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By SkyEye at 2007-06-24 15:11
I know some of you are asking why, rather than how, regarding migration from Thunderbird to Evolution. Maybe that can explain why there are lot of Evolution to Thunderbird migration guides, but not many vice-versa. Fear not, here is a guide to assist who dare to migrate from Thunderbird to Evolution. The techniques described here are tested with the newer versions of both the software, namely Thunderbirs 2.0.0.4 and Evolution 2.10.2.

I simply think Mozilla people are doing a great job with both Firefox and Thunderbird. From my point of view Firefox is the best general purpose web browser around. It beats most proprietary browser in speed, stability, security, modularity, etc. However Fxs' counterpart in e mail business is not yet there at the helm. Thunderbird is a great application especially with Lightning addon, but from my point of view it's not there yet where Evolution is.

Evolution on the othet hand, has been the most popular Linux mail client during the past few years. It was started as a project of Ximian, but now a part of GNOME. Evolution now has a Windows XP version too. To be more true to the point Evolution is not just a mail client, it's a groupware application. It comes very competitive to the Microsoft Outlook. If you are looking for a replacement from Microsoft Outlook, then Evolution is your best bet without a doubt. Evolution comes with many rich features like calendar, appointments, tasks, memos, signature management, encryption, filters, Palm device support, developer platform, LDAP support, even Microsoft Exchange Server connectivity and lot more. Evolution is more feature rich, advanced, stable, less memory consuming than Thunderbird. Oneday Thunderbird might be "the" e mail client for Linux, but today Evolution is simply "the" client.

So here are the steps first, then I'lll describe them more (I assume both Thunderbird and Evolution are installed. If not you might want to do it at this point).

1. Backup your .thunderbird directory
2. Configure Evolution
3. Export your contacts from Thunderbird and import them from Evolution
4. Import your mail archives from Thunderbird to Evolution

Yes, it's that simple. So let's now dig into details.


1. Safety First (Backup your data)

Please backup the data before you try anything. Especially don't forget to get a copy of .thunderbird directory (located in the home directory, usually). All your current mails which you view withing Thunderbird are in this directory. So it is important to back this up.


2. Configure Evolution

Create the necessary accounts in Evolution. How to configure accounts in Evolution is out of the scope of this howto. So I'll just assume that you created the desired accounts and relevant folders. For example I added my Gmail account and added several folder like Fun, Blog Comments, Personal, etc. to my Inbox folder. This is to mimick the configuration I had in Thunderbird. Now we are set to go.

3. Import Contacts

From Thunderbird you can export your contacts (Address Book) to several formats. Since our aim here is to import these back into Evolution, use either csv or ldif. This is how you do it.

In Thunderbird,
* Go to Address Book
* Select the address book you want to export, then
* Click "Export" from "Tools" menu (Tools --> Export)
* In the dialog give a name and a location to save the export
* Select either "Coma Separated" or "LDIF" as type
* Then click "save" to export

Now that exporting is compleeted, we can move into import these from Evolution

In Evolution,
* Go to Contacts Window View
* Click File --> Import
* Go ahead and select "import a single file" option when asked
* Select the file we created when exporting from Thunderbird
* Then import the contacts

Note: It's better to create a new address book to import the contacts, but it's rather your choice.

Now the contacts are imported and ready to go. So let us move to the next step.


4. Import mail archives

Now let's migrate your existing mails to Evolution. Thunderbird uses standars "mbox" format for mail folder, which is the most commonly used format in Linux. Your Thunderbird mail archives are at ~/.thunderbird/xxxxxxxx.default/Mail/ (where xxxxxxxx will a different alphanumeric string). In this directory you'll have directories according to your mail accounts. In my case it's /.thunderbird/xxxxxxxx.default/Mail/Local\ Folders/Inbox.sbd/

There will be two types of files there. Files without an extention and files with .msf extention. What we need are the files without extentions. Eg: Fun, Tech, etc.

In Evolution,
* Go to mail window view
* Click File --> Import
* Go ahead and select "import a single file" option when asked
* Select the file (mail archive) you want to import and select a location to be imported.
Eg: I imported "Fun" archive (not Fun.msf) into a directory named "Fun"
* Repeat the last step for every archive you have

Done! Now you are ready to go. Your mails and contacts are now successfully migrated to Evolution.

Whenever you want to backup your Evolution mail archives they are at ~/.evolution/mail/

by masinick on Tue, 2007-07-10 15:48
When using KDE, note that the KMail Email client has been around at least as long as Evolution. I recall the early days before IMAP functionality was added. That was MANY years ago already, so Over the past few years the KDE project has put together a very nice PIM around KMail. It is called Kontact. I have used it and found it to be stable, reliable, and it does things pretty much the way I expect it to. Like Evolution, it would be similar to Outlook in terms of functionality. If anything, I would suggest it is even closer than Evolution to replicating the feature set found in Outlook. In any case, it is certainly worth mentioning as "Yet Another Alternative" (YAA!)

If my memory is working today, I seem to recall a recent review in one of the European Linux mags, either Linux Format or Linux Magazine or Linux User and Developer. That review put Thunderbird and KMail very close in terms of features and they led the review. I'd give KMail an edge - you can integrate SPAM detection and KlamAV protection directly into the client, so if you interoperate with Windows users a lot and get attachments that you need to open, you leave yourself in a better place to validate your system with a KMail/Kontact alternative than you do with Thunderbird. If Evolution now has this feature, they are on even footing. Otherwise I would give a decided edge to Kontact. I like it. It has tight integration with Konqueror, the File Manager and Web Browser, it works with Calendar, Notes, has a Summary page like Outlook - so you have Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Notes, and Folders covered, just as you do with Outlook. But KMail seems to have a few security features enabled by default that may make it a better option than Outlook.

Give it a look. At least it is another alternative, and that is what I LOVE about free and open software!

by SkyEye on Sun, 2007-07-22 12:57
Exactly, a plus of FOSS is the availability of many alternatives. So naturally he have alternative preferences. In my case, my call is to use Evolution.

I have no doubt that KMail is a great app, like most of the KDE apps. But as a matter of fact, I still prefer Evolution immensely over KMail.
Since
1) Evolution works for me
2) Evo is industry known and feature rich (I'd say it's well up to the industry standard, well on par with any commercial client)
3) I use GNOME (Only KDE/QT apps I use are K3B and Amarok),
I don't have an urge to switch away.

I encourage any user to try alternatives for the applications they use. Thanks for the comments.

by arvana on Tue, 2007-12-11 15:20
The main thing keeping me from switching from Thunderbird to Evolution is that I have close to 100 email folders in TBird, and it would take me hours to import them all manually. I've been using Thunderbird for quite a while, and since switching to Linux it was just easiest to keep using it. But Evolution definitely looks to have a more complete feature set, as well as great integration into the Ubuntu desktop.

If anyone comes across a way to automate the T2E import process, I'd love to hear about it!

by SkyEye on Wed, 2007-12-12 10:42
Hi, I'm kinda busy right now. So, I'm sorry I can't give a more detailed answer. But try this quick and dirty way. This was pointed to me by another reader. Thinking of which I think it should work. There are other ways. But here's it.

1. Copy everything from ~/.mozilla-thunderbird/xyz.default/Mail (only the mbox files) into ~/.evolution/mail/local/Inbox.sbd/
2. If there are *.msf files you can delete them. Then restart Evo. If it worked you'll find the folders there.

Just give it a try before you actually do the migration. As you've also said Evo is more complete and advanced than TB. I'm not saying TB's bad. I just prefer Evo as a PIM. It has calendar, tasks, memos, etc. and integrates with GNOME Desktop and Pidgin IM.

by arvana on Wed, 2007-12-12 19:16
Thanks! Your technique worked, with a little tweaking.

Instead of creating an Inbox.sbd folder in ~/.evolution/mail/local, I made one called zFolders.sbd (the 'z' is so it floats to the bottom after Inbox, Sent, etc).

The files and folders to be copied are in
~/.mozilla-thunderbird/xxx.default/Mail/Local Folders/Folders.sbd

I also copied my Inbox, Sent, etc from
~/.mozilla-thunderbird/xxx.default/Mail/Local Folders

Now I just have to bring over my address books and Lightning tasks & events, and I'm good to go.

Thanks again!

by arvana on Sat, 2007-12-15 02:57
Well I got everything set up in Evolution, only to be plagued by constant error messages. Evo doesn't seem to handle multiple email accounts well at all; I think the errors came from trying to connect to multiple smtp servers in parallel rather than one at a time, which my ISP doesn't seem to like; and I couldn't find any way to configure it otherwise. Much Googling has shown a number of people with this issue but no solutions, though there is an open bug report on it.

Also, some of the advanced email handling functionality that I've come to expect hasn't yet made it into Evolution. Message filters, for example, still need more development to be very effective. And junk mail options are limited; my preference is to filter junk by collected addresses, and this feature isn't available.

My verdict: Evolution has a better overall feature set, but Thunderbird is better specifically at handling email, unless you have pretty basic needs. So it's back to Thunderbird for me.

I look forward to the evolution of Evolution -- I'll give it another try in a version or two.

by SkyEye on Fri, 2007-12-21 02:16
Quote:
Originally Posted by arvana View Post
Well I got everything set up in Evolution, only to be plagued by constant error messages. Evo doesn't seem to handle multiple email accounts well at all
Well, I'm using Evo to manage 4 mail accounts and having no problem with it. And I'm subscribed to a couple of active mailing lists. That make my mail volume fairly large.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arvana View Post
I think the errors came from trying to connect to multiple smtp servers in parallel rather than one at a time, which my ISP doesn't seem to like
That's a bummer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arvana View Post
Also, some of the advanced email handling functionality that I've come to expect hasn't yet made it into Evolution. Message filters
I'm using filters quite extensively.... again it works for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arvana View Post
My verdict: Evolution has a better overall feature set, but Thunderbird is better specifically at handling email, unless you have pretty basic needs. So it's back to Thunderbird for me.
Well,.... can't say something over your preference. I used to use TB, but made the switch a few months ago.... and works exceptionally well for me. The new backup feature is also cool.

I really like Evo both as a PIM and a mail reader.

Quote:
Originally Posted by arvana View Post
I look forward to the evolution of Evolution -- I'll give it another try in a version or two.
Great.... I guess I'll be around to welcome you back.

And BTW, welcome to LQ! Have a nice time with the awesome LQ community.

by Paris is Burning on Tue, 2008-01-01 22:42
Quote:
Originally Posted by arvana View Post
Well I got everything set up in Evolution, only to be plagued by constant error messages. Evo doesn't seem to handle multiple email accounts well at all; I think the errors came from trying to connect to multiple smtp servers in parallel....
First of all, great thread, thanks so much to the original poster. Really saved me a lot of time moving from Thunderbird to Evolution.

To reply to the above comment, I am finding NO problems with Evo and I am a VERY heavy email user. I have about TEN email addresses spread out over different domains, and Evo is working great.

However -- and this may be the solution for you -- I was having a problem with some of my domains being blacklisted because we unknowingly signed up with a web host that they allowed their email servers to be used by a huge number of the world's email spammers. Even after dumping them immediately, the blacklist "stuck" as it propagated to flag our domain NAMES. It's been a mess, and was recently solved by moving our SMTP to a paid SMTP provider.

Long story short, using the single SMTP for all the various accounts has worked like a charm, and I would bet your problems may be solved by either using a single SMTP server whether a paid service, or just by indicating the same, single SMTP account for all your email addresses.

But like I said, I can get a hundred legitimate emails a day over ten accounts, and Evolution hasn't skipped a beat. It is definitely the best alternative to Outlook I've seen, and far more robust than Thunderbird w/ the Lightning plugin.

by wan3 on Thu, 2008-02-28 07:53
I installed the package alpine, which is the successor of pine. It is a pure text based mailer, which uses the mbox mail format as well as thunderbird does. I did not really work with alpine. I just copied my local thunderbird mails in the mail folder of alpine. It is /home/user/mail. Then I used evolution to import all mail archives in one step: Just use the pull down menu point evolution/file/import and say to the widget "import data and settings from older programs". Select mail and the import tool will read in any of your archives in the mail folder of alpine. This should work not only for thunderbird, but also for other mailprograms, which are using the mbox format in a similar way. Possibly it is not necessary to install pine or alpine. I did not try. But eventually the existence of mbox files in /home/user/mail could be enough for the evolution import tool.

The only thing I had to do manually was to delete all the .msf files, which Thunderbird uses for indexing. I did this with (user is the username):

cd /home/user/mail
find . -name *.msf -delete

The next thing I had to do was concerning folder with have a mixture of mails and subfolders in them. For those folders the import tool from evolution lost the subfolders. But afer I moved the mails inside the folder as an extra mbox file, so that this mixture of mails and subfolder is avoided all worked fine. I had quite some folder hierarchy. But this task was manageable with the help of:

cd /home/user/mail
find . -name *.sbd
for the found ocurences where you have a file without .sbd on the end and mails in it do for example:
mv ./orders/PayPal ./orders/PayPal.sbd
for shorter names I removed the .sbd
mv ./orders/PayPal.sbd ./orders/PayPal

By this way you get folders with only subfolders in them no mails. All the mails have moved in a subfolder with the same name as the parent

But after this procedure, which could be automated if you have to do this more often evolution can import all your folder hierarchy in its own mail archive, which is located under /home/user/.evolution/mail/local

good luck

by SkyEye on Wed, 2008-03-19 03:08
Interesting discussion has been on this thread and interesting ideas came up.

I posted this sometime ago on my blog (Gaveen's Blog), and it was recently updated with the collective information. I'm posting this link since there seems to be no easy way to update the original answers section in LQ.


  



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