[Resolved] Thunderbird mail.server.server1.check_new_mail Preference Locked in Whonix Workstations

I’m running Qubes 4.1 whonix-ws-16 and I’ve noticed that I cannot get Thunderbird to “Check for new messages every [ ] minutes” on any IMAP profile.

Under Account Settings > [IMAP Account Name] > Server Settings, under a heading called Server Settings and a subheading also called Server Settings, the options “Check for new messages at startup” and “Check for new messages every [ ] minutes” are both grayed out.

Under Preferences > General > Config Editor, “mail.server.server[number].check_new_mail” is set to false and locked, indicated by a padlock icon to the left.

A quick grep of ~/.thunderbird shows that default prefs.js files for all accounts have been created with this very preference set to true, but this setting is not reflected in the application. No file under ~/.thunderbird contains the strings “lockPref(” or “lockpref(”.

Experimentally I created a fedora-35 DVM and a whonix-ws-16 DVM hooked up to sys-whonix and tried the same. The Fedora one worked normally, which leads me to believe the issue is not with Thunderbird. The Whonix one exhibited the same behavior, which leads me to believe the issue is not with my mailing VM configuration.

My questions are as follows:

  • Can anyone confirm that this occurs in their Qubes-Whonix setup?
    Almost certainly
  • Can anyone confirm that this occurs in any other Whonix setup?
  • Does this work as intended?
    Evidently. I need to look into the commit history to figure out why /usr/lib/thunderbird/thunderbird.cfg was written that way.
  • Can it be worked around?
    Yes, it can be worked around by editing /usr/lib/thunderbird/thunderbird.cfg and commenting out the relevant lines.

Edit: I provided the wrong version numbers initially because my DVMs are named incorrectly and also I figured it out, at least partially.

To be fair there is a legitimate threat model risk in signing into all of your accounts at once consistently, but without a system to stagger the mail checks, I was just going to hit the Get All New Messages button at the top anyway.

Thanks for linking it at me, I was going to get around to it later but now it’s way more convenient