Thunderbird profile not being recognized.

Asked by laptoplinux on 2009-09-28

I had to reinstall Jaunty due to a borked Karmic upgrade.

It is a clean install on a separate partition than my home directory.

For some odd reason when I point Thunderbird to my existing profile it only picks up my address books but none of my emails boxes or account settings appear. I am at a loss because I have upgraded many times in the past and just pointed to my profile and voila it is all good. I even use the profile on other machines and it works fine.

I have A LOT of mail accounts and emails and would really have to start from scratch. I know the data is in the profile because my folder is still the correct size.

Any ideas/suggestions? Very frustrating.

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have you chowned the file you your new user on the new install?

You may have used the same name but the data will need chowning to your user. You will need:

sudo chown -R $USER:$USER /path/to/thunderbird/folder

all you need to change is the path to the thunderbird folder, $USER will change to mean the username of who runs the command

laptoplinux (laptoplinux) said : #2


Thank you for your reply. I tried chown as you suggested and it hasn't changed the behavior of thunderbird. It still will launch and on the surface it "appears" that all my other settings are OK. The address book is fine and I can see all of my add ons are functional and can be updated etc.

But my mailboxes are just not appearing and I always get the new account dialogue. I know the data is still there because google desktop has them indexed and I can search them but thunderbird is just not pulling them in.

I have never had a problem like this before and I am not even sure how to trouble shoot it.

These are the permissions on my folder after chown for reference. drwxrwx--- 3 tlee tlee 4.0K 2009-09-28 14:36 .Thunderbird

I've looked at the jconsole but don't see anything obvious albeit it a lot of is Greek to me.

I havent used thunderbird in time, is there an email import function that you can point to the mbd files (or whatever thunderbird uses) and import the emails that way?

Looks like the location of the emails should be: ~/.mozilla-thunderbird and not ~/.Thunderbird

but as I say I can only websearc a I havent used it in about 3 years now. Check you have the right folder which contains the emails, they may be elsewhere.

Maybe someone else can contribute.

laptoplinux (laptoplinux) said : #4

Thanks I'll see if I can find a way to import them as well. It just perplexes me though that this is happening. Especially since when I originally installed Jaunty it was a non issue.

The default profile folder is indeed in ~/.mozilla-thunderbird but it isn't necessary for it to be there and can be changed to any directory in the profile manager or profile.ini file.

peter b (b1pete) said : #5

is your old /home partition mounted ? it must be mounted on the current/new jaunty install.

the on the new install open /home where thunderbird is and edit profile.ini so that it points to the old /home.

laptoplinux (laptoplinux) said : #6

Yes my old partition is mounted at home and when I run the profile manager or look at the profile.ini file it is pointing to the correct directory.

peter b (b1pete) said : #7

just to clarify,

as it is probably known to you - on new thunderbird install (that I assume you have already done on the new jaunty install) a new profile.ini is created in the hidden .mozilla-thunderbird folder in /home that points, among other things ( more below), to a new xxxxxxxxxxx.default folder that is also located in the same hidden folder mentioned. this xxxxxxxx.default folder contains basically all data (user's e-mail boxes etc) displayed when thunderbird is opened. obviously when created this xxxxxxxx.default folder does not contain any data but the basic structure for future user's data.

this xxxxxxxx.default folder can be located anywhere (on any partition) and, v important, may have any data in it that makes thunderbird such an easy portable app. no doubt the foder data (if any present) must not be corrupted -that makes data unusable.

if the xxxxxxxx.default folder to be used is located elsewhere than the hidden .mozilla-....... mentioned above then profile.ini must be edited such that thunderbird 'knows' where to look for it. in order to do this pls observe the following

- first, the partition is mounted to a mount point somewhere in the new jaunty install (probably /media/<yourchoicefolder>)
- xxxxxxxx.default folder (that already has data) is copied to /media/<yourchoicefolder> and,
- the profile.ini file mentioned above is edited so that the two last lines read something like


laptoplinux (laptoplinux) said : #8

peterb. Thank you for your help and detailed reply. I read it very carefully in the event I missed something and unfortunately I haven't or at least I am not seeing it. Very frustrating. Anyway in the hopes of solving this problem I have provided more details.

1) This is a clean install of Jaunty on partition sda1.
2) My home is on partition sda2 and it is mounted.
3) My thunderbird profile is located in a hidden folder named .Thunderbird/profile
4) I configured my profile via thunderbird's profile manager and manually confirmed in the profile.ini folder located in .mozilla-thunderbird that it is pointing to the correct location.


Name=Default User

What is puzzling to me is that I have gone through the process of installing a distro (Usually an Ubuntu) on a separate partition than my home many times and haven't had any problem before with thunderbird.

It must be seeing the profile folder because it is picking up all of my extensions and my addressbooks. It is just the mail folders that aren't being shown and I have verified that they still exist in my thunderbird "Mail" folder. I am really stumped.

Could this be a bug of some kind?

peter b (b1pete) said : #9

- I'm not familiar about 'I configured my profile via thunderbird's profile manager' - why? because as I said, when thunderbird is opened first time after install I was always prompted to enter my personal e-mail account settings and upon finishing it thunderbird immediately displayed my e-mail boxes etc which obviously were empty (no data) - more about this below.

- at this stage, in my /home/peter folder in the hidden folder .mozilla-thunderbird there are two entries - first one a file, second one a folder file as follows


these two files above are mandatory for thunderbird good function, as obviously is .mozilla-thunderbird hidden folder in /home/peter; thunderbird will always look when opened for profile.ini in .mozilla-thunderbird. personally never worked with the profile.ini located elsewhere, in another folder etc. probably it would be posible to have a working profile.ini located elsewhere but I'm not familiar with it, sorry.

- about the second entry above the xxxxxxx.default, this folder created at the first opening of thunderbird after install is empty - no data - but it contains the basic structures based on your e-mail account entries. the user may very well be content with it and use it to get/send e-mail create address book etc. or, it may be substituted with yyyyyyyy.default located elsewhere that already contains data (e-mail etc). in this latter case profile.ini must be edited accordingly.

- on my pc's I have only one yyyyyyyy.default folder located on a separate partition called DATA and it is accessed with no problems whatsoever by three linux distros -hardy, intrepid, jaunty. obviously on the three linux installations I always mount first DATA partition to /media (I hope you know how to using blkid and edit /etc/fstab) and edit profile.ini in .mozilla-thunderbird to read something like shown on my last post. never had a problem and the beauty of it is that I have to copy/back up only one folder that contains all my correspondence and be able to use it v easily on any os at my clients that supports thunderbird.

- my suggestion, if you're confident that your yyyyyyy.default is not corrupted and have good back-ups then just uninstall thunderbird, reinstall it and follow the above, for sure it will work for you too.


laptoplinux (laptoplinux) said : #10

Hi Peterb,

Once again thanks for the detailed response and help but I have to say honestly I am not sure what you are saying.

I already have an existing profile that I want a new installation of Thunderbird to pick up. There are only 2 ways to tell Thunderbird how to do that. The first is to edit the profile.ini file which you are clearly familiar with. The second is to run the thunderbird -ProfileManager where you can also do the same thing.

A users profile does not have to live in the .mozilla-thunderbird folder but the profile.ini file must.

Regardless, Thunderbird does not pick up my mailboxes if I put my profile in EITHER location. My set up is very similar to yours in that I have my data on a separate partition and have successfully done so for sometime.

Thunderbird is definitely seeing my profile because it is picking up my address books and program add ons.

Is there more detailed information I can provide to help troubleshoot this? I am really beginning to think that maybe it is a bug.

The current set up is EXACTLY the same one I used successfully for many years. The only thing that has changed is that I tried to upgrade to borked my I went back and did a clean install of Jaunty which is on a totally different partition than my home.

I am really at a loss. Help help.

peter b (b1pete) said : #11

- never used any user's profile in thunderbird and do not know what that is in thunderbird single user app; I'm sorry. probaby somebody else can help you better than I do.

- as I said on previous post, the only profile that I worked with in linux thunderbird is the


file that is created after opening thunderbird for the first time after install and, again, as I said, it must/mandatory reside in the hidden .mozilla-thunderbird folder;

I never worked with any other profile (such as user's as you mentioned) and never worked with any profile (either created previously or created by profile manager or located elsewhere than .mozilla-thunderbird folder).

one thing is certain, in my case at least, that the way I used/use and configured thunderbird (under linux as described above) for years in either windows or linux never let me down - I still have e-mails etc stored in yyyyyyyy.default folders dating back 5 years and created under win xp that I'm still using today with no problems ever since under linux that I'm using exclusively.

and the same stands true the other way around - on numerous occasions I had yyyyyy.default folder stored on a usb pen drive and used it with no problems whatsoever on clients win pc's.

probably I'm repeating myself, if you want to get to the bottom of your problems I'm sorry that I can not help you any longer - I never used any profile manager nor did I use user's profiles in thunderbird, pure and simple I am not familiar with them. probably somebody else can help or if you suspect bugs on these accounts then by all means file bug reports on thunderbird.

best of luck.

laptoplinux (laptoplinux) said : #12

Thank you everyone for their replies.

It turns out that my prefs.js file had become corrupted or lost some data thus creating the problem I described. I am not sure how this happened because HOME is on a different partition than the one the OS lives on so when I re-installed it shouldn't have affected it. I haven't been able to fix the problem yet but now that I have isolated it is I see there is lots of information on Mozilla addressing this problem so will mark this thread as solved.