Friday, May 4, 2012

Updating Thunderbird Mail Client

A couple of years ago I decided to dump Windows - I was still using Windows XP at the time - and start using Linux. I decided on Linux Mint because it's pretty user-friendly. While I may be a bit geekier than your average person when it comes to computers, I'm also one who really likes things to just work without a whole lot of esoteric and convoluted messing around. Mint is a good choice for people like me.

Mostly when I want to install something new, I'll go to Mint's software manager in the main menu down in the lower right corner of the screen (where Start is located in Windows). I can look up stuff and install it if it's there. It's very handy to use, but it doesn't always have the latest versions. This is especially true for me because I am still using Linux Mint 11, not having updated to Mint 12 last November. I'll probably skip 12 altogether and go right to 13 when it comes out. I've never had any serious problems updating.

The update feature for Mint 11 only recently updated Thunderbird, Mozilla's popular email client that has been set up for Windows, Mac OS and Linux. The update was for Thunderbird 11. I decided I wanted to do a further upgrade to Thunderbird 12, so I went to Mozilla's site and downloaded it. Then I realized it comes as a .tar file and I'm not up on how to deal with those. So I decided to search for information on how to install a .tar file.

The search led me to the Linux Mint forums, where a user new to Linux asked how to do what I wanted to do. Here was his reply from a forum moderator:

"If you have to ask how to do it then you shouldn't be doing it."

Gee, thanks for nothing! And this guy's a forum moderator?

I looked around a bit more and realized, y'know, maybe it is a bit complicated with all kinds of complex commands in Terminal. I use Terminal occasionally, but it's good to have the commands I need spelled out so I can plug stuff in without to much hassle. I'm at least geeky enough to deal with that now and then, but seldom enough that I don't always retain stuff from time to time.

So I tried another search "how to install thunderbird 12 in linux mint 11" and this was a little more rewarding. I found this site:

Ravi Saive - A Technology Blog for Newbies

 I looked it over and after a bit of scrolling, I found how to install Thunderbird with just three lines in Terminal (plus my password, which is always needed when installing stuff).

Look for this at the website:

Installing Thunderbird 12 on Ubuntu 12.04/11.10/11.04, Debian & Linux Mint

Here's the commands to copy into Terminal after closing Thunderbird if it's open on your machine:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/thunderbird-stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install thunderbird 

Copy the first line with CTRL-C and paste it into Terminal at the command prompt.

CTRL-V won't work to paste it in. You have to click on Edit in Terminal's menu bar and select Paste.

(That's one of those little tricks that, working completely on my own, took me a while to discover. If you learned Linux in a class, the instructor probably pointed that out. Simple, but if you don't know, you spend a lot of time trying to accurately type long lines of code sometimes. Been there, done that, very frustrating!)

Enter your password and let Terminal do it's thing, i.e. access the site.

When you get to the next prompt, copy and paste the second line, let Terminal retrieve Thunderbird from the site.

Then copy and paste the third line when you get the next prompt. The installation will take a little bit of time, then you'll get your prompt again.

Type  thunderbird and it'll start. Once it's open, click on Help and then About Thunderbird. A splash screen should launch and you should see you're now running the latest Thunderbird with everything you had before (assuming you upgraded from an earlier version) is ready and waiting for you.

You can, as you probably do most of the time, start Thunderbird from the menu or from an icon on your desktop if you created one. You don't have to replace that desktop icon.

Like Firefox, also from Mozilla, there are addons you can plug into your Thunderbird. They're worth checking out if you want to do anything beyond just reading the mail that comes in and send out the occasional reply or original email. Also like Firefox, it's a great program at the price I like most: free.

So then, after doing all that and posting this blog entry, I noticed the shield down in the task bar indicated new stuff was available for updating my Linux 11. I clicked and naturally what was in the updates?

The files needed to update Thunderbird from 11 to 12, of course. Story of my life. Oh well, at least I did something a little different and learned a little.

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