I am an Evolution user. While people seem to rag on Evo, I quite like it. In Oneiric though there has been discussion about switching to Thunderbird. I have always been a firm believer in eating your own dogfood where possible, so I decided to start using Thunderbird this week when I upgraded to Oneiric.

Overall everything is looking good so far, but I wanted to summarize some feedback about Thunderbird, as well as some news about Thunderbird’s integration into Ubuntu.


Overall I like Thunderbird. I used to be a Thunderbird user but moved away due to better desktop integration in Evolution. Some initial feedback:

  • Thunderbird now integrates with the Messaging Menu and the Unity launcher. At first this didn’t work, but with a bit of debugging help from Chris Coulson (the legend who is doing a lot of this integration work), he found the bug and rolled a fix which will land in Oneiric shortly. If this didn’t work for you, it should work when you upgrade your Oneiric.
  • I cannot stand the Global Search. It doesn’t ever net usable results. As an example, I did a search for Andy Oram today, who I have been chatting with recently, and I clicked to sort the results by date. It didn’t find the thread from the last few days, which was not good. It turns out there are really two search paths: the Global Search, and the search for filtering the messages, which acts like a more traditional email search like the one in Evolution. If this Global Search is not improved, I would recommend it be switched off in the default Thunderbird installation in Ubuntu (bug report)
  • When sending a message a window pops up to say the message is being sent – this is pretty distracting and interrupts the flow of working with your email (bug report).
  • Fonts seem too small (particularly the message font) and there are also still some quirks when it comes to configuring fonts and Thunderbird remembering what you configured (bug report).
  • The notifications integration is nice and shows you a little about what message arrived. It is also nice to not see that hulking great big Thunderbird notification appear in the lower right-hand corner. :-)

Coming Work

I talked to Chris today about some of the future work and missing integration pieces. Here are some of the goals:

  • Work is going on to integrate the Lightning extension for calendar integration into Thunderbird. This will bring the feature-set more on par with Evolution. Last time I tried Lightning it was quite young in it’s development, so I am keen to see how this works.
  • Chris is working on the Evolution Data Server integration; this would provide better integration into the desktop, so for example, you events will appear in calendar indicator.
  • Thunderbird looks less integrated today at a theming level, but Chris showed me some of the mock-ups for theming improvments being worked on by Andreas:

  • Overlay Scrollbar support is on the nice-to-have list for the 11.10 release. IF you are interested in helping with this, do let me know.

Overall, things are looking good and with these integration components complete, the Thunderbird experience should be pretty rocking in Ubuntu. I can’t wait to see it evolve over the coming months!

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