Evolution is a great email/PIM application. I've been using it for ages, starting from its early beta stages. During all this years it served as the most important productivity tool in my workstation.

Unfortunately it requires GNome (or at list half the packages) and it has always been (and will continue to be) a real pain when it comes to installing and upgrading, due to the high amount of dependencies. Porting your existing information into new versions has also been a known problem. A few months ago I tried to upgrade to the latest 2.0 version, but I gave up after a couple of hours. Then I studied the screenshots and list of new features and honestly, I really don't see any major improvements that would be worth the pain.

Mozilla Thunderbird / Sunbird

During the last few months I've been running Evolution 1.4.6 and I've also been running Mozilla Thunderbird in parallel. Thunderbird has gotten extremely stable and functional with the last few versions. The spam filtering function works great and it's multi-account and address book management are very appealing. On top of that, it is still a lightweight application that can be replaced with a new version in a matter of seconds. Just untar the new version and run it. Your existing information will work just fine or will be automatically converted if needed (unlike Evolution). Undoubtedly, ease of upgrading has been one of Mozilla's killer features.

Last, Thunderbird is a simple process running in your system. Sounds simple but it is something you REALLY appreciate when coming from Evolution. Therefore I decided to migrate from Ximian Evolution to Mozilla Thunderbird, and delegate my calendar and task functionality to Mozilla Sunbird. Here is my Migration HOWTO:


This is the easiest part. If you are using IMAP, simply configure your new IMAP account in Thunderbird and all your email will pop up. In my case I want to be able to access my email offline. Thunderbird also supports this feature and, to my opinion, it works better than Evolution. Simply right click on a folder and enable offline access. You can also click on "Download Now" which gives you better control on your synchronization.

I also had some Archived folders which I moved to my local IMAP server (drag and drop) and then downloaded to my local folders in Thunderbird in a matter of minutes.


There are two options for this: Exporting to CSV and Exporting to VCF.

Exporting to VCF can be achieved by selecting all contacts with CTRL+A, then right click on a contact and click on "Export to VCF". This will generate a VCF file containing all contacts. The problem with this is that Thunderbird as of today (version 0.90) does not support VCF importation. It does however support CSV and LDIF importation. I've found a script that converts the VFC to LDIF and is available here:


Exporting to CSV is not possible from Evolution, but it does include a script that takes care of it. It can be invoked as follows:

evolution-addressbook-export --format=csv > mycontacts.csv

When importing the CSV, you will have to match the fields. You can skip this tedious step by going the VCF to LDIF way, which worked smoothly for my 1500 contact records.


There is no exportation utility in Evolution. However, Evolution keeps all calendar entries in ICS format. All you have to do is find your ICS file, usually located at evolution/local/Calendar/calendar.ics. Then simply import your ics file from Mozilla Sunbird. It was a bit sluggish to import my 400 entries but it works just fine.

Maybe Evolution will become much better in the future. Maybe one day it will feature functions that Mozilla will not have, it will be easy to install, it will be backwards compatible, it will run independently from your window manager, and will become a lightweight application. Until that glorious moment arrives, I will be happy using the Mozilla suite : ) 

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