Installing Thunderbird on Linux

This article will show you how to install Thunderbird on Linux. For other operating systems, see Installing Thunderbird on Windows and Installing Thunderbird on Mac.

Many Linux distributions include Thunderbird by default, and most have a package management system that enables you to easily install Thunderbird. Generally, you should install from the package management system, because it will:

  • Ensure that you have all the required libraries
  • Install Thunderbird in a way that works best with your distribution
  • Create shortcuts to launch Thunderbird
  • Make Thunderbird available to all users of your computer
  • Make removing Thunderbird work the same as removing any other application

Package management also has some disadvantages:

  • It may not give you the latest version of Thunderbird
  • It may give you a version without Thunderbird branding

Installing from a package manager

To install Thunderbird using the package manager, please refer to the documentation of the Linux distribution you're using.

Installing outside of a package manager

Complete instructions for installing Thunderbird outside of package management may be available at your distribution's support website. For example:

  • Before you install Thunderbird, make sure that your computer has the required libraries installed. Missing libraries will cause Thunderbird to be inoperable.
  • The installation file provided by Mozilla in .tar.bz2 format does not contain sources but pre-compiled binary files, therefore you can simply unpack and run them. There is no need to compile the program from source.
  • The following instructions will install Thunderbird into your home directory, and only the current user will be able to run it.
  1. Download Thunderbird from the Thunderbird download page to your home directory.
  2. Open a Terminal and go to your home directory: cd ~
  3. Extract the contents of the downloaded file: tar xjf thunderbird-*.tar.bz2
  4. Close Thunderbird if it's open.
  5. To start Thunderbird, run the thunderbird script in the thunderbird folder: ~/thunderbird/thunderbird

Thunderbird should now start. You can then create a launcher on your desktop to run this command.

libstdc++5 error

As noted above, you need to install the required libraries for Thunderbird to work. Many distributions don't include libstdc++5 by default.

"Thunderbird not installed" message or wrong version of Thunderbird starts

If Thunderbird is installed following the instructions given above, it must be started (in a Terminal or in a launcher on the Desktop, for example) using the command: ~/thunderbird/thunderbird

If you try to start Thunderbird in a Terminal with the command: thunderbird, it will either start the package-manager-installed version of Thunderbird or will tell you the program is not installed.


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