How to use the Daily Build of Mozilla Thunderbird

Get updates faster using Daily Build of Thunderbird no matter what platform you are running,

How to use the Daily Build of Mozilla Thunderbird

I am one of the few who still prefers an actual desktop email client. And no matter how hard I try to want to work with a more groupware suite (such as Evolution), I always seem to come back to my go-to email client, Mozilla Thunderbird.

The one issue I have with Thunderbird is that the updates for my Linux distribution of choice (Elementary OS) are released painfully slow. Once upon a time, there was the Ubuntuzilla Project, but unfortunately, it hasn't been updated in a long while. It's also unfortunate that there's no reliable PPA available that includes the Daily Build (even the Thunderbird Next project seems dormant). There is, however, a way to get the latest Daily Build of Thunderbird on your system. This works no matter what platform you are running.

SEE: System update policy template download (Tech Pro Research)


I will demonstrate how to do this on Elementary OS. If you're using the Windows or macOS platforms, you're in luck as a Daily Build installer file is available on the Thunderbird Daily Build page. On that platform, all you need to do is download the installer and double-click on it to run the Thunderbird Daily Build installation. On Linux, it's not quite as straightforward. Let me show you how this is done.

Running the Daily Build on Linux

The good news is that this process will work on nearly any Linux distribution. Here's how to make it happen:

  1. Open a web browser and point it to the Thunderbird Daily Build page.
  2. Download the .tar.bz2 file for the latest daily build of the day.
  3. Open your file manager.
  4. Navigate to the folder housing the downloaded file.
  5. Right-click on the file and select Extract Here (Figure A).
  6. Change into the newly created thunderbird folder (which will have been created in the same folder housing the downloaded file).
  7. Right-click on a blank spot within the folder and select Open In | Terminal
  8. At the terminal prompt, issue the command ./thunderbird.

Figure A

Figure A

Extracting the downloaded daily build file.

At this point, the Daily Build of Thunderbird will open ready to be used. If you already have a stable build of Thunderbird installed, the Daily will automatically use your configurations. If you don't already have Thunderbird installed, you will then have to set up your email accounts. You will also be asked if you want to set it as your default email client (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B

Setting the daily build as your default client.

If you trust the Daily Build, click Set as Default, otherwise, click Skip Integration.

Once Thunderbird is running, you can check to make sure that you're using the Daily Build by clicking the menu button and then clicking Help | About Thunderbird Daily. The resulting pop-up window (Figure C) should clearly indicate that you're using the Daily Build.

Figure C

Figure C

The daily build is up and running.

The caveat

You knew it was coming. Outside of using a non-stable release, on the Linux platform, a launcher for the Daily Build will not be automatically created for your desktop menu. How you create such a launcher, will depend upon the desktop you use. For example, if you're using GNOME, you'd have to create a desktop entry that contains information similar to this:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Thunderbird Daily

Modify the above script to fit your needs. Save that file as thunderbird.desktop and place it in /usr/share/applications. If you're using Elementary OS, you can install the Alacarte menu editor (sudo apt-get install alacarte) and create a new menu entry for the Daily Build, so it shows up in your Applications menu.

That's all there is to it

And that, my friends, is all there is to running the Thunderbird Daily Build. If you're like me and want updates faster than it seems to roll out to desktop operating system, now you have the means to run that Daily Build of the Mozilla Thunderbird email client.

Also see

Image: Mozilla