According to this, The default email client for Ubuntu 11.10 will be Thunderbird instead of Evolution. I've used Evolution since Ubuntu 9.10; I've always used the default applications because I thought they were recommended.

Why is Thunderbird the new default email client instead of Evolution?

  • 1
    I don't know why they have chosen Thunderbird for 11.10 or even if that's a fact and final. The reason Canonical didn't in the past was, that Thunderbird didn't have task management and calendar capabilities.
    – con-f-use
    Aug 14, 2011 at 20:17
  • @con-f-use: it's official mikeconley.ca/blog/2011/08/10/…
    – Rinzwind
    Aug 14, 2011 at 20:35
  • 1
    I use Zimbra, which is much better that Evolution and Thunderbird. Zimbra is also open source, why don't ubuntu look at it ?
    – user23524
    Aug 18, 2011 at 17:31

5 Answers 5


Here's a list of pro's and cons on deciding to change to Thunderbird: https://blueprints.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+spec/desktop-o-default-email-client

Evolution pro's:

  • Good integration with the desktop already (eg, messaging menu and appmenu)
  • Integrated with existing translation infrastructure for developers in launchpad
  • Calendaring functionality by default, and integrated with the desktop
  • Support for syncing contacts with U1
  • Contacts sync with GMail
  • GNOME release process is better aligned with our 6 month cycle
  • Exchange support (no idea how well this works, but it exists)

Evolution con's:

  • Outdated and confusing UI
  • Historically has been fairly slow and unstable (although it is better now)
  • UI is pretty bad on netbooks and other small form-factor devices
  • I'm not convinced that Evolutions additional features are that important to our target users

Thunderbird pro's:

  • Responsive and more active upstream
  • Familiar brand for users moving from other operating systems, which has the same benefits as shipping Firefox
  • Lots and lots of extensions, and a very rich extension framework
  • Initial account setup is so much more intuitive
  • I like the tabbed interface ;)

Thunderbird con's:

  • Translations not integrated with Launchpad (we have the same issue with Firefox though)
  • Integration with the desktop lacking (no messaging menu or appmenu)
  • No exchange support (not true for lightning: there is a working lightning data provider, http://gitorious.org/lightning-exchange-provider/pages/Home )
  • Calendaring support is only available via an addon (Lightning), and is not integrated with the panel clock
  • No GMail or U1 contact sync (although GMail contact support is available via an addon)

And adding all up the result is in favor of Thunderbird it seems.

Here is the the pdf 'Thunderbird & Evolution User research findings' on which they based the conclusion to change.

On canonical Thunderbird & Evolution Usability Testing

  • 5
    I would say at most 1/3 of that pros+cons list is subjective. Aug 14, 2011 at 21:03
  • @MarcoCeppi: Yeah, and for the both of them.
    – RolandiXor
    Aug 14, 2011 at 22:15
  • I'd say with recent version of Thunderbird, Thunderbird's Gmail integration becomes my number 1 reason to switch to Thunderbird. Thunderbird aligns its mail handling mechanism around how Gmail manages things, i.e. "Archive" instead of "Delete". And that's enough to cause to me to switch.
    – Lie Ryan
    Aug 15, 2011 at 0:37
  • @marco I never said I agree with any of the arguments ;-) I favor webmail over any client.
    – Rinzwind
    Aug 15, 2011 at 7:37
  • Additionally I've never found an easy ways to setup multiple mail-accounts, which is a basic feature in Thunderbird.
    – feeela
    Oct 20, 2011 at 9:26

Canonical did a usability testing between both email clients to see which is more friendly to the user. Results can be seen at Canonical’s design blog.


Both Evolution and Thunderbird are great applications. The fact that Ubuntu will switch to Thunderbird as a default mail client, should not be considered as a discouragement from using Evolution. It'll be just as available, easily installable and well supported.

But setting up an email account is much easier with Thunderbird and that's important. It's also easier to use in many ways. And I've been an Evo-freak and spent several years living in it, so to speak, but I really love Thunderbird as an email client. It has some features Evo just can't compete with, in my humble opinion.

Another thing is that Thunderbird is also well supported on Windows and since we're now getting Ubuntu One support on Windows, I think it'll be nice to be able to sync contact data and bookmarks with both operating systems (and others in the future). For people who dual boot, for instance, this is magnificent. They'll just install LibreOffice, Firefox and Thunderbird in Windows, along with Ubuntu One, of course and then they can just reboot and still have their files, tools and other data just as available. The same goes for people who take their work home, such as students or office workers. Interoperability is key if Ubuntu is going to really hit the masses, and using Thunderbird as default helps in that regard as well as making Ubuntu easier to use.


Re: Calendar

While ReminderFox as add on isn't integrated either, it still works fine enough for the few calendar uses I have in Thunderbird.

Re: Evolution vs. Thunderbird

I think it's all a question of preference. Personally, I'd always choose Thunderbird, wheather in linux or windows. I don't like Evolution as I found it too clunky and reminded me far too much of Outlook which I somewhat detest.


I have found exchange support for Thunderbird with this extension: https://exquilla.zendesk.com/home

It works really good (download from that place is newer than the addon in mozilla addons website).

Works much more better than evolution's support.

It has some notes to keep in mind. https://exquilla.zendesk.com/entries/20887131-creating-an-exchange-account

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