Moved Thunderbird Mail from Windows to Ubuntu!

Buy this book at! The assumption here is that most Linux desktop veterans would say, “Dude, use Evolution.” But my “weird” response to this gospel truth would be, ‘There’s no Windows version.’ There actually is a Windows version from a Novell rock star programmer but it was not ready when I was looking—and it’s quite strange how it’s being offered.

The way Mozilla presented Thunderbird was not very strange, so I moved my personal email out of Outlook and into Thunderbird (lazily over a series of months) on Windows. And when the time came to move to Linux, I was seriously surprised just how easy it was! I just copied the Windows profile data to my Ubuntu virtual machine, ran thunderbird -P in GNOME and pointed a “new” profile at my old data copied from Windows. Some points of interest:

  • The habit of “surfing” the Web with news feeds and corporate junk mail is now confined to a Linux virtual machine. The new levels of safety here are through the roof! Yes, I admit that I used to do most of this risky work in Windows running as an Administrator.
  • Mozilla Thunderbird uses the mbox format. According to Jonathan de Boyne Pollard, “‘mbox’ is a family of several mutually incompatible mailbox formats.” The great news here is that this format is not some weird stuff Mozilla made up—it’s some weird stuff other people made up—Unix people. Because of this weirdness, we have the MBOX to EML converter by Ulrich Krebs. Java wins here (but I did see a Python code sample somewhere reading mbox).
  • “The Email Standards Project works with email client developers and the design community to improve web standards support and accessibility in email.”
  • Only Ubuntu Linux: “If you want to Import your mails from Evolution to Thunderbird there is very nice utility called MboxImport.”
  • How-To: Import Thunderbird Emails to Evolution

This email management move is a quantum leap for me. Now all of my most intensive, daily data management tasks are confined to super-portable virtual machines (hint: use something like my Western Digital Passport). Data management means hours and hours of little tweaks (often saved in thousands of little files)—and the psychological drag effect of ‘trapping’ all of those work hours on a single device is gone.