Paradigm shift in File Managers

Chat about just about anything else

Paradigm shift in File Managers

Postby JRG on Sat May 31, 2014 5:50 pm

It is hard to be objective and know whether my suggestion is simply me pushing my favourite software or if it would be a good thing for the Linux Mint community.

My background is software development (programming in and managing large-scale software development). So it is not surprising that I tend to look at my computing environment a little differently than someone whose profession is (or was) not software development. However, I'm part of a large community.

There are two very distinct paradigms for file managers: those exemplified by Windows Explorer, the OS X Finder and file managers like Thunar and Caja; versus, two-panel file managers such as XFE, Sunflower, Midnight Commander and others.

I find the idea of copying or moving a file (or a whole sub-directory tree) by copying-and-pasting or opening two instances of the file manager not only awkward, but abhorrent. You don't see GUI FTP programs written this way. The ability to copy or move in something like Filezilla is clearly a natural and easy way of handling the file system.

My current favourite file manager, which I install on any and all distributions I install on my computers, is XFE. It has issues and could be improved, but personally I think the two-panel file manager paradigm blows away the single-panel file manager.

Now, installing XFE (and other two-panel file managers) is easy. They are eminently usable, but a higher degree of integration with the desktop environment (in my case XFCE) would improve the user-experience enormously.
User avatar
JRG
Level 1
Level 1
 
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:50 am

Linux Mint is funded by ads and donations.
 

Re: Paradigm shift in File Managers

Postby altair4 on Sat May 31, 2014 6:05 pm

XFE is literally the very first thing I add to a new install - unless samba is not installed by default .

Other file managers can do dual panel - like Thunar and Nemo for example but it can't be launched that way by default. Well, I guess it's not a true dual panel it's more a tabbed concept.
Please add a [SOLVED] at the end of your original subject header if your question has been answered and solved.
altair4
Level 16
Level 16
 
Posts: 6080
Joined: Tue Feb 03, 2009 10:27 am

Re: Paradigm shift in File Managers

Postby AlanWalker on Sat May 31, 2014 10:19 pm

JRG wrote:I find the idea of copying or moving a file (or a whole sub-directory tree) by copying-and-pasting or opening two instances of the file manager not only awkward, but abhorrent.

As you are not speaking of command line file management I find myself constrained to considering graphical file managers and I cannot, at the moment, recall any graphical file manager that required copy/paste.

Do you know of one?

JRG wrote:My current favourite file manager, which I install on any and all distributions I install on my computers, is XFE. It has issues and could be improved, but personally I think the two-panel file manager paradigm blows away the single-panel file manager.

Here we disagree. We'd agree, I think, that the more flexible a serviceable tool is the better that tool is. Xfe has constraints. For example, wanting to visually track changes in 3 directories at the same time, I have recently been working with 3 instances of PCManFM on my desktop; dragging and dropping files and directories between their panes with the usual simplicity of effort.

As I've installed Xfe to get to know something of it I was able to get it to display 3 panes, but I had to do the abhorrent thing and start two instances of it to do so. :)

JRG wrote:Now, installing XFE (and other two-panel file managers) is easy. They are eminently usable, but a higher degree of integration with the desktop environment (in my case XFCE) would improve the user-experience enormously.

I use LXDE so your answer may not reveal immediate advantages to me, but I am curious: in what ways would you heighten the integration of Xfe into Xfce?

In any event I will keep Xfe on my system and be happy to use it where its use fits need so, thank you for bringing it to my attention.


Regards,

PS. It appears that Xfe does not have a 'find files' function; I've attempted to use its "Search" function (Ctl-F) but nothing happens - any idea why?
User avatar
AlanWalker
Level 4
Level 4
 
Posts: 223
Joined: Wed Jun 12, 2013 7:44 pm
Location: New York

Re: Paradigm shift in File Managers

Postby xenopeek on Sun Jun 01, 2014 3:02 am

Moved here as this is more of an opinion piece, given that 2 pane layout is available in the file managers of all Linux Mint editions except for Xfce (but that's why people like Xfce I take it; the austerity of its applications).

So could you elaborate, because see below (click to enlarge) clockwise from top left Xfe, Caja, Nemo, and Dolphin. The latter three all have a two pane layout, easily toggled by pressing F3 (press F9 to toggle the sidebar) or toggled from the menu.

Image
User avatar
xenopeek
Level 21
Level 21
 
Posts: 14890
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:58 am
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Paradigm shift in File Managers

Postby AlanWalker on Sun Jun 01, 2014 3:46 am

Yo, xenopeek! What gave you the idea that facts such as that belong in this discussion?

Anyway, see..? None of those file managers can offer 3 panes without two instances!

I vote for n instances of PCmanFM becoming the New Paradigm!

(It has a File Find function too!) :)
User avatar
AlanWalker
Level 4
Level 4
 
Posts: 223
Joined: Wed Jun 12, 2013 7:44 pm
Location: New York

Re: Paradigm shift in File Managers

Postby killer de bug on Sun Jun 01, 2014 4:06 am

In Nemo you can use tabulars and you don't need several instances to access more than 2 folders...
If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. [Isaac Newton]
User avatar
killer de bug
Level 7
Level 7
 
Posts: 1837
Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 1:49 pm
Location: Austria

Re: Paradigm shift in File Managers

Postby xenopeek on Sun Jun 01, 2014 4:10 am

AlanWalker wrote:None of those file managers can offer 3 panes without two instances!

So? OP is talking about 2 panes, not 3.
JRG wrote:personally I think the two-panel file manager paradigm blows away the single-panel file manager.
User avatar
xenopeek
Level 21
Level 21
 
Posts: 14890
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 3:58 am
Location: The Netherlands

Re: Paradigm shift in File Managers

Postby Monsta on Sun Jun 01, 2014 4:22 am

If you want 3 or even 4 panes, check out SpaceFM.
Monsta
Level 8
Level 8
 
Posts: 2460
Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2011 3:46 am

Re: Paradigm shift in File Managers

Postby /dev/urandom on Sun Jun 01, 2014 10:37 am

I noticed the general shift to "hybrid" (primarily single-pane) file managers (Thunar, Dolphin, ...) with sadness. (Still you can work on xterm exclusively.) Krusader or Worker should be part of every default Linux installation just so newbies can see what they miss.
Linux is not the only answer! :: eD2k/Kad mirrors for Linux Mint and LMDE.
Users who misspell "Windows" as "Windoze" intentionally will be considered stupid.

Image
User avatar
/dev/urandom
Level 5
Level 5
 
Posts: 504
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2011 8:02 pm

Re: Paradigm shift in File Managers

Postby AlanWalker on Sun Jun 01, 2014 8:41 pm

xenopeek wrote:
AlanWalker wrote:None of those file managers can offer 3 panes without two instances!

So? OP is talking about 2 panes, not 3.

Nope, OP was talking about usability, specifically the usability of Xfe starting with 2 panes over other file managers starting with 1 pane (not to mention the cut/paste thing). :D
User avatar
AlanWalker
Level 4
Level 4
 
Posts: 223
Joined: Wed Jun 12, 2013 7:44 pm
Location: New York

Re: Paradigm shift in File Managers

Postby JRG on Mon Jun 02, 2014 2:12 pm

I installed Linux Mint MATE. I thought it's default file manager was Thunar (that is what I see when I look in the menu under "All" or "System" — so I'm simply confused by the reference to "Caja" in the LM17 MATE announcement. I suppose when I installed XFCE on the LM17 MATE installation, the installation of Thunar might have wiped out access to Caja. Anyway, Thunar doesn't have either 2 panels or the ability to create tabs.

Tabs are not the same thing as panels (or "panes"). I think they are better than having to launch two instances of the file manger, but still I find them awkward to use.

I remember seeing some other file managers when first looking at Linux Mint and trying several desktop environments. At first I thought I'd use MATE (simply a personal preference). I then settled on LM XFCE as being nice and responsive and more to my liking (for instance, I couldn't set a single "panel", dock or whatever the appropriate terminology is, on the left edge of the screen — this seems to have been addressed some time in the near past).

I don't know how well the multi-panel approach has been integrated into Caja, Nemo and Dolphin (thank you Xenopeek for pointing this out). The only issue I suspect I would have is that may have turned those file managers into Swiss Army Knives with an attendant increase in footprint and decrease in responsiveness.

However, I've never really been fond of file managers that require multiple instances or workarounds (like copy-and-paste or cut-and-paste) to copy or move files from one place in the file system to another. I don't remember which file manger had the tabbed paradigm. I do remember not being able to drag-and-drop from one tab to another (I vaguely remember attempting to drag a file over the tab as well as over a blank area under the tab).

I've only ever been a few times in the situation where I wanted to work with three parts of the file system at the same time, though I did use a 2-panel file manager that also supported tabs within each panel. And, yes, I usually had two or three tabs set in each panel. I imagine that it wouldn't be a big leap to generalize a 2-panel file manager to being an n-panel file manager, though at some point screen real estate makes using more panels problematic — so the 3-panel view that Alan Walker refers to might be a reasonable compromise (assuming one could pick from a set of views, 1, 2 or 3 windows on the file system with an optional tree view to go along with them).

I finally settled on XFE because it is light-weight and responsive. It seems to fit in well with XFCE.
____________

What I would have liked to be able to do, is install a light-weight, responsive 2-panel (or more!) file manager and remove the one included in the distribution. My one attempt at doing that resulted in a minor disaster (I had to re-install the distribution). However, I can live with another file manager installed and my simply not using it. I think the problem is that the file manager code was integrated in someway with the window manager or desktop environment code...

When I talked about increased/improved integration of XFE with XFCE, I was thinking of enhancing XFE and being able to use XFE (or some other light-weight, responsive multi-panel file manager) without having to resort to workarounds to mount/unmount drives/partitions, CDs/DVDs and USB drives.

Another improvement/integration would be a nicer way of switching to root-mode (currently XFE launches a 1-panel instance in root-mode, leaving the original running in user-mode). I don't know if Caja, Nemo, etc. have root-modes. One nice approach to the root-mode issue is that when an operation that requires root permissions occurs (for example, attempting to rename a file somewhere in /etc), display a small dialog explaining and allowing authorization — I've seen this somewhere.
_______________

I suspect many of my "I've seen this somewhere" comments refer to "Krusader". It was the first 2-panel file manager I used with Linux Mint. It has some great features (a graphical diff between directory trees or files, lots of things). I'd still be using Krusader, but it relies heavily on KDE libraries and I found it far from "light-weight" (it dragged in all those libraries) — because of the KDE integration, it had some shortfalls when I was running it in the MATE environment.

I now remember that when I was looking for a 2-panel file manager for the MATE or XFCE environment, I was really looking for a file manager that would do many of the things that Krusader did.
User avatar
JRG
Level 1
Level 1
 
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:50 am

Re: Paradigm shift in File Managers

Postby DrHu on Mon Jun 02, 2014 2:21 pm

Completely agree with that, a two-pane(panel) file manager is simply the best way of handling file manipulations
--apart from other feature such as multiple file selection options, and built in file type viewers, and the usual drop to a command prompt..

I was a long time fan of the Xtree and derivatives
http://xtreefanpage.org/
    I do find midnight commander (ncurses based) to be quick and with good screen appearance, don't really need iconized folders to see data
  • The Gnome-commander (GUI based) had lockup problems when installed
Last edited by DrHu on Mon Jun 02, 2014 2:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
DrHu
Level 16
Level 16
 
Posts: 6833
Joined: Wed Jun 17, 2009 8:20 pm

Re: Paradigm shift in File Managers

Postby JRG on Mon Jun 02, 2014 2:25 pm

AlanWalker wrote:
JRG wrote:[...]
PS. It appears that Xfe does not have a 'find files' function; I've attempted to use its "Search" function (Ctl-F) but nothing happens - any idea why?

It works for me (both using Ctl-F and clicking the Search button in the toolbar/menubar). What I did have to do, was grab the dialog box by the lower right corner and enlarge it enough to show the results pane.
JRG
User avatar
JRG
Level 1
Level 1
 
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:50 am

Re: Paradigm shift in File Managers

Postby JRG on Mon Jun 02, 2014 2:52 pm

xenopeek wrote:Moved here as this is more of an opinion piece, given that 2 pane layout is available in the file managers of all Linux Mint editions except for Xfce (but that's why people like Xfce I take it; the austerity of its applications).
[...]

I suppose "austere" encompasses some of why I like it (and others as well I expect). However, I would use descriptions like:
  • light-weight — small memory foot-print, not a cpu-hog
  • simple to use — straightforward to carry out the tasks I want to accomplish
  • not a lot of bling — easy on the eyes with a concentration on functionality rather than decoration

Personally I find the preoccupation with animated effects hard to understand, but that's perhaps just me — I find them distracting, nevermind CPU wasting. It's perhaps just that I never grew out of the habits I developed when I was programming mainframe computers that were orders of magnitude less powerful than my smartphone!

The one thing that I don't believe any of us fans of XFCE want, is less functionality. Perhaps some has to be sacrificed to address concerns — there are tradeoffs. But I image we'd all want all the functionality if it can be done within the constraints.

Where I may differ from some, is that I run XFCE on fairly capable (but 8-years old) hardware (I could run MATE or KDE), but I choose not to use my computer resources needlessly. Others have hardware that would not allow them to have streaming music playing while doing something like replying to your post, with their mailer periodically checking for new mail (in a bunch of different accounts) and... unless they were running a light-weight environment.
User avatar
JRG
Level 1
Level 1
 
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:50 am

Re: Paradigm shift in File Managers

Postby AlanWalker on Mon Jun 02, 2014 5:02 pm

JRG wrote:
AlanWalker wrote:PS. It appears that Xfe does not have a 'find files' function; I've attempted to use its "Search" function (Ctl-F) but nothing happens - any idea why?

It works for me (both using Ctl-F and clicking the Search button in the toolbar/menubar). What I did have to do, was grab the dialog box by the lower right corner and enlarge it enough to show the results pane.
JRG

Xfe ver. 1.34 on LMDE 201403 Cinnamon 64bit (under LXDE)
Image

Ctl-F, with Xfe having focus, is non-responsive.
Last edited by AlanWalker on Thu Jun 05, 2014 2:43 am, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
AlanWalker
Level 4
Level 4
 
Posts: 223
Joined: Wed Jun 12, 2013 7:44 pm
Location: New York

Re: Paradigm shift in File Managers

Postby woodsman on Mon Jun 02, 2014 5:05 pm

The Konqueror file manager has supported tabs for as long as I can remember. Many years. Other file manager designers resisted the tab paradigm for a long time, but many modern GUI 'nix file managers now support tabs.

Except Xfe, which is the primary reason I do not use Xfe as my default file manager. Otherwise I like Xfe a lot, although I wish bookmarks could be personalized, as with other file managers.

Both tabs and multiple file panes are useful. If Xfe ever supports tabs I suspect I then will be severely tempted to use Xfe as my default file manager regardless of desktop environment. For sure, Xfe is the fastest GUI file manager of any I have tested. My traditional example is accessing /usr/lib, which on all distros is a large directory. Xfe is always the fastest at opening that directory.

Oddly, when I want to perform large-scale file or directory transfers, I open mc in a terminal. I find all GUI file managers horribly slow at this common task, probably because too many CPU cycles are expended in updating the progress dialog.

One element of all GTK file managers I dislike is the Places/Devices/Network sidebar. The bookmarks feature of any file manager more or less eliminates the need for Places. Devices is useful only occasionally and most single-user desktops have no need for the Network category. Yet the part that rankles me is the sidebar is not customizable. On my primry test machine I end up with a couple of dozen hard drive partitions generically listed in the Devices section of the sidebar. Totally useless, let alone not wanted. Nemo at least has a tooltip to inform me which partition I am hovering the mouse pointer, but Caja provides no such support.

I prefer to have a sidebar that lists the file tree, much like Xfe or Konqueror, but the Caja and Nemo file tree is always collapsed when first opening, again, rather than being customizable.

Unlike Nemo, Thunar, and other file managers, Caja provides no handy method for identifying when the file manager is opened as root. The least that could be done is add a red bar like Nemo or Thunar. For years I invoked a pink background in Konqueror, Kate, Kwrite, etc., as my reminder that I am working as root. Yet gksu does not seem capable of pulling in root's themes when opening apps as root through a non-root account. Thus, I am unable to see the pink backgrounds I configured in the root account. The KDE kdesu and Trinity tdesu commands do not have that problem.
woodsman
Level 4
Level 4
 
Posts: 205
Joined: Tue May 11, 2010 10:22 pm

Re: Paradigm shift in File Managers

Postby /dev/urandom on Mon Jun 02, 2014 5:09 pm

woodsman wrote:The Konqueror file manager has supported tabs for as long as I can remember. Many years. Other file manager designers resisted the tab paradigm for a long time, but many modern GUI 'nix file managers now support tabs.


I doubt "tabs" are "modern" except "modern" means "slower". Tabbed dual-pane might be.

(TBH, I've been using a single-pane tabbed file manager on Windows for a couple of years now, recently having noticed how much time I waste using the mouse just to move files around.)

A "modern paradigm" doesn't make a tool better.
Linux is not the only answer! :: eD2k/Kad mirrors for Linux Mint and LMDE.
Users who misspell "Windows" as "Windoze" intentionally will be considered stupid.

Image
User avatar
/dev/urandom
Level 5
Level 5
 
Posts: 504
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2011 8:02 pm

Re: Paradigm shift in File Managers

Postby woodsman on Mon Jun 02, 2014 6:16 pm

A "modern paradigm" doesn't make a tool better.

Agreed. :)

My 486 with WFWG 3.11 and the Norton Desktop remains functional. 16 MB of RAM. Although now a conversation piece, I am nonetheless amazed at how fast the 16-bit OS is and on a 486 no less. In many ways, seems moving to 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems hasn't brought us any improvement in speed at all. Yet we call this progress. :)
woodsman
Level 4
Level 4
 
Posts: 205
Joined: Tue May 11, 2010 10:22 pm

Re: Paradigm shift in File Managers

Postby JRG on Tue Jun 03, 2014 2:09 pm

AlanWalker wrote:[...]
PS. It appears that Xfe does not have a 'find files' function; I've attempted to use its "Search" function (Ctl-F) but nothing happens - any idea why?

It works for me (both using Ctl-F and clicking the Search button in the toolbar/menubar). What I did have to do, was grab the dialog box by the lower right corner and enlarge it enough to show the results pane.
AlanWalker wrote:Xfe ver. 1.34 on LMDE 201403 Cinnamon 64bit (under LXDE)

Ctl-F, with Xfe having focus, is non-responsive.

Hmmm. I suppose it is something to do with the Linux distribution (or other add-ins). I gave up on LXDE after a brief attempt to use it. It wasn't that I didn't want to use it (I think it would be nice to move Linux Mint from the Ubuntu base to a straight Debian base), but because LXFE was dropped and after I installed LXFE on LXDE, I ran into a lot of problems. I have no idea whether the problems were because of LXFE or because of my hardware (an older Apple MacBook Pro).

I might give it another try when the next major LXDE release comes out.
User avatar
JRG
Level 1
Level 1
 
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:50 am

Re: Paradigm shift in File Managers

Postby killer de bug on Tue Jun 03, 2014 4:51 pm

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. [Isaac Newton]
User avatar
killer de bug
Level 7
Level 7
 
Posts: 1837
Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 1:49 pm
Location: Austria

Linux Mint is funded by ads and donations.
 
Next

Return to Open chat

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests