Many Linux users make use of the KDE or GNOME desktop environments and when it comes to file management, they don’t venture beyond using the environment-provided file management tools like Konqueror or Nautilus. Considering this is Linux, there are many other file management tools to choose from, some of which you may find preferable to the “defaults.”

Gentoo file manager

One such file management tool is called Gentoo, not to be confused with the Linux distribution of the same name. Gentoo hasn’t been updated in a few years, but it is still a solid file manager. Some distributions include it, so it is just an apt-get or yum command away; for others that do not include it, all you need to build it from source are the GTK+ development files and libraries. The latter will be installed with any GNOME system. To build from source, it’s a ./configure; make; make install away from usability.

Gentoo is nice in that it is a GTK+-based application with a dual-paned file view, reminiscent of old tools like Total Commander or Norton Commander. It is extremely configurable with a powerful file recognition system that allows you to map what happens when you double-click a file type, select which icons belong to what types of files, etc.


For those who prefer using KDE, Krusader is another stellar file management tool. Like Gentoo, it is a dual-paned file management utility that is extremely customizable. The latest beta of Krusader is compatible with KDE4, whereas previous stable versions are written for KDE3. Some of Krusader’s notable features include impressive archive handling, advanced searching, an internal viewer/editor, file content comparisons and directory synchronization. It can also handle remote filesystems by using KIO slaves, which means it can mount SMB or FTP filesystems. Many distributions provide Krusader.

Midnight Commander

Finally, for those who want a file management tool very similar to Norton Commander and that operates on the CLI, Midnight Commander is the best choice. Midnight Commander is available for nearly all Linux distributions; the package may be named mc, which is also the name of the program. MC gives a dual-paned file view, each representing a different directory. When executed in a terminal under X, mouse clicks work, so if MC is your preference but you want to use it in a GUI, it’s still an option. Another nice feature of MC is that it still keeps a command-line open so you can use a combination of directory navigation and CLI commands, made even easier by using the tab key to switch active panes.

These are just three examples of many other file management, or “file commander” type programs available for Linux. Others include Tux Commander, XFE, and Gnome Commander. If the default file management tools don’t quite cut it, or if you prefer the dual-paned filesystem view, give one of these programs a try.

Get the PDF version of this tip here.

Vincent Danen is the Security Team Manager for Mandriva and lives in Canada. He has been writing about and developing on Linux for over 10 years.

Delivered each Tuesday, TechRepublic’s free Linux and Open Source newsletter provides tips, articles, and other resources to help you hone your Linux skills. Automatically sign up today!