Intelligent Design instead of Evolution

The Trouble with Evolution

A few years ago I decided to try Ubuntu’s default email client Evolution, as that seemed convenient. It was just there and I had no clear preference, after leaving mutt behind because my approach with it didn’t scale to the amount of email I burdened myself with.

Evolution worked reasonably well, but at some point started to fail at emptying the trash. A few mails would remain in there until a restart. Seeing emails that I moved between folders in the trash kept making feel uneasy, even after I understood that it are just copies. Deleting or renaming folders sometimes works and sometimes results in utter chaos that can only be fixed by restoring a backup.

Since the last update with Ubuntu 10.10, Evolution does not quote the content of HTML emails any more, unless I select the text beforehand (known issue). The way editing emails works with blocks of content often leads to situations where I fight with the program in a way that I only recall from MS Word (well, OO Writer, too). And now Evolution sometimes dies when I click Send.

Why I didn’t make sure there are bug reports for these issues? With one exception where I did do so, they are all random, so I can’t list steps to reproduce them. Not to forget that switching to another application takes less time …

After looking around for other options, I chose Thunderbird.

To be fair, I can’t yet know how it fares regarding reliability, but I already know it does account setup much nicer and feels less clunky. Also: hooray for incremental search!

How to migrate from Evolution to Thunderbird

I followed this guide for emails. The only issue was ending up with the content of the Junk folder in my new local Inbox folder, so either emptying Junk or the old Inbox beforehand would have been a good idea. Otherwise I just had to mark everything as read again (and switch to threaded view).

Evolution exports the addressbook in vCard .vcf format. This online tool allows to convert that to LDIF, a format that Thunderbird can import (found via their wiki).

About thorwil
I'm a designer from Germany. My main interests are visual and interaction design, free/open-source software and (electronic) music.

6 Responses to Intelligent Design instead of Evolution

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  2. David (FSF Supporter) says:

    Obviously it will depend on your particular needs but, for me, a switch from Thunderbird to Claws Mail has brought a client with less bloat and more nimbleness…less resource demands too. I found that Thunderbird had its share of file corruption too…index files being the culprit. These aren’t that difficult to rebuild but their corruption was far too frequent and it became an unacceptable nuisance. Though Claws has far less extensions/plug-ins than Thunderbird the ones you really need tend to be available (for most users anyhow.)

    If you prefer the GUI you might also consider Sylpheed…same rootstock as Claws but a different mix.

  3. Phil says:


    sorry to hear this about Evolution.
    I happened to have gone the other way around. With a prolonged interlude with Claws mail.
    I dropped the later because it was lacking an integrated Calendar.

    The issue you describe are similar in kind to those I had dealing with Thunderbird.

    I’ll spare you the details. In in the end I opted for Evolution. It integrates well with the Gnome Desktop.
    I’m running Ubuntu 10.10 and have to say, it runs so far without flaw. PGP, Filtering, moving mails, deleting mails. And it also scales well with what is already a large mailbox (~100.000 mails and growing) and an average of 100 mails incoming daily.

  4. A few things about Thunderbird:
    1. There could be lots of spam. I regularly delete lots of it in my spam filter. (The spam filter works well I feel.)
    Because of the ‘exercise’ of the spam and trash folders with lots coming in and out, I usually compact folders every week or so.
    2. I’m happy that Thunderbird works as expected. However, ClamAV may clobber the Inbox if it quarantines anything it finds there, so keep the Inbox squeeky clean by not leaving mail with questionable attachments there. (I think that the Inbox is all one file which may be why this is an issue.)
    3. The Lightning extension is difficult to install with Thunderbird, but it works okay when finally there. It will sync with a Gmail callendar just fine.
    4. The developers keep tweaking Thunderbird, sometimes in ways that make the new version annoying. I know they’re trying to improve things, but sometimes they make a change I wish they hadn’t.

  5. While I’m not asking you to reconsider your choice, just saying we’ve been doing tons of improvements on Evolution lately… though mostly on Natty 😉
    That said, it’s nice to hear some more about what annoys people, it helps making sure we focus on the right issues, at least as far as distro packaging, backporting patches, etc. is concerned.

  6. Grant says:

    Another vote for Claws Mail here.

    All my mail accounts are now Google-ified and I access them through IMAP, but they have not always been as such. I have moved my data around a number of times and Claws Mail (and Sylpheed before it) has not once lost or even misplaced any of it.

    I do keep trying other clients, but I find Evolution, Thunderbird, KMail and most other clients just don’t cut the Claws Mail mustard.