The End of Evolution and how to Migrate on Thunderbird
Monday July 14th 2008, 10:26h
Filed under: FLOSS

Last week I suddenly realized that I didn’t receive an important email. First I started to accuse my provider Hostplanet but then I found out that it was Evolution’s fault: Emails were downloaded and saved correctly in the mbox files, however the messages were not displayed within Evolution. Once I looked at the mbox files with Thunderbird, I didn’t only find the missing email but many others as well I had received recently but didn’t see because of this misbehaviour!

I filed a bug report in Launchpad and did several test in order to find the error. As others confirm that they don’t see all of the messages of my demo mbox file (there are six messages in the file, but Evolution only shows four of them) I lost trust in Evolution and had to migrate everything to Thunderbird:

1. Email migration
This was quite easy as both Evolution and Thunderbird use the mbox format for their email storage. Thus I only needed to copy the files out of the /home/USER/.evolution/mail/local directory, put it into Thunderbird’s directory /home/USER/.mozilla-thunderbird/XXXXXX.default/Mail/Local Folders and clean up Evolution-specific configuration files:
find . -name "*.cmeta" | xargs -i_ rm "_"
find . -name "*.ev-summary" | xargs -i_ rm "_"
find . -name "*.ev-summary-meta" | xargs -i_ rm "_"
find . -name "*.ibex.index" | xargs -i_ rm "_"
find . -name "*" | xargs -i_ rm "_"

2. Contacts migration
As Thunderbird doesn’t support vCard file format out of the box (very strange…) I had to install MoreFunctionsForAddressBook in order to import the contacts from Evolution (right-click on selected contacts in Evolution and export them as vCards). It took a little while importing >2000 contacts in Thunderbird, but in the end it worked flawlessly.

3. Calendar migration
This was the most annoying part as Thunderbird’s Lightning Extension complained an import error when reading the iCal file from Evolution. In the end I had to import the iCal file in Google Calendar and then export it again as iCal in order to ‘clean it up’ for Thunderbird.

Finegrained configurations of Thunderbird such as adapting the reply header of email answers (mailnews.reply_header_type=2) can be made in the Config Editor.

While I enjoy the rich add-ons repository of Thunderbird I still miss many of Evolution’s features, especially the nice integration in the GNOME desktop (as do others as well).

4 Comments so far
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Thanks for sharing your experience with migrating from Evolution to Thunderbird. You helped me a lot ! :)

Even the calendar migration went smoothly (just lucky i guess) and I found that the Task list could be transferred like an iCal too ! :)

Even though this is not a real step-by-step or howto, you provided me with enough info to complete migration succesfully.

Comment by RavanH 09.01.08 @ 1:34h

Oh, and for what it is worth: after porting, I too discovered some e-mails I had not seen before… Worrying aspect about Evolution :( and made me even more sure migrating was the right step.

Comment by RavanH 09.01.08 @ 1:37h

Thanks for the clear instructions, particularly the workaround on how to import the Evolution calendar by using Google’s export format.
I too liked Evolution but valid messages were always being routed to Junk.

Comment by Kurt Krueckeberg 11.22.09 @ 0:50h

Do your instructions work with transferring IMAP mail from Evolution? As far as I can tell IMAP mail is not stored in mbox format in either Evolution or Tbird. I could, of course, just configure Tbird to access my IMAP account online, but I am very bandwidth constricted and my IMAP account is large, so downloading all the messages for offline use would take a huge amount of time.

Comment by Allan Mitch 09.13.10 @ 20:47h

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