At the risk of sounding like a complete noob... "how do I actually use the updater included with the download of thunderbird 91?"

I downloaded and extracted the TB91 archive from https://www.thunderbird.net/en-US/ . I see an updater patch, but I do not see a basic "Read Me" to explain how to use the updater patch.

I tried sudo chmod +x updater, then $ ./updater , but get errors.


3 Answers 3


First, excuse me if I am making a wrong assumptions here. I assume you have Thunderbird 78 installed via the Ubuntu package manager and you want to upgrade to Thunderbird 91.

There are, at least, five ways, in principle:

  1. Remove the apt version, and install the Thunderbird 91 snap, by choosing the "candidate" channel instead of "stable". This is a very safe way to upgrade, and recommended.

  2. Find a PPA for Thunderbid 91. I could not find one, and I don't recommend PPAs typically.

  3. Use the downloaded tar-archive from the Thunderbird website. I don't think the "update" is a program you are supposed to run, you should follow the instructions here: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/installing-thunderbird-linux

  4. Remove Thunderbird 78 with apt, and use the appimage version of Thunderbird 91.

  5. Yet another alternative is a flatpak, available at https://flathub.org/apps/details/org.mozilla.Thunderbird

I know the instructions for the Mozilla tarball update are outdated, but should still work. It is up to you to place the extracted tar-archive to a place that is convenient for you. I personally would put it in ~/thunderbid and have a symbolic link to the thundebird binary at ~/bin.

You should either a) remove the old Thunderbird 78 via apt/package manager or b) at least make sure you don't accidentally run the old version by creating custom launchers for the new version and setting up your path correctly. I would remove the old Thunderbird completely. Mixing the two versions might lead to some serious weirdness.

  • 1.) Installing via snap will give me 2 versions of TB installed in different places 2.) I have the mozilla/team PPA installed, it does not offer TB91 3.) in the downloaded archive, I can easily install a 2nd version of TB91 parallel to TB78, but that is not desired, for obvious reasons. There is an update patch that will update my current TB78 to TB91... that is what I need instructions to use.
    – nightwatch
    Oct 4, 2021 at 3:29
  • I understand your aversion to having Thunderbird twice installed. But if your TB78 is installed via apt as an Ubuntu package, you almost certainly cannot, and even more certainly should not try to patch it via the downloaded TB91. At best it will accomplish nothing, at worst you will mess up your package system. Not badly, but slightly. This is why Ubuntu/Debian/other distos Thunderbird/Firefox/Chrome ship, I believe, with any kind of "check for updates" disabled, they are not meant to be updated outside the package manager. I would suggest you use the option 3, and remove your TB 78.
    – gaussian
    Oct 4, 2021 at 3:36
  • thx for the feedback.. but if you do some reading on the TB91 download archive, you will clearly see that Mozilla recommends using the patch to update TB78 to TB91, but they neglect to provide instructions about "how" to use the patch... hence my question here...
    – nightwatch
    Oct 4, 2021 at 4:02
  • 1
    Is your TB78 installed as an Ubuntu package? Then surely it cannot be updated with a patcher from Thunderbird (no longer part of Mozilla). If your TB78 is installed from a Thunderbird tarball, then your question is valid, and my comments and answer have been a total waste of bandwidth.
    – gaussian
    Oct 4, 2021 at 4:13
  • 1
    I just tried the 'recommended' snap approach and was disappointed. First, you have to copy your profile and local folders inside the sandbox environment. Second, you can no longer open attachments in other apps (unless you save them first), or attach files from disk (unless you copy into the sandbox first). I guess the appimage and flatpak would be the same. The tar archive avoids these problems, but has to extracted manually and doesn't come with a .desktop file.
    – AdamS
    Dec 8, 2021 at 17:41

Previous answers did not find an appropriate ppa. Here is what I found:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt dist-upgrade

It upgraded thunderbird from 78 to 91 like a charm on my Ubuntu 18.04.6LTS. I am not an expert, but this ppa looks quite legit, is thoroughly documented (https://launchpad.net/~mozillateam/+archive/ubuntu/ppa), and is recommended by various blogs.

  • Thanks.. that worked perfectly
    – nightwatch
    Dec 22, 2021 at 10:23

Supplemental update: According to OMGUbuntu this is coming to the 20.04 repos soon because of a security issue.

A security vulnerability affecting the Thunderbird 78.x series both builds offer is being actively exploited in the wild. But as upstream support for Thunderbird 78.x has ended the flaw is unlikely be ever be patched.

For an Ubuntu LTS releases that’s a major issue.

So, to ensure its users are not affected, Ubuntu developers are backporting the latest Thunderbird 91 release (which is an extended support release, thankfully) to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, and Ubuntu 21.04.

Source: https://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2021/11/thunderbird-91-backport-ubuntu-18-04-20-04-lts

  • Strangely, more than a month has passed without any upgrade in the official repo. I turned to ppa out of concern with this unresolved vulnerability.
    – billjoie
    Dec 22, 2021 at 3:21

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