Who else has been caught by Mozilla's latest trick?

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Who else has been caught by Mozilla's latest trick?

Postby NFT5 » 2019-12-02 22:12

I run multi-boot Debian fairly standard installations, one Stretch and one Buster. The Stretch installation is rock solid and I keep it until I'm 100% confident that Buster is stable enough to rely on for production use. Although Stretch is XFCE and Buster is KDE, they're otherwise pretty similar, with essentially the same software packages, or equivalents, so that I can do my work in either one.

I use Thunderbird for email and my profile with all the emails resides on a data disk which I've been able to link to with any installation of Thunderbird. Until now.

In version 68, Mozilla changed the ability to do what I've been doing, making access with an earlier version impossible, once the profile has been accessed by an installation of version 68 (or later), and locking that profile to a specific installation. So accessing the profile and emails from multiple installs is no longer an option. What's worse is that it just happened that I updated the Stretch installation before the Buster one so my profile is now locked to Stretch and I can't get to it from Buster.

Curiously, both versions of Thinderbird are the same at 68.2.2 but it looks like Mozilla interpret 68.2.2-1~deb9u1 as later than 68.2.2-1~deb10u1.

I can, of course, access my email via the Stretch installation, so it's not like I've lost it, but it is a huge inconvenience and, looking forward, is making me think that I need to change to a different email client. In the short term, initial investigation seems to indicate that I can import, folder by folder, if I create a new profile. With circa 9000 emails and multiple identities and folders this is going to be quite a task.

So, has anyone else been caught out the same way? And have you come up with a strategy to recover and retain similar functionality in the future?

I'm sure Mozilla have some good reason, but considering users doesn't seem to enter their minds. What were they thinking?
Last edited by NFT5 on 2019-12-03 04:32, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Who eles has been caught by Mozilla's latest trick?

Postby sunrat » 2019-12-03 01:00

I used to share profile on a data drive between distros but gave up on that ages ago due to minor niggles. Even tried syncing profiles between 2 machines but abandoned that due to major niggles. I'm sure it's possible with a local email server or something but not worth my trouble. I use my main distro nearly all the time so just stick to that for emails.
I ran into an issue in another distro with Firefox where it wouldn't read profile after an upgrade and I had to start with firefox --allow-downgrade IIRC, but not sure if that works in Thunderbird.
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Re: Who else has been caught by Mozilla's latest trick?

Postby fabien » 2019-12-03 13:53

Hello,
I had same surprise when a few weeks ago I updated from Stretch to Buster: Thunderbird and Firefox telling me that my Buster version was older than my Stretch version.
I took a quick look at Thunderbird and Firefox home directories and found a file called compatibility.ini with a field
Code: Select all
LastVersion=68.2.0_20191106112211/20191106112211

I changed it to
Code: Select all
LastVersion=67.2.0_20191106112211/20191106112211
and was able to run these applications again.
Due to your question, I checked it today and I can see that it has been automatically modified as follow:
Code: Select all
 LastVersion=68.2.0_20191022215001/20191022215001


HTH
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Re: Who else has been caught by Mozilla's latest trick?

Postby sgage » 2019-12-03 15:45

I have run into this as well in a similar dual or triple booting context. I have separate profiles for each installation, but I still keep my email on a shared partition without any problem. The email store format has not changed, thankfully. Just go to Edit/Account Settings/Server Settings, and at the bottom of that page you can browse to the location of your mail store.
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Re: Who else has been caught by Mozilla's latest trick?

Postby NFT5 » 2019-12-03 18:44

fabien wrote:I took a quick look at Thunderbird and Firefox home directories and found a file called compatibility.ini


There are a few files called "compatability.ini" in various Firefox and Thunderbird folders. It took a couple of tries but the one that, if the version number is changed, allows Thunderbird to start is the one that is actually in the profile itself. That file has an 8 random character name, in my case "ngxlr1l3.default", but will be different for anyone else.

It was necessary to make the change of the line:
Code: Select all
LastVersion=68.2.2_20191116193034/20191116193034

to
Code: Select all
LastVersion=67.2.2_20191116193034/20191116193034


and then run
Code: Select all
thunderbird -profilemanager


to set that profile as the default.

I was then able to open Thunderbird in my Buster installation.

Thunderbird will change that line back to the actual version when it closes so that means that I should now not be able access email in my Stretch installation, but I'm not so concerned about this since I want to make Buster the one I use most.

It is extremely inconvenient and means that copying the profile over to my notebook for access while travelling is now somewhat more difficult, but possible if the version number is changed each time.

For me this lack of convenience is a deal breaker and I'll be looking for an alternative solution.
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Re: Who else has been caught by Mozilla's latest trick?

Postby fabien » 2019-12-03 22:03

I have only one profile and that's probably why I have only one compatibility.ini file and that I didn't need to use profilemanager.

In your case I would put a small script in ~/.local/bin/ that would rewrite compatibility.ini each time Thunderbird is launched.
I remember I had to find a way so that XFCE which is my DE takes this path on account when called by lightdm. I put it there also since it may be relevant, though certainly not with other DM.
file ~/.config/xfce4/xinitrc :
Code: Select all
#!/bin/bash

## ~/.config/xfce4/xinitrc
## workaround to enable custom PATH in XFCE with lightdm (wich has PATH hardcoded)
## see /usr/bin/startxfce4
## http://xfce.10915.n7.nabble.com/adapted-PATH-not-available-for-GUI-td43586.html

if [ -d "$HOME/.local/bin" ] ; then
   export PATH="$HOME/.local/bin:$PATH"  ##~/.local/bin takes precedence over others PATH
fi

. /etc/xdg/xfce4/xinitrc



So this is what I would put in ~/.local/bin/thunderbird :
Code: Select all
#!/bin/bash

## ~/.local/bin/thunderbird

sed --in-place 's/^LastVersion=.\+$/LastVersion=67.2.2_20191116193034\/20191116193034/' ~/.thunderbird/ngxlr1l3.default/compatibility.ini
/usr/bin/thunderbird $@ &



Not tested however.

edit: for security concerns, ~/.local/bin/ and files inside are chown root: and ~/.config/xfce4/xinitrc also.
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Re: Who else has been caught by Mozilla's latest trick?

Postby NFT5 » 2019-12-04 04:39

Thanks for your input. I had thought of the script solution, and may do that short term.

Long term I want to set up my own mail server so that I can access with various devices - a desktop at work and a desktop at home (each with multi-boot), notebook when travelling and even my phone if I get really desperate. Ultimately Thunderbird doesn't really have this capability easily and was destined for replacement eventually anyway. This latest exercise has just brought the whole thing forward.

This morning I stated researching SBCs..... :D
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Re: Who else has been caught by Mozilla's latest trick?

Postby DeadTOm76 » 2019-12-10 15:22

Thanks for posting this. I ran into this exact problem, and really didn't want to go through the process of reconfiguring add-ons and what-not. All good now.
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