How to Install Thunderbird as DEB (Not Snap) in Ubuntu 24.04

Last updated: May 18, 2024 — 4 Comments

For Thunderbird users who don’t like Snap package, here’s step by step guide shows how to replace the pre-installed snap version of the mail client with classic Deb package in Ubuntu 24.04 LTS.

Like Firefox, the Thunderbird Email Client in Ubuntu 24.04 has been replaced as Snap package that runs in sandbox! If you don’t like the change, then here are 2 other choices:

  • Mozilla Team PPA
  • Mozilla’s official Linux Tarball.

Step 1: Remove the pre-installed Snap Package

NOTE: Please backup your important data before uninstalling the Thunderbird package.

It’s OK to keep the Thunderbird Snap package, but after installing the DEB version there will be duplicated app icons in start menu.

To uninstall the Snap package, press Ctrl+Alt+T to open terminal and run command:

sudo snap remove --purge thunderbird

Also, run command to remove the empty .deb package, which is a wrapper that redirects to the Snap package:

sudo apt remove thunderbird

Step 2: Install Thunderbird as DEB package

The Ubuntu Team members have been maintaining the “Mozilla Team” PPA for many years. The PPA contains the latest Thunderbird Stable, Firefox ESR, and Firefox stable as .deb packages.

The PPA is “official” but maintained by Ubuntu Team. So far, it supports Ubuntu 24.04, Ubuntu 23.10, Ubuntu 22.04, Ubuntu 20.04, and old Ubuntu 18.04/16.04 ESM.

1. Add the PPA

First, press Ctrl+Alt+T on keyboard to open up a terminal window. When it opens, run command to add the PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/ppa

Type user password (no asterisk feedback, so just type in mind) when it asks and hit Enter to continue.

2. Setup PPA Priority

The Thunderbird DEB package in system repository is at version 1:115.8.1+build1+snap2 at the moment is updated to 2:1snap1-0ubuntu1″, which is higher than the one in PPA. So, you need to setup a higher priority for the PPA.

To do so, run command to create & edit config file:

sudo nano /etc/apt/preferences.d/mozillateamppa

Here I user nano text editor works in most desktops. You may replace it with gnome-text-editor for default GNOME, or other editor depends on your desktop environment.

When file opens, paste following lines and save it:

Package: thunderbird*
Pin: release o=LP-PPA-mozillateam
Pin-Priority: 1001

For nano, press Ctrl+S to save, and Ctrl+X to exit.

For choice, you may add 3 more lines below:

Package: thunderbird*
Pin: release o=Ubuntu
Pin-Priority: -1

It sets the  priority of thunderbird packages in system repository to -1, which will prevent from it being installed.

3. Install Thunderbird Deb package

Now, you need to run the command below to manually refresh system package cache:

sudo apt update

Finally, run apt install command to install the .deb package from PPA:

sudo apt install thunderbird

If you everything goes well, it should output that’s getting package from ppa.launchpadcontent.net

Another Way: Install Thunderbird from official Linux tarball

The PPA is the best choice for those who hate running the mail client in sandbox, IMO! Just for choice, user can choose the portable tarball offered by Mozilla.

1. First, click download the Linux tarball from Thunderbird website:

2. Then, open file manager, navigate to Downloads folder, and extract the Thunderbird tarball.

This is a portable package with no installation required. Just navigate to extracted folder, and double-click the “thunberbird” or “thunderbird-bin” file should launch the email client.

3. If you like the portable package, then you may move it to another location for long time use. And, then create a desktop entry for it, so you can launch it like other apps from start menu (or app grid).

In my case, I moved the “thunderbird” sub-folder into user’s .local folder (press Ctrl+H to view/hide the folder).

4. After last step, run the command below to create a soft link for the executable file to “.local/bin“. So your system know where to find the executable file. (NOTE: You can SKIP this step, instead add full PATH to file in next step 5).

ln -s ~/.local/thunderbird/thunderbird ~/.local/bin/thunderbird

Replace ~/.local/thunderbird if you moved the source folder to another directory.

Also, do the soft link for the app icon file:

mkdir -p ~/.local/share/icons
ln -s ~/.local/thunderbird/chrome/icons/default/default128.png ~/.local/share/icons/thunderbird.png


5. Finally, open “Files” and navigate to .local/share/applications (press Ctrl+H to view .local folder). In that folder, create an empty document and name to thunderbird.desktop and click editing it.

GNOME Desktop does not have graphical option to create new document out-of-the-box. Instead, you may launch “text editor” and save file to “.local/share/applications” after editing (through “Save as” dialog).

When file opens, paste following lines and save it.

[Desktop Entry]
Encoding=UTF-8
Name=Thunderbird
Comment=Send and receive mail with Thunderbird
GenericName=Mail Client
Keywords=Email;E-mail;Newsgroup;Feed;RSS
Exec=thunderbird %u
Terminal=false
X-MultipleArgs=false
Type=Application
Icon=thunderbird
Categories=Application;Network;Email;
MimeType=x-scheme-handler/mailto;application/x-xpinstall;x-scheme-handler/webcal;x-scheme-handler/mid;message/rfc822;
StartupNotify=true
Actions=Compose;Contacts

[Desktop Action Compose]
Name=Compose New Message
Exec=thunderbird -compose
OnlyShowIn=Messaging Menu;Unity;

[Desktop Action Contacts]
Name=Contacts
Exec=thunderbird -addressbook
OnlyShowIn=Messaging Menu;Unity;

NOTE: If you SKIPPED step 4, then you have to replace thunderbird in lines of “EXEC” with full path to the executable file (/home/YOUR_USER_NAME/.local/thunderbird/thunderbird according to step 3).
Also, replace thunderbird in line of “Icon” with full path to the icon file (/home/YOUR_USER_NAME/.local/thunderbird/chrome/icons/default/default128.png).

If everything’s done properly, you’ll see the new thunderbird icon in the start menu (or app grid).

How to Restore

To uninstall the Thunderbird package installed from PPA, open terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T) and run command:

sudo apt remove --autoremove thunderbird

And, remove the Mozilla Team PPA by running command:

sudo add-apt-repository --remove ppa:mozillateam/ppa

To uninstall the portable tarball package, just run command to delete the corresponding files:

rm -R ~/.local/thunderbird
rm ~/.local/bin/thunderbird ~/.local/share/icons/thunderbird.png ~/.local/share/applications/thunderbird.desktop

If you want to install back the stock Thunderbird Snap package, either use App Center or run commands:

  • First, update system package cache just in case:
    sudo apt update
  • Install the .deb package (after remove PPA) from system repository, which automatically redirect to the snap package:
    sudo apt install thunderbird

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I'm a freelance blogger who started using Ubuntu in 2007 and wishes to share my experiences and some useful tips with Ubuntu beginners and lovers. Please comment to let me know if the tutorial is outdated! And, notify me if you find any typo/grammar/language mistakes. English is not my native language. Contact me via [email protected] Buy me a coffee: https://ko-fi.com/ubuntuhandbook1

4 responses to How to Install Thunderbird as DEB (Not Snap) in Ubuntu 24.04

  1. There is no thunderbird any more in the PPA.

  2. This does not work for thunderbird for me. The snap version keeps coming back like a virus every couple of weeks despite the update to apt preferences..

    • Try setting low priority for the package in system repository, by adding few more lines in the config file under /etc/apt/preferences.d:

      Package: thunderbird*
      Pin: release o=Ubuntu
      Pin-Priority: -1

      According to apt preference, package with priority < 0 will be prevent from being installed.

  3. Thanks for that. I could understand snaps for apps like Spotify, etc, but why the heck Firefox and Thunderbird?

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