Migrating Thunderbird

I use Thunderbird with the Lightning add-on as my email client. I used to do this combination in Windows 7 too. I wanted to move my emails, contacts, add-ons and calendar entries from my Thunderbird instance in Windows 7 to my new one in Ubuntu. That meant I had to copy my Thunderbird profile to an external USB drive from Windows 7 before it was formatted as part of the Ubuntu install process.

The Thunderbird profile in Windows 7 is located at:

C:\Users\<your user name>\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird

Note that the AppData folder is a hidden folder. In order to see hidden folders in Windows 7 I had to open Windows Explorer and do the following:

Organize > Folder and Search Options > Folder Options > View (tab) > Show hidden files and folders

In the Thunderbird folder there is a Profiles folder. Within that folder there was a folder with a name composed of random characters and ‘.default’, like d7kvmmtv.default. I browsed into that folder and copied everything in it to an external drive.

When Ubuntu was installed I used the Ubuntu Software Center and installed Thunderbird. I started Thunderbird and then hit cancel on the dialog that asked me for my name and email address. I then closed thunderbird down.

Mail Account Setup Dialog
I Selected Cancel at this point

In my home folder, I did:

cd .thunderbird

In the directory listing I saw a folder called


This was my new profile folder. I copied everything from my Windows 7 profile backup into that folder and re-started Thunderbird. Thunderbird found all of my folders and email archives, and then checked to see whether my add-ons were compatible.

It advised me that the Lightning add-on wasn’t compatible, and would I like it to check if there was a compatible version? I chose Yes, away it went and moments later Thunderbird advised me there was indeed a version of Lightning for my Ubuntu version of Thunderbird, and it offered to download and install it. Again I elected for this to happen, and Thunderbird duly obliged. It located the add-on, downloaded it and installed it, and then re-started.

All of my emails, calendar entries and address book contacts were exactly as I used to have them in Thunderbird in Windows 7.

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Show Hidden Files in Nautilus

The default file browser in Ubuntu is Nautilus.

Any file or folder that has a full stop (‘period’ to our trans-Atlantic cousins) as the first character of its name is considered to be a hidden or system file or folder and they do not show up in Nautilus.

To make hidden files and folders appear in Nautilus, type Ctrl+H

To make Nautilus ignore them again, type Ctrl+H once more.

Normal Folder View
The usual view of files and folders
View with Ctrl+H
Ctrl+H reveals Hidden Files and Folders
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Migrating My Data

The data migration process was relatively simple. I back up my data on each and every day that I use my computer. The backups go to external USB drives. (I did that when I used Windows; I do it now on Ubuntu. Back up, Back up, Back up. It’s the only safe way to use a computer. Any computer.)

I made sure my backups were current and then installed Ubuntu. When the installation had finished I connected my USB drives and dragged my data back to the appropriate folders.

In your home folder in Ubuntu you have folders with such names as Documents, Music, Pictures and Videos. These are the Ubuntu equivalents to the Windows folders called My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, etc.

That much was simple. It required nothing more than copying files.

This covered off all of my office documents, music and pictures. The documents were either created by me using the OpenOffice.org office suite or they were emailed to me as attachments. Without exception those attachments were created by others using Microsoft Office.

Ubuntu used to come pre-configured with OpenOffice.org. This latest release of Ubuntu (11.04 Natty Narwhal) has replaced OpenOffice.org with LibreOffice. LibreOffice is a separate and distinct project, based on the OpenOffice.org source code. (That deserves a post of its own.)

LibreOffice.org works with the all of the document file formats that OpenOffice.org works with, including the Microsoft Office formats, so there was no panic there.

Some applications such as Firefox and Thunderbird were handled as special cases. These will be covered off in future posts.

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The Learning Curve

I’ve recently blown away Windows 7 Professional from my main computer and installed Ubuntu 11.04, Natty Narwhal.

The continual problems and blue screens just got the better of me, and I ditched the whole sorry mess. Ubuntu installed in 20 minutes, didn’t ask for any drivers and is running like a dream.

All of the software I used in Windows was open source or free software anyway, and it was all cross-platform – what was there to lose apart from frustration?

This version of Ubuntu features the new interface called Unity.

Journeyman is an old term meaning someone who is no longer an apprentice but not yet a master craftsman. That’s where I am with Gnu/Linux and Ubuntu.

This is my record of interesting things I learn as I explore Ubuntu, and any tips or gotchas or warnings for those who might decide to follow me.

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