The KDE community maintains a lot of cool (and sometimes cross-platform) applications for the GNU/Linux desktop. Most end users, however, only know and run whatever default subset and configuration of those applications was packaged as "KDE" by their distribution.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with this. The more people manage to use free software only because of that work of pre-selection and integration, the better! Still, it pays to know and try less-known KDE programs that might be much better for you than their default counterparts. One of these is Krusader — a twin-pane file manager that could be faster than Dolphin on older computers or just a better match for your computing habits. Here are 10 reasons to try it.
1. Same interface for local and remote files
Like many other, much more popular file managers, even Krusader can open remote folders through several protocols: Samba, normal, or secure ftp, and FISH. So, it doesn't matter where your files are, because you'll always access them in the same way.
2. Directory synchronization
One click on Tools | Synchronize will let you keep two folders in sync. Please take a quick look at the available options in Figure A. You'll see that, as it happens with any tool of this kind, you really need to spend some time studying carefully what each option means. However, Krusader offers a good compromise between flexibility and ease of use.
Krusader directory synchronization options.
3. Directory comparison
At least the first time, never synchronize folders without carefully checking where and how they are different. In Krusader, Edit | Compare Directories tells you exactly what's different in two directory trees. More exactly, it automatically passes the job to whatever KDE "difference detector" was selected for this task at configuration time. I suggest either Kdiff3 (shown in Figure B) or Kompare.
You can compare directories in Krusader.
4. Quick, effective keyboard-only navigation
Press [Ctrl]+[Z] for the "popular URLs" list to select which of the folders you visit most frequently that you want to go to next. If there is one of them (beside your $HOME directory that's already mapped to [Alt]+[Home]) to which you must go back often in the current session, mark it with [Ctrl]+[Shift]+[J], and then press [Ctrl]+[J] whenever you want to return right there.
5. Flexible display of command results
Krusader has several built-in commands and tools that you can start from the Tools menu (see point 9 for more). You can decide if and where to see the output of such actions in the Settings | Command Execution Mode Setup submenu of Figure C.
Command Execution Mode Setup.
6. Integrated prompt
Krusader includes an actual (single) command line at the bottom of the main window. Click on the terminal icon at its right any time you want to overcome the default choice for output display mentioned in the previous point. You can also open a full terminal in any moment pressing [F2].
7. Flexible, saved searches
The search interface of Krusader opens when you click on the binocular icon. After you've set all the search parameters, from ownership to regular expressions and timestamps, and found all the matching files, you can "Feed to listbox" the result. The effect is shown in Figure D. Krusader creates a virtual folder, named as you want, that displays only the result of that search.
Krusader search capability.
You can configure Krusader to work, look, and perform synchronization in several independent, predefined ways called "profiles" (e.g. one for work and one for personal stuff). At any time, you can switch from one profile to another. To know more, read the Krusader Profiles page.
9. As many custom actions as you want
This is, in my opinion, the best and most powerful feature of Krusader. I'm talking of the Useractions of Figure E, synthetically described as "a method to call external programs with variable parameters." Basically, Krusader will execute, whenever you select it from the Useractions menu, any custom, complex action you've told it to remember.
Manage your Useractions in Krusader.
Predefined actions range from enqueing audio files for playback with amaroK to backups of the current folder. In general, Useractions can be external scripts or the internal functions described in the manual. In the first case, remember to set your path as explained here, otherwise the scripts may not work as expected.
Global Useractions settings let you specify, among other things, if the actions should include remote files, ask for confirmation every time, or be run as a different user. Besides the manual, a dedicated section of the Krusader forum provides plenty of examples.
10. ...and much more
Using Krusader is not a compromise. While it has a spartan (let's say outdated) look, Krusader is so full of features that its main limit may be the time it takes to master them all. Figure F tries to give you an idea of this by showing one part of the initial, optional configuration procedure. Don't let that scare you — and if you need online support, ask for it on the Krusader mailing lists (since the Forum is in read-only mode now).
Krusader has many configuration options.
Do you have hands-on experience with Krusader? Would you recommend it to your IT peers? Why or why not? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.
Marco Fioretti is a freelance writer and teacher whose work focuses on the impact of open digital technologies on education, ethics, civil rights, and environmental issues.