MozillaZine


Long-time TB profile not working (Linux)

User Help for Mozilla Thunderbird
Mr David

User avatar
 
Posts: 296
Joined: March 31st, 2004, 3:50 am
Location: RJLH--2.5 pints of beer in 11sec, University College, Oxford, 1955

Post Posted August 14th, 2022, 12:34 am

I use TB on an Ubuntu 20.04 system primarily to archive messages from my commercial IMAP email service provider and to search the archive from time to time. Previous normal use of this profile was within the last month.

Today there is a problem.

After starting TB the usual profile manager window quickly appears. I have only one profile and just the one is listed, all good.
After hitting enter the primary password entry pop-up window quickly appears.
Enter password, hit return key, password entry window vanishes, then there is a long pause (about 15sec) until TB launches.
Unfortunately both left and right panels are vacant, blank. None of my profile information is displayed, none is accessible.

When I try
Menu bar > Edit > Account Settings
or
Menu bar > Edit > Preferences
...nothing happens.

I have been using the same profile for more than 10y without issue. I have no idea what has gone wrong. I have not done anything to change TB. System has only had routine updates applied. Any updates to TB have been applied via Ubuntu package manager.

TB version is 91.11.0 (64-bit).

How to get my TB profile working again??

Help troubleshooting this problem would be greatly appreciated.
Last edited by DanRaisch on August 14th, 2022, 5:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: (Linux) added to subject line.
I have learned from my mistakes and I am sure I can repeat them exactly.

DanRaisch
Moderator

User avatar
 
Posts: 125629
Joined: September 23rd, 2004, 8:57 pm
Location: Somewhere on the right coast

Post Posted August 14th, 2022, 3:54 am

Does the same thing occur if you launch the application in Mozilla Safe Mode? http://kb.mozillazine.org/Safe_mode

Mr David

User avatar
 
Posts: 296
Joined: March 31st, 2004, 3:50 am
Location: RJLH--2.5 pints of beer in 11sec, University College, Oxford, 1955

Post Posted August 14th, 2022, 4:50 am

Following the Linux recipe for entering TB safe-mode given at the link above I entered the following line in terminal:

$~ thunderbird -safe-mode

That began the usual TB launch process as outlined in my first post, except after password entry stage TB's Troubleshoot Mode window appeared.

I had been able to try that previously when TB itself had launched after the 15sec delay with account/folder & message panes blank via the route:
Menu bar > Help > Troubleshoot Mode...

Approaching the same destination using the terminal command is a little bit easier & it cuts to the chase.

Troubleshoot Mode presents a number of options.
Firstly there's a pair of radio buttoned choices:
O--Disable all add-ons
O--Reset toolbars & controls
...and then along the bottom of the window there are three more choices:
a) Continue in Troubleshoot Mode
b) Quit
c) Make changes & restart

I tried every combination of these options I could think of. Unfortunately the problem persisted for all. The 15sec delay before final program launch was still happening too.
I have learned from my mistakes and I am sure I can repeat them exactly.

tanstaafl
Moderator

User avatar
 
Posts: 49405
Joined: July 30th, 2003, 5:06 pm

Post Posted August 14th, 2022, 1:44 pm

See http://kb.mozillazine.org/Toolbar_or_wi ... ot_working

You might try exiting Thunderbird and deleting the xulstore.json, directoryTree.json , foldertree.json and session.json files in your profile. They will be replaced by files with default values when you restart Thunderbird, so you will need to customize your toolbars again. Those files can get corrupted and mess up your windows layout.

FYI you can start in safe mode (now called troubleshoot mode in the user interface) by holding down the shift key when clicking on a shortcut.

A 15 second delay on startup would normally make me wonder if one or more inbox folders is corrupt. But you're using a IMAP account. Do you have a really large inbox, like 10K or more messages?

"None of my profile information is displayed, none is accessible."

Check your address book. If its contents are visible then you know you are using a profile, even if you can't see the mail folders or connect to any mail servers.

tanstaafl
Moderator

User avatar
 
Posts: 49405
Joined: July 30th, 2003, 5:06 pm

Post Posted August 14th, 2022, 1:51 pm

Out of curiosity what email provider are you using? Do you recommend them? I'm happy paying for a IMAP account with Fastmail.com but like to know about alternatives.

Mr David

User avatar
 
Posts: 296
Joined: March 31st, 2004, 3:50 am
Location: RJLH--2.5 pints of beer in 11sec, University College, Oxford, 1955

Post Posted August 15th, 2022, 2:17 am

I've been a Fastmail subscriber since 2002. Over the years the features of the service have progressed by leaps and bounds. I've been very happy with it the whole time. Yes, I would certainly recommend them.

By now though my email usage has become enmeshed with FM's rich feature set and it would be difficult for me to move elsewhere, but not impossible. I was never clever enough to create a personal domain. I use FM domains and aliases. I still use the same primary email address that I created at FM 20y ago. It is testament to the powerful features of that service (& my own judicious habits) that the usefulness of that address has not been destroyed by bad actors.

I am by no means a power user of FM's service but I know my way around. I have learnt a lot about email and the things that can be done with it from the service and from other users over at emaildiscussions.com. Oh wow, there are email savants at those forums.

Despite my understanding and appreciation of FM's service I have not been able to convince a single friend or relative to subscribe. Maybe email is more important to me than it is for them.
I have learned from my mistakes and I am sure I can repeat them exactly.

Mr David

User avatar
 
Posts: 296
Joined: March 31st, 2004, 3:50 am
Location: RJLH--2.5 pints of beer in 11sec, University College, Oxford, 1955

Post Posted August 15th, 2022, 3:05 am

Now back to my problem.

I read through the "Toolbar or window layout not working" article. There is little described in it that matches the signs I am seeing. I think the problems with my profile are more fundamental than that.

Here are a couple of screenshots to show what TB displays when it finally launches after that 15sec delay.

The TB window:
Image

TB window with Address Book opened:
Image

That TB window is to all intents and purposes dead. Nothing I try to use from the menu bar or tool bar works.

Before trying to delete any files from within the profile folder I thought it would be prudent to make a backup. The copy process produced three error messages:
1.) Error while copying "global-messages-db.sqlite"
error splicing file: input/output error
2.) Error while copying "INBOX-3" (sub-folder of mail.messagingengine.com)
error splicing file: input/output error
3.) Error while copying "cache.sqlite" (sub-folder of calendar-data)
error splicing file: input/output error

Do these bung files explain TB's failure to operate the profile? Is that evidence of a corrupted profile?

I tried deleting files as outlined in the "Toolbar or window layout not working" article, and the list given in your post above. That article provided a link to another called "Empty folder pane" (http://kb.mozillazine.org/Empty_folder_pane). The title and parts of the description seemed promising but deleting the recommended files again made no difference.

tanstaafl wrote:A 15 second delay on startup would normally make me wonder if one or more inbox folders is corrupt. But you're using a IMAP account. Do you have a really large inbox, like 10K or more messages?
My FM account storage is 86% full.
Inbox has 5530 messages, 965MB.
Message storage capacity is 2GB.
The account has in the order of 25 parent folders and maybe about 60 child folders.

tanstaafl wrote:Check your address book. If its contents are visible then you know you are using a profile, even if you can't see the mail folders or connect to any mail servers.
See second screenshot above. Address Book is not accessible.

I cannot recall which extensions or add-ons were installed. There are not many, absolute max of six and likely three disabled. One allowed messages to be grouped in conversations or threads. Another allowed TB address book to sync with FM acct via cardDAV protocol. I expected that might be a useful backup of my FM account's address book one day, oh the irony.

To reiterate, I've been using this profile to archive message for >10y, could be more than 15y. I am not worried about the messages in my IMAP / JMAP account, my access to those has been uninterrupted. It's the archived messages I would dearly like to access again.

Edit:
I found a list of installed TB extensions in notes taken some years back.
--ImportExportTools
--LookOut
--Restart
--Restartless Restart
--Thunderbird Conversations
--Lightning
--CardBook
I have learned from my mistakes and I am sure I can repeat them exactly.

tanstaafl
Moderator

User avatar
 
Posts: 49405
Joined: July 30th, 2003, 5:06 pm

Post Posted August 15th, 2022, 9:23 am

See if using safe mode (help -> troubleshoot mode) to temporarily disable your add-ons helps.

Lightning is no longer a separate add-on (its part of Thunderbird now) , importexportools has been replaced by importexporttools ng , and both Restart and Restartless Restart are not supported anymore (they're obsolete legacy add-ons) for example. One of those obsolete add-ons could be the culprit.

tools -> add-ons and themes lists what add-ons you have installed.

5530 messages shouldn't cause a 15 second delay but I'd still recommend that someday you move many of those messages into other folders.

"The copy process produced three error messages:
1.) Error while copying "global-messages-db.sqlite"
error splicing file: input/output error
2.) Error while copying "INBOX-3" (sub-folder of mail.messagingengine.com)
error splicing file: input/output error
3.) Error while copying "cache.sqlite" (sub-folder of calendar-data)
error splicing file: input/output error
"

Delete global-messages*.* (global search index files) . It will fetch all of your messages in the background (which will noticeably impact performance for a while) and use them to rebuild the search cache when you restart Thunderbird. That file occasionally gets corrupt and can cause your folder problems when that happens.

"cache.sqlite" exists if you enable the cache option for the calendar. I suggest you export your calendar by right clicking on its name in the calendar pane and selecting "export calendar" as a precaution and then uncheck that feature and delete cache.sqlite.

No idea why a problem with inbox-3. It wouldn't hurt to check for bad disk sectors.

Mr David

User avatar
 
Posts: 296
Joined: March 31st, 2004, 3:50 am
Location: RJLH--2.5 pints of beer in 11sec, University College, Oxford, 1955

Post Posted August 16th, 2022, 4:47 am

The profile folder contains an extensions folder, earlier I'd overlooked it.
Its contents are as follows:
cardbook@vigneau.philippe.xpi
en-AU@dictionaries.addons.mozilla.org.xpi
gconversations@xulform.org.xpi
lookout@s3_fix_version.xpi
restarttb@briks.si.xpi

The last is likely one of the obsolete restart add-ons you mentioned, it was last updated in 2019, dunno if had been disabled. All the rest were current versions.

I made a new profile to confirm TB itself was working alright. Was impressed with how easy it was to connect it to my FM IMAP account. The process is a breeze now, all the tricky stuff happens automagically in the background. Very slick. The new profile works like a charm.

I shut down the new profile and returned to the problematic one.

After starting it up I went through the process of restarting in safe-mode with add-ons disabled. After restart nothing had changed, folder pane & message pane still blank.

I shutdown TB, re-read your last post, and considered my next move. Decided to search the profile folder for the files that had not copied during profile backup and delete them on by one.

First up came "global-messages-db.sqlite". After deleting it I restarted TB.

Callooh! Callay! O frabjous day! The profile came to life. Both account/folder pane and message pane were populated. I can see my local folders containing precious archived messages.

TB's performance was very slow at first as you had warned. The deleted global-messages* file was 120MB. TB created a new global-messages* file. A minute or two after the successful launch I checked it, size was 1.5MB. About 20min later it was 32MB, at about 30min it was 45MB. TB seems to be slowly rebuilding it.

Although I am much relieved that this profile has been resurrected, given the serious problem it has survived and its age I think it might be wise to transfer my collection of local folders to the fresh new profile. Right after launching TB performance is noticeably slow. It must hog resources too, for a minute or two I cannot use other app until TB has settled down. The old profile seems to be not quite right.

Is it possible to do such a transfer? To export-import what is essentially an entire account? (An account made up of local folders.) Are recipes for such a manoeuvre available?

Edit:
I went back and also deleted "cache.sqlite". After restart TB performance seemed to be back to normal. I searched the old profile folder for "INBOX-3" too. It's 966MB, must be the inbox-folder of my FM account. That's too big to worry about re-syncing tonight.
I have learned from my mistakes and I am sure I can repeat them exactly.

tanstaafl
Moderator

User avatar
 
Posts: 49405
Joined: July 30th, 2003, 5:06 pm

Post Posted August 16th, 2022, 6:43 am

You can use the ImportExportTools NG add-on to import the folders from the "Local Folders" account in the other profile. Its used to import mbox files, which is the default way to store messages on the hard disk.

A mbox file has the mail folder's name, with no file extension, and contains all of the mail for that mail folder. "inbox." is the mbox file for a inbox folder, "inbox.msf" is a index file (a cache of the folder listing, it can be ignored) and inbox.sbd a renamed child directory used to help organize any other mbox files into a folder hierarchy.

Or if there is nothing you want to keep in the current profiles "Local Folders" account, just copy the contents of the other profiles "Local Directory" for "Local Folders" over its "Local Directory".

The Local Directory" is where a account stores its folders. Its specified at the bottom of the pane in tools -> account settings named after the account (Local Folders). Mine for example is at C:\Users\Eric\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles\i2h0a3a2.default-release\Mail\Local Folders

That's essentially "Mail\Local Folders" within the profile.

"Right after launching TB performance is noticeably slow."

If you move most of the mail from the inbox to other folders it reduces the memory usage and improves performance as there is less to process in the inbox, and Thunderbird will ignore the content of other folders unless you open them. It only opens "special" folders by default such as inbox , drafts, junk , sent items and trash.

Mr David

User avatar
 
Posts: 296
Joined: March 31st, 2004, 3:50 am
Location: RJLH--2.5 pints of beer in 11sec, University College, Oxford, 1955

Post Posted August 17th, 2022, 7:35 pm

Thank you for outlining the folders and files used for message storage.
The folder & file path you provided spelled things out very clearly too.

I had no idea copying messages from one TB profile to another could be so straightforward and simple. I did not need to use ImportExportTools NG.

With all instances of TB closed, in the new profile folder I deleted the default "Local Folders" folder:
<partition-label>/<profile-folder>/Mail/Local Folders

I copied in "Local Folders" from the old profile. After launching new profile all my archived messages and their respective folders were present in the folder pane. Success!

New profile is quick and zippy. After repair work old profile has indistinguishable speed from new one. I will continue with the new profile though.

Thank you tanstaafl for your informed guidance. Your assistance is much appreciated, I'm very grateful to have received it.
I have learned from my mistakes and I am sure I can repeat them exactly.

Mr David

User avatar
 
Posts: 296
Joined: March 31st, 2004, 3:50 am
Location: RJLH--2.5 pints of beer in 11sec, University College, Oxford, 1955

Post Posted August 18th, 2022, 3:15 am

One last query on this topic.

The old profile was secured with a primary password. When creating the new profile I used the same primary password.

If I had used a different primary password for the new profile, would the new profile have been able to read messages in "Local Folders" pasted in from the old profile?
I have learned from my mistakes and I am sure I can repeat them exactly.

DanRaisch
Moderator

User avatar
 
Posts: 125629
Joined: September 23rd, 2004, 8:57 pm
Location: Somewhere on the right coast

Post Posted August 18th, 2022, 4:51 am

If I had used a different primary password for the new profile, would the new profile have been able to read messages in "Local Folders" pasted in from the old profile?

Yes, the password(s) work within Thunderbird but are not involved when you are copying and pasting files at the operating system level.

Mr David

User avatar
 
Posts: 296
Joined: March 31st, 2004, 3:50 am
Location: RJLH--2.5 pints of beer in 11sec, University College, Oxford, 1955

Post Posted August 18th, 2022, 5:15 am

DanRaisch wrote:
If I had used a different primary password for the new profile, would the new profile have been able to read messages in "Local Folders" pasted in from the old profile?

Yes, the password(s) work within Thunderbird but are not involved when you are copying and pasting files at the operating system level.
So mbox files containing the messages of respective folders are not secured or encrypted in any way in TB profiles.

Which appears to mean mbox files could be plucked from a primary password locked TB profile and viewed in another profile.

If that is true, the password protection of TB profiles is only sufficient to keep out honest people. Anyone with even a modicum of knowledge can walk in and access the messages of locked profiles whenever they like.
I have learned from my mistakes and I am sure I can repeat them exactly.

tanstaafl
Moderator

User avatar
 
Posts: 49405
Joined: July 30th, 2003, 5:06 pm

Post Posted August 18th, 2022, 11:08 am

https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/pr ... y-password
http://kb.mozillazine.org/Protecting_th ... ile_-_mail
https://www.veracrypt.fr/en/Home.html
https://lifehacker.com/how-to-recover-y ... rd-5350375
https://kalilinuxtutorials.com/firemast ... very-tool/

A primary password (what used to be called a master password) basically just restricts the ability to see the stored passwords and adds some more security to how they are stored. It doesn't prevent somebody from accessing the files in the profile. There are several free programs to crack the primary password used by Firefox and Thunderbird, its a weak cipher.

If you want to prevent somebody from accessing your downloaded mail and address books using other software I recommend moving the profile to a password protected encrypted disk partition. You could use Veracrypt to create one, having it use a file container (a file it creates) to emulate a disk partition. Veracrypt doesn't rely upon windows permissions/privileges to protect your data so booting your PC under Linux using a USB flash drive for example doesn't let anybody access the contents.

I use Veracrypt to store financial documents so if I ever need to get my PC repaired I don't need to worry about some technician getting those files. I've used it in the past to also to store my Thunderbird profile. Its a fork of the discontinued TrueCrypt project (which was very popular) and has had a independent security audit.

Return to Thunderbird Support


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot] and 3 guests