Others Dead or Alive

Wednesday, March 01, 2006 - # posted by Matej Urbančič @ 2:25 pm 6 comments

Have you ever wondered how many twin panel file managers or so called commanders are still out there? Well, I might be able to give you an impression. For some time now I was fishing for all that are still available online. Some are probably missing from the list, but there can not be many of them. The list includes only file managers with graphical user interface. Those that run in console are skipped for various reasons. List descends on release date.

The list is structured in two categories:

* boldly going on - last update is less than a years ago.
* ghostly ancestors - last update is lost but never forgotten.

Info was gathered on forums, through Google search and some user groups. Very informative sites are freshmeat.net and sourceforge.net. I also found some sites that have listed a lot of file managers, but at closer look I found that not all of them are twin-panel file managers. I only listed those that I could confirm. If someone corrects me with fresh data I’ll promptly change the list, otherwise I’ll update on undesignated period of time. In next days this list will end up on wikipedia, where I think it will be much more frequently updated. If you are in any way associated with these projects, please take care of correct data on the wikipedia.
While browsing through this list try to think about how much programmer’s power is lost in open source projects since everybody wants to start on his own. On the other hand Windows projects show that this is indeed an important aspect of file management. The most advanced ones for windows are shareware.

While gathering this info on file managers I also found that some info is very hard to find, thus was not included in the list. I’m talking about info like programming language and requirements. Some projects don’t even write down the program versions or dates of releases. You have to run the program to find the numbers. Last update is November, 2006.

… boldly going on

… ghostly ancestors

Windows users mostly talk about Total Commander, Directory Opus, Speed Commander and Servant Salamander twin panel file managers. Total Commander is definitely the leader in this group, but other are closely behind it. Total Commander is from historical viewpoint unmatchable. This is also probably the reason why a lot of users still stick with it. Looking at features and user interface Total Commander is the most robust. Users on its forum get deep in the flame wars every time the improvement of GUI is mentioned. Most of the users prefer functionality over looks and great majority want it to perform fast without unnecessary bloat. For this reason a plugin system was introduced. Other candidates put a lot of time to user interfaces and feature set that has no direct connection to file management. Most Total Commander users demand those features to be kept to plugin system domain or to be connected to an outside application.

On Linux there is really only one graphical twin-panel file manager in constant development. That’s Krusader. There is a rival that is not very frequently updated, but still holds a big share of users and that’s Midnight Commander or mc that natively runs in text mode. It was last time updated on 23.07.2005. Others that show some development are Tux Commander, natively written for Gnome and multiplatform muCommander and JFileRunner that are written in Java. Krusader is file manager primarily build for KDE desktop environment harvesting a lot of it’s power and is taking a middle road in comparison to Total Commander on Windows operating system. It takes care of its GUI, but still puts a lot of focus on speed also minimizing feature set to strict file management. Other functions are integrated through KDE libraries and plugin system. Introduction of Useractions gave the user possibilities to automate procedures within the manager.
In last days, we were witnesses to resurrection of Gnome Commander in version 1.1.7. Good luck, Piotr!

Trend that is momentarily present in all leading commander style file managers, especially in Window environment is spreading functionality to image viewing of many raster and vector formats, editors for different documents metadata, thus stepping into by-file management domains. A lot of work is done on automating frequently repeated actions, parallel file operations and support for handling most (if not all) known packaging formats with encryption support. There is currently a user interface trend to have all functions open in twin panels instead of separate windows. This gives an impression that all twin panel file managers want to become multipurpose.

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