How To Setup Thunderbird + Lightning + DavMail On Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx)

As the title suggests, I’m going to take you through exact steps on how to setup Thunderbird + Lightning + DavMail on Ubuntu 10.04 for your corporate email and calendaring (both hosted on Microsoft Exchange server) needs. Let’s save the debate on why did I chose this particular combo only for some other day. So let’s get started.

Thunderbird doesn’t come pre-installed with Ubuntu 10.04, so we will need to install Thunderbird first. We will be using the Synaptic Package Manager and the aptitude utility that comes with Ubuntu for all the installations. When I am writing this, the latest versions for Thunderbird, Lightning and DavMail are 3.1, 1.0b2 and 3.6.6-1032 respectively.

Setup Thunderbird

Install Thunderbird

Open the Synaptic Package Manager from System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager.

System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager

Search for “thunderbird”, select the entry “thunderbird”, right click and mark it for installation. Apply the changes.

For those who are more comfortable with text commands, fire up a Terminal from Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal and install Thunderbird using the apt-get utility.

$ sudo apt-get install thunderbird

A shortcut will be created for you in Applications -> Internet -> Thunderbird. You can either launch Thunderbird from there or just use the Terminal command “thunderbird”. Go ahead and launch Thunderbird.

Now we will setup the mail account.

Create Mail Account

If you are launching the Thunderbird for the first time, you will be greeted with a wizard to create a new mail account.

If you already have a mail account setup and want to create another mail account; go to File -> New -> Mail Account and you will be greeted with the same dialogue shown above.

File -> New -> Mail Account

Before we go any further, make sure you have the necessary information to setup your mail account. You will have to find out the incoming and outgoing mail server for your mail account and the other settings for both these servers as well.

In the Mail Account Setup dialogue box, fill in the information (Your Name, email id and password) and click continue. Thunderbird will now try to find out the right incoming/outgoing mail servers for your account and other settings as well. Once proper settings have been entered, click re-test Configuration to make sure that both the servers are reachable as per the settings. When everything is in place, you will see green dots along side both the incoming and outgoing servers. Now go ahead and click “Create Account”.

As soon as you click create account, you will see your mail folders getting populated. As we have created the account using IMAP, all of your folders may not appear. To make sure all the folders appear, right click on the account and select “Subscribe”.

A Subscribe dialogue box will appear, from where you can check all the folders you want to subscribe to.

So the email is all set. You should be able to send and receive emails using Thunderbird now. That was easy, isn’t it? Let’s go on to setup Lightning and DavMail to setup calendaring.

Setup Lightning + DavMail

Install Lightning

Lightning is a plug-in for Thunderbird which enables you to have a calendaring system right inside Thunderbird. Download the Lightning XPI file from the Thunderbird Add-ons website here. Install the Lightning add-on in Thunderbird by Tools -> Add-ons -> Extensions -> Install.

Once you install the Lightning add-on, you would see a new menu called “Events and Tasks” added in Thunderbird.

Now we will install and setup DavMail to talk to Exchange server using CalDav and LDAP.

Setup DavMail

DavMail is a free and open source tool that can talk to Microsoft Exchange server over multiple protocols. Quoting an excerpt from the davmail website –

DavMail is a POP/IMAP/SMTP/Caldav/LDAP exchange gateway allowing users to use any mail/calendar client (e.g. Thunderbird with Lightning or Apple iCal) with an Exchange server, even from the internet or behind a firewall through Outlook Web Access.

Install DavMail

Download the dev package for DavMail from here and install it using GDebi Package Installer. A shortcut gets created under Applications -> Internet -> DavMail to launch it. So go ahead and start the DavMail tool.

In the DavMail main application window (as shown above), enter your OWA (Outlook Web Access) URL in the text box, it is typically the exchange server name followed by /exchange as show in the image. Uncheck everything except Caldav HTTP port and Local LDAP port as we are not going to use anything else. Click Save. If all went fine, it shows a tool-tip like below.

Create Lightning Calendar

Now lets go back to Thunderbird and open the Calendar tab using Events and Tasks -> Calendar.

Right click in the blank area on the left and select New Calendar. You will see a new Calendar setup wizard. Select On the Network and click Next.

In the next window, select CalDav as the format and enter http://localhost:1080/users//calendar as the Location.

Format: CalDav

Location: http://localhost:1080/users/<>/calendar

In next window, enter a name for the calendar, select a color and assign an email-id to the calendar to send notification emails.

Click next and you should see all your calendar events getting populated one by one, like shown below.

Next thing is to setup an LDAP directory in Address Book to use while composing messages, creating calendar invites to see other people’s free/busy status. Open Address Book from Thunderbird via Tools -> Address Book. Now to create a new LDAP Directory, go to File -> New -> LDAP Directory.

In the Directory Server Properties, fill in the following details.

Name: <Any name you want>

Hostname: <hostname of the LDAP server>

Base DN: <this you need to figure out from your network admin>

Port Number: 1389 <The Local LDAP port number we had set while setting up DavMail>

Bind DN: <this you need to figure out from your network admin>

Click OK. So last thing remaining now is to change the mail account to use this LDAP Directory while composing messages. From Thunderbird, go to Edit -> Account Settings. Select Composition and Addressing under the mail account we created above. For Addressing, select Use a different LDAP server and select the LDAP Directory we created above in the drop down box.

Now we are all set. Whenever you compose a message to anyone, just type in first few characters of the recipient and LDAP should auto-complete the addresses. While creating a new calendar invite, you should be able to see the Free/Busy status of the invitees. When you receive a calendar invite, you will see buttons for Accept, Decline, Tentative right in the email message itself.

The combination of Thunderbird + Lightning + DavMail has worked like a charm for me. The integration between the 3 is very seamless and all are very lightweight.

Hope this post helps you setup this tools quickly and get you running. Good Luck.

Author: Ronak Gandhi

I'm a software developer, who is also passionate about driving, traveling, automobiles, photography, computers and games. TT (Ping Pong as some people say) is the latest entry to my list of hobbies. I'm slowly getting better, but not there yet.

13 thoughts on “How To Setup Thunderbird + Lightning + DavMail On Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx)”

  1. Our Exchange server uses 2 factor authentication with a single username, a password and a security token. Have you figured out how to configure DavMail to interact with this kind of server setup?

  2. Very nice! Just started a new job where I have the luxury of using Linux on my workstation. Was dreading having to do without shared calendaring with my Exchange enabled colleagues but this post hooked me up! I’m well integrated with my Microsoftie colleagues thanks to you.

  3. Using the guide here -
    I was able to setup Exchange email, contacts and calendar without using DavMail

  4. thanks for this usefull information. However, have received emails from folder on server i.e. i have a directory on exchange server and emails are receiving on that directory. But Davmail is not downloading any folder email. It is just downloading the email from inbox. Can you plz help me in this regard?

    1. I don’t have the setup right now, but IIRC you need to go to properties of the folder. There you will find an option which says something like – “check for this folder along with Inbox when checking for email in this account”.

  5. That was pretty interesting. I randomly stumbled upon this blog when I was busy with studying on the computer. Just felt the urge to let you know I liked your site and keep on doing what you’re doin. Don’t forget… enjoy the journey, don’t put too much emphasis on the end result. Kind regards, Matt Mcdonald

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