Synchronising your Android contacts and calendar with KDE and/or Thunderbird without Google

I have been avoiding using a Google account with my Android phone pretty much since I got it, and re-installed my HTC Desire S with Cyanogenmod a while ago. All this worked perfectly, but until recently I had problems syncing my contacts or calendar with my computer (which runs Debian Sid with a KDE desktop). But finally I was able to solve this last problem, since KolabDroid was released on F-Droid. Even though Kolab itself is a complete groupware suite, this does not require setting up any server.

Kolab can use your existing email account via imap to store your contacts and calendar in XML format. This means as long as you have an email account that can be accessed via imap (most can, but not some free webmail services such as hotmail/, Yahoo, or GMX - interestingly enough, GMail can be accessed via imap), all you need to do is to install and configure the relevant clients. No need for a server install.


The Kolab sync client for Android can be installed either via F-Droid (for devices running Android <= 2.3.x), or you can download and install an APK for the ICS branch (Android >= 4.x) directly from its project page. Once installed, you can configure it via the Accounts & Sync configuration page. It will ask you for your imap credentials, and then you can configure a folder each for storage of contacts and calendar (you should create them in your imap account first). You can also decide to only synchronise one of the two.

Kolab-Android uses the Kolab2-xml format, and hasn't been updated yet to Kolab3-xml. This is important to know if you want to synchronise between different devices.

The Kolab-Android client is not perfect yet, especially regarding contacts. The editing of contacts in Kolab-Android is slightly problematic, and you can't yet edit postal addresses (even though it synchronises them). This problem does not exist for calendars, where it seems the normal editing gui is used.

Once you configured your Kolab-Android client, you can synchronise your contacts and calendar items with the folders in your imap account.

KDE Kontact

KDE's Kontact (or KAddressbook and KOrganizer) can function as Kolab clients via Akonadi. Unfortunately, Debian's KDE-4.10 packages as they exist in the Debian Sid repositories at the time of writing do not include Kolab support (as part of kdepim-runtime), so I had to rebuild kdepim-runtime and then package the missing components in a package that I called akonadi-kde-resource-kolabdata (this package is attached). This package depends on kdepim-runtime and on libkolab0, which provides the libraries to read and write Kolab data.

Once these packages are installed, you can add an address book and a calendar as a Akonadi-Kolab-Resource. Make sure you choose kolab2-xml format as storage format, as the client is able to read either kolab2-xml or kolab3-xml. Again, you will need to enter your imap credentials (unless your imap account is already configured in Akonadi), and choose the relevant storage folders. Once done, you can now synchronise Kontact (KAddressbook and KOrganizer) with Kolab (calendar and contact data in your imap folders), which means you are now setup to synchronise your Android phone with your computer(s).


There is a Thunderbird Add-on called SyncKolab, which you can use to synchronise your Thunderbird address book with your contacts stored in your imap folder. If you also have the Thunderbird calendar add-on (Lightning) installed, you can also synchronise your calendar events with Lightning. I'm not really using Thunderbird, so do not have extensive experience with this, but it seems to work OK. Just install the add-on and configure it for your imap account (including folders).

Other clients

The clients page of the Kolab project lists a few other Kolab clients, for example for the Roundcube and Horde Web-Email clients, for Evolution, and even for Micro$oft Outlook. So you should be able to find a solution for your sync needs without using a Google account and synchronising your data via Google's servers. Happy syncing.


Kolab is now again included in the Debian package kdepim-runtime-4.10.5-2. So my additional package is no longer needed and can safely be removed (in fact, you will need to remove it before upgrading kdepim-runtime.