Introduction to Thunderbird

Thunderbird is a stand-alone mail/news client based on the Mozilla codebase. It uses the Gecko rendering engine to enable it to display and compose HTML emails.



Development versions of BLFS may not build or run some packages properly if dependencies have been updated since the most recent stable versions of the book.

Package Information

Thunderbird Dependencies


Autoconf-2.13, Cbindgen-0.24.3, dbus-glib-0.112, both GTK+-3.24.34 and GTK+-2.24.33, LLVM-14.0.6 including clang, nodejs-16.16.0, PulseAudio-16.1 (or alsa-lib- if you edit the mozconfig; although it is now deprecated by mozilla), Python-3.10.5 (rebuilt with the sqlite module), startup-notification-0.12, Zip-3.0, UnZip-6.0, and yasm-1.3.0




If you don't install recommended dependencies, then internal copies of those packages will be used. They might be tested to work, but they can be out of date or contain security holes.


Cyrus SASL-2.1.28, Doxygen-1.9.4, GConf-3.2.6, Wget-1.21.3, Wireless Tools-29, and watchman

User Notes:

Installation of Thunderbird



The build process for Thunderbird can use 8GB+ of RAM when linking. Make sure that you have adequate swap or RAM before continuing.

The configuration of Thunderbird is accomplished by creating a mozconfig file containing the desired configuration options. A default mozconfig is created below. To see the entire list of available configuration options (and a brief description of each), issue mozilla/configure --help. Create the file with the following command:

cat > mozconfig << "EOF"
# If you have a multicore machine, all cores will be used.

# If you have installed wireless-tools comment out this line:
ac_add_options --disable-necko-wifi

# Uncomment the following option if you have not installed PulseAudio
#ac_add_options --disable-pulseaudio
# and uncomment this if you installed alsa-lib instead of PulseAudio
#ac_add_options --enable-alsa

# Comment out following options if you have not installed
# recommended dependencies:
ac_add_options --with-system-libevent
ac_add_options --with-system-libvpx
ac_add_options --with-system-nspr
ac_add_options --with-system-nss
ac_add_options --with-system-icu

# The elf-hack causes failed installs on some machines.
# It is supposed to improve startup time and it shrinks
# by a few MB - comment this if you know your machine is not affected.
ac_add_options --disable-elf-hack

# The BLFS editors recommend not changing anything below this line:
ac_add_options --prefix=/usr
ac_add_options --enable-application=comm/mail

ac_add_options --disable-crashreporter
ac_add_options --disable-updater
ac_add_options --disable-debug
ac_add_options --disable-debug-symbols
ac_add_options --disable-tests

ac_add_options --enable-optimize=-O2
ac_add_options --enable-linker=gold
ac_add_options --enable-strip
ac_add_options --enable-install-strip

ac_add_options --enable-official-branding

ac_add_options --enable-system-ffi
ac_add_options --enable-system-pixman

ac_add_options --with-system-jpeg
ac_add_options --with-system-png
ac_add_options --with-system-zlib

# Using sandboxed wasm libraries has been moved to all builds instead
# of only mozilla automation builds. It requires extra llvm packages
# and was reported to seriously slow the build. Disable it.
ac_add_options --without-wasm-sandboxed-libraries

A change in cbindgen-0.24.2 causes a symbol to now be output by cbindgen, but it has already been defined in a header. This sed prevents the build eventually failing:

sed -i '/ROOT_CLIP_CHAIN/d' gfx/webrender_bindings/webrender_ffi.h

If building on a 32 bit machine, the following sed works around an issue with an incompatible double type in one header file:

case "$(uname -m)" in
    i?86) sed -e '/typedef[ ]*double/s/double/long double/' \
              -i modules/fdlibm/src/math_private.h ;;

Now invoke the Python mach script to compile Thunderbird:



If you are compiling this package in chroot you must do two things. First, as the root user, ensure that /dev/shm is mounted. If you do not do this, the Python configuration will fail with a traceback report referencing /usr/lib/pythonN.N/multiprocessing/ Run:

mountpoint -q /dev/shm || mount -t tmpfs devshm /dev/shm

Second, either as the root user export the $SHELL environment variable using export SHELL=/bin/sh or else prepend SHELL=/bin/sh when running the ./mach commands.

export MOZBUILD_STATE_PATH=./mozbuild                 &&
./mach configure                                      &&
./mach build

This package does not come with a test suite.

Install Thunderbird by running the following commands as the root user:


Empty the environment variables which were set above:


Command Explanations

MACH_BUILD_PYTHON_NATIVE_PACKAGE_SOURCE=system: Use the system python to create a virtual environment for mach without downloading any python wheels.

./mach configure: This validates the supplied dependencies and the mozconfig.

./mach build --verbose: Use this alternative if you need details of which files are being compiled, together with any C or C++ flags being used.

./mach build -jN: The build should, by default, use all the online CPU cores. If using all the cores causes the build to swap because you have insufficient memory, using fewer cores can be faster.

CC=gcc CXX=g++: BLFS used to prefer to use gcc and g++ instead of upstream's defaults of the clang programs. With the release of gcc-12 the build takes longer with gcc and g++, primarily because of extra warnings, and is bigger. Set these environment variables before you run the configure script if you wish to continue to use gcc, g++.

Configuring Thunderbird

Configuration Information

If your Window or Desktop Manager does not allow you to configure a default browser, you can add a configuration parameter to Thunderbird so that a browser will start when you click on an Internet/intranet/local URL. The procedure to check or modify any of the configuration parameters is quite simple and the instructions here can be used to view or modify any of the parameters.

First, open the configuration dialog by opening the Edit drop-down menu. Choose Preferences and then scroll down to the bottom of the page. Then, click the Config Editor button. Click on the I accept the risk! button. This will display a list of the configuration preferences and information related to each one. You can use the Filter: bar to enter search criteria and narrow down the listed items. Changing a preference can be done using two methods. One, if the preference has a boolean value (True/False), simply double-click on the preference to toggle the value and two, for other preferences simply right-click on the desired line, choose Modify from the menu and change the value. Creating new preference items is accomplished in the same way, except choose New from the menu and provide the desired data into the fields when prompted.

The configuration preference item you need to check so that Thunderbird uses a specified browser is the which should be set to the path of the desired browser, e.g. /usr/bin/firefox.



There is a multitude of configuration parameters you can tweak to customize Thunderbird. A very extensive, but not so up-to-date list of these parameters can be found at

If you use a desktop environment such as GNOME or KDE, a desktop file thunderbird.desktop may be created, in order to include a Thunderbird entry in the menu. Run the following commands as the root user:

mkdir -pv /usr/share/{applications,pixmaps} &&

cat > /usr/share/applications/thunderbird.desktop << "EOF" &&
[Desktop Entry]
Name=Thunderbird Mail
Comment=Send and receive mail with Thunderbird
GenericName=Mail Client
Exec=thunderbird %u

ln -sfv /usr/lib/thunderbird/chrome/icons/default/default256.png \


Installed Program: thunderbird
Installed Libraries: Numerous libraries and modules in the /usr/lib/thunderbird directory
Installed Directory: /usr/lib/thunderbird

Short Descriptions


is Mozilla's email and newsgroup client