Yenya's World

Fri, 24 May 2013

File Manager

The last file manager I have used was Norton Commander back in the DOS era. Many years after that, during the flame wars between proponents of spatial and single-windowed Nautilus, I have only laughed at them, thinking that the command line was much better. Why would anybody need a GUI file manager? I feel slightly ashamed now, but I have to admit that for the last two weeks, I have also been using a GUI file manager.

I work on various things with respect to cabling, electricity, a new datacenter, and so on in the new building of Faculty of Informatics. The problem with the building specifications, projects, and so on is, that they are stored in the deep structure of directories, with names containing whitespace and even non-ASCII characters (in different character sets), and each directory contains many files or subdirectories with common prefixes shared by a set of files. So the usual tab-completion does not help - it is necessary to actually look at the completion prefix in order to know what character to add next. Here is an example of such a file name, starting from my automount point:

FIMU_GD_SOD_příloha č. 1/!!!_02_FIMU_GD_SoD_Priloha_1_II.A_PD_DVD_PROJEKTOVA_DOK_1.etapa!!!/\

In order to be able to quickly navigate inside such directory tree, I have started to use a GUI file manager. So far I use Thunar, the default file manager in XFCE. It can easily switch to any directory along the current path, and it has bookmarks for fast access to frequently-used directories. I use this feature a lot, because of the main drawback of GUI file managers: It is not possible to descend into a directory, which is an automount point (and which, from the VFS point of view, does not exist yet).

Do you use a GUI file manager?

Section: /computers/desktops (RSS feed) | Permanent link | 4 writebacks

4 replies for this story:

Milan Zamazal wrote:

I use Dired in Emacs. Powerful, text based, utilizing common Emacs features (e.g. bookmarks) and excellently integrated with the whole Emacs environment. I don't know how it compares to current file managers but it used to be much more powerful than anything I've seen in the last century. Considering my recent experience with some popular e-mail clients and discovering how primitive they are I've got some reasons to believe there are still not many file managers comparable to Dired. But does it make sense to use Dired without using Emacs generally? Probably not as environment integration is an important part of file manager usage. For instance, it's impractical to have different sets of bookmarks in a file manager and in other applications or it would be annoying if you renamed a file in a file manager and the corresponding change didn't happen in your editor having the file open for editing at the same time.

Yenya wrote: Re: Emacs

Well, the feature with rename probably does not work when the file in question is renamed by something else (possibly over a network FS), altough it can be partially solved with inotify. Apart from that, I don't want to boot another OS just to use a file manager.

thanh wrote:

I use tc (Total Commander) on windows, and mc (Midnight Commander) on linux/mac, both are very similar to nc. Another plus is that it's not required to have emacs (or vim) to use it ;)

Pete wrote:

I have to admit that I simply use Nautilus in such cases. And immediately rename them all.

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