Installing Thunderbird on Linux

This article explains how to download and install Thunderbird on Linux.

This article only applies to Linux. For instructions to install Thunderbird on Mac, see Installing Thunderbird on Mac.For instructions to install Thunderbird on Windows, see Installing Thunderbird on Windows.
Note: if you have Thunderbird installed via multiple methods (deb, rpm, flatpak, snap, etc) you may have multiple application icons that are identical. To avoid this we recommend only installing it via one method at a time.

Install from Flatpak (Recommended)

The Thunderbird flatpak package is maintained directly by the Thunderbird staff, as well as the tarballs (see the official 115 announcement).

To install Thunderbird from Flatpak, you will need to install flatpak and setup flathub if your system does not already have this. Flathub is the central repository for flatpaks and contains well maintained instructions on setting up flatpak installs for various distributions.

Once flatpak and flathub are all set up, you can either download and install it all from the command line, or separately download the flatpakref file and head to the command line to install it.

How to install with the command line (easier and much cooler)

flatpak install flathub org.mozilla.Thunderbird

How to install with the Graphical User Interface

  1. Visit Thunderbird on Flathub.
  2. Click Install and follow the instructions. You can find more options in the dropdown menu next to that button, if necessary.

Install from Snap

The Thunderbird snap package is currently maintained by Canonical.

To install Thunderbird from Snap:

  1. Install Snap on your computer.
  2. Visit Snapcraft's Store page.
  3. Click Install and follow the instructions.

Installing from your distribution package manager

To install Thunderbird using your distribution package manager, please refer to your Linux distribution's documentation. This method has the benefit of ensuring that Thunderbird and all the required libraries are installed and configured optimally for your distribution.

However, there may be a delay between when your distribution provides a new version or update, and when an official new version or update is available at Thunderbird.net or in the flatpak. Your distribution may also provide Thunderbird without the Thunderbird branding.

Installing Thunderbird manually (For advanced users)

WARNING: This instruction set is specifically useful for the adventurous users that wish to install Thunderbird beta or daily. It is also useful in some troubleshooting scenarios. Unless you know what you are doing and are familiar with using a command line, please install Thunderbird through your distro’s repositories
NOTE: Before you install Thunderbird manually, please make sure that your computer has the required libraries installed. Missing libraries may cause Thunderbird to be inoperable.

Thunderbird Flavors

In general, there is a stable Thunderbird, beta Thunderbird, and daily (also known as nightly) Thunderbird. This section will show you where to get each of these.

Thunderbird Stable

As stated before, if you are looking to install the latest stable version of Thunderbird, you should consider using the flatpak or installing it from your distro’s repositories. For a complete list of trusted sources of Thunderbird stable, please refer to Well known sources for downloading the Thunderbird email software.

Thunderbird Beta

If you would like to install Thunderbird beta, please see our page on Thunderbird beta and click on the Download Beta button at the top of the page to download the latest beta tarball.

You may choose where to unpack this tarball based on the type of installation you would like, system or local (see below for both instruction sets).

Thunderbird Daily (aka Nightly)

If you need more adventure in your life, go try out Thunderbird Daily. Similar to beta, download the appropriate nightly build tarball and unpack it in a location suitable for your type of installation, whether system or local (see below for both instruction sets).

Installation Location

When installing Thunderbird manually, you can choose to install it either in the system or home folder. Below you will find instructions for both.

System Thunderbird installation (for advanced users)

  • To install Thunderbird with this method, you must be able to login as root or execute sudo commands.
  • This installation will have priority over the Thunderbird version installed through your package manager. To run the version installed with your package manager, you will need to execute the binary from a terminal. To do so in most distributions, open a terminal and type: /usr/bin/thunderbird.
  1. Download the Thunderbird you’d like to install: stable, beta, or daily (see above for links to those download locations). It will be in the form of thunderbird-<version>.tar.bz2.
  2. Open a terminal and go to the folder where your download has been saved. For example:
    cd ~/Downloads
  3. Extract the downloaded file contents. This will create a folder named thunderbird. After that, you can delete the archive:
    tar xjf thunderbird-*.tar.bz2
    rm thunderbird-*.tar.bz2
  4. Move the uncompressed Thunderbird folder to /opt:
    sudo mv thunderbird /opt
  5. Create a symlink to the Thunderbird executable:
    sudo ln -s /opt/thunderbird/thunderbird /usr/local/bin/thunderbird
  6. Download a copy of the desktop file:
    wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/mozilla/sumo-kb/main/installing-thunderbird-linux/thunderbird.desktop -P /usr/local/share/applications

Alternatively, if wget is not installed on your computer, go to the URL mentioned above, right-click on the page to open the contextual menu and select Save Page As. After you downloaded the file, move it to /usr/local/share/applications.

If the desktop icon does not exist among your other applications, > Help > Troubleshooting Information. In the Application Basics section of the Troubleshooting Information page, the value of Application Binary should be /opt/thunderbird/thunderbird-bin

Local Thunderbird installation in a user's account

If you don't have access to login as root or execute sudo commands, or just prefer to use a local Thunderbird in your account, you can make a local installation. You can also do this to have multiple Thunderbird installations for different builds.

  1. Download the Thunderbird you’d like to install: stable, beta, or daily (see above for links to those download locations). It will be in the form of thunderbird-<version>.tar.bz2.
  2. Open a terminal and go to the folder where your download has been saved. For example:
    cd ~/Downloads
  3. Extract the downloaded file contents. This will create a folder named thunderbird. After that, you can delete the archive:
    tar xjf thunderbird-*.tar.bz2
    rm thunderbird-*.tar.bz2
  4. If you have downloaded a specific build, you may want to rename the uncompressed folder accordingly. For example:
    mv thunderbird thunderbird-beta
  5. You can leave the uncompressed folder in your download folder, or move it to another place in your account. For example:
    mv thunderbird ~/thunderbird
  6. Thunderbird is now ready to be used. You can run it directly from the terminal:
    ~/thunderbird/thunderbird &
  7. Create a desktop shortcut. Note this step may be different in your Linux distribution. (Some Linux distros will allow you to right-click on the desktop and choose Create launcher from the context menu):
    wget https://raw.githubusercontent.com/mozilla/sumo-kb/main/installing-thunderbird-linux/thunderbird.desktop -P ~/.local/bin/thunderbird
  8. Since the icon for the desktop shortcut will be found in ~/thunderbird/chrome/icons/default/ and the executable is in ~/thunderbird, we need to change these lines in our desktop file that we just downloaded:
    sed -i.bak -e "s|Exec=thunderbird %u|Exec=$HOME/thunderbird/thunderbird %u|" $HOME/.local/share/applications/thunderbird.desktop

    sed -i.bak -e "s|Icon=/opt/thunderbird/chrome/icons/default/default128.png|Icon=$HOME/thunderbird/chrome/icons/default/default128.png|" $HOME/.local/share/applications/thunderbird.desktop

Now, your Thunderbird application icon should be found among your other applications and you can launch Thunderbird as you expect.

Note: This method doesn't change file types binding on the system, so mailto links from other applications will not open in the local installation. You will need to copy the email address and paste it manually in Thunderbird.

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