So I’ve been happily using Thunderbird 2.0 at work to connect to our Exchange server at work. It was going so well, that I decided to try it out at home.
Install Thunderbird 2.0 on Feisty… connect to vpn… type in account info… download headers from folders… so far so good.
Thunderbird claims to implement offline mode. This is simply a necessity nowadays, especially when it comes to accessing work email. Even Outlook can do it
So I give it a try.. disconnect the vpn… click on the folder.
Then pops up a dialog ‘cannot connect to’. Awesome, shouldn’t I be in offline mode?
Then I discover that you actually have to mark folders individually to be available in offline mode. Tedious, but fine, whatever.
Try it again… ‘cannot connect to’. Uhh, why are you telling me if you’ve cached the messages? I can go to File -> Offline mode or whatever and then things begin to work. But I shouldn’t have to tell Thunderbird that I want to go offline. Offline IMAP support, to me, really means “don’t totally suck when you can’t connect to the IMAP server”. But clearly Thunderbird doesn’t mean it that way.
The worst part: If you forget to explicitly set yourself into offline mode, then go to click the top of the tree for your IMAP account (the tree item with the name of your account), it goes and tries to refresh your list of folders… and guess what? ‘cannot connect to ….’. Well if there’s no server, then there must be no folders, right? Thunderbird will proceed to remove all your IMAP folders from your folder view, and you won’t be able to get to them until the IMAP server is reachable again, and to add insult to injury, it will need to re-sync all your folders all over again.
Lesson learned? All IMAP clients are broken in some way. I guess the only way to fix it is to use the OfflineIMAP (separate program) + dovecot combination, and point Thunderbird at that.

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