What's the best file manager for Ubuntu Gnome 14.04 Trusty?
What's wrong with Nautilus?
Nautilus (generically called "Files", just to confuse everybody) is the default file manager that comes with Ubuntu and Gnome. It's recently developed a few non-features, and removed a few useful features and although I tried to like it, I could not get on with it after a month's use.
The titlebar and toolbar have been merged into one. At first I thought, well that's efficient, but then I realised that it makes it breaks a few things that turned out to be important to my productivity:
- I use Close, Miminise and Maximise buttons, but Nautilus ignores this preference, giving my just Close.
- I have my close button on the left (I was won over to this by Ubuntu's radical move a few years back, and now I like it), but Nautilus forces me to have the close button on the right. Every time I go to close a window I go left where I expect to find it, then remember, oh, nautilus! and go right.
- I have configured Gnome Shell so that double click a title bar maximises vertically, middle click maximised horizontally. Are these respected in the reinvented wheel of nautilus' new titlebar? Nope.
- I like to move windows around, but there's not much to grab and drag now.
- It's like there's an invisible titlebar's space above the window because you can't position the window very near the top of the screen.
It reminds me of Chrome and all those annoying Windows hardware vendors' non-standard software, where they think that their design is best and remove all the standard bits that make an OS (or graphical shell) nice to use.
Unusable Icon Layout
I love whitespace. Calm, peaceful, reassuring whitespace. But the Gnome team have overdosed bigtime with this one:
I find it really jarring to look in several places to find that convenient shortcut I wanted. OK you can hack the
~/.config/user-dirs.dirs file (and make it read-only so your change doesn't get lost), to get rid of Videos or repurpose Documents. But when I bookmark a location in Nautilus it comes up in a completely separate place. So then looking for it I have to scan Places, then Bookmarks - twice the brain work.
Then there's the removal of split pane views and the removal of Compact view and other view options. Finally there's the icky search thing where you type and it instantly starts a recursive search. I found this useful when in a folder with no subfolders, but try it in a rather full home directory (or viewing a remote directory structure) and it's like trying to dance in treacle.
There are some great things (still) in Nautilus, but these were enough to force me to look elsewhere.
Dolphin, Nautilus, Nemo, PCManFM, Thunar
I've looked at each file manager and given it a 0, 1 or 2 based on how well it meets the things I think are important:
|Select files, see how many and disk usage||2||2||2||2||2|
option to use external app for this
|Pleasant Layout of Icons||2|
Compact mode in icon layout, and "compact layout"
|Big Thumbnails/previews||2 (256px)||1 (94px)||2 (256px)||2 (370px)||2 (256px in thumbnail mode)|
|Details (tabular) and icons views||1|
Three views but limited column options.
Two views, but excelent add-on for optional columns
Three views but Image Size column did not work.
Four views but limited column opts.
|Bookmarks listed in one place||2||2||1||1|
Can add to places, but not integrated with GTK environment
|Progress monitor for slow operations||2||2||2||2||1|
|Mount ssh, sftp, smb||2||2||2||2|
But not using GVFS (so issues from other apps)
|Handle memory sticks etc.||2||2||2||2||2|
Bar chart in side panel; info in status bar
via Properties context menu
via Properties context menu
via Properties context menu; optional in details bar.
|twin pane, with easy drag n Drop||1|
twin panes, but*
but theme v confusing
via additional columns package
"Information" pane pretty useless.
|Type to locate a file||1||1|
|Standards - works well with desktop||2||2||0||1|
Requires KDE's config
KDE not Gnome config (obv)
'scripts' and possibly 'actions'
in-built custom opts
scripts, actions + others
'modules' but couldn't find any!
not apparent how to create
|breadcrumbs and editable path||2||2||2||2|
|Select files by pattern||1||1||1||0||0|
|Does not leave file litter||1||1||1||0|
leaves .directory files everywhere!
hover a selected file and its name vanishes!
nepomuk(?) silently fails
Yes, nemo wins for me. But not the nemo you'll get in Trusty (which has theme issues). I was really interested so see Thunar coming out so well in this test. I really like Thunar because it's lightning fast and does a lot. Dolphin was the reason I left KDE (a long time ago, shortly after the 3.x → 4.x move); Konqueror was an excellent file manager (prob better than those above) but then it died a death when Dolphin came along and they started using a bit of Dolphin inside Konqueror that removed its coolness. I'm glad I don't have to use PCManFM because although I quite like it, I can never spell it to launch it!
How to install:
- Add the NoobsLab repo:
apt-add-repository ppa:noobslab/mintand install nemo and any of the nemo-* extras you want.
- Completely replace Nautilus with Nemo, details in webupd8 article, basically run:
xdg-mime default nemo.desktop inode/directory application/x-gnome-saved-search
- Fix the theme as shown in my instructions on ask.ubuntu.com
Nb. I have not done this in one go - took lots of faffing, so you may find you need a couple of restarts (e.g. nautilus -q; nemo -q;). The webupd8 article covers a lot more detail.
We all win with open source software
It's all well and good me seething about a particular development turn or twist. I'm an end user, getting to use any of these five (or many more) for free; it's amazing the work that has gone into providing these and it's great that so many of them play nicely in a standard desktop environment. Nemo began as a fork of an earlier version of Nautilus, forking is what makes open source so strong. It's a theory but a practise with proven results, too. Others in that category for me are OpenOffice→LibreOffice; MySQL→MariaDB; Amarok→Clementine.
So go on, tell me about something I missed! Or that my numbers don't add up (they may not - they did in the spreadsheet, but I might have tweaked a couple since! #lazy).