Reconsider thunderbird

Hi everyone, hope your all doing well.

I really enjoy using ubuntu mate as a distribution. However as a screen reader user, I know that thunderbird was removed from 18.04 LTS going forward in favour of Evolution.
I have an opinion on this, which I will describe below.

As a user, I personally feel that this was a mistake because while I know that myself I can just reinstall TB from a terminal command and just get on with my day, I am thinking about all the new users, who may install the distribution, then discover they don't have an accessible email client to use.

By all means, this isn't hypercritical to the developers. Who do an amazing job as it is, with making an operating system accessible in the first place. It's just that as new users find this distribution and who may have accessibility needs, then the last thing from the perspective of a non tech user, would want to learn how to install a programme from the command line.

I mean, isn't that what this distribution is all about? Install it and just start using it.

I would be interested to know if anyone else here feels the same about reinstating thunderbird back into the distribution. Even if you don't use accessibility features but just prefer the email client, over anything else out there in the linux world.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and have a pleasant day or night.

10 Likes

I agree with you. I much prefer Thunderbird to Evolution. What I systematically do, whenever it is the case of a new install, I go to the Software Boutique and mark Evolution to be uninstalled and Thunderbird to be installed.
A quick and painless fix.

4 Likes

Perhaps we'll find that I'm in a small minority but I prefer Evolution to Thunderbird.

Thunderbird would never find all my email inbox subfolders, unfortunately. I also found it a little clunky to use.

The Evolution calendar also works great with my calDav file in my email account.

Saying all that, I do agree with the accessibilty issue. I think that there's a case for both to be available by default.

3 Likes

Yes, in the end it is a matter of taste.

De gustibus et coloribus...

2 Likes

If developers tried to make everyone's favorite program the default program, a new install would have every Linux program existing today. Developers have their reasons they pick the programs they pick as default and some may be for technical reasons over popularity. Personally I prefer Thunderbird myself, and will use it as long as it is available.
I also don't want every program integrated with every other program, yet I am not a big fan of sand-boxing. The thing Linux gives me is that choice. I am happy to remove a program I don't want and install one I prefer. At least I am not forced to use Outlook Express!

5 Likes

I agree that it's important to include an accessible email client for those that use desktop email applications.

Regarding installation of Thunderbird, I checked the Software Boutique, and it does appear there under the Internet category, new users shouldn't have to use the terminal at all to install Thunderbird. I used to use Thunderbird for a short while on macOS, and it was okay (I still generally preferred Apple's default Mail.app). Nowadays, I exclusively use webmail clients for school and my personal emails, since I feel that it's not necessary for me (and even if so, I couldn't with Tutanota because they don't support IMAP for security/encryption reasons).

Personally, I think the bigger issue you've raised here is Evolution's accessibility features (or apparent lack of). While installing Thunderbird is a quick fix to this problem, I believe the Evolution team should take a look into making the client more accessible. I suggest you bring these concerns to the team so that they're aware of it, if not already.

I definitely agree here; the ISO image for Ubuntu MATE could be quite large and cumbersome. I was lucky to have a small installation file that I could flash to a 4GB USB drive to install the distro to my MacBook with no problems.

While I generally prefer better integration (coming from macOS), I will agree with you about sandboxing, at least from Flatpak. Flatpaks are nice, but I don't like having to change the menu entries to specify the GTK theme to use (Adwaita against Yaru is a bit jarring for me, though I do understand the reasoning and the desire from developers to stop theming apps).

The main point here is that you have a choice with Linux, which is vital and something I agree on.

Personally I think Software Boutique stinks. I install Synaptic and uninstall Software Boutique as one of my first steps on a fresh install. I know Synaptic is not the most user friendly, but if you learn to use it you will find it the most valuable and powerful piece of software in Linux Land. Even PCLinux, an rpm package uses Synaptic. It also does install Thunderbird. Yet I use the ubuntuzilla version myself. I have had trouble with gmail and Thunderbird on being secure and not allowing it as a email client, but never with ubuntuzilla. You can also install ubuntuzilla Firefox, Firefox esr and Seamonkey from this repository.

https://sourceforge.net/p/ubuntuzilla/wiki/Main_Page/#installation

2 Likes

I agree that, as a general purpose package management interface, Software Boutique could use improvement; however, I don't think that's the purpose of that piece of software. I've always seen it as a small "getting started" shop to find some common applications quickly or as a jumping point. For new users, I think that's exactly what's needed. I personally have GNOME Software installed with plugins for Flatpak and Snap enabled to me to find the software I need, since I'm pretty familiar with it. I've also used Synaptic in the past with little to no problems, though I don't really use it regularly as, although efficient, feels clunky IMO (but again, as you've pointed out, choice!).

That said, this is the first I've heard of Ubuntuzilla, and it looks interesting and a promising way of getting up to date versions of Mozilla software. I wonder if there's any support for the global menu or if there's a patch that needs to be applied to make that work.

1 Like

I have used [email protected] in the past when reporting issues with FF orTB but not ubuntuzilla.

I've used Ubuntuzilla for years to get Seamonkey and Firefox ESR. I no longer use Seamonkey as it has almost no addons. The only thing that is really different is that it takes a few days for the official update over the Ubuntu version. You will get an out of date notice in those few days. As I said the Ubuntuzilla version has worked better with gmail, which at times has rejected the offical Ubuntu version as un-secure (at least for me).

As a basic User, I was also surprised that Thunderbird was replaced by Evolution but I can understand why it would be preferred by a person working at home. I'm retired, so a calendar, tasks and memos are not used on my desktop. All of those items reside on my phone.

Agree that Thunderbird is "clunky" but I only receive 10-15 mails/day and the majority of those are immediately deleted after reading if no reply is needed. I use the email client only on Thunderbird. I don't have any email accounts on my phone and I seldom open the browser on my phone.

Thankfully - Thunderbird and Evolution both exist in the Boutique. Evolution in "office" and Thunderbird in "Internet" subsections and I can select either one (or both) .

1 Like

Hello everyone

I think the current situation (Evolution default, Thunderbird in the 'Software Boutique') is a good compromise at this point in time.

If I remember correctly, at the time that Wimpy decided to replace Thunderbird with Evolution, the Thunderbird project was down to approximately 2 or 3 active developers and the future was uncertain. Approximately 12 to 18 months prior to that Thunderbird 'lost' the calendar plugin (I lost all my entries, although I had a backup independent of Thunderbird) for a few months on my machine (I seem to remember that I was not the only person affected). They have now integrated the Calendar into Thunderbird. The Thunderbird project is supposed to be in much better health now. However, in recent weeks it has been discovered that the 'encrypted email' function had a security problem (they had very recently incorporated encrypted email into Thunderbird instead of relying on the previous method of using a tried and trusted dedicated plugin). With hindsight it would appear that Wimpy steered Ubuntu-Mate 'default-install-users' away from those problems. I consider that to have been a wise decision. :owl:

On another point; Evolution connects quite well to MS-Exchange servers. For some of my use cases this is very beneficial for me.

I cannot use Evolution for everything; I have an email account that it will not connect to (I assume because I do not know enough to set it up correctly). So I have Thunderbird installed as well.

In summary, the default software and the 'Software Boutique' cover my email requirements. Thank you once again to the development team. :slightly_smiling_face:

3 Likes

I too have an email account Evolution will not connect to... an old me.com (now icloud.com) account no matter what I have read and tried. I can connect to it through a browser though which is bizarre. That said, TB behaves similarly so I can only guess it is an Apple thing as opposed to mozilla or GNOME per se.

Hi @24601 and @alpinejohn The icloud bug is a recent one, but has been fixed in the latest flatpak version of evolution (3.40-1). Apple enabled a new function on their IMAP server and it broke the evolution connection process A bug that was there for years which only just became apparent. Supposedly the 20.04 Evolution will get the fix back-ported, but I gave up waiting and went for the flatpak.
launchpad bug 1925742
Note that you can export your settings from the old app and import into the new, so apart from refreshing passwords the move is quick.

Issues we saw from using the flatpak version rather than repository are:

  • no printing from evolution flatpak
  • app doesnt 'stick' in the MATE dock panel (ie on left in Mutiny layout)

...and on the topic of this discussion:

Regarding the choice of thunderbird vs evolution, my family was using thunderbird which worked but the interface was very difficult to understand. Running a search for an email opens up a new tab and the results are listed very strangely, like a HTML web page. Then you have the "quick filter" which acts more like we expect but is limited to only the folder you are looking at.

If you enable both search and quick-filter boxes, the user has two places to type into and gets very different experiences.

Thunderbird might have the good functionality, but its user interface is a big weakness. Evolution wins out for us and I would expect many new linux users would agree. It will be familiar to MacOS/Mail users and Win/Outlook users alike.

My version of Evolution is 3.40.0-1 and was installed with the system 21.04. I looked on Software Boutique > More Software and that is the only version available.
What needs to be done to obtain the flatpack version 3.40-1?

Yes I think you need 3.40.1 not 3.40.0-1

Get the app from flathub follow the instructions on this page and the linked setup guide:
https://flathub.org/apps/details/org.gnome.Evolution

It's annoying but the evolution team don't offer a PPA and it seems there is a delay before the Ubuntu repositories catch up.

Thanks for the link. Should I delete the pre-installed version first or can they co-exist (and if so, how to choose one over the other in MATE).
I see this guide but it is silent on those points.

you can have both installed, no problems. once the flatpak version is installed, the version in the MATE menu will launch the flatpak. You can only launch the old repo from the software boutique (yep!) or from the command line. once you are happy, the old one can be removed using apt or the boutique.

1 Like