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If you no longer uses POP3 email and a seperate client and prefers to use web-based email clients such as GMail, then I have the simple solution for you to enable having GMail as the default system-wide email client in Ubuntu (in conjunction with Firefox or Swiftfox). There are just two simple steps you need to follow to achieve this:

Step 1:

firefox mailto

Open Firefox or Swiftfox and navigate to Edit > Preferences > Applications and in the search box enter mailto, then in the pull-down menu select 'GMail'.

Step 2:

preferred applications ubuntu

In the Ubuntu menu (Gnome), go to Preferences > Preferred Applications, on the Internet tab select Custom and in the Command field, enter:
firefox %s
(or firefox-3.5 or swiftfox instead of firefox)

Just one more thing: if clicking a mailto link opens a blank tab in Firefox, enter this in the address bar: about:config, search for:
and toggle it to TRUE

this needs to be set to FALSE.

Test it out by clicking any link to send an email either in a web page or for example in Emesene/Pidgin Messenger for sending an email to someone and you should find that Firefox / Swiftfox opens a compose email window with the recipient's email address there for you.

Credits: SketchyClown user @ Ubuntuforums.org