Delayed upgrades, Thunderbird not loading profile correctly

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Delayed upgrades, Thunderbird not loading profile correctly

Postby michapma » 2020-12-31 14:25

I (not so diligently) remotely administer the home computer of one of my parents, which runs Debian stable. For this I use a combination of SSH and Teamviewer. This has its price: much time passed without upgrades and Teamviewer stopped connecting because they decided the host version was too old. In preparation for the upgrade to Buster (this is back in August), we got the new Teamviewer installed, but I discovered that Wayland doesn't support Teamviewer yet (or vice versa).

After some searching I decided to disable Wayland in /etc/gdm3/daemon.conf by setting WaylandEnable=false.

I did a by-the-manual upgrade (system has been running and upgraded since at least Jessie) and everything seems to be working fine. One notable exception has been Thunderbird, which I am now at a loss to fix.

According to logs, the upgrade to Buster brought with it the Thunderbird pacakge 68.11.0-1~deb10u1. When I started TB to test post system upgrade, the window came up but did not load any messages. The sad truth is that I have not made time to try to fix this until now, after several months. I first ran a system upgrade, which upgraded Thunderbird to package version 78.6.0-1~deb10u1. The behavior is the same as with 68.11, which I describe below along with what I have tried.

System is Buster Stable, vanilla kernel 4.19.0-13-amd64
Desktop is Gnome, with following extensions: Alternatetab, Auto move windows, Clipboard indicator, Coverflow alt-tab, Dash to dock, Desktop icons, Extensions, Native window placement, Openweather, Removable drive menu, Remove dropdown arrows, Status area horizontal spacing, User themes, Window list, Workspaces to dock. I don't suppose Gnome or any of its extensions are causing the issue.

The program does start from its launcher. The window appears, but all of the folder and message panes are blank. When selecting Account Settings or Preferences from the Edit menu, no window or tab (new in TB 78, I think) appears. I can still open the (text) menu toolbar after this and try to select something else. When I click the "hamburger" menu icon, it animates on hover but does not drop the menu. Clicking Write opens a composition window, and some notifications of new messages received appear, but the panes with Inbox and such information are blank. CPU usage remains low according to top. I can quit the program via the (text) menu or with Ctrl+Q, and ps -A | grep -i thunderbird confirms that no instance is running after quitting.

If I launch from the terminal using
Code: Select all
Code: Select all
thunderbird --safe-mode
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thunderbird --safe-mode --no-remote

the behavior is the same, and the terminal does not list any errors. In safe mode, the behavior with menus, missing pane content and not showing account settings or preferences is exactly the same.

I created a temporary profile, with which Thunderbird appears to behave normally: it opens the menu, Account Settings, Preferences, etc. (I did not configure any accounts.) This leads me to believe that the upgrade to v. 68.11 (during the initial Buster upgrade) ran into some incompatibility which prevented it from interpreting the profile correctly. Perhaps the profile has been migrated and is now botched. I saw that the lightning add-on was uninstalled, but I don't have a list of add-ons that were installed before the upgrade. Probably there is a way to extract this from the profile, any hints on how would be appreciated.

Due to the size of the account (a few GB), the offline messages are stored on a separate partition. There is a backup of this and also (but I need to confirm) the user profile before upgrading to Buster; however, unless there is a relatively easy fix it seems that the most efficient route could be to just configure a new profile that accesses the offline messagse as before. In that case, I hopefully can recall or find from the existing profile how the two accounts were set up. As I recall, it should theoretically be easy to import the address book, although I have read its format was changed for v. 78.

So my question is whether anybody has run into a similar problem with Thunderbird after the upgrade to Buster, with suspicion of the profile getting messed up due to some incompatibility with add-ons or something else I'm unaware of. In other words, what could I try that might be easier than configuring a new profile and trying to import missing information? Due to the long delay in addressing the problem, I'm looking for advice on how to pragmatically get email access going again for this account. (The parent in question hopes "that all that email isn't gone!")
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