Hello, Thunderbird

My migration toward all things Mozilla continues apace; I’ve just dumped AOL Communicator for my e-mail client in favor of Thunderbird 0.8, the e-mail (and RSS and news)reader from Mozilla. The reason for this is simple: AOL Communicator made a ridiculous imposition on my ability to send mail.

Specifically, it refused to send mail from one of my scalzi.com accounts because it was unable to get in touch with AOL. One of the things Communicator does is make contact with AOL everytime you use it; I don’t know why, it just does. However, this evening, it was unable to access AOL, or at the very least unable for some reason or another to verify that my AOL password was correct. So while I could receive mail, I couldn’t send it, nor would I be able to until the software was able to recognize my AOL password.

I’m sorry, that’s just stupid bad UI. If I’m not directly accessing AOL mail, I shouldn’t have to supply my AOL password for anything. You all know how much I love AOL (they give me money, after all), and up to this point I’ve had nothing but good things to say about the AOL Communicator software. But this is ridiculous. Life is too short to get a permission slip from AOL to access my non-AOL accounts. As it happens, Thunderbird works almost exactly like AOL Communicator (given the recent ties between Mozilla and AOL, this is not entirely surprising) and will allow me to access my AOL accounts as well. That works for me.

Migrating my saved mail, however, was easier said than done. AOL Communicator makes zipped backups for you, but saves the e-mail as .txt files, which are no good. Thunderbird, for its part, has an import wizard, but it appears to believe that the only e-mail clients out there are Outlook, Eudora and Netscape Browsers. I ended up having to go to my Documents and Settings folder, hauling up the .sbd e-mail documents from Communicator, and move them bodily over to the Thunderbird folder. But now I’ve done so and I have all my mail where I want it. I feel so, oh, I don’t know, computer competent or something.

So far I like Thunderbird a lot — it looks clean, runs well and hopefully won’t cause me too many headaches. I’ll let you all know what I think of it as time goes on.

5 Comments on “Hello, Thunderbird”

  1. Go John, Go! Way to use that Open Source ;)

    Two thoughts – perhaps this means that not many open source developer types have migrated over from AOL, or else someone would have expanded the import wizard to include AOL Communicator formats? Perhaps also it would be a good idea for someone interested in promoting Thunderbird to *write* an AOL part for the Import Wizard, so it would be easier to convince AOL users to use Thunderbird instead.

  2. I used thunderbird 0.7 for a while. Liked it a lot. However, since I was coming from Outlook, it seemed silly to use one program for my calendar and one for my Email. Once sunbird gets up and running, thought (right now it kinda sucks)…

  3. Andrew,

    There is a calendar extension for Thunderbird that you can download (just go to Tools|Extensions…). I haven’t used it myself, but if that’s your only reason for sticking with Outlook (shudder…), you might want to check it out.

  4. I’ve been using the Firefox/Thunderbird combo on both my PC and Mac for quite some time without a single glitch (unless you count websites “optimized for Internet Explorer” — I figure if they can’t do basic HTML, they don’t need my business). I’m happy with the speed and stability of both. Just opening IE on my PC causes the whole world to slow to a crawl…and, I’m proud to say, I’ve been viruse and spyware-free since Day One on the Internet (well, Usenet) all those years ago.

  5. John: I read your comment on moving the sbd folder from AOL Communicator to TB’s local folder. I did this but the folder doesn’t appear in TB. Are there any steps that I’m missing?

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