Monday, October 30, 2006

 

Uninstalling Thunderbird



Once upon a time, when Internet browsers were new and one was supposed to buy one, I did. That was before Microsoft made one an integral part of their operating system. That was when one could download Netscape for a free three month trial, and do so every three months (to get the latest version, too). Or one could use Compuserve, and the browser they provided. I decided that I should support Netscape, and bought a boxed version of Navgator. It never worked. Its installer was too buggy. It even broke the previously working connection: I spent hours reinstalling Compuserve and cleaning up stuff.

When Microsoft stopped selling IE separately, it was obvious that if Netscape hoped to continue charging for Navigator, they would have to bundle it with an operating system. Incapable of making that leap, they gave up, and gave Navigator to "the community".


I've been using Firefox and Thunderbird for a few years. I'm usually glad I do, and, although I don't consider myself apt to add or improve their c code, I have contributed by providing information on bugs.

I recently decided it was time to update the version of Thunderbird I use: I'd been using 1.07 for months, and 1.5 is now current. Yesterday seemed like a good time to undertake this: a cool, cloudly/rainy late October Sunday with an hour time change.

Maybe Mozilla software has gotten more stable, its installation more sure-fire. I, for one, liked the more thorough notes on releases and installation of the earlier versions. They would explain the directory structure for each platform, note changes versus earlier versions, and advise on how best to install over an older version. But no more: simply download, click to indicate agreement after reading the license, wait a moment, and it is done! No need to back up your mail files or bookmarks.

This time, I decided, I would do a cleaner installation. I would uninstall first, and install to a new directory to be double sure all the old program was gone (or if bits remained, I could find and remove them). Why? To avoid accumulating more and more obsolete files on my disk. For example, whereas my current mail files are in "Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\", there is an "Application Data\Mozilla\Profiles\default\" branch with "Mail" in it, last accessed over two years ago. Has all its content been imported to the newer directories? Can I delete it? Why didn't the installer do so, or propose to do so, two years ago? I backed up my mail files and ran UninstallThunderbird (via Control Panel, etc.) before install.

After uninstalling, I note:
  1. The "Application Data\Mozilla\Profiles\default\" branch is still there. Not surprising, since it was not supposed to uninstall Mozilla. Maybe I'll delete it myself.
  2. The "Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\" is still there (good, I won't need my mail backup), but not just mail and address book data has been preserved: Mozilla-specific such as "chrome" and "extensions" are still there, and not empty.
  3. The "Program Files\Mozilla Thunderbird\" directory is still there, and not empty.
  4. The registry still has about a hundred keys including "Thunder" (plus some including "THUNDE~1" which I didn't count). Yes, I actually searched with regedit and exported each of the involved keys to a file. Took about an hour, I guess.


Since I'll be installing Thunderbird fresh, I won't actually take the risk of editing the registry by hand. But I'm really disappointed that this uninstall was so incomplete.

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Comments:
My sentiments. The uninstall is too uncomplete.
 
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