As many others I have to sync my contacts and calendar between several systems. Since I have no Apple products and don’t want to donate my private data to Google, I found owncloud as the best solution covering my needs. Debian and Gnome have been allies for a long time now so I coupled the Evolution mail client with my owncloud instance. The last weeks were a little tricky due to several issues in my mail client (damaged encrypted mails, hung ups, excessive ressource consumption…) on Debian Jessie. After reaching peak annoyance level, it was time for a change.
Part I – The Mail Client
The only useful alternative known to me is Thunderbird. In the past I got to know Thunderbird as a very nice, fast, and powerful piece of software. Debian re-brands it to Icedove which can be installed using APT. To me as a Chromium user it looks quite familiar and exhibits a huge performance increase towards Evolution. Nice…
Next thing was to get my calendar into Icedove. Usually, I don’t like bloated software and prefer small, fast tools one for each task. The Exceptions to me are development suits and mail clients. Having all the important information bundled in on place is a nice thing. Thunderbird got the Lightning plugin, a great ‘little’ helper to manage dates within Thunderbird. Unfortunately, the integrated plugin interface of Icedove doesn’t work with (all?) Thunderbird plugins, so beware of using the integrated Extensions/Add-Ons menu! My first attempt lead to a crashing mail client on it’s startup with the following error message (when startet on the console) and seems to be a known Bug:
…version xul24.0 not defined in file libxul.so with link time reference…
On Debian one has to install Iceowl-extension, which basically is the Lightning plugin for Icedove, via APT and all is fine.
Part II – Owncloud and Remote Address Books
Getting Icedove and Owncloud to cooperate wasn’t that easy as expected (and as it should be!). First Problem, there is no way to enter a remote location for an address book (except LDAP) or calendar server. To ‘fix’ this one you need the Inverse SOGo Connector. The available software of the Debian repository does not include this frontend (just a sogo server and common files, as far as I can see) which helps to connect collaborative applications. So just download it from the website and install it. This time, the Thunderbird plugin works fine with Icedove. The SOGo Connector adds the entry Remote Address Book in the address book’s menu which can be found in File->New in your address book view. In the appearing wizard you can enter your owncloud address book link and your done.
Same thing for the calendar. Create a new calendar, choose On the Network and CalDAV and enter your proper owncloud link. When the sync seems not to work, and you get a message on startup (vie console) saying the calendar location seems to be a CalDAV collection and therefore is in the wrong format, you have entered the wrong link. If this is the case, log into your owncloud account, choose calendar and spot the button to get the personal link. This should include your login as an directory level in the URL. Use this link for your calendar location in Icedove.