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Need Help Moving Thunderbird From One Linux Partition to Another

 9:59 pm on Feb 4, 2014 (gmt 0)

Hi all;

need help moving Thunderbird profile (all my mail and data) from my installation on Bodhi Linux to Linux Mint 13

anyone know an EASY way to do this?

I tried going into my ~/.thnderbird file 9where profile info is kept) and copying it to an external drive. Unfortunately I kept getting an:

invalid File Name error.

The external drive is formatted as NTFS, I am pretty sure. Maybe it can't deal with some of the naming conventions that Linux uses?

I also tried using Thunar as sudo but that didn't work out so well.

I booted up in Mint

in the terminal ran: sudo thunar

went to the media folder, found the partition with Bodhi on it, went to ~/.thunderbird to copy the data over.

It copied over ok, but then it made every file was owned by root.

when i launched thunderbird, I could see the folders, but I got an error saying something like th path was too long or there is a problem with the disk (I know, I should have written it down).


Then I tried to use the:

Tools -> Import/Export -> Export all profile files

In Thunderbird, but it just gave a script error, with the option to stop running the script or to continue. doesn't matter which i choose, the export script stops.

Anyway, any help is greatly appreciated. thanks in advance.



 6:03 am on Feb 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

Did you try changing the ownership of the files in the copied .thunderbird?

You can do it from Thunar (started with sudo). You should be able to do the whole directory at once.


 8:30 am on Feb 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

Have you tried dumping to CD or USB? Remove linux from the import/export location. Has worked for me the past... and also maintained a backup of the date, too.


 7:27 pm on Feb 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

"Did you try changing the ownership of the files in the copied .thunderbird? "

I will try doing that first. I think that I need to go to the folder level and do that, right?

If that doesn't work I guess I can try using the command line (cue music from Psycho shower scene...)

"Have you tried dumping to CD or USB?"

When yoiu say "dumping" are you referring to something specific Aside from just using a file manager to copy them over?

I tried the CD burn last night but for some reason my thunderbird data is like 2Gigs plus, so I couldn't burn to a CD. Have no idea how it got that big!


 7:53 pm on Feb 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

A file manager as super user one level up from the directory, then right click, or:

chown username:group .thunderbird

You probably want group to be the same as username.

CDs are not worth the trouble any more given how cheap USD storage is.


 8:08 pm on Feb 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

Thank you, Graeme:

Hot diggity! I got it working.

The problem was that I used

sudo thunar

To launch thunar and move the files from the Bodhi partition into the Linux Mint partition.

That cause all the files to be owned by root!

Anyway, I decided to move them again, this time using the built in file manager in Linux Mint 13 mate (don't know what that file manager is... doesn't look to be nemo... must be something else).

anyway, since I DIDN'T use sudo, it copied the files over with my username as the owner and as the group.

Thanks again everyone who helped.


In hindsight it seems totally clear why the files would have been owned by root when you are launching thunar with sudo. Just one of those "Hindsight is 20/20 things" even for someone like me.


 10:50 pm on Feb 5, 2014 (gmt 0)

Good! As for Thunderbird getting so large... it never actually deletes messages or attachments until you do a compact folder(s) command. Also, if you get a lot of attachments and want to keep the message, you can delete the attachment itself from the message... you already saved that attachment elsewhere, correct? Then run the Thunderbird compact folders function.


 8:12 pm on Feb 6, 2014 (gmt 0)

The file manager in Mint is Caja, an implemetation of Nautilus (in Terminal you can launch it using gk caja or gksudo caja).

A puzzling feature of this mangler is that if one opens a text file in gedit/pluma using the "Open as Administrator" option it always opens a blank file window in addition. My guess is it's a timing thing: the editor opens with a blank page then gets fed the document. Annoying, though.


 11:26 pm on Feb 11, 2014 (gmt 0)

@ tangor:

Thanks for the note. I am a little confused though:

"As for Thunderbird getting so large... it never actually deletes messages or attachments until you do a compact folder(s) command."

I am not sure I fully understand that. I am using IMAP (but thnking of switching back to pop).

So even on the things like my inbox in thunderbird where I have trashed the email messages (or downloaded them to a local foder), I still have to compact them to clear up space?


 7:03 am on Feb 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

Its the local folders and local copies of IMAP folders that need compacting.


 10:04 pm on Feb 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

For reference, for windows there is a thunderbird migration tool MOZBACKUP. Details of use at...



The latter is more definitive and gives paths for different OS types/versions including linux.


 10:24 pm on Feb 12, 2014 (gmt 0)

"Its the local folders and local copies of IMAP folders that need compacting. "

So compacting the inbox on for an imap account does nothing to reduce size / increase performance on the mail server?


 11:59 am on Feb 14, 2014 (gmt 0)


The mail server may even keep email in a format that does not need compacting. THE reason I do not use Thunderbird is because of its mail format.


 4:09 pm on Feb 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

Thanks, Graeme.

Which email client DO you recommend then?


 9:29 pm on Feb 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

I've been using thunderbird, originally on windows, since it first came out and for a few years now on linux. It's the only email client I use, although I used a few others early on. I find it excellent, easy to manage, with enough plugins to make my life easier (QuickNote, QuickText and a few headers monitors, for example). When I want to change machines I simply copy the data folder across. If I need to view the email's header (a frequent requirement) I simply hit Ctrl-U.

Thunderbird, like many other emailers, keeps all emails for a single MAILBOX in a single file for that mailbox. A few emailers use a method which has one file per email. The difference from a user viewpoint is: the former occasionally needs to be compacted, mainly due to emails being removed - easy enough, a single option on the menu. Emails are retained in the single-file mailbox even after "deletion" to trash: Compact removes the deleted emails from the file. Depending on how the emailer is set up, a popup comes up every so many "deleted" Kb or Mb asking if a Compact is required.

Another thing I like is security and ease of update for bugs fixes etc.

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