Migrating Thunderbird from Linux to OS X
August 26, 2016
Because Parallels Desktop has become practically ransomware; pay or you can't access your virtual machines anymore after a grace period of 6 days, I have some migration to do. To be honest, I have been thinking about this for quite some time, leaving Parallels behind. I bought a Mac mini and working most of the time in Ubuntu running in a virtual machine seems dishonest, and a waste of money.
And next on my list to migrate is Thunderbird, an email client which I have been using for many years. Still not switched to Emacs for this, if ever.
Installing Thunderbird for OS X
I downloaded the latest version of Thunderbird and installed the program using drag & drop, which reminded me, again, of the good old RISC OS days. Until one sees it's 187 MB that's being dropped into the Applications folder, not 187 KB, that is.
In order to have Thunderbird create a default profile I opened the email application. I was asked if I am sure to open it. I activated the "Open" button and another dialogue popped up; "Thunderbird.app" would like to access your contacts. I decided to not allow this, for now.
Thunderbird showed a dialog; "Use Thunbderbird as the default client for:". This dialogue window had a blank button to the right of "Skip Integration". However, activating the window and hovering over the blank button showed its label, "Set as Default", which I activated hence accepting the defaults.
Next, the "Would you like a new email address?" dialog showed up. I activated the "I think I'll configure my account later." button and exited Thunderbird. A profile directory should now be available.
Migrating profile using rsync
As expected, Thunderbird creates a directory under
Library for its settings
john$ ls ~/Library/Thunderbird/ Crash Reports Profiles profiles.ini john$ ls ~/Library/Thunderbird/Profiles/ jt1wxigb.default
I decided to use
rsync to transfer my profile on the virtual machine running Ubuntu 15.10 to OS X. Note that the directory structure on Ubuntu is slightly different:
john@ecce:~$ ls ~/.thunderbird/ Crash Reports l4mqu5iv.default profiles.ini
I used the following
rsync -avh firstname.lastname@example.org:.thunderbird/l4mqu5iv.default/ \ ~/Library/Thunderbird/Profiles/jt1wxigb.default/
rsync was done I restarted Thunderbird. And lo and behold, it just
works. Except for the Enigmail extension complaining it can't locate
the GnuPG executable. So, let's install this using Mac Ports.
Installing GnuPG using Mac Ports
First I ran
sudo port upgrade outdated which reported that there was
nothing to update. Next I searched for
gnupg2 which reported two results:
john$ port search gnupg2 gnupg2 @2.0.30 (mail, security) GNU Privacy Guard version 2.0 gnupg21 @2.1.15 (mail, security) GNU Privacy Guard version 2.1 Found 2 ports.
I decided to install the 2.1 version of GNU Privacy Guard:
sudo port -v install gnupg21
And copied over my files from Ubuntu as follows:
rsync -avh email@example.com:.gnupg/ ~/.gnupg/
gpg2 --list-keys showed all keys; succes!
Next, I ran the Enigmail Setup Wizard; the dialog was still open in Thunderbird. I browsed to the location of
gpg2 which is
/opt/local/bin and activated the "Continue" button. The default key in the next step was correct, so I activated "Continue" once more. I was greeted with "Enigmail is now ready to use" and activated the "Done" button.
I tried to read an encrypted email. And after I entered my pass phrase I could read the actual email. And sending a test email worked as well; flawlessy.
My only nitpick is that the dock icon default shows the number of unread messages. Selecting the "App Icon Options..." in the dock icon menu opens settings which allows one to change the badge to "Count of new messages". To me a more sensible option.
The whole migration went much easier than expected, and of course made me wonder why I hadn't done this months ago.