Thunderbird 60 gcontactsync Blocked after enabling OAuth2

These notes apply to Kubuntu 18.04 and Thunderbird 60.9.1.

After Google restricted access for LSA’s (Less Secure Apps) it was necessary to change the Gmail account authentication method from “Normal Password” to OAuth2. After this gcontactsync failed – after logging into Google and successfully allowing access to Contacts it was blocked. After extensively trawling the net for a solution one was found. This said the problem was due to Thunderbird being corrupted and the solution offered was a complete rebuild – drastic but it worked!

The rebuild steps are follows:

Backup Address Books
In Address Book export each address book in LDIF format to Desktop\Contacts. The exported files names take the same name as the address book, e.g. Personal Address Book = Personal Address Book.ldif


Audit Add-ons and versions that are installed

Exit Thunderbird

Ensure all Thunderbird windows are closed

Save Current Update History

Save version history, using apt policy. This might be needed at some point if TB automatically updates when not desired.

$ sudo apt policy thunderbird
  Installed: 1:60.2.1+build1-0ubuntu0.18.04.2
  Candidate: 1:60.2.1+build1-0ubuntu0.18.04.2
  Version table:
 *** 1:60.2.1+build1-0ubuntu0.18.04.2 500
        500 bionic-updates/main amd64 Packages
        500 bionic-security/main amd64 Packages
     1:52.7.0+build1-0ubuntu1 500
        500 bionic/main amd64 Packages<<

Example rollback

$ sudo apt install thunderbird=1:60.2.1+build1-0ubuntu0.18.04.2

Uninstall Thunderbird

sudo apt-get purge thunderbird*

Remove Thunderbird data

mv /home/user/.thunderbird /home/user/.thunderbird 60.9.1 backup
mv /home/user/.cache/.thunderbird /home/user/.cache/.thunderbird 60.9.1 backup
Install Thunderbird

Using Synaptic Package Manager search for “thunderbird” version 60.9.1 and Mark for installation and Apply

If version not found go to manual installation notes at the end

Launch Thunderbird

Search for Thunderbird and launch. From launchpad right-click Thunderbird and pin it to Desktop icons and Search and Launch.

  1. Add Google email account following the installation wizard
  2. In Config Editor Edit > Preferences > Advanced > Config Editor set the following:
    • Set “app.update.enabled” to false to disable automatic updates!
    • Set “general.useragent.compatMode.firefox” set to true to prevent Google Calendar continually asking for passwords and allow gcontactsync to display Google contacts lists to sync with
  3. Restore contacts in Address Book by importing saved address books
  4. Add gcontactsync and setup sync’ing of required address books with respective Google contact lists – should work now
  5. Add Provider for Google Calendar to synchronise calendars
  6. Add other email accounts and add-ons as required

Notes for manual installation of  a legacy version of Thunderbird

Download required version from Thunderbird Releases to ~/Downloads folder

Install as follows

$ cd ~/Downloads
$ tar -zxvf thunderbird-60.9.1.tar.bz2  #creates ~/Downloads/thunderbird folder
$ sudo su
# mkdir /opt/thunderbird
# cp thunderbird /opt
# exit

Create Thunderbird launcher

$ kate ~/Desktop/Thunderbird.desktop
[Desktop Entry]
Comment[en_GB]=Thunderbird email client
Comment=Thunderbird email client

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