I am looking for a way to synchronize my contacts and calendar data between Mozilla Thunderbird 38.3.x (with Lightning) on Ubuntu 14.04.x with Android Jelly Bean.
Synchronization must be over USB cable or BlueTooth, not over the cloud.

Synchronization means managing data both ways, resolving conflicts (two contacts having been modified on both the PC and the smart phone sides) and avoiding dupes.

Previously (under Windows) I used BirdieSync, a very good solution not available for Linux users.

  • You mean that the contacts/calendars you have on your phone are stored in the phone itself, not on your Gmail account?
    – dr_
    Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 14:01
  • @dr01: Yes, exactly. There is nothing in the cloud and there can be nothing there. It is all locally stored (smart-phone side and Linux-box side). All sync jobs must equally be performed and resolved locally.
    – Cbhihe
    Commented Oct 29, 2015 at 16:42
  • Is setting up some "cloud" on your own hardware (e.g. the Ubuntu machine) an option? That's how I do it via CalDAV/CardDAV. Works smoothly, and as a side-effect gives you another "backup" of your data :) If that's acceptable, let me know and I make it a full-fledged answer.
    – Izzy
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 13:21
  • @Izzy, I am definitely interested and all eyes 0_0 --> :))
    – Cbhihe
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 14:25
  • In this case, please see my answer below :) I hope sync via WiFi is not a show-stopper for you. I took the "Synchronization must be over USB cable or BlueTooth, not over the cloud." as strong wish to not involve "foreign resources", and thus not literally to exclude WiFi.
    – Izzy
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 15:00

2 Answers 2


Though you wrote Synchronization must be over USB cable or BlueTooth, not over the cloud. – I've taken this as strong wish for privacy, not explicitly excluding WiFi, so I hope the following is OK for you:

For this I use ownCloud on my Ubuntu machine, and DAVDroid on my Android devices (for alternatives, see below).

ownCloud requires a web server with PHP (5.4+; the latest versions want 5.5+, but still work with 5.4) and a database (minimal: SQLite, I use it with MySQL), which are available from the standard repositories. As a side effect, I not only can manage my calendars and contacts via a web interface, but – depending on my needs – also have additional features available, such as "cloud storage" (enabled by default) and even document management (including an basic editor), plus tons of ownCloud apps to chose from.

I chose DAVDroid as it's "one app to rule them both" (calendars and contacts), and it's available for free via F-Droid. There's still much room for improvements (e.g. when adding a new calendar/address book, one has to re-create the account on the Android device – but as I rarely do that, it doesn't affect me too hard). Apart from that, it works flawlessly for me, so I can recommend this combination.

New contacts/calendar items added via the Android device immediately get sync'd to ownCloud. The other way around might take a little, depending on how the sync on the Android device is set up; when in a hurry, you can trigger a sync manually, though. With the ownCloud standard calendar, you cannot manage reminders via the web interface (when done via the Android app, reminders get synced fine to other Android devices, though); if that's a show-stopper to you, take a look at the "plus suite" with alternative calendar, contacts, and task apps.

On the Ubuntu side, not only Thunderbird works with those, I primarily use them with Evolution. For more details, please be welcome to also read my article on Android without Google 2: ownCloud.


  • Truly worth a good long hard look into it. I am ready to invest the time, in particular because I am not familiar with the nuts and bolts of practical DB management. -- Questions you did not address in yr answer: 1) Why must it be WiFi ? Where does that technical requisite come from ? 2) Can postgreSQL be used in lieu of SQLite or mySQL ?
    – Cbhihe
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 15:46
  • ... back to WiFi: It is only a prbm in that it covers a much larger space range than BlueTooth and can be very insecure in a public environment, so 3) does the ownCloud solution support encryption ? 4) Can I use my own Ubuntu Box as private access-point for my Android hand-held device ?
    – Cbhihe
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 15:50
  • 1
    It's a web solution which, at least to my knowledge, doesn't (directly) support BT or USB (so unless your Android device features a "cabled ethernet port", that would leave WiFi). But yes, you could it configure in a way to have it only accessible from within your own network (e.g. using Apache's .htaccess restrictions, like Deny all, Allow from 192.168.1 if your local network uses 192.168.1.* addresses). Encryption support is there for files, but I'm not aware of it for contacts/calendars.
    – Izzy
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 16:45
  • Apologies for the delay, but it is going to take me a while to go thru with the validation of your solution. I won't wait until I have a ful fledged solution as it might take me weeks to actually hone the fine details of such an implementation. I will be quicker than that but I do need a little time. Bear with me !
    – Cbhihe
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 19:40
  • No problem – that's nothing one does between coffee and breakfast, especially not including verification :) Take your time – and feel free to ask if you get stuck somewhere. I've set it up that way, so I should be able to fill gaps if any appear.
    – Izzy
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 19:43

You can use SyncML over, e.g. Bluetooth.

Back in the day your handset came with SyncML support out of the factory. Nowadays it seems that you need to install something on your handset first. The Wikipedia page (i.e. not me) suggests the Synthesis client or Funambol.

Now your problem is Thunderbird, because it does not seem to play nicely with SyncML out of the box. There are some plugins, it seems. You can probably make use of SyncEvolution and connect both, Thunderbird and your phone with it.

  • - I will experiment with that and will get back with feed-back, hopefully to accept yr answer. Tx +1
    – Cbhihe
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 10:52

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