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Less is More: Orthodox File Managers as Sysadmin IDE

Home of OFM standards

26 years since the release of Norton Commander 1.0

(the logo was awarded
on Jul 18, 2000)

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(Introduction to OFMs)
OFM Book OFM Standards Ten Commandments
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History of development of Orthodox Editors

Comparison Table TCL file managers Perl-based OFMs Python OFMs Java OFMS Web OFMs Ratpoison
NCD clones Macro
WebDriveFTP Viewers and add-ons Servant Salamander muCommander FreeCommander
Programmable Keyboards AutoHotkey Microsoft IntelliType ArsClip KISS principle Humor Etc

Orthodoxy: The things that are considered correct and proper beliefs. This word comes from the Greek words 'orthos' meaning straight or right and 'doxa' meaning belief.

TheoGlossary - A Glossary of Words and Theological Terms by Dr. Terry E. Shoup

Orthodoxy: Any practice or teaching that falls within the established framework of the conventions, beliefs and doctrines of a given religious tradition.

Glossary of Important Terms

In a world obsessed with fancy GUI widgets and where look-and-feel of OS and applications change each three-five years, it's refreshing to see a minimalist interface that has the same look and feel for a quarter of century. And there are users of this product with 25 years experience ;-) 

Anybody involved in IT knows all too well that a quarter of a century in software is equal to eternity. Among system and application programs there are very few survivors which in some form preserved the world of unique 1980th-style character based interfaces other then vi, THE editor, and Orthodox file managers(OFMs).

Many of programs belonging to this type are descendants of Norton Commander, a file manager first released in 1986 by Norton Computing (since 1990 part of Symantec). But not only file managers can have this type of interface. There is a distinct, but very similar trend in editors  such as vi and THE, windows multiplexers (GNU screen), and minimalist windows managers (ratpoison). We can talk about Orthodox interface as a distinct type of interface different in concepts from traditional GUI interface used in Microsoft Windows and Apple operating systems and simultaneously different (and richer) then plain vanilla  command line interface.  See my article Less is More: A rich functionality behind Spartan interface of Orthodox File Managers  for more information on the topic.

Orthodox file managers survived because behind Spartan appearance, they provided a very flexible interface as well as provided far richer functionality then alternatives (and while it's just accidental that one of popular OFMs is called FAR, we can claim that it was God's hand which guided the author to chose this particular name :-). In a way, OFM are extending the traditional Unix shell functionality in a new way creating a hybrid of shell and file manager.

Another attraction is that due to stability of interface they belong to the class of programs usually called "Learn once, use for forever." That includes the ability to jump from one OFM manager to another with minimal pain. And they have an unmatched, really unmatched and completely unique in a world of idiosyncratic file managers portability (there is probably no platform for which at least one OFM does not exist; they are available on smartphones too :-) While originated in DOS and still more widely used in Windows world, OFMs really belong to Unix, sharing with Unix simplicity of design that hides extremely rich functionality, the elegance of key ideas (the idea of graphical shell, no more no less) and the prominent role that shells ( such as ksh and bash ) play in this environment (in OFM shell is exposed via  command line, user menu and extension menu).

Recently Microsoft caught-up in shell area with the introduction of PowerShell, but still Windows world does not have a shell culture that exists in Unix world and used to exist in DOS world. That's probably why Midnight commander has the best implementation of user menu and extension menu among all prominent OFMs.

After 2012 revision my introductory article for this page exceeded 25K limit and was moved it to its own page. See Less is More: A rich functionality behind Spartan interface of Orthodox File Managers (an introduction to Orthodox File Managers(OFM))


The Orthodox File Managers (OFMs) that are also known as "Commanders" are remote descendants of Norton Commander (NC) written by John Socha and first released in 1986 for MS DOS. Despite Spartan interface (or, more correctly, due to it) Orthodox file managers provide an extremely rich functionality, unsurpassed by any other type of file managers. Including a unique way of shell and file manager integration via user menu with a set of macrovariables as well as shell terminal window, making them natural sysadmin IDE. Due to unique blend of power, flexibility and portability they became the tool of choice for system administrators, especially in xUSSR region, Eastern Europe, Germany and Scandinavian countries. Those regions were place of birth of the most impressive OFM implementations such as Far, Total Commander, deco, Volkov Commander, Dos Navigator, Altap Salamander and many others.

There are three fundamental properties of Orthodox file managers:

  1. Conservative (as in "far from being fancy"), very stable (25 years without major changes), very flexible interface with two symmetrical windows (called panels, with trademark white on blue letters, by default) that hides behind Spartan interface very rich functionality. It really teaches us that "less is more"
  2. One "terminal style" window that initially is minimized to a single line at the bottom of panels, but can be expanded to full screen, half-screen or any number of lines. The user can work in this window like with regular console screen.
  3. Additional way of integration with the underling OS shell via so called User menu and extension menu using the same set of macro variables that are available for command line, which is also used in the built-in editor, providing an opportunity to pipe result of the shell script execution to the place after the cursor or pipe a selected block as input of some script.

At the same time they represent just one instance of a larger category that can be called Orthodox interface. This category includes editors such as vi and THE (orthodox editors), windows multiplexers (GNU screen), windows managers (such as ratpoison) and probably some other that I just don't yet discovered. I am still working on refining this notion but as a set of raw ideas it includes:

  1. Distinct command set layer with commands that can be entered from the command line and reflected in GUI interface. In this sense vi is a reference implementation and OFM inspired by vi have some interesting, distinct from traditional line of OFM ideas implemented. See ranger and vifm.
  2. Tiled, nonoverlapping windows with minimum decorations
  3. Stress on availability of all commands via keyboard, not only via mouse clicks, althouth mouse can be productively used and is used in such interface.
  4. Ability to redirect output of commands executed in one window to other windows and processes.
  5. Usage of GUI elements to generate commands on command line (macrovariables and such commands as Ctrl-Enter, Ctrl-[ and Ctrl-] in OFM. )
  6. Accent of extensibility and programmability (with shell and/or scripting languages) instead of eye candy.

My ebook The Orthodox File Manager(OFM) Paradigm contains more in-depth investigation of this phenomenon:

You can also see videos on YouTube related to various OFMs, mentioned above. Among them:

OFMs as sysadmin IDE

The right way to look on OFMs is not as on file managers, but as an shell IDE. That means the quality of shell terminal window provided is of paramount importance for OFMs and the role of user menu is central. Unfortunately outside DOS implementations most OFMs are weak in this area and that might be the reason OFMs did not got the popularity among sysadmins they deserve. Some like Total Commander treat shell terminal window functionality like red hair step child despite availability and great productivity enhancing potential of PowerShell on Windows. In Unix OFMs the low quality of shell terminal window implementation (that should be equal to GNU Screen split window implementation) in my view greatly influenced the fact that particular OFM implementation have difficulties to attract critical mass of sysadmins as is visible from scarcity of manpower and development resources in MC and other orthodox file managers for Unix.

Unfortunately most current implementation are very weak in this area and that might be the reason OFMs did not got the popularity among sysadmins they deserve. Some like Total Commander treat shell terminal window functionality like red hair step child despite availability and great productivity enhancing potential of PowerShell on Windows. On Unix quality of shell terminal window implementation (that should be equal to GNU Screen split window implementation) in my view greatly influence whether particular OFM implementation can attract critical mass of users, or not.

Simplifying the reference implementation for OFM terminal window implementation should serve GNU screen. Anything less than make them much less attractive for Unix sysadmins. That also means that internal viewer and built-in editor are very important, "first class citizens" parts of OFMs and implementation of them should get attention they deserve. The quality of their integration with panel-based file management subsystem by-and-large-determine the quality of this IDE. In this respect pioneered by Midnight Commander editor user menu is an important step forward and should be implemented in other OFMs, especially Unix/Linux OFMs. I would say that without this feature as well as dynamic user menu (also pioneered by Midnight Commander) OFM looks like second rate tools. Unfortunately Midnight Commander is not that perfect in shell terminal window implementation although there is a progress from version 4.6 to version 4.8 and implementation in version 4.8 while far from perfect looks more sysadmin friendly.

They can also serve the role of IDE for webmasters of the sites that use plain-vanilla HTML (as opposed to database driven sites). With ftp and SSH virtual filesystems available for such site an OFM is a quintessential Webmaster tool. It definitely plays this role for Softpanorama. This unique role that OFMs can play as a webmaster IDE fuels my interest in the field after more then two decades of usage.

Along with integration of file managers, internal viewer and editor OFM also integrate functionality of a dozen command line utilities including but not limited to:

  1. touch via files attribute dialog
  2. tar -- via Archive VFS
  3. gzip -- via Archive VFS
  4. bzip -- via Archive VFS

  5. zip/unzip -- via Archive VFS

  6. ln -- via F5/F6 operations ability to create symbolic and hard links
  7. chown -- via change attributes dialog
  8. chmod -- via change attributes dialog
  9. find -- via FindFile dialog
  10. grep -- via FindFile dialog
  11. more -- via internal viewer
  12. cd -- via NCD panel
  13. history -- duplicating management of command history with the additional recoding of history of all dialog boxes.

Comparison Table (from Ch.2 of the OFM book)

OFM name
(and link to a book chapter)
Norton Commander
File Commander
Dos Navigator
Far Manager
Midnight Commander
Norton Commander for Windows
Total Commander WinSCP Krusader EmelFM2 FreeCommander mu
Altar Salamander
OFM Type Classic Classic Classic Classic Classic     GUI GUI GUI GUI GUI GUI GUI GUI
Status of development
(active if the the version is less then six month old, stalled if a year, frozen if more the a year)
Stalled Stalled  Active Active   Abandoned Active Active Stalled Stalled Stalled, but forum is active Active Stalled
Last stable version 5.0 2.4
(as of March 2011)
2.31.5309 (Mar 23, 2010)
1.75 build 2634 and 2.0 build 1897
(Feb 03, 2011)

Far 3.0 built 2884

(Sept 2012)
  2.01 8.01
(Aug, 2012)
(Mar, 2011)
2009.02b 0.9 (as of July, 2012) 2.54, Sept 2010
OS supported DOS  OS/2,
Win 9x,Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD

Linux (ndn)

 Win Linux & Unix
  Win 98, Win2000, Win XP  Win XP, Win 7,
Win 8
Win XP, Win 7,
Win 8
Linux, KDE Linux, GTK+ Win Multi-platform
Windows XP and Win7
Size of compressed distribution 1.4M   0.3M ~1M 1M 1.56 M      2M   3.5M 4.78 4M 1M (source) 2.54M 4M 7MB
Software type and download link (if different from the development Commercial Shareware Open source:
2 major versions:
ndn & dnosp
Far 1.75 is free,

Far 2.0 is open source

  Commercial Shareware GNU License GNU License GNU License Freeware GNU License Commercial
Price $90 ? $35 $0 $25 $0  
£21/Ä 35
$44/Ä 32 $0 $0 $0 $0 $0 $29.95

Ten OFM Commandments ;-)

"I have found Jesus. He came to me in the form of muCommander."

-- A happy user

There is a large variety among OFM implementations. Moreover different OFMs are good for different situations and tasks -- there is no and never will be the best OFM for all situations and environments. But they all share same distinctive interface framework and the following basic features:

  1. Spartan interface with unique, "non-fashionable" but very functional structure: two symmetrical panels that display files in two directories and a minimized (but extendable to half and full screen)  telnet-style terminal session with local host ( command line ) at the bottom of the screen.  
  2. Seamless integration with the shell making OFMs a synonym to "Visual shell.". There are two features that are obligatory for orthodox file managers
  3. The ability to extend file manager functionality with custom scripts providing users with script library (called user menu and traditionally available via F2). Both command line and GUI-based OFMs should have the ability to create a library of "helpers": simple (or not so simple) shell scripts accessible using F2 . You can invoke them by assigning each of them special hotkey. Scripts should permit macro variables that reflect the current status of both panels (path to active/passive panel, the current file on active/passive panel, selected files , if any, etc).  This simple, ingenious, and very functional  extensibility with custom shell scripts make OFM very attractive for system administrators. They are useful for advanced users as they greatly simplify working with archives, ISO and so on and so forth. Actually in late 80th, early 90th of the last century in the former USSR region many DOS users never suspected that any other DOS interface exists: OFM interface was the standard and the only DOS interface they knew. 
  4. The availability of scripts associated with file extensions via special file extension menu and invoked by pressing Enter on the file with the particular extension on a panel.  This is another way to extend file manager functionality and file extension associations were pioneered by Norton Commander.  Special customizable extension files that permit context-dependent invocation of scripts and programs on a  file click (execute), F3(view) and in F4(edit). Customizable file extension menu should provides automatic passing of various panel-based parameters to shell scripts via macro variables (or environment variables) that were discussed above (active file, path to left and right panels, list of selected files, etc)
  5. "History for everything" approach to user input in command line and dialogs.  Starting from Norton Commander all OFMs provided the history of commands. Modern OFMs add to this the history of directories visited, files edited, selections, etc. Some advanced OFMs like Midnight Commander add to this the idea of "file/text completion for everything".
  6. Integration of application protocols into file manager framework via virtual file systems(VFS). Most popular are  ftp client VFS and archive VFS. Commonly they are implemented as plug-in based on some defined plug-ins API. Less popular, but still very important are Search VFS and "flat tree" VFS. They are all based on the same concept of a virtual file system:
  7. Tight integration of text files viewer and editor within OFM. An integrated viewer for text files and an integrated editor provide some additional and valuable integrating capabilities

    Both editor and viewer should be able to work in full screen mode (default) and "panelized" and should have access to information on both panels (current file, path to the active/passive panel, etc) and ability to treat selections as objects to past into command line (for example for moving to directories). Both editor and viewer should permit pasting information to from the editor to panel (for example, change directory to selected, paste selected into command line, etc) and getting information from panel (names of selected files, etc) and selected parts of the command execution screen back into the editor. 
  8. The ability to add search results to a  browsable virtual panel (panelize command) and a special "directory only" search in a special "find folder" panel. There should be abilities to find an arbitrary file(s) in the filesystem with capabilities equal of better then Unix  find and grep utilities, but with more friendly interface. All panel operations that make sense (view, edit, copy, move, rename, delete) operations should be available from panelized search results:
  9. Client-server connectivity. There should be some kind of client-server connectivity between two instances of OFMs (preferably SSL based TCP/IP connection, or unencrypted TCP/IP connection like in MC, or connection via serial cable like in NC3-NC5, or parallel cable and USB cable like in Total Commander).  This is a fundamental feature because it dictates client-server architecture of OFM with client part and server part separated by some kind of API. Generally one instance OFM should be able to perform as a server (represented by one panel) and second as a slave (represented be the other panel) with the ability to copy files and perform  commands on the remote host. 
  10. Extensibility via plug-ins mechanism. System of plug-ins that extends functionality of the OFM (FAR, Total Commander) and corresponding API.  This is important for OFM architecture as it separates panel interface from the rest of OFM.  FAR is now open source and its plug-in API can serve as an inspiration for future developers.

Again those are Commandments and like in everyday life not everybody is observing them ;-). The worst situation is with providing ability to extend command line at the bottom to command line window. Please note that This unique, innovative capability of Norton Commander (the one that makes it a graphical shell) for some reason is rarely implemented correctly if at all. Please remember that the original name of Norton Commander was VDOS -- visual shell for DOS.

Please remember that the original name of Norton Commander was VDOS -- visual shell for DOS.

Even such leading OFMs like Total Commander and Midnight Commander  do not implement them correctly. For example, in Total Commander  just basic command line functionality is available without ability to extend command line window to half screen of full screen.

In Midnight Commander only full screen command line window available but its functionality is limited (no ability to extend command line window to half screen or expand it line by line as in FAR) and behavior of command line window is different from typical bash shell command line windows which makes it unattractive for power users (compare with  GNU screen "split windows" mode, which should serve as reference implementation of this feature).  In other words MC command window implementation represent example of a cheap hack.  Paradoxically Unix OFMs users (and first of all Unix sysadmins) who would benefit from this functionality most (as culture of using command line is strongest in Unix) need to deal with the weakest in implementation of this feature

Notwithstanding differences and weaknesses of existing implementations three key features stands out and are the key postulates of faith of the "OFM religion":

Complex file operations using mouse is not faster and as cases became more complex are less convenient then performing the same operations using keyboard-based interface using the file manager that implements Orthodox interface paradigm. In a way orthodox means "having the right opinion/following the right practice". And using full power of keyboard (while not rejecting mouse) looks exactly like this. Provided by OFMs unique combination of GUI elements with the preservation of the power of command line is superior to any "mono" interface: either "classic Unix command line" interface or Windows-style GUI interface.  There are several reasons for that. See GUI vs Command line interface.

Recommendations for Users

(extracted from version 1.2 of Less is More: A rich functionality behind Spartan interface of Orthodox File Managers

OFM are tools written by programmers for programmers, sysadmins and power users. The elite of PC users. We can distinguish between two levels of OFM skills:

Although basic skills can be acquired in less then a week and gradually can be enhanced to "power user" level, this is not true for master level skills. First of all getting to this level require knowledge of shell (or other scripting language). Also you need to spend some time studying default "user menu" supplied with mc (for a given user many entries are redundant and he/she can start with deleting them) and, if possible, experience of your colleagues in this area. But return of investment is tremendous -- you really will be working in more productive environment, environment productivity of which can't be matched with any number of "off-the-shelf" tools.

Fundamental problem with any interface oriented on extensive keyboard usage is that the set of commands is large. That means that some important commands and methods are easily forgotten without practice (this situation is typical for any tool with extensive command set, such as vim). Based on my more then 20 years experience with OFM (I started using them in 1989) I would recommend the following methods of enhancing your skills:

Time spend on those activities will be repaid many times. Learning OFM is one of the best investment in time you can make. Good luck !

- Dr Nikolai Bezroukov

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[May 19, 2014]  WinSCP 5.5.3 released

[Oct 29, 2013] Some 64 bit Farmanager plugin links   by Justin Dearing

 Mar 27. 2012 |  Just A Programmer

Iíve previously written about my love of FAR, the File and ARchive manager. One of its greatest strengths is all the plugins written for it. However, some of the most popular plugins are no longer maintained (because they just work), and were not ported to 64 bit. Luckily, this is becoming less and less of an issue.

I have therefore compiled this short list of sites with 64-bit FarManager plugins. BTW these days U run nightly builds of Far3. Some of these plugins might not work in Far2.

UPDATES 2012-09-06:

[Oct 29, 2013]  My new favorite tool, the Far File manager   by Justin Dearing

Jun 21, 2010 | Just A Programmer

Installing Far and plugins.

Far is available on There is a 1.7 and 2.0 version. The 2.0 version supports unicode asnd the 1.7 version us the legacy ascii version. You can get 64 bit binaries for both versions. You can install far via an MSI, or a 7-zip archive.

After you install Far, you will want to install several plugins. I will highlight my favorite ones here. ote that while binaries compiled against the far 1.7 SDK will work with Far 2.0, 32 bit plugins will not work with 64 bit far. For this reason you probably want to install the 32 bit version of Far, unless you are like me and like pain.

Except where mentioned, these plugins can either be found at the plugring site, or for 64 bit binaries, the evil programmers google code project. I will go through some of the plugins I like below.


As far as I know, there is no 64 bit version of this available yet. However, I probably just havenít found it yet. If you install far without this plugin, you can browse the contents of most archives in Far. However, you will not be able to copy files out of them. Iíve yet to try getting the built-in archive support full working. However, with all the archives supported by 7-zip, Iím in no hurry to.

Event Viewer

This works like a text mode only version of eventvwr.exe. Iíve yet to find a truly compelling case to use it over the standar gui version. However, its nice to have an alternative tool for any job.

Service Manager

This is really convenient. It lists drivers and services temperately. It also allows you to edit things you canít in the mmc snap-in, such as the path to the binary the service executes. Finally, it lets you create a new service. You rarely need to do this, but when you do its hard to find a good tool for the job.

User Manager

This one is really useful, especially on XP Home edition. Functionality is similar to the ďLocal Users and GroupsĒ section of the Computer Management MMC snap-in on XP Pro. The thing I really love about it is you can set the ďUser must change password at next logonĒ flag on a user in XP Home Edition. I spent the good part of a train ride from Penn Station to Islip on Friday failing to achieve this in other ways. Iím not saying its the only way this task can be done. Iím just saying that this plugin will let me accomplish this task easily.

User Must Change Password At Next Logon


The arbitrariness of alphabetical order has put what is perhaps the most useful plugin last. There is a GUI scp/sftp client for windows called WinSCP. The author also made a Far plug-in based on the same code.

This plug-in, along with the 7-zip one, also take advantage of one of the most powerful intrinsic features of Far. With Far, you can copy any file from one panel to another, regardless of whether the panels contain a local folder, a unc path, the inside of an archive, or a sftp folder. Because of this, Far is a great tool for moving files to and from remote servers.


Far is a great file manager, and I will spend more time getting to know it. I think all programmers and sys-admins that work with Windows should get familiar with it as well.

Bookmark Commander

Bookmark Commander is a Midnight Commander clone made to work with Chrome bookmarks.

[May 23, 2013]  WinSCP 5.1.5 released

Download winscp515setup.exe

5.1.4, 2013-02-18

5.1.3, 2013-01-06

5.1.2, 2012-12-02

5.1.1, 2012-11-06

[Mar 28, 2013] Far Manager v3.0 build 3258 x86 is available (2013-03-20)

[Mar 28, 2013] Re midnight commander internal cd in scripts

On Fri, 22 Feb 2013 20:16:17 +0200 Elad Rom wrote:
Is there a way to cd into a folder (be it ssh, ftp or local folders)
from an existing instance of midnight commander through a shell script?

Inside an open MC instance, in my home folder, there is a file called "".
When I hit enter on this executable, I want mc to cd into the directory I specify inside the file (E.g. 
as if I'm using the cd in the mini-command line or via quick cd.
When you run shell script, you run new shell which is child process of MC.
When you do cd in the script, you change working directory of that child
shell. Working directory of parent is unchanged. You unable to change working
directory of parent from child.

You have to use the "source" built-in shell command to run script in current
process context. This allows you change current directory from script.


Search using MC

Google is becoming the most powerful entity in the world,
because knowledge search, AND FIND, is the most profitable
activity, at this stage of humanity's technological development.

`mc` has got some nice little search aids.
An important reason why *pdf is to be discouraged, is that it HOGS
text search.

Here's a well used/tested script to find eg. that critical file
which mentioned <String1> <String2> <String3> which you read in
the last D-days, and fortunately you're confident that it's in
the DirectoryTree $5:--------

echo ' Fnd3StrngsD DaysOld Str1 Str2 Str3 DirTree'

    find $5 -type f -ctime -$1 -print0 | \
    xargs -0 grep -l $2 | tr "\n" "\0" | \
    xargs -0 grep -l $3 | tr "\n" "\0" | \
    xargs -0 grep -l $4
--------------- EOF ----------------

Now lets evolve a script that:

Finds a string which we recently read/editied with `mc`,
in some unknown file, by hopefully using <mc's history>,
or what ever YOU can think of.

BTW, mc is well respected by those who've found its use, although there's a
substantial sector who have a macho-kiddie attitude that "I don't need menus
and memory aids, and I can type fluently like Rubenstein plays the piano".

OTOH, mc-users are missing out on the [should be there] USER contributed
library of utilities, which conveniently hook-into the existing mc framework.

Real successful projects flourish by user contributions; not just fixing
patches reported by users.

Here's my initial stab at the above problem:-
=> Find recent ref to <visual?studio>
==> search <mc-history>
=> whereis <mc-history> ==  ~/.mc/history
=> how BIG is it?  -> cat  ~/.mc/history | wc -l == 880
==> is it update at the top or bottom?
== *THIS* file is the latest that mc has 'seen'
-> cat  ~/.mc/history | grep AmbigusXmpls == na
=?=>  grep AmbigusXmpls is not yet recorded in  ~/.mc/history
==> nor when we exit and change panels.
That's dissapointing and surprising, since a related script idea which has
 proved successful for 6 months: F1 <string>
 successfully list the <files | grep string> which have recently bee visited.

F1 is a mess, with some non-mc-stuff but this is it:--
-> cat `which F1` ==
# p0 == cat /tmp/ObnTmp      ;  p  "text string" == echo $1 >>  /tmp/ObnTmp
cat /tmp/ObnTmp | grep $1
cat /s4 | grep $1
#cat /home/Softwr/mcExtend/filepos.history

cat ~/.mc/filepos  | grep $1
cat ~/.mc/history  | grep $1
------------------------- EOF ----------------------------------

So let's move beyond "how can I get my mc to run properly".


PS. I can't believe that *THIS* file is unknown;
so let me try my PROVEN: -> F1 mbigus
== /mnt/hdc11/AI/LimitSyntx/AmbigusXmpls 60;0

OK, so it's NOT in  ~/.mc/history.
It's KNOWN somewhere else, where `F1` searches.
Now lets have others contribute, something: evolve/complete this utility.


[Nov 24, 2012] New results for OFM1999 compatibility test

As a part of updating my ebook to version 3 and scheduled update of OFM standards I redid OFM compatibility test. After so many years FAR remains the most brilliantly written OFM. FC is the second in compatibility (and remains solid, but probably the most underappreciated OFM -- wrong defaults like 80 by 24 screen do not help.). Low score of Total Commander can be explained by absence of built-in editor, incorrect implementation of shell terminal window and some minor deviations from OFM1999 standard (infoline, quick view). Still it is probably the most user-friendly one... Mouse really helps and GUI provide more real estate then terminal, even 132 bytes wide terminal. MC improved its position (and version 4.8 is really better then 4.5 covered in previous test), but some additional work on compatibility is necessary.
OFM1999 v.3 score (average of all 21 tests) NC VC DN FAR Total
Scores 68 71 73 89 70 68 66 75

[Nov 22, 2012] Nooface TermKit Fuses UNIX Command Line Pipes With Visual Output

TermKit is a visual front-end for the UNIX command line. A key attribute of the UNIX command line environment is the ability to chain multiple programs with pipes, in which the output of one program is fed through a pipe to become the input for the next program, and the last program in the chain displays the output of the entire sequence - traditionally as ASCII characters on a terminal (or terminal window). The piping approach is key to UNIX modularity, as it encourages the development of simple, well-defined programs that work together to solve a more complex problem.

TermKit maintains this modularity, but adds the ability to display the output in a way that fully exploits the more powerful graphics of modern interfaces. It accomplishes this by separating the output of programs into two types: data output, which is intended for feeding into subsequent programs in the chain, and view output, for visually rich display in a browser window.

The result is that programs can display anything representable in a browser, including HTML5 media. The output is built out of generic widgets (lists, tables, images, files, progress bars, etc.) (see screen shot). The goal is to offer a rich enough set for the common data types of Unix, extensible with plug-ins. This YouTube video shows the interface in action with a mix of commands that produce both simple text-based output and richer visual displays. The TermKit code is based on Node.js, Socket.IO, jQuery and WebKit. It currently runs only on Mac and Windows, but 90% of the prototype functions work in any WebKit-based browser. 

[Nov 22, 2012] Ability to store searches and invoke temp panel with their results

 Ability to store search results in a form similar to user menu and directory favorites is important.

Actually elements of this understanding can be observed in Total Commander and nomad  by Eugeny Sichkar


[Nov 22, 2012] nomad  by Eugeny Sichkar

Microsoft .Net based freeware GUI OFM for Windows.
As for features of original Nomad, you can take a look at them on appropriate page. Here I describe the features that are significantly changed or just are new:

[Nov 18, 2012] Do you use Orthodox File Managers (Meaningless Drivel forum at JavaRanch)

May 12, 2008 | JavaRanch

Mapraputa Is Leverager of our synergies Sheriff

Pat Farrell mentioned Nikolai Bezroukov's "A Second Look at the Cathedral and Bazaar" text via which I found another very interesting text: The Orthodox File Manager (OFM) Paradigm. Dr. Bezroukov said,

"Although originated in the USA, the OFMs became mostly a European phenomenon with a very strong following in Eastern Europe (especially in former USSR countries), Scandinavian countries and Germany."

It's true that once learned them in a former USSR country I was never able to depart with them and until now have very vague idea of Windows's native interface, because I always have one of these wonderful pieces of software installed. I don't know how one can live without them.

In case you wonder what "Orthodox File Managers" are (I never heard this term before) examples include Norton Commander, Total Commander, Midnight Commander, Northern Captain etc.

Uncontrolled vocabularies "I try my best to make *all* my posts nice, even when I feel upset" -- Philippe Maquet

Ernest Friedman-Hill author and iconoclast Marshal

The majority of Americans use Reform file managers, but there are pockets of Conservative file managers as well.

Pat Farrell Rancher

Ernie's answer jumped into my brain when I saw the title, he just beat me to it, and was probably better phrased.

I had not heard the phrase before this thread, and haven't used any of such file managers.

I generally change computer too often to get very interested in customizing them. About all I do is install cygwin on all windows boxes so I can type ls and grep.

I've become a shell guy, as the gui stuff changes too often.

I think a lot of the customization is really closer to religion, be it orthodox, reform or conservative, or even Catholic versus Calvanist. I can't even figure out why Linux folks argue over KDE vs Gnome.

[Nov 15, 2012] Bash Commander by Sergey Vakulenko

This is a project of Sergey Vakulenko, the author of deco -- one of the first OFM for Unix. Looks like abandonware. Still the direct integration with shell is the best, the most optimal way of implementing OFM, which in essence is nothing more that an attempt to create a graphical shell. The problem here is the most shells are moving target and as they develop the codebase needs to be resynchronize with each new version. Which in most cases dooms the project. So the only way such a project can be successful is when it is integrated with the development of shell itself. Some shells, such as ksh93 are pretty stable and development is almost stopped. For them such a project is more viable. Also for shells that undeservingly are sidelined, such as zsh, this may be a chance to get into mainstream, as zsh integrated with OFM leaves "pure" bash in the dust.
'Bash Commander' is a version of the GNU Bourne Again shell extended with two-panel file manager. Visit for project news, FAQ, discussions etc.

[Nov 15, 2012] Integration of searching (FileFind), file selection and file filtering into a single mechanism

New, powerful idea of generalization of OFM capabilities from OFM2012

The three existing mechanisms of grouping files in OFM:

can be implemented as a single mechanism (panel) with just three different targets. Default target can be determined based on hotkey used for invocation of this dialog.


[Nov 11, 2012] The first stable build of Far Manager 3.0 is now available

Integrates LUA. That's a pioneering development !!!. Far Manager settings and native (3.x) plugins settings are stored in SQLiteDB. See also FarManager - conemu-maximus5 - Windows Console Emulator, Far Manager plugins - Google Project Hosting

Among notable changes:

[Nov 07, 2012] Compete revision of the OFM1999 - basic OFM requirements standard (version 3.0)

The new version of OFM1999 consists of 21 tests:

  1. Interface look & feel
  2. Navigational and basic hot keys compatibility
  3. Shell window compatibility
  4. Compatibility of F1..F8 operations
  5. Tree View Panel compatibility
  6. Directory Search Panel compatibility
  7. File/Directories selection/deselection compatibility
  8. Quick view compatibility
  9. Quick search compatibility
  10. FindFile compatibility
  11. Command line execution compatibility
  12. Sorting directories compatibility
  13. User menu script invocation compatibility
  14. Additional file commands compatibility
  15. Association (extension menu) management compatibility
  16. Compare directories
  17. Compare files operation
  18. Built-in Editor
  19. Archive virtual file system
  20. Infopanel and infoline compatibility
  21. History and favorites compatibility

[Nov 03, 2012] This page, ebook and OFM standards are now updated as the time has come in established five years upgrade cycle.

Actually this time it's seven years, as the last update was in late 2004 early 2005. OFM2012 was added as an early draft. All major implementations (FAR, Total Commander, File Commander, WinSCP, MC, Krusader ) so far survived which in itself is a good sign ;-). Northern Captain disappeared. Midnight Commander got a new development team led by Slava Zanko and version 4.8.1 produced by them is an important step forward (especially in built-in editor functionality).

[Nov 02, 2012] Less is More: A rich functionality behind Spartan interface of Orthodox File Managers (an introduction to Orthodox File Managers(OFM))

A new article written on the base of introductory material for this page.

[Nov 1, 2012] emelFM2

A very interesting Linux GUI OFM based on GTK+. Has plug-ins support and many interesting technical solutions.


Various command-line switches can be used, to determine aspects of the way an e2 session operates: Program options:

If the program has not been built with debugging-support enabled (compiled without make-option DEBUG=1): (note that this option must be used if you wish emelFM2 to nicely respond to shutdown, save-yourself etc requests by your desktop session-manager)

Help options:

If the program has been built with debugging-support enabled (compiled with make-option DEBUG=1):


The core elements of the UI are:

The directory lists and message area generally referred to here as "panes", and in particular, "file panes" or "output pane".

The file panes can be tiled side-by-side, or top-to-bottom. "Pane 1" is on the left, if the file panes are tiled side-by-side, or on the top, if the panes are tiled top-to-bottom. "Pane 2" is on the right, if the file panes are tiled side-by-side, or on the bottom, if the panes are tiled top-to-bottom.

At any time, one of the two file panes will be 'active' (have focus). The active pane is normally indicated by changed color of the column headers in the pane. However re-coloring does not work with some Gtk themes. If that applies to you, change the relevant setting on the 'panes' page of the configuration dialog (see the CONFIGURATION section, below), to enable bold column titles, as an alternative indicator.

The file panes can re-sized, or hidden, by dragging the separator or clicking a relevant toolbar button. The output pane can be resized, up to the full window size, or hidden, likewise by dragging or clicking.

You can change the order of columns displayed in either file pane. Press the mouse left-button while the mouse cursor is on the header of the column you want to move. Then drag it to where you want. Such change will be remembered between sessions.

You can change the width of any column by dragging the relevant column-separator. (There is a minimum size, related to the size of the column label.) You can hide any column by un-checking the corresponding column on the 'columns' page of the configuration dialog. Such changes will be remembered between sessions.

You can sort a file list according to the data in any column, by left-clicking on the column's header. Repeated clicks toggle the sort-order. The actual order that results depends on the user's locale settings. The result might be different from the 'traditional' way.

You can display only items which match specified name(s), date and/or permissions criteria, by setting filter(s) for the pane in question. Do that via dialogs initiated from a toolbar filters button. Directories can be included in the filtering. One or more filters can be used simultaneously. To filter items by name, you provide a string with one or more patterns, each with wildcard(s) "*" and/or "?", in general. (NOTE: there can be no '[...]' character ranges in a pattern, and "*" and "?" cannot be escaped to include them literally in a pattern). If more than one pattern is used, they must be separated by a ",". Any pattern(s) can have "!" prepended, which will cause a matched item to be excluded from the display. To include items whose name begins with "!", prepend "\" to that pattern. As a convenience, the effect of every pattern in the string can be toggled, by checking the "inverted" box.

Right-clicking on a file pane or output pane will pop up a menu of things you may wish to do, there. For the file panes, a sub-menu can be opened by pressing a <shift> or <ctrl> button before right-clicking.

The toolbars are referred to as "pane1 bar", "pane2 bar", "task bar" and "command bar". The pane1 bar is by default at the top of pane 1. The pane2 bar is by default shown at the top of pane 2. The task bar is by default shown between the file panes. The command bar is by default shown near the bottom of the window.

Pane1 bar and pane2 bar typically have the same items in them, in mirrored order (more or less). Commands initiated by the items in those bars apply to the respective pane. Task bar items mostly relate to the active pane. (By default it includes a 'refresh' button which updates both panes.) Command bar items relate to the output pane, or other miscellaneous commands.

Both pane1 bar and pane2 bar typically have a combo box where the user can enter or select a directory to be shown in the corresponding pane (referred to a a "directory line"). In addition to normal choice, clicking the middle mouse button in a directory line, or pressing <Ctrl>Tab while a directory line is 'focused', will open a directory-selection dialog.

A "navigation" window for the active pane can be displayed, and used to select the directory to show in the corresponding file pane. By default, <Shift>F9 will open this window. Activating (by mouse double-click or <Enter> keypress) any of the listed directories will cause that directory to be opened. Directories which cannot be accessed are shown in the 'negative' text color (typically, red). Note that the content of such windows is not refreshed dynamically. A context-menu includes capability to manually refresh, among other things.

By default, toolbar buttons will show tooltips, for those of us less familiar with the icons. You can change the button style to include labels, if you wish. Right-click on a toolbar to see its context menu, which includes settings which can be changed. Or open the configuration dialog, and on the relevant bar's 'options' page, change the 'button-style' option.

The output pane is more than a simple terminal window, it is also intended to be a tool.

You may have as many different output text buffers (aka tabs) as desired. They can be added or removed using the output pane context menu. If more than one tab is in use, numerical tab-titles are shown, for selecting the tab of interest at any time.

Selected text in a tab can be saved, using the relevant context-menu item. The text can be edited, again using the relevant menu item. Not that editing per se is so important, but in particular the editor has the ability to find text, and save the whole buffer. See comments below on EDITING.

Text selected in a tab can be "activated" by a double-click or a <Ctrl>-click, if that text names an item that belongs to a recognised filetype. The named item will be opened just as if it had been in a filelist. Any filepath in the selection is handled, or if there is no filepath, the directory displayed in the active file pane will be assumed.

If selected text describes a recognised filetype, and the output pane context-menu is opened by a right-click on the selection, then menu will include a sub-menu of operations for that filetype, the same menu as for a selected item of that type in a file-list context-menu.

A <Ctrl>-click, or right-click to open a context-menu, will also operate on non-selected text in the output pane, as described above. As there is no selection, space characters define the text that is used.


Typing, while a filepane is focussed, will select the first item whose name begins with the typed characters (not case sensitive). That item might be before or after the current position. A small window pops open near the bottom of the pane, showing the characters typed sofar.

By default the keys <Ctrl>f & F3, and a button on the command bar, will allow you to find an item in the active pane by entering into a dialog any part of the item's name. Wildcards may be entered. When scanning, this action loops round from either end of the filelist to the other end.

A find plugin allows heavy-duty searching, with that you can find item(s) anywhere, and by many attributes.


By default, the Tab key is bound to an action (see KEY BINDINGS section, below) which "completes" entries in directory lines or the command line, as follows.

When entering a path into a directory line, pressing the Tab key will complete that entry, if there is only one valid completion. If there is more than one such completion, they will be listed in the output pane. (Note also that pressing <Ctrl>Tab will open a directory-selection dialog.)

In general, when entering text into the command line, pressing the Tab key will complete the "word" that is being entered. If the entered string starts with "./", the word will be completed using the matching item-name from the active pane. If the entered string does not start with "./", the word will be completed using the matching item-name from all directories specified in the $PATH environment variable. If there is more than 1 item which could validly complete the word, those items will be listed in the output pane.

The exception to the previous paragraph is when the entered command is "mount" or "umount". A "mount" command will be completed with a valid mount point, a "umount" command will be completed with a valid unmountable partition. Again, if there is more than one possible completion, they will be listed in the output pane. Note that this form of completion is permission-depenant, so in many instances, there will be nothing valis to show.


Various keys are assigned specific tasks within e2.

To get a listing of the current e2 key bindings, enter the command 'keys' on the command line. You can also type 'keys panes', 'keys command line' or 'keys directory lines' to see the subset of bindings relevant to those places. (Note 'keys' in this context is a default alias, and should be translated, and may be changed by the user.)

Any key can be assigned to more than one thing, by including the key in a binding more than once.

Pressing any 'unbound' key while the focus is on a file pane opens a small window in which you can continue typing a name, and an item whose name matches what you type will be selected. Note that that window will intercept any "Enter" keypress (and the window will then close) so that if you wish to 'activate' the matched item by pressing Enter, you must wait (about 2 seconds) until the window closes, or otherwise, press Enter twice.

The "comboboxes" (entry fields with drop-down history list) used throughout the application have hard-coded key bindings <Shift><Delete> which clears the contents of the entry from the cursor position to the end, <Alt><Delete> which clears the current entry and any matching history entry(ies), and <Shift><Alt><Delete> which clears the entire history.


In general, things may be selected in accordance with gtk's normal method for doing so. For example, selecting items in a file-pane is done by combinations of left-burron-clicks, ctrl-key+left-clicks (which toggle selection-state of the clicked item) and shift-key+left-click (which select the range from previously-selected item to the clicked item).

As a special case, e2 (except 0.1.0 to 0.1.2) also supports selection of file-pane items by dragging. The protocol for this is: press left mouse button when the cursor is on an item, then press a control key, then drag the mouse cursor over item(s) to be selected. (A bit complex, so as to not interfere with gtk's normal selection and DnD processes.)


Drag and drop can be performed in the standard gtk fashion, i.e. by selecting the item(s) you want to process (see SELECTION above), then dragging to a location in either of the file lists, or to any other compatible application. When dragging by left-button, the default operation is to copy the selected item(s) to the drop-target but the action will be different if 'modifer' key(s) are pressed at the time of the drop. As usual, if the Shift key is presssed while dropping, the selection will be moved; or if both Shift and Control are pressed, the selection will be linked; or if the Alt key is pressed, a menu will prompt you for the operation you want to perform (the menu allows copy/move/link/cancel). To prevent gtk from treating the process as something other than a drag, the modifier key(s) need to be pressed after the drag has started.

You may instead perform a drag with the middle-button, which behaves the same as left-plus-Alt i.e. always pops up that action menu. Note that there is an option to make middle-button clicks open the parent directory of the one where the click occurred, and it that option is in force, it may interfere with dragging by middle-button.

If you drop ONto a directory (other than one that's part of the selection being dropped), the selected item(s) will be copied/moved/linked INto that directory. This means you can copy/move/link any item into a subdirectory without opening that directory in the other pane.

If you don't drop onto a directory, the item(s) will be copied/moved/linked to the directory whose contents are displayed in that pane (if it's not the same as the source directory, of course)

It is also possible to drag and drop between different instances of emelFM2 and between emelFM2 and some other gtk-based applications like nautilus, Gnome Midnight Commander and GQView. In some cases it might work in only one direction.


When e2 puts something into trash, it will first try to use a folder named '.Trash' in the directory the item(s) come from i.e. the one shown in the active pane. If such a folder doesn't exist, fallback choices are: '.Trash' in the user's home directory, then finally, '.emelfm2/Trash' in the user's home directory. The last of these will be created if it didn't exist already.

There is no over-write checking for trashed items. Any item with the same name, already in the trash, will simply be erased.


Operations (copy, move etc) on item(s) in the active file pane are performed on the selected items, as would be expected. If a selected item is a directory, the operation applies to the directory as a whole (with its contents), NOT just to the contents of the directory. This means that if, say, a directory is moved, and in so doing over-writes another directory of the same name (usually after the user's confirmation), then the destination directory and all its contents will be replaced by the source directory and all its contents. The effect of this is that all of the contents of the destination directory are lost. Just like all the contents of a file are lost if it is over-written.

If you want to operate only on the contents of a directory, you must open the directory and select the contents explicitly.

Most such operations are added to a queue, and performed when they reach the head of that queue. This allows such operations to be initiated and performed without blocking the user-interface, when the operation takes some time to complete. Some operations - info, view, view again, edit, edit again, open, open with - are performed independently of the queue.

You can directly rename any allowed item by clicking on its name in a filelist, when the item's row is not selected. In this case, the rename action is not queued.

Actions and keybindings are provided to respectively list the finished, active, and waiting members of that queue.


As you would expect, these are a mechanism for opening a particular directory with minimal effort.

By default, the pane1 bar and pane2 bar, and the file pane context menu, include a bookmarks sub-menu. Actually, they are a bit more complex than a standard sub-menu - each includes its own context menu (yes, we know, peculiar UI design ..) with items for adding the currently-displayed to, or removing it from, the recorded bookmarks. This is a quick alternative to opening the configuration dialog to re-arrange bookmarks.

Though accessible by these several menus, there is only one bookmarks list, which applies to both panes.


A simple text-file viewer is included in emelFM2. By default, the F3 key is bound to open that. Alernatively, a specified external viewer may be used, if the relevant config option is set.

The internal text file viewer handles several different protocols for line-ends (UNIX, DOS etc), and tries to interpret and convert various character-encodings.

When the 'find' function is initiated, a bar of search-related options will be shown near the bottom of the window (and it can be dragged away from there). Of course the bar includes the a place to enter the text sought. That works incrementally, trying to match whatever is entered sofar. There are also options for searching backwards instead of forwards, for ignoring the case of the text sought, and for looping around from either end to the other end, if the search proceeds that far.

Finding can be initiated from the keyboard or a mouse button. The 'Enter' key has been given special privileges: by itself causes the next search, with <Control> it finds the first or (if searching backwards) the last match, and with <Shift> changes the search direction temporarily. Other than that, keys the same as the default button mnemonics may be used, with <Control> or <Alt>. As a special case, <Control>g or <Alt>g will perform a 'find'.

The viewer supports the key bindings of a gtk textview widget, other than the ones relating to editing:

There is a minimal context menu for changing default configuration.

When done with searching, the bar can be hidden again.

Entered search parameters are remembered for the duration of the current session, but not between sessions.

An action is bound to the key <Shift>F3 to view a file again (re-view), starting at the last-viewed spot in that file. This appies only to the internal viewer.


A "tiny" text-editor is available. By default, the F4 key is bound to open that. Alernatively, a specified external editor may be used, if the relevant config option is set.

The internal editor is quite basic, intended for those little jobs that are hardly worth loading another application. Functions are: find, replace, cut/copy/paste, undo, save, save as, save selection. Selected text can be dragged to another spot. No printing.

Most of these functions can be initiated from the keyboard, and the rest of them from the context menu and/or by button-click. Keyboard bindings set by emelFM2 are the same as the respective mnemonics for buttons and/or context-menu items. As a special case, <Control>z will perform an 'undo'. The editor also supports the key bindings of a gtk textview widget:

See comments above about searching. Replacement choices are made via a similar interface. When active, the bar is stacked below the search options bar.

See comments above about character encoding. The same applies to the editor.

An action is bound to the key <Shift>F4 to re-edit a file, starting at the last-viewed spot in that file. This appies only to the internal editor.


These are effectively chunks of code that provide optional, additional capability for e2. Any of them may be cofigured to load (i.e. be ready to run) or not, depending on the user's expected need for it. (With a big, fast computer, just load them all and get on with life ...) Descriptions of the current plugins are provided in the respecitive tooltips, which can be displayed in the plugins context-sub-menu, or the plugins page of the configuration dialog. The view plugin always runs the internal viewer for text files, and so it is useful only if your default file viewer is set to be some external viewer.

Any plugin might only be needed for a key binding, or a toolbar button action, for example. So a loaded plugin may be configured to appear in the plugins context menu, or not. Plugin configuration settings are preserved until changed by the user.

If all goes according to plan, more plugins are coming !

Now, some specific notes:

... ... ...

disk usage plugin

Calculates the 'apparent' disk usage of selected item(s). 'Apparent' in the sense that any 'holes' in the file data which are artefacts of the filesystem are not counted in the size, even though they're not avaiable for other purposes.

directory compare plugin

Selects items which match items in the other pane. Where relevant, md5 sums are used for the comparison. After selection, items can of course be moved, copied etc, or their names copied, using that plugin. As always, selections can be inverted by pressing Ctrl-i, before processing.

find plugin

The choices made for the various buttons and text-entry strings shown in this dialog are remembered for at least the duration of the current emelFM2 session. If the plugin is still loaded at the end of a session, then the choices will be saved, and available to be re-loaded next time.

History lists for text-entry strings can be cleared by pressing <Alt>Delete when the entry in question is focused.

find by name

Here you can enter the name of the file you want to match. The e2 macros %f or %F can be used instead of explicit name(s).

If the "is" option is selected, the find will match any file of that name, which may include wildcard characters:

.* will match any or no characters. For example, the pattern "*.txt" will match files named foo.txt and .txt, but not foo.text. .? will match any one character. For example, "wibble.?" will match files named wibble.c and wibble.s, but not wibble. or foo.c.

The "is like" option will match any file whose name contains the string you enter. For example, the string ".txt" will match the files foo.txt and bar.txt, but not the file baz.text. Again, wildcard characters can be used. If the "regular expression" button is selected, all of the regex capabilities of the shell "find" command may be used. In this case, don't search for %f or %F if more than one item is selected.

find by content

You may enter a string of characters to search for in files to be matched. For example, to match all files containing "linux" you could either select the "this" option and enter "linux", or select the "like this" option and enter the pattern "*linux*". Regular expression searching is conducted by the shell \"grep\" command, for which there is extensive documentation elsewhere.

find by mime

You may enter a string of characters which are all or part of the string representing the mimetype of files to be matched. For example, "pdf" or "application/pdf" would match files in Adobe's PDF format. The string is case-sensitive.

find by mtime

These options allow you to find files according to their modification time. That is the last time that the file was saved to disk storage. You can choose whether you want to match files with times earlier than, equal to, <b>and/or</b> later than the time you have entered.

find by atime

These options allow you to find files according to their access time. That is the last time that the file was read or executed. You can choose whether you want to match files with times earlier than, equal to, <b>and/or</b> later than the time you have entered."

find by ctime

These options allow you to find files according to their inode time. That time is updated whenever a linux file is created, when its atime or mtime is changed, when its mode is changed, and other times too. You can choose whether you want to match files with times earlier than, equal to, and/or later than the time you have entered.

find by size

You may enter the size (in bytes, kilobytes or megabytes) of files to be matched. For kb or MB, the size may be like "1.23". You can choose whether you want to match files sized smaller than, equal to, and/or bigger than the size you have entered.

find by permission

These options allow you to find files according to their permissions (a.k.a "mode"). You can match against multiple permissions. The ones selected need not be the only ones that apply to matched files.

find by owner

These options allow matching files according to their owner and/or group. You can choose to match against the name/group of the logged-in user and/or another specified user or group, or to ignore the user/group. You can also match files without a known user or group by selecting the "Match unknown users" or "Match unknown groups" toggle buttons.

find by type

These options allow you to find files according to their type. You can match against multiple types.

foreach plugin

Executes an entered command on each selected item separately.

NOTE the action-name for this plugin is (in english) file.foreach. If this action is run from the command line, it needs to have a "!" prepended e.g. !file.foreach echo %f. (This is to prevent any %f or %p macro in the command from being expanded by the command-interpreter. Such expansion needs to be performed by the plugin, instead.)

glob plugin

Selects items whose name matches specified pattern(s). The selection criteria are the same as filelist filtering criteria.

move plugin

This offers the possibiitiy of pausing the move process. Any such pause begins at the completion of the item currently being moved. If that's a directory, all its decendants will be competed before the pause.

names copy plugin

This normally copies the name(s) of selected item(s) to the clipboard. If a <Shift> key is pressed when the plugin is activated, the full path of each item will be copied, instead of just its name. If a <Control> key is pressed when the plugin is activated, copied item paths or names will be separated by a "newline" character, instead of a space.

pack plugin

Archives of these sorts are supported:

..tar.gz ..tar.bz2 ..tar ..7z ..rar ..arj ..zoo

rename plugin

Items to be processed can be located in any specified filesystem directory, and optionally, in any descendant directory of the starting point.

Items to be processed can be those selected (in either displayed filelist), or all items which match a specific name, or match a name-pattern with wildcard character(s) "?" and/or "*", or a match a name-pattern with regular-expression syntax. Note that internally, regular-expression matching is always used. Regular expressions are "greedy" and this can produce unexpected results. For example, using a wildcard pattern "*-*", when renaming an item "12-34-56", the first "*" will match "12-34", not "12".

Replacement names can be made all lower-case or all upper-case, and/or a pattern which contains wildcard characters, or "back-reference(s)" to regular-expression-group(s) in the search pattern.

Documentation on regular expressions can be found by running the shell command "man 7 regex" or "man grep" or from, or many other places.

In brief: these are the special characters:

This means, for example, that ".*" is needed where a wildcard "*" might have been used, and "\." for a literal "." Your installed software may only support 'basic' regular expressions, in which case any ? + { | ( ) needs to be preceded by a "\".

Groups like (EXP) may be referred to in a replacement name-pattern by \1, \2 ... in order of their occurrence.

The whole of any matching item name may be referred to in a replacement name-pattern by \0 (This is an emelFM2 extension, not standard regular expresssion syntax.)

The replacement name-pattern may include up to 4 counter macros (see macros section below, for details). In this context, initial value defaults to 1 if not explicitly provided. If more than one counter is included, the respective i and w parameters are independent of those in the other counters. A normal "%c" in the name-pattern must be escaped as "\%c".

It is generally wise to apply the confirmation option, so that each replacement name can be checked before it is applied.

thumbnails plugin

This opens a dialog window showing thumbnails of all recognised images in the active-pane directory. More than one such dialog may be opened, for either or both filepanes.

Images whose maximum dimension is less than 32 pixels are scaled up. Images whose maximum dimension is more than 128 pixels are scaled down.

No file operations (copy, delete etc) may be performed directly on items in this dialog. However, selections are normally echoed back to the associated filelist, and operations may be performed from there. Sorting of the images using the normal fields is possible via a menu opened when the Sort button is clicked.

The dialog has a context-menu which enables manual refreshes of the view contents, un-selecting all items in the view, rotating or flipping the selected items, and changing whether to replicate all [de]selections in the dialog back to the associated filelist. Any rotation or flip is for display only, the original file is not altered.

This plugin uses functions in libgimpthumb to manage thumbnail-cacheing in accordance with specification.

timeset plugin

Replacement date(s) and/or time(s) may be separately set. If a new date or time is not provided, then the current value will be used. Formats of entered strings should be appropriate for the user's locale.

By way of confirmation, the corresponding 'set' box must be checked, to implement the change.

Ony the privileged user ('root') is able to vary the 'ctime' (inode change time) of any item(s). Changing ctime requires temporary changes to the system clock. That is normally unwise, as typically, other things rely on system time.

Any replacement date/time can be applied recursively if the item is a directory. If multiple selected items are being processed, the replacement date/time can be applied to all remaining unprocessed items. All selected items can be conformed by simply checking a 'set' box and applying the change to all.

... ... ...

unpack plugin

Archives of these sorts are supported:

..tar.gz ..tar.bz2 ..tar ..7z ..rar ..arj ..zoo

Compressed single-items (i.e. no tar, and usually named like "somename.ext.bz2" or "othername.ext.gz") are not supported. They can be readily unpacked by a simple command like 'bzip2 -d %f' or 'unzip %f'

view plugin

This opens the first selected item with the internal text-file viewer. It is intended to be used when the default view action is configured to use an external viewer.

[Oct 26, 2012] firecommander - Orthodox File Manager implemented as Firefox extension - Google Project Hosting

An Orthodox File Manager implemented as Firefox extension.

[Oct 25, 2012] Pages related to MC were updated to reflect differences between version 4.6 and 4.8

In version 4.8.1 progress with built-in editor became visible...

[Oct 24, 2012] The Orthodox File Manager(OFM) Paradigm

Ebook was updated to version 4.2. An early draft of The Orthodox File Managers Standard 2012(OFM2012) -- Cutting Edge Features of Orthodox File Managers was added.

[Oct 19, 2012] MC 8.1 -- a landmark version of Midnight Commander

Internal editor and internal viewer are significantly improved in mc 8.1. mc 4.8.1 (and possibly some earlier versions after 4.6.2, I did not check) implement command window by swapping to shell making the implementation more correctly and this make mc more acceptable for Unix sysadmins in comparison with old implementation. They did not correctly implemented the context switch -- if you change directory in full command windows and press Ctrl-O to restore panel you will still see the old active panel. This is a bug that needs to be fixed (active windows should always display $PWD directory form the shell window).
portability of mc was and still is poor due to glib dependencies so if your distribution uses mc-4.6.2.pre1-121.31.x86_64.rpm as RHEL 6 and Suse 11 do, you are stuck. Ubuntu and Debian users are the only which are probably OK. Among RPM-based distributions OpenSuse 12.2 has Fedora now uses Systemd and is problematic in so many ways that it does not really matter what version of mc it is using. Cygwin has

Congratulations to the development team !

Name Nickname Country Additional info
Andrew Borodin andrew_b Russia aborodin at vmail dot ru
Stan. S. Krupoderov iNode Russia pashelper at gmail dot com
Ilia Maslakov angel_il Russia (il.smind at gmail dot com)
Sergei Trofimovich slyfox,sjÝtroll,skogtroll Belarus
Slava Zanko slavaz, slavazanko Belarus (jabber+gmail: slavazanko at gmail dot com)
Yury V. Zaytsev ZYV Germany

[Oct 17, 2012] Last File Manager

Written in Python. The last version is LFM 2.3 dated May 2011. Codebase is below 10K lines...
May 21, 2011

Lfm is a curses-based file manager for the Unix console written in Python

Python 2.5 or later is required now. PowerCLI was added, an advanced command line interface with completion, persistent history, variable substitution, and many other useful features.

Persistent history in all forms was added. Lots of improvements were made and bugs were fixed

[Oct 18, 2012 ] The GNOME Commander homepage

Currently development looks stagnated, but version 1.2.8 is usable.

GNOME Commander is a free two pane file manager in the tradition of Norton and Midnight Commander, it is built on the GTK-toolkit and GnomeVFS. GNOME Commander aims to fulfill the demands of more advanced users who like to focus on file management, their work through special applications and running smart commands. This program is not aimed at users wanting the weather forecast in a sidebar in their file manager...


[Oct 17, 2012] orthodox file managers Any fans?

Norton Commander was one of the few things Norton got right, back in the good ol'days. After Norton I migrated to Windows Commander which changed its name to Total Commander which I stayed with until I converted to Linux. I still use TC when I'm forced to work with a Windows machine. I'm just in love with the dual pane format and the function keys (F5 to copy, F6 to move, F7 to make a directory, etc.). Am I weird?

Anyway, after experimenting with various OFMers for Linux, I've pretty much settled on GNOME commander. About the only time I use Nautilus is when I'm managing image files where it's handy to see the image in thumbnail. Thoughts? If you're a fan, what do you use for Linux?

Ubuntu Any file managers for "power users" ?

After switching from Windows to Ubuntu, I'm finding the file managers very limiting. I was a DirectoryOpus user on windows and it's one windows app I've been missing a lot. I've tried Nautilus and Thunar, and I find them way too simple for me. They do the job, but I'm not liking them. Are there any file managers out there that have more features or customizability? DOpus had so many features, I doubt anything could come close, but I wish there was at least a file manager that had some advanced features.. like filtering (Thunar had that, but it's kind of clunky when you have to go through menus and popups to do it..) or double pane windows. One thing I don't like about both of them, is that the lines are so far apart. I'm used to the lines being close together with a small font, which meant more information on the screen at a time. It might seem like an insignificant detail, but I can't help but notice it.

Ubuntu Shouldn't file managers look like today's web browsers?

I was just thinking of this, web browsers aren't any different from file managers. We use the web browser to navigate the web and file managers for files and folders and if you think about it they shouldn't be used any differently. The same visual arguments about web browsers should be applied to file managers. There's always talk about screen estate and the likes for web browsers but no one seems to be thinking the same for nautilus/dolphin, elementary is going in the same direction it seems but i'm not sure it has the full support from the nautilus team. I'd really enjoy a file manager with an interface like firefox4/opera, a single menu button and search box, exactly like a browser. If konquerer follows its browser competirors i'd gladly switch. what do you think the future file managers should be like?

[Oct 16, 2012] captain-nemo by Victor Zverovich

Captain Nemo is an extension which converts Nautilus into a two-panel (orthodox) file manager.

User-defined keyboard shortcuts in Nautilus

In this post I describe how to add arbitrary keyboard shortcuts to the Nautilus file manager using its extension API. I really like Nautilus, it has a clean interface and lots of features under the hood. One of the things I was missing coming from the world of orthodox file managers was an embedded terminal which can be shown/hidden with a simple keyboard shorcut. Recently there appeared an extension called Nautilus Terminal that provides exactly this. It is quite good and I highly recommend to give it a try. However I was not entirely satisfied with it because of inability to use some usual shortcuts such as Ctrl+L, although you can use Ctrl+Shift+L instead. Also if you change a directory in Nautilus the embedded terminal is closed and a new one is opened in a new location. So you canít really have anything running in a terminal and at the same time browse the directories.

After some googling Iíve found another nice extension called nautilus-open-terminal which allows to open a terminal through a context menu. It is not bad but I would prefer a keyboard shortcut instead of the context menu. After some experiments Iíve found a hackish way to implement this by (ab)using LocationWidgetProvider. If you know a better way please tell me about it in the comments section below.

So here is a Python script that does the trick:


To enable this extension first install the python-nautilus package (sudo apt-get install python-nautilus in Ubuntu), then copy the script to the extensions install path, e.g. ~/.nautilus/python-extensions/ and restart nautilus with the nautilus -q command. This script redefines the Ctrl+O shortcut to open a terminal. It can be easily adjusted to use a different key combination or to define several shortcuts with different actions. For example this script defines Ctrl+O to open a terminal and Ctrl-G to open gitg in the current directory of Nautilus. It also adds CompareÖ to the context menu when two files are selected.

Update: Iíve ported the script to Nautilus 3. The new version can be downloaded from here. Note that the script requires at least version 1.0-0ubuntu2 of the python-nautilus package.

[Oct 15, 2012] Emperor 0.1 - Orthodox file manager for the GNOME desktop

I am pleased to announce the first released version of Emperor: version
0.1 "Aurelian"

Web site:



Emperor is a new Commander-style file manager for the GNOME desktop. It
is writte in Vala and, unlike similar programs such as GNOME Commander
or mc, it uses GIO in order to integrate with the GNOME desktop and to
take advantage of GVfs-FUSE.

While it is not yet full-featured, it is complete enough to be useful
and has good support for network file systems and automatic mounting of
archive files.

Emperor strives to provide a user interface familiar to users of Total
Commander, Krusader, or GNOME Commander.


- GTK+ 3
- Libxml2
- Libgee 0.7

Additional dependencies when building the source from Git:

- Vala 0.12
- GNU Autoconf, Automake, Libtool, and Gettext
- Python 3.x

[Oct 12, 2012] FreeCommander - freeware file manager

An interesting free alternative to Total Commander. GUI OFM developed by Marek Jasinski. Last version is from from Dec 09, 2010. Currently looks like abandoned project but forum is still active FreeCommander Forum ē View forum - Feature Requests
FreeCommander is an easy-to-use alternative to the standard windows file manager. The program helps you with daily work in Windows. Here you can find all the necessary functions to manage your data stock. You can take FreeCommander anywhere - just copy the installation directory on a CD or USB-Stick - and you can even work with this program on a foreign computer.

Main features in FreeCommander:

[Sep 29, 2012] 6 best orthodox file managers for Linux The verdict best Linux orthodox file manager by Mayank Sharma

June 8, 2009 | TechRadar

The verdict - EmelFM2 - 8/10

Orthodox file managers have been around forever, and have evolved from simple CLI-only utilities for moving and renaming files to comprehensive file commandeering tools that'll give many modern GUI file managers a run for their money.

The top two contenders reflect this transition, but ironically neither carries the trademark 'Commander' moniker. At the expense of being krucified by the Krusader users, we'll offer the top spot to EmelFM2.

Feature-for-feature you can do more with Krusader, but a fully-loaded app isn't always the best. Krusader is deeply integrated into KDE, which is good for KDE users, but what about the rest?

On the other hand, EmelFM2 just needs GTK, and works well both in Gnome and KDE. The biggest issue with EmelFM2 is that it doesn't have a virtual filesystem to connect to Samba and NFS shares, but on the bright side this helps keep the dependency list to a minimum.

Midnight Commander is like Slackware Ė you don't recommend it to new users, and those that are using it, would never use anything else.

Gnome Commander is a good option for Gnome users, but it relies on a deprecated piece of technology. The Gnome Commander developers also have a few plumbing issues to fix in their documentation and offer more control to keyboardies. If you are using Gnome (or not) and need to rename lots of files borrowing data from their metadata, there's no better way to go about it than with Gnome Commander.

Then there's Beesoft Commander, which is light in both size and features. If it does everything you need to do, you aren't doing enough!

Finally we have MuCommander, which relies on Java for cross-platform support and runs on Linux, Mac, and Windows, and even your web browser. It's a good tool for new Linux arrivals, but it lacks documentation, and forces users to modify XML files to edit keyboard bindings and change menus. What's going on here?

So there you have it. KDE-only users should use Krusader. If you hop distros, or don't really care which desktop you use, go for EmelFM2.

[Sep 28, 2012] Midnight Commander Guide

Everything is nice but implementation of third (command line) window remains completely screwed in Midnight Commander. This is the key OFM feature that Miguel de Icara never understood and we are still paying for that.

I've written a guide to Midnight Commander in presentation format:

For those who really don't want to look at the PDF and are just curious about the content, I put the HTML version here:

It'll have a bunch of LaTeX formatting interspersed with the text, but much of it should be readable.

-- Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint. - Mark Twain

Guus Bonnema:

Man, this rocks! Excellent job. Many problems and solutions discussed plus a lot of tips. And I like the presentation. I am proud to see LaTeX still leads to beautiful products.


...Maybe you could add that the copy and move dialogs (F5 and F6) have a very useful history. With Alt-H you get a list of dirs that you have used earlier to copy or move to. Clicking with the mouse on the [^] at the end of the input line has the same effect.


Carsten Richter wrote:

> Nice work, there are some key bindings which don't work here, maybe due to my
> terminal emulator (such as Alt-Ď). But for sure Ctrl-I doesn't redraw
> the display wenn it's messed up. I need to do the Ctrl-o twice.

It's Alt-` (backtick) and Ctrl-l (lowercase L). That should work.


Carsten Richter <> writes:

there are some key bindings which don't work here, maybe due to my terminal emulator (such as Alt-Ď). But for sure Ctrl-I doesn't redraw

As someone pointed out, it's a backtick and Ctrl-L. I'll see if I can conveniently change the font where those key bindings are listed...

the display wenn it's messed up. I need to do the Ctrl-O twice.

Ctrl-L is somewhat common and good to remember. I think a bunch of other Linux programs use it.

I also would like to know how to change the default keybindings. I was able to change the autocompletion keybinding in an old mc using the "learn keys" option. But with never ones it's not working apparently.

I'm pretty sure there's a way - you'll find it in the release notes for some release in the last 2-3 years. I think I once found some places that describe how to change them, but it seemed quite painful. I only really wanted it to be able to sort files rather than having to go to the menu - but then they allowed sorting by clicking the headers, and that sufficed.

-- Heard the one about the dyslexic devil worshiper? He sold his soul to Santa.

Hallo, mailinglists:

there are some key bindings which don't work here, maybe due to my terminal emulator (such as Alt-?). But for sure Ctrl-I doesn't redraw

As someone pointed out, it's a backtick and Ctrl-l. I'll see if I can conveniently change the font where those key bindings are listed...


Just additional: sometimes (especially with some remote terminals) the function keys don't work. But (p.e.) esc 3 instead of f3 seems still to work.

[Apr 07, 2012] gET iT i sAY 4.6.1

A file recovery tool for Ext2/Ext3 filesystems.

giis (gET iT i sAY) is a file recovery tool for Ext2/Ext3 filesystems. Once installed, current files and newly created files can be recovered. It allows users to recover all deleted files, recover files... owned by a specific user, dump data from old file locations, and recover files of a specific type, such as text or PNG. A forensic analyzer is also provided to assist users during recovery.

[Apr 07, 2012] X File Explorer


X File Explorer (Xfe) is a filemanager for X. It is based on the popular, but discontinued, X Win Commander. Xfe is desktop independent and is written with the C++ Fox Toolkit. It looks similar to Windows Commander or MS-Explorer, and is very fast and simple. It features file associations, the ability to mount/umount devices, a directory tree for quickly changing directories, the ability to change file attributes, automatic registry saving, the ability to view/create/extract compressed archives, and much more.


Recommended Links

Softpanorama Top Visited

Softpanorama Recommended

Top Links Sites Papers Xtree Add-ons WebDriveFTP Keymacros History Etc

Top links

Individual file manager sites

Recommended Papers

OFM Bulletin 1998 -- the first version of the ebook Dr Nikolai Bezroukov. The Orthodox File Manager(OFM) Paradigm

simpleRECURSION 21st Century Nostalgia [Feb 05, 2004]

Comments are more interesting then the article...
Also, I was surprised to find out that tomorrow, February 6, is NC5's ninth birthday. Weird. Could it be that many others like myself felt a point of anguish and somehow projected it into the collective unconscious? Or does NC5 have a psychic presence among us, in our hearts and minds? I don't know, but here's to you, old buddy!

I'm so glad to find someone else who is nostalgic for the days of Norton Commander. Back in those days, you were either an XTree Gold man or an NC man ... I was definitely an NC man through and through. My fingers would fly through the keystrokes with NC, and hapless customers would stand by open-mouthed :)

I was so disappointed when I discovered that NC for Windows was slow and ugly. After a careful search, I settled on Servant Salamander and I haven't looked back since. God bless you, Norton Commander!

PS. Yes, I too keep a copy of NC4 and NC5 on my hard disk for no reason other than nostalgia :)

Posted by Eric Pircher on June 20, 2006 05:39 AM

Norton Commander 5.5 for DOS with Long File Names really exists. Look at Wikipedia to proof that is true.

Posted by TurricaN on November 24, 2005 11:52 AM

Well, turns out you are right, TurricaN. I don't know if it was you, but the other day a guy e-mailed me a copy of NC 5.5 with LFN support.

I have to say that I was severely disappointed in this version. Unlike NC 5.0 and its predecessors, NC 5.5 needs to be installed and cannot be moved around with ease; it does not interact well with Windows, crashes a lot and is very slow.

P.S. TurricaN, just because someone says something on Wikipedia, it is not necessarily true.

Posted by Mike on November 26, 2005 12:50 PM

NC 5.5 inability to move and crashes exists only in NT line of WIndows, while in Windows 9x/ME this is not in the case. For Windows NT better use NC 2.01 for Windows.

Posted by TurricaN on November 28, 2005 04:50 AM

Win 9x/ME is utter crap, without argument; the first good, stable Windows version was Win2K, which is NT-based. I will have you know that NC 5.0 works perfectly on all NT-based systems, even though it does need tweaking to work with LFN.

Now, if I still wanted to use an orthodox file manager, I'd use FAR, by far (pun not intended) the superior NC clone, in all regards; NC for Windows is not a true OFM.

Posted by Mike on November 28, 2005 08:24 AM

If you want 100% NC-like archiver, use Commandline ACE - mentioned in one of links inside Wikipedia NC article.

Posted by ACEfan on February 13, 2006 07:27 AM

I would, Acefan; if I hadn't been lured by the power and compatibility (and increasing ubiquity) of WinRAR over the years. ;)

Posted by Mike on February 13, 2006 10:38 AM

I used to use NC 2.0-4.0, but then I discovered DOS Navigator.

Posted by Guti on February 28, 2006 08:07 AM

[May 25, 2001] Inside Solaris - Midnight Commander

A long time ago, on another computing platform, Peter Norton Computing released Norton Commander. This became my favorite file management program. As I wandered further and further into the UNIX realm, I found it hard to believe that a program like this wasn't available on UNIX. Finally, I came across Midnight Commander, as shown in Figure A. It offers more features than Norton Commander and, unlike Norton Commander, it runs on a variety of different computing platforms.

[Feb 7, 2000] Battle of the File Managers - the quest for the perfect file managers starts HERE! Suggested by Nguyen Nam Duy <>

An interesting review of several file managers...

File manager - Wikipedia

XTreePro as HTML-editor... : ion1.ionet.netbills

Xtree -- Another Classic File Manager

Xtree was another original file manager that created a strong following and almost cult-like devotion. Like OFMs Xtree users were able to achieve very high productivity in command line environment and it can became the style of thinking about filesystem, more merely a file manager. Like OFMs Xtree was re-implemented on most other operating systems, including Unix. See UnixTree Homepage - XTree alike filemanager for Unix - Linux...

Along with tree-like representation of the DOS filesystem Xtree was/is a pioneer that introduced two very important concepts that later and often incompletely found their way to other file managers including OFM:

As far as I can remember the original version was very small(34K ?) and did all this staff and more... It was really amazing masterpiece of programming.

Please take a look on the homepage of Jeff Johnson, the author of the original XTree and XTreeGold (Thank you Jeff, for your great work !)

Recommended Links:


UPX Homepage GPLed execution compressor

{*****} [Oct. 26, 1999] WebDrive FTP Client Software by RiverFront Software -- a revolutionary FTP client that makes an autonomous FTP VFS implementation in OFMs redundant. This was probably the most important breakthrough for the 1999 and paradoxically it was produced by the company that has nothing to do with OFM development. Currently limited to Windows 9x/NT environment. Highly recommended. Shareware $39. Suggested by Eric Pement <>.

WebDrive is a Windows 95/98 FTP software client that allows you to map an Internet FTP site to a local drive utilizing the standard FTP protocol. This enables you to connect to an FTP site and perform familiar file operations like copy, xcopy, and directory functions with the Windows explorer, a DOS box, or any other application like Microsoft Word, Excel, etc. WebDrive instantly FTP enables any application that reads or writes files by allowing the application to read files from or write files to the FTP site.

Until now, in order to upload or download files from an FTP site, you needed to run a client FTP utility that presented a user interface to manually select the files to transfer. The WebDrive FTP client makes the FTP site an extension of the file system which enables you to use any application to upload or download files to the FTP site transparently. For more details, click here

Hiew 6.04 by Eugen Suslikov. Great external viewer for classic OFMs. Frequently used with VC...

Viewer for HTML and XML for DOS

George's Home Page -- textviewer with RTF reading capability

Polish Official VC site/Utilities -- indisputably the best collection of add-ons to DOS-based OFMs. Many will work in Linux's DOSEMU mode). I do not need to compile my own ;-). Please pay special attention to the following:


See also Softpanorama History links


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