How To Migrate From Evolution To Thunderbird In Ubuntu Intrepid

While Evolution is a useful email client for Gnome desktop, it is just not as extensible and flexible as Thunderbird. For those who are facing unpleasant incidents with Evolution and wish to migrate to Thunderbird, here is how you can do so in Ubuntu 8.10

Preparing your Thunderbird

First of all, if you have not installed Thunderbird, click here to install. Alternatively, in your terminal,

sudo apt-get install thunderbird

Open your Thunderbird (Applications-> Internet -> Mozilla Thunderbird).

It will first prompt you to import setting, select Don’t import anything and click Next.

It will then ask you to setup your email account. Go ahead and set up your email account.

Migrate local mail from Evolution

First, we will migrate the Evolution mails that are stored locally in your hard disk.

Open up two Nautilus windows (if you like, you can open two tabs instead of two windows). Press Ctrl + H to reveal the hidden folders. In one window, navigate to the .mozilla-thunderbird folder. You should see a folder with name similar to i7bqvbzk.default. Click on that folder, followed by Mail and Local Folders. You should see some files like Inbox, Trash, Unsent Message etc.


In the second window, navigate to .evolution -> mail -> local folder. Similarly, you will find files such as Inbox, Outbox, Sent, Trash etc.


Now copy the five files Inbox, Outbox, Drafts, Templates, Sent from the Evolution folder to the Thunderbird folder. If it prompts you whether to replace the existing files, click Replace All.

If you have used any subfolders in your Evolution, you should see a folder with a .sbd extension (such as #evolution.sbd). In your Thunderbird folder, create a similar folder with the same name. Back to your Evolution folder, copy and paste all the files in the subfolder that don’t have a file extension to the Thunderbird subfolder.

That’s it. Restart your Thunderbird. You should see all your Evolution mails imported over.


Migrate Calendar

Thunderbird does not come with a calendar function by default, so we need to install the Lightning extension to give it the calendar functionality. As the Lightning extension in the Ubuntu repository is outdated, we will have to download the extension and install it manually.

Go to and download Lightning 0.9.xpi.

Some of you who have installed Lightning 0.9 before will find that you won’t be able to add entry to the Calendar and Task section. This is a common bug as the Lightning extension still uses the old libstdc++5 dependency file while Ubuntu Intrepid comes with the newer libstdc++6. Thus, before you install the Lightning extension, first install the libstdc++5 dependency file.

sudo apt-get install libstdc++5

Now, in your Thunderbird, go to Tools ->Addons. Click on the Install button to install the Lightning extension. (If you have already installed Lightning extension, you will need to remove and reinstall again).

Restart the Thunderbird. The Lightning extension should detect the presence of Evolution and prompt you to import the calendar from Evolution.


Make sure the box is checked and click Next. It should import your Evolution calendar over.

Migrating Task

Lightning does not import the Task list from Evolution, so you have to do it manually.

In Evolution, click on the Task tab. Right click on the Personal (or whatever name you give to your task list) and select Save to disk. Navigate to the location and save the task list in .ics format.


In Thunderbird, first click on the Calendar tab, then go to File->Import Calendar. Select the file that you have just saved. Thunderbird will prompt you where to save the calendar. Pick the one you want and click OK. Your Evolution Task list will now be imported to Thunderbird.


Migrate address book

Importing address book from Evolution is not an easy task since Thunderbird does not support the importing of .vcf format. To overcome this, we have to install the MoreFunctionsForAddressBook extension.

Go to and download the MoreFunctionForAddressBook extension. Install it in Thunderbird (and restart Thunderbird).

In Evolution, click on the Contacts tab. Right click on your contact list and select Save As vCard. Select a location and save the contact list in .vcf format.


In Thunderbird, click on the Address Book tab on the icon bar to load up the Address book window. Right click on the entry area and select Import vCard/vcf. Select the .vcf file that you have just saved.



Enable Tracker Indexing

You have now completed the migration from Evolution to Thunderbird, you might want to enable tracker indexing so that your mail in Thunderbird can be indexed and searched by tracker.

Download the tracker extension here.

Install the extension in Thunderbird and restart thunderbird.

On your Ubuntu desktop, go to System -> Preferences -> Search and Indexing. Make sure that the Index delay is set to at least 45 and the box beside Enable Indexing is checked.


Next, go to System -> Preferences -> Sessions. Make sure that the boxes beside Tracker and Tracker Applet are checked.


Close everything and restart your computer.

Once it is booted up, start your Thunderbird and go to Tools -> Tracker Indexer Setting

On the Indexing tab, make sure that the Enable Indexing box is checked.


On the Privacy tab, click the Drop everything and Reset index status. Tracker will now re-index your Thunderbird folder.


That’s all. Enjoy!