I have two computers which both run Debian Sid. My problem is that I want to synchronize profile content between two computers both using thunderbird(+lightning) (contacts+calendar+email) (specifically Debian's icedove(+iceowl).

For email, it's easy with IMAP. It's more tricky for calendar and contacts. Until today, I was using Google calendar and it was easy (with the extensions Google Contacts and Google Calendar Tab) to have access to my agenda and contacts. However, I want to not use Google anymore and I need to find a way to achieve this synchronization process in another way.

Possible solution: For example I was thinking of using SpiderOak (a backup/sync tool using the cloud), to sharing my thunderbird profile (~/.icedove folder) between my two computers. With Spideroak, I can select this folder and synchronize it: any change make to this folder will be transmit to the other folder on the second computer). The problem is that it doesn't only synchronized my accounts settings but also all my emails (the cache). This will slow a lot the synchronization time, and will make me exceed my 2Gb ratio on Spideroak (I have over than 15.000 emails) and this is not necessary (because IMAP already does it in a better way).

Is there another solution (or way to adapt in a better way this presented one) to synchronize contacts and calendar using in thunderbird between two computers?

Can someone point me to the exact file locations for Icedove, and network sharing packages in Debian such as Samba, etc.?

  • if you want to replace google service, you can consider the use of owncloud for calendar and contact, to replace your mail provider it will be definitely harder – Kiwy Mar 4 '14 at 12:28
  • @Kiwy Yes but you need a server to use Owncloud. And I don't have a sever or a computer always turn on at home. And I don't want to pay for a hosting service only for synchronize my calendar and contacts list. – ppr Mar 4 '14 at 12:31
  • there's some free owncloud provider here if you search for this owncloud.org/providers – Kiwy Mar 4 '14 at 12:38

I've set up SpiderOak to synchronize T-bird Portable between multiple computers. Although I haven't taken full advantage of it, SpiderOak allows you to exclude specific files (and folders, I believe) - just use the Remove command when using the View tab in SpiderOak. You can probably also set up custom rules if you create your own sync rather than starting with their "hive", as I did.

I've considered synchronizing only the settings files (address books, UI settings, etc.) but I wonder what would happen if you upgrade T-bird on one computer and that upgrade involves updating the format in one of those settings files. If you then try to upgrade T-bird on a second computer, you could run into problems. That's why I decided to sync the app as well. Problem however then comes if you want to sync between T-birds on different operating systems. I have no good suggestion for that, other than to stick to the settings files and hope that their format doesn't change. I guess you could also keep pre- and post-upgrade backups of the settings files for use as needed in such situations.


If your objection to using SpiderOak is merely the file size limit and you have the bandwidth to sync all the mail as well, rsync works well if you can open/forward the appropriate ports on both networks.

If not, btsync offers comparable security to SpiderOak without a size limit you will ever reach with a Thunderbird profile, and you don't need to worry about port forwarding. It does delta synchronization, as does SpiderOak, so you are only transferring locally cached mail that has changed, not all the mail.

There's a lot of files/folder in a Thunderbird profile and you'll need to some research as to what is safe to sync. It would be easier to build an "include" list than an "exclude" list in this scenario. Find where Thunderbird store contacts and you don't have to worry about the other various miscellaneous files in your profile directory.

Perhaps a simpler option, there are some Thunderbird add-ons which store contact info etc as a file in an IMAP mail account, so you'd only sync what you need to and not the entire profile.

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