Monday, July 03, 2006

Thunderbird Needs to Evolve

Ugh. I've got a cold which is just bad enough to make me feel listless, but not so bad that it actually knocks me out. So, even though I'm taking sick leave today, I've got to do something.

And what I want to do is to replace my Evolution email client with Thunderbird, the email companion to the Firefox web browser.

Evolution's worked pretty well for me, but every since I've been using Ubuntu it occasionally gives me an error message that goes something like "Summary and folder mismatched, even after a sync." When I quit Evolution, I find that it hasn't marked the email I've read as read.

There is no fix for this, and no one's inclined to fix it. Look for the quote "A solution has been found so medium priority again now." The "solution" mentioned here is to delete the summary files and let Evolution rebuild them! Since the summary files are buried deep in the ~/.evolution directory, it's not something you want the average user to do.

After I upgraded to Dapper the messages didn't go away, entirely, but Evolution seems to fix itself after a bit. Nevertheless, it's annoying. Besides, I use Thunderbird at work and find that its Spam Filter is very good, and, unlike Evolution, it will let me consign messages to the Spam box without having to open them up.

But there's a complication. Here I home I use two email services: the one from Comcast, for email from family, friends, and creditors, and Gmail, for those situations where I might want my address to be made public (e.g., this blog). Using Gmail+Thunderbird or Evolution eliminates about 95% of all spam, and so far I've never seen a false positive.

So what do we have? Two POP mail spools that need to be checked, and, and two SMTP servers to push the mail, and Comcast (and probably your ISP as well) is pretty good about telling me how to set up Thunderbird, as is Google. (Look at the Gmail instructions, as non-standard ports are used both the send and receive mail.) And, like Evolution, Thunderbird will read from multiple accounts, and, supposedly, send from multiple SMTP servers.

It's the supposedly above that hints at the problem. Evolution sends email with my Comcast address via, and email from my Gmail address through That's exactly the way it should work.

By default, on the other hand, Thunderbird uses the Default account for all outgoing email. No, that's not quite right. It uses the first SMTP account in its list to send email, even if another account is marked Default. Someplace in the documentation it even says that to use the server you want you should delete all other SMTP servers from your account.

However, you can actually associate an SMTP server with an email account. The directions aren't quite right for Linux where you first set up the SMTP servers by going to Edit => Account Settings => Outgoing Server (SMTP) =&; New and enter the SMTP information. The go to Edit => Account Settings, click on the first line of the mailserver you want, and select the proper SMTP server for that account.

This works, so I think I'm going to switch over to Thunderbird, but first I have to figure out how to migrate by Evolution mailboxes and address book over to Thunderbird.

And that's for another post.