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Linux and GMail Part III – Thunderbird

OK, as you can probably tell now, I have been wasting a lot of time playing with GUI email clients. Why you ask? Simple, I am nuts, like that wasn’t obvious! Like I did in Part I and Part II, I am going to do the same this go round, but with Mozilla Thunderbird instead.

First off, I am using version 3.1.9~hg20110206r5951 from the Ubuntu Mozilla Team Daily Builds PPA. Forgot I added that PPA to check out Firefox, so because of that, I have the version of Thunderbird that I do.

First things first, I like Thunderbird. I will even go as far as saying it is by far the best GUI-based email client available for Linux, and Windows for that matter. It integrates as better as the others, if not better actually, when it comes to tying it in to GMail. My complaints at this time are small, damn small. They are:

  • Unsubscribing from an IMAP folder does not hide that folder, you can still see it in the list, annoying
  • I don’t use local folders, so I had to download Mail Tweak just to hide it. Mail Tweak has about 50 or so other tweaks built into it, but I am only using one of the tweaks
  • You have to try a few shitty extensions until you find the right one

I have 2 GMail accounts set up, and there are different folder views you can use. I was using the Unified Folders view, which is a really great idea, one I haven’t seen on any other client out there. So I have 2 accounts, and they both have an Inbox, this will show only 1 inbox with both of them combined, and when you expand that inbox, you can then access each inbox individually. This saves space when you have a ton of folders in view. Another thing I like is the support of IMAP IDLE which allows damn near real-time communications between GMail and Thunderbird. You can kind of think of it as the PUSH Technology deployed in mobile devices these days. It is funny. An email will show up both on my Android and Thunderbird before it does in the GMail web client. When I get a new email in my inbox, a message pops up, and at the same time my phone makes a noise, and about 15 to 30 seconds later, the message shows up in my GMail web client. Also, it uses its own message indicator and not the Ubuntu or Kubuntu indicator. I kind of prefer the Thunderbird one because it is more out of the way for me. To be honest, I absolutely hate the indicators in Ubuntu and Kubuntu, but that is my personal preference, I just have a different work flow than those who like them.


It doesn’t look to bad in KDE. Of course it doesn’t fit in look wise, but that is easily overlooked when it comes to functionality, speed, and usability. I have installed the Zindus extension which syncs my calendar and contacts with Google’s calendar and contacts. It does this better than any other extension out there, so don’t waste your time trying this or that, just get Zindus, enter your username and password, and in seconds you are up and running. Thanks to Timothy Richardson for leaving a comment telling me about Zindus. As it stands, I don’t think I am missing anything from any of the other clients that I wish was here. Well maybe a social tab with sex built in like Zimbra Desktop had, out of the box I might add.

So, are you a Thunderbird user? Am I missing anything? Any extension that is a must have? Any tips or tricks I need to know? Speak up in the comments and let me know.

NOTE: Inbox zero!!!

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