server (Quad Core CPU, 16GB of RAM) and migrated the add-ons website to it as quickly as we could. The website reopened this afternoon, and our testing confirmed that the new server can easily handle the load, even with more visitors than we had when the previous server stopped responding. It’s ready for a lot more people coming! Don’t hesitate to tell your friends to try Instantbird :).

Feedback

We have received a massive amount of feedback since the release. Most was positive or extremely positive. We received lots of encouragements. We even received some love letters!

Some of the feedback showed there was some confusion, for example about how we are different from Pidgin (which we will be the subject of another post to clarify things). We also received constructive criticism, good bug reports. The most common request is an easy way to retweet or to reply to a tweet. We will work on that soon :). Tab completion of nick names is also commonly requested, but even though it’s clear we need to have this by default in the future, we can usually satisfy the reporter by pointing to the great (restartless!) Tab Complete add-on.

Updates

As no alarming issue has been reported in Instantbird 1.0 which is already widely used, we have decided to turn on major updates from Instantbird 0.2 to Instantbird 1.0.

Users of Instantbird 0.2 will be offered an update shortly with an update prompt looking like this:
Dialog offering a major update to Instantbird 1.0

Users of our 0.3pre nightly builds will be offered an update to a nightly build numbered 1.1a1pre in the next few days.

Conclusion

All in all, it’s been a great release and the last few days have been exciting (even though they were also exhausting). We look forward to continue hearing your feedback (and to actually act upon it!). Don’t hesitate to share Instantbird with your friends. Our servers are ready!

0 thoughts on “Instantbird 1.0 release, 3 days later

  1. "Some people very kindly offered help and proposed to host the website on their server, but it’s difficult to trust someone we barely know to host a website that requires our SSL certificate."

    Have you tried to get any support from the Mozilla Foundation on this? People are constantly making remarks about how Mozilla is bigger than Mozilla Corporation/Firefox and many people know that and will point on their own to the Mozilla community. But the Mozilla Foundation makes a point of itself being bigger than the Corporation, too.

    Given the way things happen to be, it would be hard to believe that claim if the Foundation were not to say "yes" without good reason, if you were to ask for help on some infrastructure. I mean, really. Instantbird is hosting its own Bugzilla instance and developer wiki, too!

    If you don’t mind, if you decide to look into this, I’d like to hear about any progress or news.

  2. Good to read that Instantbird got so much attention, causing the servers to overload, and especially that you have solved the performance issues (by throwinng hardware at it ;-) ).
    I have developed two themes for Instantbird: LittleChat (based on LittleFox) and Nautipolis for Instantbird. And two more will follow soon…
    However I am not able to create an account on AIO, at least there is an account but it fails to send the confirmation email.

    Greetings, Alfred

  3. @Colby: We didn’t ask for help to the Mozilla Foundation for this specific issue. In the past our various requests have been denied, except the latest one: they agreed that we participate in Google Summer of Code with the Mozilla organization, and we are benefiting this year from a Google Summer of Code student :). Now that the project has gained some maturity (we have been around for almost 4 years!) and visibility, I think we would be more likely to get help. However I don’t expect decisions (either way) to be taken immediately, and for this server issue we needed a solution ASAP.

    @AlfredI’m glad you are developing themes for Instantbird. We have just reconfigured the email server and the problem should be fixed: you should be able to create an account on AIO. If the problem persists, please contact us :).

  4. One of the reasons I’m excited by Instantbird is that Pidgin has made some poor security decisions. Can you please tell us more about the default security? How are passwords stored internally, and do the chat protocols default to using SSL/TLS? Thanks!

  5. @(anonymous): Passwords are currently stored in plain text in the profile folder. We plan to use the Mozilla password manager for them someday. See bug 434 for details and to follow the work on this point.

    Most protocols use SSL by default if it’s possible.