How to install the Polo File Manager--and why you should

Learn how to install a lesser-known Linux file manager that offers tons of possibility.

How to install the Polo File Manager--and why you should

The Linux desktop has plenty of options. There isn't a single application, that doesn't have multiple competitors at the ready. One perfect example is the file manager. There's Nautilus, Thunar, Dolphin, Konqueror, Midnight Commander, Krusader, PCMan--the list goes on and on. Add another to that list: Polo.

Polo is an Advanced file manager for the Linux desktop, which offers a number of features that you'll find in similar tools of it's kind, and some features you would not. The feature list includes the likes of:

  • Multiple layout support (single, dual, quad) with multiple tabs in each pane
  • Archive creation, extraction, and browsing
  • Support for cloud storage
  • Run and manage KVM images
  • Modify PDF documents and image files
  • Boot ISO files in KVM
  • Write ISO files to USB drives
  • Connect to FTP, SFTP, SSH and Samba servers
  • Checksum and hashing support
  • File comparison
  • And more

SEE: Server deployment/migration checklist (Tech Pro Research)

However, there's a catch that most Linux users aren't used to--a paywall. That's right. In order to gain access to some of the features, you have to pony up. The features you can only gain access to once beyond the paywall are:

  • Write ISO to USB Device
  • Image optimization and adjustment tools
  • PDF tools
  • Video Download via youtube-dl

How much is the paywall? A Paypal donation of $10 USD is enough to get you beyond the wall. But even without getting beyond the paywall, Polo is still a file manager worth your time.

A word of warning

Outside of the paywall, another issue (that could give some users pause) is that the last update to Polo happened six months ago, and it was nothing more than a template update. And considering Polo is still listed as Beta, that might not be a good sign. Whether or not Polo is still in active development is yet to be seen. Even so, this lesser-known file manager is worth a look.

Let's install Polo and check it out.


There are two ways to install Polo, via a .deb file (for Ubuntu-based distributions) or a .run file (for Red Hat, Debian, and Arch based distributions).

For Ubuntu, the installation is as follows:

  1. Open a terminal window.
  2. Add the necessary repository with the command sudo apt-add-repository ppa:teejee2008/ppa -y.
  3. Update apt with the command sudo apt-get update.
  4. Install Polo with the command sudo apt-get install polo-file-manage -y.

For all other distributions, follow these steps:

  1. Download the .run file into your ~/Downloads directory.
  2. Give the file executable permissions with the command chmod u+x ~/Downloads/polo*.run.
  3. Install Polo with the command sudo sh ~/Downloads/polo*.run.

Once installed, locate the application launcher in your desktop menu and start the application. You will be required to walk through a standard welcome wizard, where you can select your layout style (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A: Selecting the layout style for Polo.


At this point, Polo will look and behave like a fairly standard file manager, with the addition of a few handy features. Even Polo's interface (Figure B) indicates there's more under the hood than the usual fare.

Figure B

Figure B: The Polo file manager in action.

For example, click Terminal (in the main toolbar) to open a terminal window in the bottom half of the application (Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C: The Polo terminal window ready to serve.


One feature power users will really appreciate is the ability to create and save Workspaces. With this, you can configure Polo in a specific manner (say an ideal setup for development) and save that setup as a Workspace. To do this, configure Polo exactly how you want it and then click Workspace | Save As. Give the new Workspace a name and click OK. You can save as many Workspace configurations as you like.

To open one of your Workspaces, click Workspace and select the one you want to use (Figure D).

Figure D

Figure D: Selecting from a list of Workspaces.

I did come across one snag when I added a terminal window to a Workspace. After saving that Workspace, the terminal would no longer open. The only way to get the feature back was to reset the session, by clicking Tools | Reset session and restart. The caveat to that is Polo didn't automatically restart. After a manual restart, all was back to normal.

Why you should use Polo

Outside of that one glitch, Polo performed as well as any other file manager available. It's also highly capable of being exactly the file manager you want (instead of you becoming the user the file manager wants you to be). And with the addition of the extra features, Polo is a file manager that would make any Linux user happy (be they newbie or power user).

Polo is a file manager that shows a great deal of promise, so much so it could easily wind up as a default file manager on many a distribution. The one thing holding Polo back is its beta status and the lack of recent updates. If the developer continues working on this application, it could become something very special (as far as file managers are concerned). If, on the other hand, development happens at a slow, random pace, I imagine Polo will land square onto the pile of apps-that-could-have been. Which would be a shame.

Even with the caveats, Polo is a file manager you should try, especially if you find your distribution's file manager lacking in features or flexibility.

Also see

Image: Jack Wallen