Poor Site-Wide Firefox and Thunderbird Cooperation



14 years ago
10 years ago


(Reporter: Michael Mikowski, Unassigned)


({conversion, platform, polish})

conversion, platform, polish

Firefox Tracking Flags

(Not tracked)




14 years ago
User-Agent:       Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.7.5) Gecko/20041107 Firefox/1.0
Build Identifier: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.7.5) Gecko/20041107 Firefox/1.0

Firefox and Thunderbird, being sister products, should by default use each other
for all accounts unless otherwise directed.  At the very least one button click
should allow Firefox to handle all http and ftp requests from Thunderbird.  And
one button click should allow Thunderbird to handle all mailto: requests from

I filed this as a "Major" bug as it greatly deviates from the user perception
and significantly harms the allure of the products.  It took me hours to get the
applications to interact as I expected.

Reproducible: Always

Steps to Reproduce:
1. Install Firefox
2. Install Thunderbird
3. Try to get Firefox to use Thunderbird by default for all users for mailto:
4. Try to get Thunderbird to use Firefox for all http, https, and ftp requests
Actual Results:  
This was fantastically difficult for products which should promote and support
each other.  I spent hours searching Mozilla documentation, and other sources on
the internet to, for all users:

1. Get Thunderbird to send http, https, and ftp request to Firefox
2. Get Firefox to send mailto: links to Thunderbird
  - Required a wrapper to handle requests regardless if thunderbird is already

All the documentation I found outlined fixing the problem for single users, not 
system wide.

Much of the documentation covered setting default email and browser components
in KDE or Gnome.  This is not what is necessarily wanted; Firefox and
Thunderbird may best use each other, while other defaults might exist (e.g. many
like to keep Konqueror as default browser on the KDE system).

Expected Results:  
All of these are valid options:

1. Firefox and Thunderbird would open with a dialog similar to the following if
it's sister application is detected in the search path:
|  Mozilla Firefox has detected the Mozilla Thunderbird email application on  |
|  this computer.   Firefox works very well with Thunderbird.  Would you like |
|  Thunderbird to handle email requests from Firefox?                         |
|             = Yes =       = No =     o Do not show this option again        |

Of course, some minor tweaks to the configs and the wrapper scripts would be
needed for this purpose (see Additional Information).

2. Have a pick in user preferences that allows the user to specify Thunderbird /
Firefox when present in the path.  E.g. Preferences -> Components -> Select
Email Client:
| Email Client                         |
|  o Use System Default                |
|  o Use Thunderbird (preferred)       |
|  o Use Outlook Express (not found)   |  (not found apps greyed out)
|  o Use Eudora (found)                |
|  o Cusom ___________________ [pick]  |

3. Have a downloadable tool that will set the applications as defaults for each
other after the configs have been installed.

I can produce such a script for Linux, if you desire.

4. It would be nice to have global UI config tools (e.g. run by root) to arrange
such things system-wide.

Associated bugs:
260090 - Send link... tried to start new thunderbird when already running
266781 - 'mailto' links won't open a thunderbird windown in current session if
thunderbird is already running
267335 - Clicking "Read Mail" will start a new Thunderbird if one is already running
271756 Thunderbird 0.9 will not open an email hyperlink in FireFox 1.0; it will
only open Internet Explorer

My Solution:
. INSTALL Firefox in /usr/local/firefox (use standard firefox installer)
   INSTALL Thunderbird in /usr/local/thunderbird (untar binaries and move there)
   LINK to bin directory:
   # cd /usr/local/bin
   # ln -s ../firefox/firefox; ln -s ../thunderbird/thunderbird

1. RUN both Firefox and Thunderbird as root immediately, before
   any other users.  No need to create user account in Thunderbird;
   just start it up and shut it down.
   I don't know why this is required or precisely what it does, but
   the documentation for both direct this step, IIRC.

2. ENSURE no thunderbird or firefox processes are running
   $ ps -elf |grep thunderbird # should show no processes except grep
   $ ps -elf |grep firefox # should show no processes except grep

3. MAKE firefox the browser for thunderbird
   APPEND these lines to /usr/local/thunderbird/defaults/pref/all-thunderbird.js
   pref("network.protocol-handler.app.http", "/usr/local/bin/firefox");
   pref("network.protocol-handler.app.https", "/usr/local/bin/firefox");
   pref("network.protocol-handler.app.ftp", "/usr/local/bin/firefox");

4. CREATE thunderbird helper application as
  (thanks to fedoranews.org)

# run-thunderbird.sh
# per http://fedoranews.org/tchung/thunderbird/
# used for mailto links from firefox; use run-thunderbird.sh %s

  export MOZILLA_FIVE_HOME="/usr/local/thunderbird"

  url=`echo "$1" | sed -e's/^mailto://'`

  # thunderbird is already running
  if [ $(ps aux | grep thunderbird | wc -l) -gt 4 ]; then
    $MOZILLA_FIVE_HOME/thunderbird -remote "mailto($url)"
  # thunderbird is NOT running
    $MOZILLA_FIVE_HOME/thunderbird -P default -compose $1;

5. LINK this app to the bin location:
  # cd /usr/local/bin; ln -s ../thunderbird/run-thunderbird.sh
  # chmod 755 /usr/local/thunderbird/run-thunderbird.sh

6. MAKE thunderbird the email handler for firefox
  IN /usr/local/firefox/defaults/pref/firefox.js
   pref("network.protocol-handler.app.mailto", "/usr/local/bin/run-thunderbird.sh");

Comment 1

14 years ago
Thunderbird 1.0
Firefox 1.0


14 years ago
Severity: major → normal


14 years ago
Keywords: conversion, mail6, nsCatFood, platform, polish
Version: unspecified → 1.0

Comment 2

13 years ago
I can confirm this for KDE 3.2 (branch>=20040204), Firefox 1.0.3, Thunderbird
version 1.0.2 (20050317).
In FireFox, "maito" hyperlinks simply don't work !
In ThunderBird, "http" hyperlinks launch Konquerror.
QA Contact: preferences


10 years ago
Assignee: mscott → nobody
Related to default file associations.. Hmmm....
A good idea and if this is what distributions are choosing to do then that's their option.  And while I do want to see more cooperation between Thunderbird and Firefox I can't see it coming through this particular avenue.  In Thunderbird especially there are a number of users who need Thunderbird for email and yet use IE or other web browsers for accessing an intranet.  Many of these users are stuck and so I don't think our reminding or forcing them will bring us praise.

There are many bugs related to empty default file associations.  I believe we fall down flat when nothing is associated to http and in that instance I think we should be promoting Firefox.  Likewise if Firefox could detect empty mailto: associations it could be nice to get a little promo for Thunderbird handling that.  

-> WONTFIX for this particular implementation
Last Resolved: 10 years ago
Resolution: --- → WONTFIX
(In reply to comment #1)
> Versions:
> Thunderbird 1.0
> Firefox 1.0

FWIW these are very old implementations. When I last tried Firefox/Thunderbird on KDE (or maybe kde with a bit of gnome in it) they were both able to register as default browser/mail client. This meant that the links between one app to the other (mailto:, http: etc) worked fine.
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