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Harald Markus Wirth

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Shared Thunderbird Data

This article explains, how to share your profile and data between the portable Windows version of the Thunderbird email client with an instance of Thunderbird installed in Linux. These instructions should also work with a normally installed version of Thunderbird, but I didn't test that. The configuration shown in this tutorial will leave all data on your windows partition, and the Linux version of Thunderbird will use the same directory, as your Windows-Thunderbird.

Install Thunderbird under Windows

If you don't already have Thunderbird, get a copy and install it (see the link in the above paragraph). Once you have installed and configured the program, you will have a profile directory. In this example, the portable was installed into the directory D:\portables\Thunderbird, the profile (which is a directory structure holding all your emails, server configuration and preferences) is to be found in D:\portables\Thunderbird\Data\profile\.

Mount the NTFS partition on boot in Ubuntu

In order to let your Ubuntu-Thunderbird access this profile directory, the partition holding your Thunderbird Portable (and thus your profile directory) has to be mounted. It is a good idea, to have that partition automatically mounted on boot (but it is sufficient to manually mount it, before starting Ubuntu-Thunderbird). You can configure /etc/fstab on your own, or use a nifty little tool, called "ntfs-config", to create the fstab entry for the auto-mount.

sudo apt-get install ntfs-config

Make sure, that the NTFS partition is not already mounted before starting ntfs-config, or your partition will not be listed.

After installing, you get a new icon in System/Administration/NTFS Configuration Tool. You will be presented a list of available NTFS partitions. Check the partition, that is holding your Windows-Thunderbird and finish the process.

Install Thunderbird under Ubuntu

sudo apt-get install thunderbird

After installing, start Thunderbird and create a pseudo-profile. Enter some data, the server addresses may even be wrong. We only want Thunderbird to initialize the profile directory ~/.mozilla-thunderbird/ in your Ubuntu Home folder.

As a last step, we have to tell Thunderbird, where to look for the profile. Let's assume, your NTFS partition is now mounted to /media/sda2-data, then your profile is accessible through /media/sda2-data/portable/Thunderbird/Data/profile.

Edit the file ~/.mozilla-thunderbird/profiles.ini and change the values of "IsRelative" and "Path".



When Thunderbird couldn't use the profile

Thunderbird told me about another instance would be already running. There was a problem with file access permissions to the mounted NTFS partition. I could solve the problem by creating a symlink into my home folder:

sudo ln -s /media/sda2-data/portable/Thunderbird/Data/profile /home/USERNAME/.mozilla-thunderbird/portable-profile

The Path variable had to be set to Path=/home/USERNAME/.mozilla-thunderbird/portable-profile.

You can delete the profile folder, that is generated with the first start of Thunderbird and place a symlink to the real folder with the name of the initial profile directory - I will work out a safe procedure and rewrite this HowTo.

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