Linux Build Prerequisites

This page has all the information you need to get your GNU/Linux development environment set up and ready to hack on Thunderbird.
This guide assumes you already followed the Getting Started documentation and you already downloaded mozilla-central and comm-central source code.

64-bit version

You need a 64 bit version of Linux in order to build Thunderbird. You can check which version you're running by typing this command in your terminal:
uname -m
if this command returns x86_64 you can proceed.


You’ll need Python 3.6 or later installed.
You can check with python3 --version to see if you have it already. If not, you can install it with your distribution’s package manager. Make sure your system is up to date!
You will also need python3-distutils and python3-pip installed from your distribution's package manager.

30 GB of free space

The Thunderbird build will take up to 30 GB of disk space in order to complete. Be sure to have enough free space and a fast internet connection to avoid interruptions.

Bootstrap your system

Access the location where you downloaded the mozilla-central source code, most likely source/ and trigger this command:
./mach bootstrap
You will be asked to choose from the following list of options
Please choose the version of Firefox you want to build:
1. Firefox for Desktop Artifact Mode
2. Firefox for Desktop
3. GeckoView/Firefox for Android Artifact Mode
4. GeckoView/Firefox for Android
Please choose option 2 to proceed with a successful build.
This action will install all the libraries and dependencies necessary to build Thunderbird locally.

Missing libraries

It could happen that some libraries will not be installed by the bootstrap command, specifically those related to the Rust programming language. Check whether these packages are available in your system by running these commands in your terminal:
  • which rustc
  • which cargo
If one or both commands return an empty output, you need to install them manually:
  • Install Rust and cargo (the Rust package manager): curl -sSf | sh
  • Install cbindgen (tool that generates C bindings from Rust code): cargo install cbindgen
If you get a command not found error while running cargo, but the command which cargo returns the location of the that package, it means you need to update your PATH inside your .bashrc file to include the cargo location:
export PATH=$HOME/.cargo/bin:$PATH
If you still are unable to find rustc and cargo via the ˋwhichˋ command after installing them, you may need to restart your session (log out and back into your user account, or restart your computer) to be able to see them.

You're all set

Got back to the Building Thunderbird page and continue following the guide.