Keeping it Small and Simple


Trying Mozilla Thunderbird and Sunbird

Filed under: Software — Tags: , , , — Lorenzo E. Danielsson @ 19:03

After having installed Firefox 3 beta 2, I thought I might as well give Thunderbird and Sunbird a go as well. A while ago I posted about Icedove, which is Debian’s Thunderbird package, complete with an ugly name. This time I wanted to grab the package directly from Mozilla instead.

I grabbed Thunderbird here and Sunbird here. If you want Sunbird to run as an extension to Thunderbird, you can get Mozilla Lightning from here. I am personally allergic to big applications that do too many things, so I prefer keeping Sunbird separate.

Thunderbird 2

Thunderbird is a mail client, just in case you didn’t know that already. I spent a few frustrating minutes with it a while ago, only to go back to the client I know and love: mutt. This time I’ve decided to be a bit more patient and really try to use Thunderbird for a while.

Quick instructions if you want to set it up:

First download the package. Then extract it to your preferred location. I chose /opt, where I keep large packages that come with everything in its own directory structure. As root,

# cd /opt
# tar zxf thunderbird-

Next, create a symlink so that you can start the program by just typing ‘thunderbird’ instead of the full path.

# ln -s /opt/thunderbird/thunderbird

If you use SCIM (as I do), you thunderbird will segfault if you try to launch it. The solution is to disable SCIM for thunderbird. Edit /opt/thunderbird/thunderbird and add the following:

export GTK_IM_MODULE=scim_bridge

Make sure you add this *before* the thunderbird binary is launched. I added it right below that looks like this: # set -x (it should be around line 90).

Now you are ready to start thunderbird. Launch it with ‘thunderbird’. If you use Gmail, Thunderbird can set up Gmail with POP access for you. You can also use Thunderbird to access Gmail via IMAP, but then you have to set it up yourself.


Sunbird is Mozilla’s stand-alone calendar application. Gettting it up and running is very similar to Thunderbird.

First download the package. To install it (as above, I installed it to /opt), become root and:

# cd /opt
# tar zxf sunbird-0.7.en-US.linux-i686.tar.gz

Create a symlimk:

# ln -s /opt/sunbird/sunbird /usr/local/bin

Sunbird suffers from the same SCIM problem as Thunderbird, so again, edit /opt/sunbird/sunbird using your favorite vi clone, go to line 90 or so, find the line that contains:

# set -x

This should be line 92 or something like that. Open up a new line under it and add:

export GTK_IM_MODULE=scim-bridge

Save and close your text editor. Now sunbird should be ready to use. Start it with ‘sunbird’.


Thunderbird feels somewhat less annoying to work with this time around. Maybe I’m getting too old and dumb for mutt? 😉 Anyways, mutt is not going anywhere. I don’t trust any MUA enough to replace mutt. But, that being said, I will use Thunderbird for a month or so. So many people have told me so much about how good Thunderbird is, so I feel that at least I have to get to know it.

I noticed that Thunderbird can also be used to aggregate RSS. I’m going to try that out as well. Right now I use liferea and raggle. I don’t care much for liferea really, but raggle is brilliant. I’ll try out Thunderbird on a few blogs and news sites, just to see how well it works. If, by any chance, it Thunderbird turns out to be useful, it would be really nice if it could be good enough at handling RSS feeds that I can finally ditch liferea.

I haven’t really used a calendaring app much. I’ve played around with Evolution, Kontact/Korganizer, Zimbra, eGroupware, and maybe one or two others. The idea of calendars is probably a good one, but I’m hopeless at organizing myself. This time, I’m really going to try to use Sunbird, at least for a while. Who knows, maybe I will even find it useful..

I hope that it will be possible to use these two applications with SCIM soon, because I would need to at least be able to write Japanese e-mails. It’s a little odd that Firefox works fine with SCIM, but not Thunderbird and Sunbird.

1 Comment »

  1. your post saves the day. thanks!

    Comment by 9000 — 2008.08.01 @ 00:54

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: