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Even though it is possible to completely manage all of your files from the Linux command line either via bash or any other shell program like zsh, most uses prefer having a dedicated file manager application/program that will streamline and make file management easy for them. This article will cover the popular GUI-based file managers that you can install and use in your Linux system.

1. Nautilus

Nautilus is a GUI-based file manager that provides a simple and integrated way to manage your files and applications. In case you are using GNOME, be sure that Nautilus is always running.

The following are what you can do with Nautilus:

  • Create folders and documents
  • Display your files and folders
  • Search and manage your files
  • Run scripts and launch applications
  • Customize the appearance of files and folders
  • Open special locations on your computer
  • Write data to a CD or DVD
  • Install and remove fonts

Modes of Operation

There are two modes in which Nautilus provides for you to interact with your filesystem. They are: spatial mode and browser mode.

Browser Mode

Nautilus is usually in browser mode by default. In this mode the file manager window represents a browser, which can display any location. Opening a folder updates the current file manager window to show the contents of the new folder. What you will notice in browser mode is that you will always have one window to show the contents of the folder you would wish to display

Spatial Mode

Opening a folder in spatial mode opens a new window for that folder. Every time you open another folder, a new window for it will be launched in the same place on the screen and the same size as the last time you viewed it. So in spatial mode, you end up with as many windows launched as the number of folders you would wish to the contents therein.

Install Nautilus on Ubuntu / Debian / Fedora:

--- Ubuntu / Debian ---
sudo apt install nautilus

--- Fedora ---
sudo dnf install nautilus

2. Thunar

Xfce docs describe Thunar as a modern file manager for the Xfce Desktop Environment. It has been designed from the ground up to be fast and easy to use. Its user interface is clean and intuitive and does not include any confusing or useless options by default.

To maintain its lean features, Thunar supports third-party plugnins that exyends it functionality. Some of them include the following:

  • Bulk Renamer – rename multiple files at once
  • Custom Actions – custom commands associated with common mime-types or extensions
  • Archive Plugin – allows to create and extract archive files
  • Media Tags Plugin – improved support for ID3 tags
  • Shares Plugin – Quickly share folders using Samba without requiring root access
  • Volume Manager – Automatic management of removable devices in Thunar
  • VCS Plugin – adds Subversion and GIT actions to the context menu

You can find out more about Thunar.

Install Thunar on Ubuntu / Debian / Fedora:

--- Ubuntu / Debian ---
sudo apt install thunar

--- Fedora ---
sudo dnf install thunar

3. PCManFM

Developed by Hong Jen Yee from Taiwan, PCMan File Manager (PCManFM) is a file manager application released under the GNU General Public License. PCManFM is free software and is the standard file manager in LXDE, which is also developed by the same author in conjunction with other developers Source LXDE-Wiki.

Features of PCManFM

PCManFM has a lot of features and the list below is truncated. They include:

  • Full gvfs support with seamless access to remote filesystems (Able to handle sftp://, webdav://, smb://, …etc when related backends of gvfs are installed.)
  • Thumbnails for pictures (default only for local pictures) with optional EXIF support
  • Desktop management – shows wallpaper and desktop icons, highly customisable, with possibility to have different wallpapers on each desktop and on each monitor
  • Bookmarks – saved places. You can see them in the left panel of PCManFM. Visible from other Gtk+ applications.
  • Multilingual (translated in several languages)
  • Can be started in one second on normal machine
  • Tabbed windows (similar to Firefox tabs)
  • Volume management (mount/unmount/eject, requires gvfs) with optional automounting
  • Drag & Drop support
  • Files can be dragged among tabs
  • File association support (e.g. default application to open)
  • Provides icon view, compact view, detailed list view and thumbnail view.
  • Standard compliant (follows the FreeDesktop.org guidelines)
  • Clean and user-friendly interface (GTK+ 2)
  • Trash can support
  • Applications menu virtual folder support

Find out more at lxde wiki

Install PCManFM on Ubuntu / Debian / Fedora:

--- Ubuntu / Debian ---
sudo apt install pcmanfm


--- Fedora ---
sudo dnf install pcmanfm

4. Konqueror

The developers of Konqueror could not resist the urge to make this application what it is. It is a fully fledged Web browser and swiss-army-knife for any kind of file-management (browse files and directories to locate, copy, move, and delete files) and file previewing (open files using pre-selected application, or an alternate application). Behind the scenes, Konqueror uses Dolphin KPart for file management, and so has all of the functionality of Dolphin. The versatility of Konqueror has made it one of the best loved file managers in Linux. In addition to that Konqueror comes in handy as an FTP client.

Features of Konqueror:

  • Web browsing using KHTML or KDEWebKit as rendering engines
  • File management using most of Dolphin’s features (including version-control, service menus and the basic UI)
  • File management on ftp and sftp servers
  • Full-featured FTP-client (you can split views to display local and remote folders and previews in the same window)
  • Embedded applications to preview files (e.g. Okular and Calligra for documents, Gwenview for pictures, KTextEditor for text-files)
  • Different kinds of plugins: Service-menus, KParts (embedded applications), KIO (accessing files using special protocols like http or ftp) and KPart-plugins (like AdBlocker)

Source: KDE-Applications.

Install Konqueror on Ubuntu / Debian / Fedora:

--- Ubuntu / Debian ---
sudo apt install konqueror

--- Fedora ---
sudo dnf install konqueror

5. Dolphin

Dolphin is a lightweight file manager of the KDE Software Compilation. It has been designed with ease of use and simplicity in mind, while still allowing flexibility and customization. This means that you can do your file management exactly the way you want to do it.

Features:

  • Navigation (or breadcrumb) bar for URLs, allowing you to quickly navigate through the hierarchy of files and folders.
  • Supports several different kinds of view styles and properties and allows you to configure the view exactly how you want it.
  • Split view, allowing you to easily copy or move files between locations.
  • Additional information and shortcuts are available as dock-able panels, allowing you to move them around freely and display exactly what you want.
  • Multiple tab support
  • Informational dialogues are displayed in an unobtrusive way.
  • Undo/redo support
  • Transparent network access through the KIO system
  • Terminal Integration: The terminal emulator Konsole can be displayed directly in Dolphin making it possible to use shell commands directly in Dolphin.
  • Source: KDE.

Install Dolphin on Ubuntu / Debian / Fedora:

--- Ubuntu / Debian ---
sudo apt install dolphin

--- Fedora ---
sudo dnf install dolphin

6. Krusader

Krusader is an advanced twin panel (commander style) file manager for KDE Plasma and other desktops in the *nix world, similar to Midnight or Total Commander. It provides all the file management features you could possibly want. Krusader supports a wide variety of archive formats and can handle other KIO slaves such as smb or fish.

Features of Krusader

  • Extensive archive handling
  • User friendly
  • Terminal integration
  • Mounted filesystem support
  • File transfers with (S)FTP
  • Advanced search module
  • An internal viewer and editor
  • Directory synchronisation
  • File content comparisons
  • Powerful batch renaming
  • It is (almost) completely customizable
  • And much much more …

Find out more about Krusader on its official Web Page

Install Krusader on Ubuntu / Debian / Fedora:

--- Ubuntu / Debian ---
sudo apt install krusader

--- Fedora ---
sudo dnf install krusader

To Finalize

File managers augment and complement your user interaction with the desktop. Most of the time spent on your PC involves the searching of files, creation of new ones, deleting the ones you wish not to have anymore and the list goes on. File managers make it easier and even fun for you especially if they have been customized for your personal taste. You can give some of them a try to see what will suit you best. Otherwise, we appreciate your visit and we hope it the article was helpful.

Other guides that might interest you include:

Best Console / Terminal File Managers for Linux

Automatically Clean Unused Temporary files in Linux

How To Use Linux find Command To Locate files

How To Execute / Open JNLP files on Linux – Ubuntu / Debian

How to extract .xz files on Linux – CenOS / Ubuntu / Debian

How to use scp command to securely transfer files with examples

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