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I am planning to make my current main computer dual-boot Windows XP/Linux. I am wondering is there any easy way to make Windows and Linux to use same Thunderbird and ...
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  1. #1
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    Sharing Thunderbird/Firefox profiles between Linux/Windows


    I am planning to make my current main computer dual-boot Windows XP/Linux. I am wondering is there any easy way to make Windows and Linux to use same Thunderbird and Firefox profiles. As far as I understand, profiles themselves are readable for both OSses, but how can they be shared easily? NTFS partitions can apparently only be read by Linux, and Windows doesn't (or does it?) understand ext3 filesystem. Only filesystem which can be both written and read by both OSs seems to be FAT, but I'd rather not use separate partition only for this purpose

    Is there any way to do this?

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    Maybe you could copy profiles from one OS to another, but I'm not sure... Maybe you just need to unhide the settings directory. But I could be wrong.
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    Linux Engineer psic's Avatar
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    Tough one. The easiest would be to use a fat32 partition. Coping files is almost out of the question, since I know that thunderbird's files are hell to transfer manually (I once spent hours rescuing half a gig of email, trust me, it's not fun). Check the mozilla site about this.
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    You can easily copy your profile in the profiles directory. I assume that works the same way in Windows and Linux.
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    I know that I could manually copy profiles between Linux/Windows, but ideal situation would be that programs on both OS would use same profile by default. Theoritically this would only need a folder which both OSs can read/write, but in practice I have only vaguest idea what to do.

    Of course copying could be managed by scripts or something, but as psic pointed out this could be pretty painful experiance with large mailboxes

  6. #6
    Linux Engineer d38dm8nw81k1ng's Avatar
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    i think that you would have to use a server to do this, unfortunately i'm guessing you don't have a spare computer to use as a server. like people say, the closest you'd get is copying, though it would probably be easier just to create profiles that have the same settings and save your e-mails. then you can view the e-mails on windows and linux (if they both use FAT32).
    Here's why Linux is easier than Windows:
    Package Managers! Apt-Get and Portage (among others) allow users to install programs MUCH easier than Windows can.
    Hardware Drivers. In SuSE, ALL the hardware is detected and installed automatically! How is this harder than Windows' constant disc changing and rebooting?

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    You can either install the linux ntfs driver that wraps the windows ntfs driver so that you can have read and write ability (I can't remember the name of the driver off-hand), or you can buy a $10 USB thumbdrive and use that for your profiles. The latter has the added benefit that you can use it on multiple computers without setting up a server.

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    It sounds to me like you'll need to keep a fat32 partition for windows and linux to both be able to write to. You may find it useful to have, since in addition to having shared profiles for thunderbird and firefox, you can use that shared fat32 partition to easily have files accessible to both operating systems.

    I also wanted to post my experiences with trying to accomplish a similar thing. It might not help the original poster, but it may be of use to other people who are trying to share a thunderbird profile between windows and linux machines.

    This is my situation: I have a (windows) version of Portable Thunderbird (http://johnhaller.com/jh/mozilla/portable_thunderbird/) installed on a network drive. That way, I can access my email from any (windows) computer on the local network by just running the portable thunderbird .exe over the network drive. Now I want to be able to read my email on linux as well as in windows. What seems to work, although it is a bit of a hack, is to simply put a symbolic link in the local thunderbird profile under linux that points to the other profile.

    So here is what you would do if you wanted to shared thunderbird between two different partitions (windows/linux) on a single computer:
    1. Install thunderbird on a windows fat32 partition. If you install Portable Thunderbird, the location of your profile is obvious (it is in the "thunderbird" directory, called "profile"). If you are doing a normal windows install, it will probably end up in "Documents and Settings" or something similarl. Just figure out which directory contains the profile. The directory in question should have files like this:
    abook.mab
    compatibility.ini
    components.ini
    compreg.dat
    defaults.ini
    (...etc...)

    and directories like:
    chrome
    extensions
    Mail

    2. Now, in linux, you should have that fat32 drive partition somewhere. Probably it's automatically mounted. If not, mount it (you'll need to be root, use "su"), using something like:
    mount /dev/hda1 /mnt/windows
    And so your thunderbird profile will be at a location like:
    /mnt/windows/thunderbird/profile/
    (or whatever...)

    3. So now install thunderbird on the linux machine. If you're using debian or ubuntu it'll be "sudo aptitude install mozilla-thunderbird"; if you're using Mandrake/Mandriva it'll be "urpmi mozilla-thunderbird" etc. You may have to run Thunderbird once so that it creates a settings folder for you.

    4. Now on your linux machine, go to the directory with the Thunderbird settings. It's probably something like:
    /home/your_user_name/.mozilla-thunderbird/

    5. In this directory, create a new symbolic link to your profile:
    ln -s /mnt/windows/thunderbird/profile/ blah275.default
    The "blah275" can be whatever you want.

    6. Now edit the file:
    /home/your_user_name/.mozilla-thunderbird/profile.ini
    and change the "Path=a85ef74f.default" to "Path=blah275.default"

    7. Now when you open thunderbird in linux, it will go to the linked profile and use that as its default. It will modify it and so on, and you should be able to modify it when you're back in windows.


    If your thunderbird profile is on a mapped drive, the same rules apply except that the symbolic link would point somewhere different. It's probably a good idea to run some tests with a junk profile just to make sure it works. I'm still experimenting with it, but so far it looks okay.

  9. #9
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    You could consult the Mozilla Knowledge base on this topic...

    http://kb.mozillazine.org/Roaming_profile

    in order to access the profile easily from both OS's it should reside on a FAT partition..

  10. #10
    ffg
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    I use portable thunderbird off a usb pen drive (FAT) from Windows. Now I want to use that same profile on a linux desktop. I've gone through setting up the profiles.ini on linux. But when I pick the profile from the usb drive in profile manager, it said "Thunderbird cannot use the profile XXX because it is in use. To continue, close the running instance of Thunderbird or choose a different profile." Anyone tried such setup?

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