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CategoryIcedove CategorySoftware | CategoryNetworkApplication | CategoryMailUserAgent | CategoryIcedove

Translation(s): English - Deutsch

Icedove is the Thunderbird email client rebranded by Debian.


Display Email User Agent

  • Access the "Config Editor" from Edit->Preferences->Advanced (click "I'll be careful...")

  • Search after mailnews.headers.showUserAgent and double click on it to activate it
  • Restart Icedove and notice that, when viewing a message, below the "To" field the "User agent" is present now

External Editor for Writing Mails

  • If you want to use an external editor for composing your message take a look at globs.org

Setting up OpenPGP Encryption

Install the Enigmail extension, restart Icedove and run the OpenPGP Setup Wizard

  1. Install Enigmail via

apt-get install enigmail 

  1. Restart Icedove
  2. Navigate to the new top-menu entry OpenPGP → Setup Wizard
  3. Select Yes and hit Next
  4. Choose whether you want to setup OpenPGP for all identities or just for select identities, if you’ve created more than one identity in Icedove. If you have multiple identities, choosing to setup OpenPGP for all identities will use one key for all of them.
  5. Choose whether you want to sign all of your outgoing emails. Signing does not encrypt emails—it places your digital signature on all of your outgoing emails to allow others to verify that you sent the email. It is recommended not to sign all of your outgoing emails as it strongly links you to everything you send out via unencrypted email directly to yourself. It’s best just to encrypt your emails to everyone you know who supports encryption.
  6. Choose whether you want to encrypt all of your outgoing emails by default. This is not recommended as it is cumbersome if your recipient doesn’t support encryption. You can setup encryption rules later on, which will enable you to always send encrypted emails under conditions you determine.
  7. Choose to make some changes recommended by OpenPGP. These are all technical configuration changes in Icedove that streamline the OpenPGP process and avoid configurations that cause breakages. These are all safe changes, though they do change functionality in some cases, most notably by disabling composing HTML messages.
  8. Either create a key if you haven’t done so already, or select an existing key to use. If you have multiple keys and/or multiple identities, you may have to make some manual changes later to associate the right key with the right identity.
  9. Review the proposed changes and hit Next

If there are no errors, OpenPGP is ready to use. Hit Finish.

OpenPGP Rules

Setup OpenPGP Rules

In Icedove, the Enigmail extension provides the ability for you to setup rules which Icedove will use to automate who will or will not receive encrypted emails from you.

The rule system is pretty powerful and can create a wide array of possible options. This guide will create a rule to always send encrypted email to a specific email address (or multiple email addresses) and operates under the assumption that your emails are unencrypted by default. However, the rule system appears to be powerful enough that if the majority of your contacts use OpenPGP encryption, you can encrypt by default and create a rule that sends unencrypted emails to contacts you have that don’t support encryption.

  1. Navigate to OpenPGP → Edit Per-Recipient Rules
  2. Click the Add button on the upper right.
  3. Enter the email address(es) at the top, separated by spaces if matching multiple email addresses, and is exactly if matching exact addresses or enter matching terms and choose the appropriate matching method. The available matching methods are: is exactly, Contains, Starts with, and Ends with
  4. Choose the Action to be applied upon matching the rule. For this example, choose Use the following OpenPGP keys: and press the Select Key(s)… button. In the box that pops up from that button, select the OpenPGP key for the person to whom you’re sending email. If you don’t have their public key, press the Download missing keys button, which will search the key servers for the email(s) you entered in the matching box.
  5. Change Encryption in the Defaults for … section to Always and leave Signing and PGP/MIME as Yes, if selected in Message Composition.
  6. Press the OK button when you’ve completed the configuration of the rule.

You are now ready to send OpenPGP (GPG) emails to any recipient via Icedove and to automatically enable encryption for the chosen recipient in the rule you just created.

Icedove seems impossible to send mails via STARTLS after installation of libnss 3.14-1

  • This problem is not really an Icedove bug (#692886 #692491). With releasing version 3.14-1 of libnss no certificates with a md5 signatures are allowed. It's recommended to check your signatures if you are using md5 based signatures in case of problems. You can do this this

    openssl s_client -connect hostname:587 -starttls < /dev/null | sed -n '/BEGIN/,/END/p' | openssl x509 -text

    Search for "Signature Algorithm". For further information please take a look at https://wiki.mozilla.org/CA:MD5and1024


Take a look at https://support.mozillamessaging.com/en-US/kb/keyboard-shortcuts

Create Own Mail Headers

With editing (or creating) your own ~/.icedove/user.js file you are able to create own, not already shipped Mail Header entrys. It have to looks like that. The entry '{custom headers}' is a comma-separated list of the custom headers you want to be available. "Sender,X-Y" adds the Sender: and X-Y: headers, for example.

// This is a comment
user_pref("mail.compose.other.header", "{custom headers}");

In detail take a look at the following example. More infos on this on mozillaZine

// my own Icedove settings in $HOME/.icedove/user.js
// add these headers to the list of possible headers
user_pref("mail.compose.other.header", "X-Debbugs-CC,X-Debbugs-No-Ack");

Selecting URL in Icedove Causes New Page Open In Iceweasel To Take Focus

This problem is reported in #496632. When selecting URL in icedove, window focus is stolen by iceweasel when it loads the url. A temporary workaround is to set the browser.tabs.loadDivertedInBackground setting. This substantially changes the behavior of iceweasel, so this may not be acceptable for everyone. To access this setting, enter 'about:config' in the url bar. This brings up a warning page, with a button labeled "I'll be careful, I promise!". Scroll to the entry titled "browser.tabs.loadDivertedInBackground". Double clicking on this line toggles the setting. Setting this to "true" will prevent iceweasel from stealing focus in the described case. The instructions for changing this setting were originally found at http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/how-stop-firefox-stealing-window-focus.htm

Problems with Indexing of mails/news

In rare cases it may happen that Icedove is permanently keeps indexing of your mails and messages. The reason for this behavior is mostly a broken or damaged SQLite database. This issue will be easy to fix, you have to delete the broken database. Icedove is creating a new database if not present.

  1. Close the Icedove application
  2. Remove the file $HOME/.icedove/[Your_Profile]/global-messages-db.sqlite

  3. Restart Icedove

Icedove and the Mozilla Lightning Extension

The Lightning extension from Mozilla isn't usable with Icedove >= version 24! This happen because of different internally lifetime linking inside the extension. So please use the iceowl-extension from the Debian repositories.

Open Address Book only

Create a launcher with the following command

 icedove -addressbook 

Iceowl-extension does not remember credentials

Mozilla has changed the way to trust certificates after Firefox or Thunderbird 31. Especially self-signed certificates are not trusted by default any longer (#751086). You can change this behavior by modifying the prefs.js directly or using the UI "Edit -> Preferences -> Advanced -> Tab:General -> Config Editor" and change the following key to 'false'.

 security.use_mozillapkix_verification = false 

The future of Icedove

What is the future of the upstream Thunderbird project and consequently the Icedove package(s) in Debian?

Mozilla has changed their approach to developing and managing Thunderbird. A very public announcement was made about this on 8 July 2012. Since this announcement Mozilla decided to change the focus of their own contributions to the project and will put more emphasis on their web projects and of course on FirefoxOS. Mozilla plans to open the Thunderbird development to a more community driven project but will also be there for security and stability maintenance. There are no plans to close the packaging of Icedove from the Debian side. There is a project webpage from the developer Bejamin Smedbergs which shows the activity from the Mozilla project members. See also the Mozilla TB ESR Release Plan and on the Rapid Release Calendar. As long as Mozilla will provide ESR versions there will be packaged versions of those inside the various release of Debian. The current stable release Debian Wheezy is getting Icedove 17 versions as security updates from the Thunderbird 17 ESR releases. This happen because the Thunderbird 10 ESR circle is marked as end of life and no more security updated will be provided by Mozilla. After the Thunderbird 17 ESR cycle version 24 will be the next ESR release by Mozilla. If possible version 24 will replace version 17 in stable.

It is important to look at this situation in perspective:

  • Even though Thunderbird receives less attention from Mozilla than before July 2012, the long term support is still significantly stronger than the support for many other open source projects. There are several examples of popular open source projects that have been completely abandoned by upstream but lived on nonetheless, procmail is one such example.

  • The Mozilla announcement doesn't mean that any features will go away, it just means new ones may not be added so quickly. Users and potential users should make any decision about their use of Thunderbird/Icedove based on merit alone, e.g. comparing the features available now against the features in similar packages.

Reporting Bugs

Sometimes Icedove is not doing things as expected or some error happen. Then you need help or want to report the issue. Before you do this please visit the web pages Bugs in icedove, calendar-google-provider, calendar-timezones, icedove-dbg, icedove-dev, iceowl-extension and/or icedove-l10n-* and check if you find a solution for your problem or some other bug is closed to yours reported. Please do this careful! Because errors reported twice or more take a lot of time to coordinate!

Your problem isn't there or you want to provide extra information to an already opened bug? You can report it best with reportbug, really! :-) But you can also use an EMail client to send bug reports. To do this please visit Bugs and Reporting.

Before you send your report, please check if you can append some useful information for the developer! Please read the following chapter for this. If you use a version from testing or unstable/experimental please check also if a similar problem is reported to the Bugzilla on Mozilla and provide the URL to that bug entry if possible. This helps the developer (and the reporter too) to get automatic notifications if the status of the upstream bug has changed. If you are an advanced user and you can't find the bug in the database on Mozilla you can create there your new bug report and then open a bug report on the Debian with the upstream URL to this bug. This helps the package maintainers too.

And if you are an expert and can help to scaling down the bug list any help is appreciated! If you can provide some patches to improve Icedove or some other package please don't hesitate to write a mail to the packages maintainer!


Sometimes you need some debug information for tracking down problems, for example to give the maintainer more useful information if you have some trouble with Icedove. To get a digestible output with gdb while debugging the application (Icedove and used libraries) must have so named "debugging symbols". For the normal use this symbols inside the application are not necessary. To track file actions there is the possibility to use strace to monitor this.


There some dependencies to get a proper debug output. May be you need to install some additional packages. Once the applications with the debugging symbols and the tools to get the output while debugging. Both are necessary. You will need to install the following packages.

additional packages

gdb icedove-dbg strace

Starting Debugging

If these packages are installed you have to start Icedove from a terminal. This is quite simple, you have to give an argument -g to the starting wrapper script of Icedove if the version is <= v10.0.x (like Wheezy or Squeeze). If you use a version of Icedove if > 10.0.x (like stable-security, testing or above) the debugging call has changed. This should be true for all Wheezy installations with security update support (this the default setting while installation). The debugging must be called by the wrapper script /usr/lib/icedove/run-mozilla.sh with option g or debug and the Icedove binary /usr/lib/icedove/icedove-bin. If Icedove is crashing down please also append -safe-mode to prevent the usage of any extension or themes inside Icedove.

   1 # use this if you are running a plain Wheezy without security support (oldstable)
   2 user@pc:~ $ LANG= icedove -g [-safe-mode] 2>&1 | tee /tmp/icedove-gdb-$(dpkg-query -s icedove | grep Version | cut -f3 -d":")_$(date +%F_%T).log 

   1 # use this if you are running stable-security, testing or greater
   2 user@pc:~ $ LANG= /usr/lib/icedove/run-mozilla.sh -g /usr/lib/icedove/icedove-bin --safe-mode 2>&1 | tee /tmp/icedove-gdb-$(dpkg-query -s icedove | grep Version | cut -f3 -d":")_$(date +%F_%T).log 

This starts the gdb with Icedove as program to debug and logs all the output to /tmp/icedove-gdb-[version]_[timestamp].log. The file can be sent to a bug report as attachment (consider about packing this file it before!). This is mostly needed if your Icedove is crashing at some action. Please check the output of the gdb! If you see something like no debugging symbols found check the packages you have installed. With no debugging symbols it's worthless to go further! The next steps are telling gdb to avoid stopping at certain signals with the "handle" command, then to start the Icedove inside the gdb with the "run" command.

   1 (gdb) handle SIGPIPE nostop
   2 Signal        Stop      Print   Pass to program Description
   3 SIGPIPE       No        Yes     Yes             Broken pipe
   4 (gdb) handle SIG38 nostop
   5 Signal        Stop      Print   Pass to program Description
   6 SIG38         No        Yes     Yes             Real-time event 38
   7 (gdb) run

The start of Icedove is taking a little time, after a few seconds you will see (hopefully) the normal GUI screen of Icedove. In the terminal there must be some information to see, in normal case the starting and terminating of Threads, this should looks like this.

   1 user@pc:~ $ # !!! use one of the above described command lines !!!
   2 /usr/lib/icedove/run-mozilla.sh -g /usr/lib/icedove/icedove-bin
   3 MOZILLA_FIVE_HOME=/usr/lib/icedove
   4   LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/lib/icedove:/usr/lib/icedove/plugins:/usr/lib/icedove
   5 DISPLAY=:0
   6 DYLD_LIBRARY_PATH=/usr/lib/icedove:/usr/lib/icedove
   7      LIBRARY_PATH=
   8        SHLIB_PATH=/usr/lib/icedove:/usr/lib/icedove
   9           LIBPATH=/usr/lib/icedove:/usr/lib/icedove
  10        ADDON_PATH=
  11       MOZ_PROGRAM=/usr/lib/icedove/icedove-bin
  12       MOZ_TOOLKIT=
  13         moz_debug=1
  14      moz_debugger=
  15 moz_debugger_args=
  16 /usr/bin/gdb  --args /usr/lib/icedove/icedove-bin
  17 GNU gdb (GDB) 7.4.1-debian
  18 Copyright (C) 2012 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
  19 License GPLv3+: GNU GPL version 3 or later <http://gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html>
  20 This is free software: you are free to change and redistribute it.
  21 There is NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.  Type "show copying"
  22 and "show warranty" for details.
  23 This GDB was configured as "x86_64-linux-gnu".
  24 For bug reporting instructions, please see:
  25 <http://www.gnu.org/software/gdb/bugs/>...
  26 Reading symbols from /usr/lib/icedove/icedove-bin...Reading symbols from /usr/lib/debug/usr/lib/icedove/icedove-bin...done.
  27 done.
  28 (gdb) run
  29 Starting program: /usr/lib/icedove/icedove-bin 
  30 [Thread debugging using libthread_db enabled]
  31 Using host libthread_db library "/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libthread_db.so.1".
  32 [New Thread 0x7fffe5993700 (LWP 9761)]
  33 [New Thread 0x7fffe4ad0700 (LWP 9762)]
  34 [New Thread 0x7fffe42cf700 (LWP 9763)]
  35 [New Thread 0x7fffe36ff700 (LWP 9764)]
  36 [New Thread 0x7fffe23ff700 (LWP 9765)]
  37 [New Thread 0x7fffe1bfe700 (LWP 9766)]
  38 [New Thread 0x7fffe03f6700 (LWP 9767)]
  39 [New Thread 0x7fffdf7ff700 (LWP 9768)]
  40 [New Thread 0x7fffdeffe700 (LWP 9769)]
  41 [New Thread 0x7fffddfff700 (LWP 9770)]
  42 [New Thread 0x7fffdc0ff700 (LWP 9771)]
  43 [Thread 0x7fffe03f6700 (LWP 9767) exited]
  44 [Thread 0x7fffdeffe700 (LWP 9769) exited]

If a crash occurs and Icedove stops working and quits, it's possible to get a backtrace of this. For this run the command bt in the terminal there the gdb runs. Remind that Icedove is programmed as a multi threaded program, because of this we want to see all these threads. For more information about gbd around this take a look on How to get a backtrace.

   1 (gdb) thread apply all bt

This gives out a collection of the last status from the stack. This information is needed if you reporting errors with a crashing Icedove.


In some special cases a crash of Icedove can produce a crash of your X-Server. If this happen you have to start your Icedove from a screen session. Without this you can't see the output of the backtrace because the terminal is also cleaned up while the X-Server is crashed. After you relogin to your X-Sessions restart your terminal and reattach the screen session with screen -r.

Debugging of file system activity

It is also possible to see what Icedove is trying do on the file system. For this you can use the tool strace. For this Icedove must also started from a terminal. strace logs every system call Icedove makes, and this is a lot! So it is useful to log directly to a file. Note that the file will growing very fast! Best practice is to write the file to the /tmp folder. The file will be dropped if you turn off your PC.

   1 user@pc:~ $ strace -e file -f -s2048 -o /tmp/icedove_dbg.txt icedove

Debugging Icedove Activity

The activity of Icedove itself can also be logged. For this you have to tell Icedove what component(s) with which level (1 to 5, but just use always 5!) into which file you are want to log. This can be done from the CLI (Command Line Interface -> the console) or via extra start script nor extra setting. Possible components are the MCD (MissionControlDesktop), SMTP or IMAP. If you want to log just all components you can use the word 'all' for all the components.

For example to log the Imap activity with level 5 to ~/icedove-activity.log from the console do this

   1 user@pc:~ $ NSPR_LOG_MODULES=IMAP:5 NSPR_LOG_FILE=~/icedove-activity.log icedove
   2 user@pc:~ $ # or IMAP and SMTP together
   3 user@pc:~ $NSPR_LOG_MODULES=IMAP:5,SMTP:5 NSPR_LOG_FILE=~/icedove-activity.log icedove

Attention! The log file can be growing fast and getting big. If you want to send this file to a bug report don't forget it to pack!

You can also put you requirements to an extra file and export/unexport the variables. You may want to do this

   1 # icedove-dbg.sh
   2 # just execute this script to setup this variables
   3 # options for NSPR_LOG_MODULES are
   4 # MCD, SMTP, IMAP or just 'all'
   7 # if you want all components use this
   8 #export NSPR_LOG_MODULES=all:5
   9 export NSPR_LOG_FILE=~/icedove-dbg.txt


We currently don't create Backport versions for the various release platforms Wheezy and Jessie. There is an agreement with the Release-Team to create and upload security updates instead for Icedove and related packages if there is a new version hitting the ESR release circle. So please ensure you have added the repository for security updates shown on https://www.debian.org/security/ for Jessie and with additions for Wheezy, you will get the recent version automatically. If you unsure how to modify the sources.list use the selector on mozilla.debian.net.

Squeeze users please update to the Jessie release!

l10n for iceowl-extension

If you using the iceowl-extension extension within a Wheezy installation you won't getting the respective l10n package versions via the release or security updates as there was never a package version for iceowl-l10n in the Wheezy release. So if you want to use the calendar in Icedove (aka iceowl-extension) with your locales in your native language please install the needed language pack by selecting on iceowl-l10n Sourcefiles for Jessie.

Known Packaging Problems

There are some problems that needs a lot of time to work on or some rethinking.

  • migration, transition of $HOME/.mozilla-thunderbird to $HOME/.icedove or $HOME/.mozilla/thunderbird and /etc/thunderbird to /etc/icedove
  • restructuring dependencies for locales of icedove (l10n)
  • remove the Debian Branding, we can use the official naming and logos (816679#)

More useful informations

There are more resources to find informations for working with Icedove.

Talks about Icedove

CategorySoftware | CategoryNetworkApplication | ?CategoryMailUserAgent | CategoryIcedove