Does Mbox2xml run on Tumbleweed?

Sorry to be so dumb but I want to use Mbox2xml and there is no mention on what OS is intended. Can this software run on Tumbleweed? It seems to have been crafted with python but with a pile of windoze APIs included? Could I be in luck?

According to Mozilla/Thunderbird,
It’s only for Windows.

Maybe something else on the page suits what you want…
Or, maybe the better question might be what you’re trying to do…
The standard “Export” menu option in Thunderbird will export your mailbox in EML format.


Hi Tsu,
Long storey but here is the gist of what I am doing. :-

Two suggestions:

(1) Export Sally’s mail folders as mbox files using the ImportExportToolsNG add-on. Save them somewhere safe. The add-on can also import the mbox files into a child folder in “Local Folders” later on if you need to look at the contents of the mail folders. Or you could use a utility such as MboxViewer at to view the contents of the mbox files. That viewer has full MIME support and can view the contents of attachments. i.e. good chance you can see everything in that message that you saw using Thunderbird.

Note: If you are using version 60.* or earlier you’d use the ImportExportTools add-on instead. See … ng_folders for more information.

(2) Use the Mbox2XML tool at to create a .XML file that can be displayed using a modern browser such as Microsoft Edge, Firefox or Chrome. You’d use a menu command like file -> open file in Firefox to display it. You can add more content to that file. It lets you view the mail messages (including any attachments) without requiring Thunderbird. The main disadvantage is it doesn’t provide any way to import the mail folders back into Thunderbird.

Or you could use both methods. That would let you use a browser to view the archived mail folders, but have a way to import the mail folders back into a Thunderbird profile if you ran into some sort of problem.

All I am trying to do is to have two options for securing data which I must keep available for 6 years but meanwhile trying to save on storage costs for IMAP server.
In fact the critical work machine is running windoze so I can use mbox2xml but this is the first time I had come across it and wondered if it would run on Linux.

Will give you more info if you need background but at present I am OK with what I have.

Options are endless.
Mainly depends on how accessible you want your archived mail.

In the past I simply set up mailserver for Users to transfer their mail.
Today for a single User, I’d probably build a VM on a USB stick, transfer mail to it and then replicate at least 3 times (and store in 3 different locations.

If I wanted to recover any mail, all that should be required is to launch the VM and login.

But, beware the laws regarding mail retention, if any apply to you.
Amusingly, I just had a heated discussion online a few weeks ago with some opinionated non-techies who couldn’t understand how a company policy and mechanism to purge mail on a regular basis was not only legal but “best practice.” Of course, they argued that no mail should ever be deleted for any reason…


Perl tools spring to mind, like perl-Mail-Miner, both are cross distribution as in one perl script will work on your OS of choice/in use with perl installed.

mm --detach <mailID>

It will output the email with MailID to xml…

Hi Tsu,
Many thanks for your reply and thanks for the advice concerning legal obligations. This is a bit of a mine field and I am slowly picking my way through. Not sure my tech skills are up to the VM route you suggest. The two issues for me, other than the legal obligation, are an easy and secure backup process and easy access if required.
Will not go into details here but may come back to you, if I may, when I have done some more work on this.

Hi Malcolm,
Will look at this as an option. Am I right in thinking this will only copy the data to output, not move it? Will read up now.

Hi Malcolm,
Looked at the meta::cpan entry and it looks right for me although I note it is quite old (2004) so have no idea if it is still maintained.

I should have asked, how do I get Mail::Miner. Not in my normal Tumbleweed repo. Should I install the Perl repo temporarily and then remove after I have installed what is needed. I am concerned about dependencies and how this approach will work. Grateful for advice on how best to do this.


Hi Malcolm,

I checked the index of repositories and went to the software portal and found Perl-Mail-Miner and see the community package comes from you so at least I am going to the source. Tried the one click install but had an error message thus;-

Cannot access installation media
(Medium 1).
Check whether the server is accessible.

Perhaps your server is off line?

That is not malcolmlewis’ server :smiley: , but the buildservice …

Sorry I was confused by malcolmlewis’s name and thought it was a site managed by Malcolm. Whatever the case I cannot get it to work! Any suggestions?

After a build it can take some time to be published…

There are prerequisites to use mm, reading up it may not be suitable since it needs a database running…

Have a read here:

Is the end goal to have readable emails archived off? Not sure why they can’t be printed to pdf and stored somewhere? If they are using Thunderbird, just use the built-in archive utilities?

If there are legal obligations, then you probably need advice from someone in the legal field :wink:

Regarding the virtual mail server on a USB dongle idea…
Main advantage is that you’ll likely never have a difficult time accessing your email, should generally be as simple as installing the Virtualbox application on your machine (if that is your chosen virtualization), pressing the button that starts the VM and then accessing the mail like any other mail server. I would recommend even installing a mail client as well pre-configured with your mailbox access credentials in case you forget your credentials. Even when virtualization applications evolve, generally Guests will always launch, but possibly with less features until they’re upgraded… At least, that’s been the general case for all virtualization until today.

The usual problem with all other mail backup/archive that relies on exporting is that you will need an import application and you’ll need an application that’s still working. That’s not a problem for apps like TAR commonly used for backups, but would be a big problem for practically everything else… It’s hard to look in a crystal ball and know what apps will still be maintained maybe 10, 20 years in the future.


Hi Tsu,
I am interested in pursuing this further but have not used Virtualbox for years. Will read up a bit before asking for help but meanwhile, if I have VM on a stick how should I deal with routine backups?

Part of my problem arises from the fact that I have some email accounts within Thunderbird (all on same server,) which are no longer active and I do not want them taking up storage on the ISP server but which must be retained for a period although off line. These are unlikely to need to be accessed but must be available if needed.

I also have live accounts but for which the older messages are less and less likely to be accessed. I am thinking of something like a rolling backup with, say, the last two years available and on IMAP server but earlier messages can be saved off line.

I clearly can have a bunch of USB sticks for use as you suggest. I could also use secure cloud storage if appropriate.
Will look into VM option and get back to you.
Many thanks,

Malcolm many thanks for the info. Will wait a while before trying installation again and meanwhile read up as you suggest.

The issue is that for a commercial user there are requirements which are not readily addressed in the Thunderbird client and I share Tsu’s concerns about software becoming obsolete. I have had two critical experiences in which data has become almost inaccessible for this reason. Printing off several tens of thousands of emails would be tedious, costly and make retrieval rather difficult. The built-in archive utilities work very well to a point but once taken off line, recovery can be difficult particularly if the software has developed meanwhile in an intervening period of several years.

For this reason I shall adopt two different solutions and that is where I reached when I posted my original question. The mm may give me what I need but clearly the database creation and storage will be an essential component. I was hoping that once an xml file had been created it would become almost universal but will read on. Remember I am not a coder so may need further guidance!!!
Best wishes,

A few more topics on what you can do…

Hi Malcolm and Tsu,
Many thanks for all he help and advice to date and the links too. I have read all the suggestions in the last links but they are taking me down quite technical routes less suited to simple souls like me.

The environment in which I am working has about a dozen email sub accounts, one for each team member, all on the same ISP account. New team members join and others leave from time to time and each sub account has to be archived in a secure manner after the team member has left or, if still in post, after a period of time. This is to facilitate storage and to prevent the increasing cost and slowing down of the email system through having large numbers of messages on line.

Even after a team member leaves it has to be possible to find and retrieve messages from the archived messages and when team member is still in position the archive needs to be incrementally backed up. This has to be done by a team member who may not be computer literate. This is the environment in which I am working and I suspect is a normal commercial setting for a small business. Please forgive me if I had not made all this clearer from the outset but I have been learning as I went along and have been surprised by the issues which have appeared. It is certainly true that these issues do not appear to have been foremost in the minds of the Thunderbird authors and I am most grateful for your help and that of others who have replied to all my questions.

Having spent all my time on Thunderbird to date I now have to address the situation in which some email sub-accounts have only been used on webmail. In other words team members have not had an email client on a computer at all, but use webmail. These accounts are accessed using a browser and RoundCube on the ISP server. The first question therefore is; should I create Thunderbird accounts on a computer just so that I can use the same solutions as discussed in this thread above for archiving, storage and recovery of messages or should I do it all through a browser and RoundCube?

Grateful for your thoughts.

A virtual machine is everything required to launch and run.
Is the virtual version of a real, physical machine you might install your application, fully loaded with all data… And you simply power it off, remove the power cord and stuff into your closet or ship to another site.
Then, if you ever want to access the data at any time, you only need to install the same virtualization technology into any machine, point to your VM files and push the green button to start… The same thing for a physical machine you drag out of its storage closet, plug into power and push the power button.

The machine (virtual or physical) spins up and when fully booted is a fully running machine ready for you to access.
In your case I recommended besides installing the mail server and mailboxes, you also install a mail account which is able to access each mail account so that in the future you only need to open the mail client and wouldn’t have to rummage around for the credentials (which can be lost) and configure a mail client to access the mailboxes… But there are other options, too. Of course if you are the Mail Administrator you can also do various things like extract mail directly from the mailbox stores without a mail client.

The big advantage of course is that nothing complicated would be required to access and retrieve the mail… No need to export/import, be concerned about application availability, versioning, configuration and more. Things will “just work” with no fuss when you need it.

Everyone should learn a virtualization app,
IMO it’s one of maybe 3-5 most import computing technologies that will vastly improve productivity that appeared in the past 20 years.


@OP, So the solutions that are offered contain costs associated with implementing say the virtualization route, hardware, documentation, configuration etc vs the ongoing cost for imap storage (I’m assuming this is the ISP…?).

At least with an imap solution if users are on the web or a client the data is still there… maybe you just need a solution to pull off (as in reduce remote storage on imap server) and archive imap data for local access on your own storage solution.

You are ahead of me but this is just where I am at present. My ISP IMAP server supports RoundCube and this is what is offered for webmail. RoundCube supports the export and import of email messages and also provides facility to zip them by directory etc. So the simplest plan may be to just export the zipped .eml files and then re-import if I need to access. I am confident there will be tools to look at these messages even if not re-imported so this may be a cleaner plan with backups as appropriate.
What do you think?