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Mozilla Thunderbird is an email, newsgroup, and news feed client designed around simplicity and full-featuredness while avoiding bloat. Due to its modification with several patches, it is known on Arch Linux as Lanikai. It supports POP, IMAP, SMTP, S/MIME, and OpenPGP encryption (through the Enigmail extension). Similarly to Firefox, it has a wide variety of extension and addons available for download that add more features.


To install, simply run:

# pacman -S thunderbird

This will install the unbranded (often called plain vanilla) Lanikai client. It can be converted to the Mozilla branding (icons, etc) by installing the thunderbrand script and running it as root:

# thunderbrand

More info is available in this thread.

Another option is to install the mail client thunderbird-branded from the AUR. It comes with the complete Mozilla packaging already in place.


Encryption with EnigMail


Note: This method won't work for x86_64, see #Via AUR.

The first step to setting up email encryption is to download the GNU Privacy Guard (GnuPG). Several packages are needed for this:

# pacman -S gnupg gnupg2 gpgme

EnigMail can be downloaded from here, at Mozilla's addon database. Make sure that it is installed as a Thunderbird addon and isn't automatically interpreted to be a Firefox addon. This can be done by going to Tools -> Add-ons and clicking Install, then selecting the XPI addon package. Congratulations, EnigMail is now installed. You should now restart Thunderbird.


EnigMail addons that works for x86_64 can be downloaded from this page. Select the Arch build of the addon and follow the instructions in the previous section to install.


There is an AUR package: Template:Package AUR.

Issues with the x86_64 version of enigmail

It is possible that Thunderbird (Lanikai) hasn't got the same build-type (Error: Linux_x86-gcc3) as the enigmail (x86_64) and won't get installed. Downloading Thunderbird in the i686 version an installing enigmail by the Add-On application works fine.

If you download Thunderbird manually, remember copying the files to Template:Filename and creating a directory for Thunderbird. To still be able start Thunderbird from the "default location" create a file that points at Template:Filename for example.

Open a new file called thunderbird.

# nano /usr/bin/thunderbird

Write in the file:


Finish with setting the right permissions and "updating" your shell.

# chmod 755 /usr/bin/thunderbird
# bash

Creating a Keypair

A keypair can be created by opening Thunderbird and finding the 'OpenPGP' menu and clicking 'Setup Wizard'. The wizard will now help you create your keypair. All of the options are fairly self-explanatory and are not discussed in this article.

Sharing your Public Key

There are a variety of ways to distribute your public key. One way is to upload it to a public keyserver network. Another is to share it with friends who are also using email encryption.

Encrypting your Emails

First of all, encryption does not always work properly with emails containing HTML. It is best to make all of the encrypted emails you wish to send plaintext. This can be ensured by going to Options in the 'New Email' window and finding Format, then clicking on "Plain-text only".

Once you have chosen a recipient and title and have written your message, you can sign and encrypt the message by using the OpenPGP menu. Once that is done, simply click "Send" and your encrypted email has been sent.

Decrypting Emails

This article will not go into the details of key signing.

Assuming that the email was encrypted properly, just trying to open it should result in a popup window asking you to type in your keyphrase. Do so now, and the email will be decrypted for your viewing pleasure.

Adding a Calendar with Lightning

Lightning is an extension that brings Sunbird's functionality to Thunderbird. This integrates calendar functions into Thunderbird.

Adding a Webmail Account with WebMail

This issue is covered in the article Webmail with Thunderbird.

Resizeable tray icon

There are a number of plugins that let Thunderbird close to tray, but most of them seem to make use of Template:Filename, and if you are using a big screen and a bigger-than-standard dock (e.g. Avant Window Navigator) the icon could appear too little compared to the other tray icons.

To make those plugins use the icons from Template:Filename you could disable Template:Filename renaming it for example to Template:Filename, not forgetting to prevent pacman to reinstall it by adding the following line to Template:Filename:

NoExtract = usr/lib/thunderbird-5.0/chrome/icons/default/default16.png

Links in Thunderbird do NOT open in Firefox

If you update from Firefox 3 to Firefox 4, you may no longer be able to click on a link in Thunderbird and have it open in Firefox. Especially if you are using KDE. To correct the problem, issue the following as your user, from the command line:

gconftool-2 --type=string -s /desktop/gnome/url-handlers/http/command "firefox %s"
gconftool-2 --type=string -s /desktop/gnome/url-handlers/https/command "firefox %s"