Friday, December 9, 2011

Evolution & Thunderbird

I can not describe how much Evolution annoys me! I'm using it for years, maybe 10 or so by now, and I can say with quite a bit of a confidence that it's full of bugs, at least on Fedora, and there was no release in past few years that didn't have some quirks that made me go mad! And today, it happened that it didn't want to create a meeting within a Google calendar with a usual unhelpful error message about failed authentication. To make things even more weird, it did show my available calendars on Google, and that requires authentication so it should work! After some searching on the Internet I found workaround that includes removing calendars from Evolution and re-adding them back again. This, by itself, made me closer to look for an alternative and to switch. Anyway, I started to remove all Google calendars from Evolution, but then, removing some didn't work!? The ones that were turned off because I didn't provide password for them. Even restarting Evolution didn't help. What helped in the end was that I changed username and afterward removal was successful!

The reason I'm using Evolution for so many years was that it had integrated calendar with mail client, todo lists and memos. I need at least calendar function along with a mail client. I'm already using Thunderbird but as a secondary mail client for some unimportant mail accounts and I know that it progressed quite nicely, and more importantly, it has Calendar extension. So, I started contemplating about switching mail client NOW! Well, everything OK except that I have huge mail archives stored in Evolution and I have to import them into Thunderbird. It turns out there is no migration wizard and that it has to be done manually. Then, it turned out that Thunderbird uses Mbox format, while Evolution uses Maildir format (it also used Mailbox until a year or so ago).

In essence, Mbox uses one file for all mail messages, while maildir uses one file per message. Maildir has many advantages over Mailbox and thus has become preffered way of storing mail messages on a file system. One reason I want maildir is that I'm doing backups and when one mail message is stored in a mbox (which by itself is huge file containing many messages) backup process will copy the whole file again.

Anyway, judging from the information I found on the Internet this is a long requested feature in Thunderbird. Thunderbird supports pluggable mail stores since version 3.1, but maildir format is not planned before version 11. In the end, I decided to wait a bit more and then to switch to Thunderbird.


I forgot to mention one more bug. When I try to save existing calendar into ical file the evolution simply crashes, and this is 100% repeatable. I discovered this when I decided to clean up all the old calendars from evolution, but first I wanted to save them, just in case.

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scientist, consultant, security specialist, networking guy, system administrator, philosopher ;)

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