Information Technology

The Great Migration From KMail

For decades KDE has been the ruling desktop on Linux.  Despite what any of the supporters of the other crummy Linux desktops choose to believe or say, they had nothing to do with it, unless the infiltrated the K Desktop Environment development team.  The K desktop was always cleaner and more user friendly than any other desktop, and I tried nearly every one before settling some years ago.

KDE’s fall from grace has been a long and painful one.  While there is quite a bit of debate about where the fall started, but we can all agree the fall of KWord was a major point of defection.  KWord used to be a very serviceable word processor.  It then got re-written as part of this Calligra Suite.  Let’s just say that a train wreck hit by a plane crash which was then impacted by a hunk of Skylab and four satellites falling out of the sky would have left a prettier site and a more functional product.  The vast majority of KWord users migrated to LibreOffice and stayed there.  Little wonder.  Here is a blurb about the word processor from the Calligra site.

Additionally it’s possible to open Microsoft Office Word files (both .doc and .docx). Afterwards you can edit and save the document to ODF.

Notice how the blurb gracefully skips any promise of being able to save in .doc and/or .docx format.  This isn’t going to be popular with anyone sending resumes out since most of the keyword parsing tools used by head hunters want old style .doc as input.

This week I “upgraded” from Linux Mint 13 64-bit to Linux Mint 15 64-bit.  I wanted to take full advantage of the 6-core machine with 24Gig of rocking RAM.  I put upgraded in quotes because “up” seems to be directionally challenged.  Evolution is broken.  I mean broken to the point it is not useable and everyone is wondering how this release got out the door.  Evolution appears to have been broken since the release of Mint 14.  It will install, it will import, but it won’t send or receive email no matter what you do.

Let’s be honest.  The only reason Evolution hasn’t taken over all email and calendar functions for everyone is the simple fact it doesn’t run on all platforms.  There is not a Windows version (supposedly there was a project, but I never saw any output.)  I don’t think there is even a MAC version.  It’s sad.  Evolution is a very professional product.  It also makes hopping distros simple.  The backup facility backs up EVERYTHING.  When you start Evolution for the first time it asks you if you want to restore a backup or configure.  Between this and Firefox bookmark backups migrating got simple.  You backed Evolution and Firefox up from within each application.  Then you dragged a few personal subdirectories off to the same directory on a USB drive.  After that you simply wiped, did a fresh install, then dragged those few subdirs back from USB, restored your email and bookmarks and the migration was pretty much over.

Well, the glory days seem to be over.  Evolution appears to have become even more tightly coupled to Gnome and there is no telling if is going to work anywhere else again.  Thunderbird has historically been problematic for me, so I decided to give KMail a try…once I found out they had FINALLY added some kind of backup and restore facility.  Big mistake.  Oh, it imported from Evolution just fine, but that is pretty much where fine ended.  After surfing the Web I have found the vast majority of KDE users are bailing on KMail.  Many are bailing on KDE after this betrayal.  They might wish to look at OS4 but since it pulls from Ubuntu and the Evolution calamity is rooted there, I’m not so certain it would be a good move.  The previous release of OS4 I have running BOINC on a couple machines has a great looking interface.  But that is not the subject of this post.

KMail is not only rather horrible to use, it is almost impossible to get rid of once you have your email in it.  I literally spent a day before I found this.  Everything else which claimed to work didn’t.  This did.  You do have to edit it though.  Around line 12 in the shell script you need to change this line so it has the full path (not ~ based) to the supporting Perl script.


This is not a quick one shot do-it-all utility.  This is a change to each directory and run the script.  Once you have all of the new files created in a single directory, you can use the importExport plug-in/add-on for Thunderbird to import the mbox files.  It’s time consuming, but it does work.  I had an awful lot of lines which looked like this

roland@roland-desktop:~/saved_mail/local-mail/writer-editor/new > cd ../../xBaseJ/new
roland@roland-desktop:~/saved_mail/local-mail/xBaseJ/new > ~/bin/ > ~/new_mbox_dir/xBaseJ.mbox
Starting up, found 7 emails
Converting: 100% done

But eventually I got all of my email into Thunderbird.  Sadly, I’ll probably have a similar battle when Evolution is FINALLY fixed and I try to migrate back.