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I'd like to migrate to Thunderbird 11 from Thunderbird 3. I installed Thunderbird 3 using apt-get (the newer versions are not available in binary form, unfortunately, at least not in main, universe or multiverse repositories, don't like PPA's when not really necessary). So I downloaded tar.bz2 of the newest version and uncompressed into /usr/lib, next to where the old version lives. Now, I'd like the system to find thunderbird inside Thunderbird 11 folder rather than the old one. How to I achieve that? I know there must be some sort of a PATH to /usr/lib/thunderbird-3.1.20 set on my system, but just cannot find where it is. Checked all common places already, like:

  • /etc/environment
  • /etc/profile
  • /etc/profile.d/*
  • ~/.profile
  • ~/.bashrc (though it shouldn't be here as PATH is also visible by GNOME)
  • probably some other places I don't recall now.

Any clues?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Thunderbird's particular directory is not in your path, and it does not need to be there.

You have a symbolic link in /usr/bin of name thunderbird pointing to the real executable/script launching Thunderbird. On my machine it is the following:

$ ls -l /usr/bin/thunderbird
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 40 2012-03-29 09:08 /usr/bin/thunderbird -> ../lib/thunderbird-11.0.1/thunderbird.sh

I think you can change this with

$ sudo ln -sf /usr/lib/thunderbird-11/thunderbird.sh /usr/bin/thunderbird

or something similar.

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Thank you, didn't think of that possibility. BTW, is there a way to check which executable is being called when a command is executed in terminal? – mmm Apr 4 '12 at 8:46
@mmm: with bash, that on most Linux distros is the default shell, you can use type -P name. – enzotib Apr 4 '12 at 8:54
Thanks again, knowing this would have probably solved my problem in the first place :). – mmm Apr 4 '12 at 9:17
@mmm: there's also which, which exists as both a binary and often a shell built-in, so is more portable: which gimp tells me /usr/bin/gimp. – Ulrich Schwarz Apr 4 '12 at 10:11
@mmm No, do not change anything in /usr/bin. Put the symbolic link in /usr/local/bin instead. Otherwise, the next time you upgrade the Thunderbird package of your distribution, the symbolic link will be overwritten. – Gilles Apr 5 '12 at 1:28

It recommend using a PPA. It's easier than managing a manual installation. Don't install a program from a simple archive when not really necessary.

If you prefer to install a binary separately (the only good reason would be if there's no PPA with the version you want), the easiest way to make it accessible is to create a symbolic link in /usr/local/bin. This directory is for executables that are intended for anyone on the system to run and that do not come with the distribution. It is normally before /usr/bin in the PATH, so if you have both /usr/bin/thunderbird and /usr/local/bin/thunderbird and you type thunderbird, then the one in /usr/local/bin is executed.

Do not unpack the .tar.bz2 in /usr/lib. Generally speaking, never manually modify a file in /bin, /lib, /sbin or /usr, except under /usr/local. These places are reserved for the package manager. The usual place to put programs installed by unpacking an archive is /opt or /usr/local/opt. You should therefore unpack the archive under opt. Then create a symbolic link to the executable:

ln -s /opt/thunderbird-3.1.20/thunderbird /usr/local/bin/thunderbird

If you want to invoke Thunderbird from a shell that you started before creating the symbolic link, you may need to tell the shell to clear its path cache with the command hash -r.

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