Switching from Evolution to Thunderbird

((Update Aug 21 07 : Actually I recently switched again from TB to Claws-Mail))
After many, many years with Evolution as my favourite mail client I decided to switch.  Why did I choose that?

  1. The Evolution guys are declining to switching to the Thunderbird system of marking spam. That means that you must open a mail to mark it as spam. So i am forced to read it. (See my bug 301339 )
  2. Actually Evolution is not marking spam that i have trained it for months while Thunderbird does it nearly from the first day. I don’t know why it is like this.
  3. Thunderbird is real cross-plattform and seems to be more promising in the future with more user feedback and also support. Evolution is more Novell centric And might be in the focus of helping Hula to gain ground. Don’t misunderstand me: I think Hula is interesting, but I am not using Evolution to help Novell.
  4. Evolution actually did not much exciting stuff that was interesting to me. The Microsoft Exchange Support is great, but i don’t use that anyway.
  5. My customers prefer Thunderbird because it is cross plattform. it’s nice to use the same client as your customers because than you know many tricks.
  6. I am using IMAP and so i am able to switch whenever I want.
  7. The integration of Evolution into GNOME (GAIM,Ekiga,etc.) is not very strong. You can use the Evo addressbook to add a Jabber address to a contact, but thats not very comfortable and i never really found out how this is supposed to be used.

Actually I have hesitated to switch since years. Thunderbird was too fresh and was more unstable than Evolution. But I think now thinks have changed and for me the most important thing is that i have nothing to do with Spam. Evolution always kept me working. And they said “will not be fixed in the 2.5 timeframe, retargetting to “future””. Ok, and that means… whenever…

So the switch went smoothly except for the contact list. So i had the GNOME applications Evolution and the Mozilla application Thunderbird, but still, 2006, I can not transfer contacts (as if nobody ever wants to do this???). Thanks to KAdressbook from KDE PIM I could do it. Well, evolution has a tool to export to CSV from command line, but that crashed with segmentation fault. And honestly I think it is absurd to expect that users of a GUI application must use some sort of command line tool if they want to export data. I don’t want to say that the Mozilla guys should not have done a better job at importing. I think they should have implemented a Vcard importer. I have no understanding why GNOME and Mozilla act so childish and not cooperate. I honestly do not believe that it is a good idea to have two mail applications that do not cooperate. I understand that there are two different cultures and code basis, but I think today collaboration is essential. But if you at the facts it is not like: “Ok you use open source and this means you can easily switch between OSS mail clients”. Actually Thunderbird is very good in importing Microsoft standards but is not giving a f*ck to import data of free mail clients like Evolution or Kmail. it is possible, but you are much more on your own. And this takes away one of the key PRO arguments to switch top open source. I mean the argument: They do coopetition and you are not locked in any more. I could easily switch for my clients from Thunderbird Windows to Thunderbird Linux, though.

I hope this will get a lot better. I hope to see common adressbooks on my desktop (maybe small userspace LDAP server?). I think actually exporting and importing is nothing I should worry about.


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5 responses to “Switching from Evolution to Thunderbird

  1. James

    I agree with your reasoning. I have been using Evolution on Linux and Thunderbird on Window, but as Thunderbird is now more stable I have decided to switch everyone over to Thunderbird. It limites the ammount of applications that I have to support.

    Would you be able to provide more details on how to transferred the files from Evolution to Thunderbird?

  2. Well generally both mail agents use mbox standard. Maybe take a look at:
    That was helpful for me.

    A good choice is to use IMAP, because than you can use many different clients at the same time while your emails are not inside one client. If you switch to offline mode they get synchronized though. On some installations you might get trouble with mail space but I think those problems are decreasing.

  3. Einon

    You did not mention it, but when evolution tries to open a bigger IMAP mailbox (mine is more than2Gb) it gets terribly slow. More so if the mails are cached locally for in cache you need some of them while offline.

    I do not agree on how useful evolution’s contact manager is, and how tightly it is integrated into GNOME but that’s only my opinion. I need them, you don’t.
    My idea (as it was yours) was to install an LDAP server and store my contacts there. Almost all other mail client supports that. That way I do not loose evolution’s contact manager and I can access the very same data from almost everywhere. Hence I have to be connected to InterNET to do so…

    If you find any other solution, please drop me a message!

  4. Daffy

    Thanks for the hint about using vcards to transfer addesses. Whenever I move to a new version of SUSE I like a fresh start; I never upgrade. I do a raw capture of all application files I care about and transplant them into the new installation. So for instance I capture the whole .evolution and .gconf/apps/evolution directories and replace the new ones with the old ones from the previous installation. Gross, messy and klugey but it usually works; except for the contacts lists as you’ve pointed out. Recently I started creating extra contacts lists to categorize my contacts. I wasn’t able to find out which files to swap to make the old lists appear in the new installation or even how the new ones are stored. It’s probably very simple but I don’t have any more time to reverse engineer it. Importing v-card files is quick and easy for my needs.

    b.t.w. I do get some spam but nothing to be concerned about and I’ve found Evolution to be rock solid over the last year so I won’t be leaving it soon.

  5. Sourav Mohanty

    Refer to the below link for simple steps

    Its worked for me.

    Sourav Mohanty

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