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Thunderbird "Failed to read the configuration file"

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AnthonyJay
 
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Joined: January 12th, 2019, 3:59 am

Post Posted March 11th, 2019, 11:03 am

Thunderbird 60.5.3, Windows 7, Firefox also installed
For the last few months soon as I start Thunderbird I've been getting a message with the title "Configuration error" and the message "Failed to read the configuration file. Please contact your system administrator"
When I click OK Thunderbird loads as normal and there are no other problems.
I've tried googling this but can only find references to Firefox for this message.
Can anyone tell me which file this is likely to be referring to. I have backup of my entire profile from several months ago, and can restore files if I know which ones to restore.
This only happens on my Windows 7 machine - I have a Windows 10 machine with an identical set up which isn't giving the same message.
Thanks very much for your help

tanstaafl
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Post Posted March 11th, 2019, 11:29 am

http://kb.mozillazine.org/Files_and_fol ... hunderbird
http://kb.mozillazine.org/Locking_preferences

I don't know. Firefox could get that from a optional mozilla.cfg file (used to lock preferences), but Thunderbird supposedly doesn't use that file. Check that it doesn't exist in your profile. Do you have the optional user.js file (which locks some of the settings in prefs.js)?

It doesn't sound like your prefs.js file is unreadable (because Thunderbird is working). If you have any add-ons installed and they appear to be working that would seem to rule out extensions.ini .My first thought would be to backup your windows 7 profile (make a new backup, don't use the old one), and then copy the files from the known good profile on your windows 10 PC over the windows 7 profile.

AnthonyJay
 
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Joined: January 12th, 2019, 3:59 am

Post Posted March 11th, 2019, 1:00 pm

Copied over The entire profile from Windows 10 machine as suggested. No problems, but still getting the same error message.
mozilla.cfg and user.js not there. The profile isn't in the default location - any chance that might be relevant?. Could there be a file in the Windows 7 profile that is not in the Windows 10 profile and so wasn't overwritten?

tanstaafl
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Post Posted March 11th, 2019, 6:30 pm

Using a non-default location shouldn't matter. Use help -> troubleshooting information -> open folder to open windows explorer at your profile, to verify you are using the profile that you think you are. I don't expect windows 7 vs windows 10 to matter.

The error console (tools -> developer tools -> error console) will have a lot of error messages that don't matter (and can be safely ignored), but if you are lucky might provide more details on the bad configuration error message.

morat
 
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Post Posted March 11th, 2019, 7:28 pm

@AnthonyJay

Is the general.config.filename preference set in the config editor?

Is the channel-prefs.js file the only file in the <installation folder>\defaults\pref folder?

I get the configuration error window in Thunderbird 60, if I create the following autoconfig files (file names are arbitrary) with an error in the code.

* C:\Program Files\Mozilla Thunderbird\defaults\pref\autoconfig.js

Code: Select all
// autoconfig.js file needs to start with a comment line

pref("general.config.filename", "mozilla.cfg");
pref("general.config.obscure_value", 0);

* C:\Program Files\Mozilla Thunderbird\mozilla.cfg

Code: Select all
// mozilla.cfg file needs to start with a comment line

Components.utils.import("resource://gre/modules/Services.jsm");

Services.console.logStringMessage("test 123");

this.is.an.error;

If I remove the line with the error, then I don't get the configuration error window on startup.

Debugging Autoconfig Problems
http://mike.kaply.com/2016/09/08/debugging-firefox-autoconfig-problems/

tanstaafl
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Post Posted March 11th, 2019, 8:42 pm

https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/doc ... AutoConfig describes the ancient AutoConfig system (that supposedly used a thunderbird.cfg file) which I normally would expect only if some company admin remotely configured your system. If you installed Thunderbird at home you'd normally use the built-in account wizard that relies upon the remote ISP database instead.

I have a channel-prefs.js file in Thunderbird's <installation folder>\defaults\pref folder. That's the only file in that dir. I don't have a mozilla.cfg, thunderbird.cfg or autoconfig.js file in any directory. I also don't have a MOZILLA_HOME environmental variable (supposedly it's used to specify the directory that has the central configuration file). The channel-prefs.js file just has:

/* This Source Code Form is subject to the terms of the Mozilla Public
* License, v. 2.0. If a copy of the MPL was not distributed with this
* file, You can obtain one at http://mozilla.org/MPL/2.0/. */

pref("app.update.channel", "release");

AnthonyJay
 
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Post Posted March 12th, 2019, 3:31 am

Solved - Thanks for your help
Had a look in C:\Program Files\Mozilla Thunderbird\defaults\pref\
There was a file called antibeacon.js that something else I must have installed put in (can't remember what) on the Windows 7 machine.
This was in the file
pref("general.config.filename", "mozilla.cfg");
pref("general.config.obscure_value", 0);
When I deleted that file the error message goes away.

tanstaafl
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Post Posted March 12th, 2019, 6:58 am

https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/1244793
https://forums.spybot.info/showthread.p ... con-issues

The antibeacon.js file might have been due to installing Spybot Anti-Beacon to limit tracking via telemetry

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