Ubuntu is getting a brand new user interface, called Unity, in its next release – Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narhwal”. As you are probably aware, Ubuntu uses Evolution as the default email client, and so Thunderbird integration for Unity is not a priority for Canonical. However, Mike Conley of Mozilla has been hard at work coming up with a way to integrate Thunderbird into the Unity Launcher and he has just released the first Thunderbird extension that does just that for testing .
The Thunderbird Unity Launcher extension provides a really cool integration of Thunderbird into Ubuntu’s Unity launcher. With the extension installed, the number of new unread messages in Thunderbird is displayed at the top-left of the Thunderbird icon in the launcher. Not only that, right clicking on the Thunderbird icon brings up a context menu item. From the context menu, users can easily open the contact list or compose a new email.
Since this is only for testing now, this feature is available in the form of a Thunderbird add-on. To test this feature users need to be running the 32-bit version of Ubuntu 11.04. There are no 64-bit builds available now. However, after the testing this feature will be integrated into Thunderbird and will be available to users of 64-bit versions of Ubuntu as well.
To install test the Thunderbird Unity integration, click on the link given below and install it.
After installing the add-on, you will get the unread message count in the Unity launcher. However to get the context menu, you have to log off and then login again.
Remember this is add-on is currently released for testing and you might run into bugs. If you do encounter any bug, you can report it at bugs.launchpad.net/unitylauncher-extension
Here is a video of the Thunderbird Unity Integration in action:
[via Mozilla Labs]