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Migrating a Thunderbird Profile from Windows XP to Linux

I decided to move my emailing activities from XP to Linux for *mumble mumble*
reasons. I thought it would be a rather simple operation of dump the data
files in the right place and be done with it but there are some small
things to keep in mind when doing the move. Here’s my diary entry on how
I got it to work properly. I’m not going to cover how you view your
Windows data. I imagine you have a Windows partition, a backup, or zipped
up the relevant data and now can easily access it somehow. If so, you can
adapt the directory paths for your situation.

  1. Thunderbird on XP stores the relevant data usually around C:\Documents And Settings\[Username]\Application Data\Thunderbird\
    I’ll call that
    $XP_TBIRD_HOME for the rest of this article. So first find
    that directory.
  2. Linux stores the profile data in $HOME/.thunderbird

    For the rest of this article I’ll call it $LINUX_TBIRD_HOME.
    Look for this directory as well or if not go to next step.
  3. If it doesn’t exist create $LINUX_TBIRD_HOME
  4. Copy the profile directory from
    $XP_TBIRD_HOME/Profiles/[blah blah].default

    cp -Rp $XP_TBIRD_HOME/Profiles/[something] $LINUX_TBIRD_HOME
  5. Copy the profiles.ini and registry.dat from $XP_TBIRD_HOME into

    cp $XP_TBIRD_HOME/profiles.ini $LINUX_TBIRD_HOME
    cp $XP_TBIRD_HOME/profiles.ini $LINUX_TBIRD_HOME
  6. Fix permissions and owners if you copied straight from a NTFS or
    FAT32 partition as root using chown and chmod stuff. I’m not sure
    my chmod-fu is 100% correct but I’d rather keep my mail stuff read only
    to me not the world.

    chown -R me:me $LINUX_TBIRD_HOME
    chmod -R 700 $LINUX_TBIRD_HOME
  7. Edit $LINUX_TBIRD_HOME/profiles.ini and change the Path
    variable from Path=Profiles/[blah] to Path=[blah].
  8. Fire up Thunderbird on Linux. If it doesn’t bug you to create a
    profile and all that garbage you’re done! If not, then maybe you missed
    something in the steps above. You can always blow away
    $LINUX_TBIRD_HOME and start from step 1 again until it works

Just the commands version:
cp -Rp $XP_TBIRD_HOME/Profiles/[something] $LINUX_TBIRD_HOME
chown -R me:me $LINUX_TBIRD_HOME
chmod -R 700 $LINUX_TBIRD_HOME
vi $LINUX_TBIRD_HOME/profiles.ini
thunderbird &

There’s a chance these instructions don’t cover all situations
But after goofing it up a few times and stumbling on this. I’m pretty sure
this way will guarantee you get your Thunderbird settings just right.
That should migrate everything over including all your settings including
which servers to connect to, spam settings, and even extensions you might
have installed.

I’ve not tried moving all this data to a different
machine architecture so I’m not sure if the binary data will hold but
I’m going to guess ‘yes’. I imagine if you reverse the process a little
bit it should be rather trivial to migrate from a Linux Thunderbird to
a Windows Thunderbird. I imagine with some permutations it should be
simple to adapt this to get your Thunderbird moved to OS X.

Sharing Thunderbird
between Linux and Windows
(Might be useful for dual-booters but I wanted
a full migration not sharing).

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