Migration - Outlook Express to Ubuntu

Asked by Eric Marceau on 2006-09-08

I am moving away from Windows ME. Microsoft forced my hand by ending support.

I would like to migrate all mail related files from

   1) Outlook Express
        - mailboxes
        - single-message files
        - contacts and contact groupings

   2) Mail messages stored individually on disk

   3) Old Outlook Professional (not Express)
        - mailboxes
        - single-message files
        - contacts and contact groupings

Is there a tool to

   a) neutralize the e-mail contents into a text-based format (call this neut_mail)

   b) import from (and export to) that "neut_mail" into any of the tools available to us in Ubuntu, among those being
        - Mozilla-family (i.e. Thunderbird and Mozilla)
        - Evolution
        - (heaven forbid) venerable pine

What is important to me is that there is a proper 2-way import/export to prevent corruption at future time if superior mail clients emerge.

Thank you,

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Eric Marceau
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This question was reopened

Dean Sas (dsas) said : #1

Most open source mail programs can interoperate or easily export/import to each other, lots of non open source programs use the same file formats too (maildir, mbox).

I'm not an outlook user but I have answered a similar support request here https://launchpad.net/distros/ubuntu/+ticket/1704 maybe the links and discussion there can help you.

Best Eric Marceau (marceau504) said : #2


Eric Marceau (marceau504) said : #3

There should be 2 more button choices relating to status of open issues.

c) Need for development - Documentation
d) Need for development - Application

These two categories would essentially re-classify the issues as

"No solution available (avenues of investigation fully pursued)"


"Still having problem ... but all avenues of investigation not yest fully pursued."

and would bump the discussion into a queue for "Problem Specification Required", which would be a pre-cursor to an eventual bumping into the "Feature Specification Required" queue.


Dean Sas (dsas) said : #4

Hi Eric,

You should file a bug about your support tracker ideas at https://launchpad.net/launchpad-support-tracker/+filebug to get the attention of the support tracker developers.

David Lancaster (d-ctl) said : #5

I am thinking of switching my O/S from Windows XP Professional to Ubuntu.

Before I make the switch, I would like to know if it would be possible to install
and use Internet Explorer and Outlook Express instaed of the Ubuntu resident
clients ?

Would I also be able to install other Windows compatible Software such Adobe CS2
and other Web Developing tools ?

Dean Sas (dsas) said : #6

David, you will find superior alternatives freely available under Ubuntu for most applications, especially mail clients. Both evolution and mozilla thunderbird (available for windows too) are superior applications.

Another option is to use Windows in a virtualised environment such as vmware

Some Windows programs will work under Ubuntu, but they take more effort to install and may not work effectively. You should see the compatibility lists at http://www1.codeweavers.com/compatibility/ and http://appdb.winehq.org/appbrowse.php

David Lancaster (d-ctl) said : #7

Hello Dean,
Thank you very much for your prompt response.

I am aware of the fact that Mozilla and Thunderbird are both
included in Ubuntu Software.

I do appreciate that many people think that Mozilla/Thunderbird
are far superior clients than Internet Explorer/Outlook Express.

I have already tried out Mozilla/Thunderbird and found a particular
function missing form the software that was rather important for me
to have. IE/OE do not have such a shortcoming.

If I install Ubuntu on my hard drive, then I do not particularly want
to use Windows. Does that mean that I can not use IE/OE at all ?

I would greatly appreciate your feed-back.

Thank you again for your help.
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Dean Sas
  To: <email address hidden>
  Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2007 10:06 AM
  Subject: Re: [Question #1735]: Migration - Outlook Express to Ubuntu

  Question #1735 on evolution in ubuntu changed:

  Dean Sas posted a new comment:
  David, you will find superior alternatives freely available under Ubuntu
  for most applications, especially mail clients. Both evolution and
  mozilla thunderbird (available for windows too) are superior

  Another option is to use Windows in a virtualised environment such as

  Some Windows programs will work under Ubuntu, but they take more effort
  to install and may not work effectively. You should see the
  compatibility lists at http://www1.codeweavers.com/compatibility/ and

Dean Sas (dsas) said : #8

I'm not sure, some windows applications work via an emulator-like piece of software called WINE. See the compatibility listings at the end of my last message to find out if all of the applications you need to use will work via WINE.

Fivish (fivish) said : #9

How do you import outlook express files.
How do you inport IE favourites?

If neither of these is possible then I cannot move over to Ubuntu.

Dean Sas (dsas) said : #10

If you're using Ubuntu 7.04 IE favourites *should* be imported automatically as part of the installation.

See https://help.ubuntu.com/community/SwitchingToUbuntu/FromWindows/TransferringFilesAndSettings for the manual way of importing email and internet favourites.

Eric Marceau (marceau504) said : #11

Feeling that you question was not categorically answered, I will offer a few bits of information:

[1] Clean IE Install for Linux NOT Available

If you visit the M$ site, you will see on the IE download page that there are NO versions of IE available for the Linux environment.

REF: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/downloads/ie/getitnow.mspx

[2] Alternate Non-Native IE Implementations For Linux

Here you have 2 choices:

a) install a library that traps the DLL calls from IE; for this there are a few "libraries" that provide this functionality but, because of non-documented Win32 calls, always surprise the user with a gotcha when you least expect it. => NOT desirable

b) install a virtualization environment (i.e. VMWare, Xen, or other); these create a software emulation of a physical PC, its drives, its interfaces, as if you were looking at a PC without Windows; you then need a LEGAL copy of your Windows OS environment to install onto the "virtual PC"; essentially, you have re-created Windows as an encapsulated OS within which you cannot distinguish between direct access to H/W, or virtualized/emulated H/W, other than speed (degradation of 50% or more); the advantage of virtualization (per VMWare) is that any worm or virus is fully trapped within the virtualization cage and cannot affect your Linux environment, IF you've properly configured your virtual machine; since virtualization does slow down your performance significantly, this really should be a solution of LAST RESORT!

N.B. Many organizations use VMWare as a facility to allow developpers working within Linux (due to availability of productivity tools for product development) to create multiple VMs (virtual machines), one for each target environment (WinME, Win2000, WinXP, WinVista, MacFinder, MacOSX) all on a central server so as to eliminate need for a separate physical machine for each member in a team requiring to test software simultaneously during testing of mult-platform compatibility.
I actually tried to install it myself, but I found it too complex to install their "Player" and removed it because I had inadvertently corrupted my Linux environment. If you pursue this, get someone who REALLY knows, not just someone who says he knows (TEST: he should be administering multiple players for different targets on a server, not just have it on his desktop).

[3] The Optimal Solution for Linux Environment

With newer recent Firefox release, you should reconsider installing for a trial. If it still des not suit your needs, try installing the Mozilla browser itself. Firefox is supposed to be a ready-to-use implementation, with some functionality "modified". Mozilla is the full-featured software, but it needs more knowledge and customization to do what you need of it. It may have what you are looking for.

One last consideration, plug-ins might address the features you can't find in basic Firefox or Mozilla, however, if listed on the Mozilla site, you can be sure they are compatible for the stated versions. Also, the functionality of these plug-ins are at times chosen for merging into the basic Firefox/Mozilla browsers, leveraging the contributed components to accelerate the evolution of the Mozilla family of products. For this reason, you really should give them another try.

Keep in mind also that Microsoft did have a version of IE available for Solaris and HP at one point, but they seem to have followed the Dodo bird into extinction, more than likely because business users in those environments (myself included) found the implementation of IE stunted and not keeping up to date with Windows variants, indicating Microsoft clear intentions to maintain "superior platform" within the Windows camp.

There you have it.

I recommend you attend one of the Linux User Group meetings to see if you can find someone within a "corporate" environment to help guide you to achieve what you want with a Linux-friendly browser. The Mozilla offerings are not the only ones, and you may wish to explore the others, depending on what features you are giving weight to.

Good luck!


Eric Marceau (marceau504) said : #12

Also, if there was any doubt about the nails in the IE for Linux coffin, here is the message on the M$ site itself:

REF: http://www.microsoft.com/unix/ie/default.asp


Eric Marceau (marceau504) said : #13

Now for a philosophical comment:

Using any proprietary technology is like starting a relationship with a drug pusher. He will build up your dependence on his product to the point you can no longer do without it. At that point, he has you hooked without export tools because, as we all know, M$ ALWAYS tampers with standards, only offering their "improved" compliance which is not standards-compliant at all.

Staying with, or migrating to, Open-Source products ensures that you are

a) able to create your own migration path away from the tool when necessary, OR

b) gives you the ability to enforce standards-compliance by having full visibility of code, OR the ability to intervene to implement your "correction" to ensure compliance according to your industry's interpretation of the standards, not the vendor's.

Case in point: Thunderbird does not have a mail "export" tool. At first I was shocked. Looking into this further, I discovered there was no real concern because the mail storage "structure" was conforming to what was a long-standing UNIX standard format. I could point the old "pine" tool to access the same structure and I would have everything available to me in a character-based interface. This is the BEAUTY/LONGEVITY/PORTABILITY of strong stable standards for office automation. It also demonstrates respect for users willing to adopt those standards, minimizing cost of technology adoption.


Chester (cguinyard) said : #14

How can I setup outlook express?