Apr. 15th, 2011
Granted, Ubuntu have done a great job of integrating the Evolution Mail Client into Ubuntu. But, as a power user of Thunderbird, and a lover of many of its extensions, I just could not bring myself to use the less user-friendly and feature-packed Evolution Mail client.
In this post, I’ll outline how you can totally replace Evolution with Thunderbird, complete with integration to the Ubuntu messages applet and notification bubbles.
NOTE: We are not going to remove Evolution. We need it in the system, but you wont need to open it.
For starters, here’s the list of things I wish to accomplish:
- Set Thunderbird as the default mail client.
- Integrate Thunderbird’s mail accounts into the Ubuntu Messages Applet.
- Integrate Thunderbird’s Lightning extensions into the Evolution mail into the Date/Time Applet to show appointments, and use Ubuntu’s events prompt to Snooze/Dismiss events.
- Have the look and feel of Thunderbird follow your current GNOME theme.
- Remove Evolution from the Message Indicator applet
Install Thunderbird & Lightning from Synaptic Package Manager or the Ubuntu Software Center. Setup your mail accounts.
Head to the System>Preferences>Preferred Applications option from your Ubuntu Main Menu. Set the default Mail Reader to Thunderbird.
Although Lightning is listed as a download in the Software Center, I had trouble installing it from there. If you do too, get the Lightning extension here.
Now we want to have our new mail notifications to be shown in the Ubuntu Messages Applet like so:
To achieve this, install this Thunderbird extension.
Download the .xpi file. Save it somewhere, and add it via Tools>Addons menu in Thunderbird. Not only does this take care of the Messages Indicator applet as show in the picture above, but you also get standard Ubuntu notifications for new mail.
Now, I wanted to go one step further. The date/time applet (on the top right corner next to the status switcher and logout buttons on a fresh Ubuntu install) has a great integration with Evolution. It shows the upcoming appointments like so. Very handy.
There’s two ways of achieving this.
If you are using Google Calendar (or Google Apps Calendar), you’ve already solved a big problem. Add your Google Calendar to your Evolution. Evolution is now two-way sync ready with Google Calendar out of the box, so you shouldn’t have any trouble adding a new calendar there. Once you’ve done that, if your Lightning is also linked to the same calendar, whatever changes you make in Thunderbird/Lightning will be reflected in your date/time applet.
If you are using a personal calendar or another hosted calender, I’ve read that the Evolution Mirror plug-in is what you need.
Once we’ve setup Thunderbird as your primary email client, there’s one more thing you might want to tweak about its look and feel. Thunderbird will use its default icons, and if you’ve installed a new theme for your GNOME environment, you might want to download the Gnome theme extension. Once you’ve done that, Thunderbird will use the icons provided by your theme.
To remove Evolution from the Ubuntu Message Indicator applet (why do we need it anyway?), you’re going to have to edit the “evolution” file under the “/usr/share/indicators/messages/
gksu gedit /usr/share/indicators/messages/applications/evolution
Make the file blank. Delete all contents. Save.
Thats it! You’ve now replaced Evolution with Thunderbird. Please let me know if you have any issues in the comments. I’ll be glad to help. Once you’re done replacing Evolution, you might be interested in my post about Replacing Empathy With Pidgin In Ubuntu.
NOTE: The above steps work like a charm in 10.04 (at least, for me). However, the indicator appet extension doesn’t seem to be working withe 10.10. Here’s a workaround.