Thunderbird email client on dual-boot machine

DANGER: you could lose ALL of your email, back it up before trying this!

I've installed a few dual boot laptops and had the problem of wanting to access my email, address book, etc, from either boot state (Linux or Windows). I didn't want two copies of my email sitting around, so instead I softlinked my linux version of the Thunderbird configuration files to the windows copy. This maintains a single copy of my email accounts, passwords, server settings, filters, and most importantly, my email. At this point, I've successfully got this running on (WinXP,SP2/Mandrake 10.0) and (WinXP,SP2/Fedora Core 4) installations.

A few caveats:

Anyway, here's how I did it:
  1. Installed and configured Thunderbird under windows
  2. Rebooted in Linux, made sure my windows partitions were mounted under Linux
  3. Install and run Thunderbird in linux...skip the account creation wizards and immediately quit Thunderbird
  4. Fire up a command line, cd to the freshly minted .thunderbird directory in your home directory
  5. You should see a few files, specifically a directory with a crazy alphanumeric name and a .default extension (e.g. ry76de0x.default). Remove the .default directory.
  6. Now softlink your Windows Thunderbird .default directory, e.g.:
       ln -s /mnt/win_c/Documents\ and\ Settings/username/Application\ Data/Thunderbird/Profiles/f8y6rt34.default f8y6rt34.default
  7. Finally, in your linux .thunderbird directory, edit the profiles.ini file and modify the line labelled 'Path=' to match the name of the Windows .default directory, in this case:
In theory, you could simply make the softlink target name match the name that's already in the profiles.ini file, but I haven't tried it, and I'm not sure if there are any files in the .default directory that have the prefix hardcoded in them such that they must match the directory they reside in...

I'm gonna try it next with Firefox, since I'm sick and tired of having to configure the browser twice everytime I install a new extension, etc. Keep checking back to see if I succeed!

Just attempted the same with Firefox and it seems to work! You'll find everything in .mozilla on the Linux side of things and in Documents and Settings/username/Application Data/Mozilla/Firefox/Profiles on the windows side.

Last modified by J. Beaudoin, Jan. 29th, 2006