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Less is More: Orthodox File Managers as Sysadmin IDE

Home of OFM standards

28 years since the release of Norton Commander  1.0 (1986)


(the logo was awarded
on Jul 18, 2000)

News Recommended Links GUI vs. command line Less is More
(Introduction to OFMs)
OFM Book OFM Standards Ten Commandments
Norton Commander (NC) FAR Total Commander Midnight Commander (MC) WinSCP Screen Orthodox Editors
History NC development History of FAR development History of Total Commander History of MC Development History of WinSCP development History of screen development

History of development of Orthodox Editors

Comparison Table TCL file managers Perl-based OFMs Python OFMs Java OFMS Web OFMs Ratpoison
NCD clones Macro
recorders
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))


Abstract

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)
NC
Norton Commander
FC
File Commander
DN
Dos Navigator
FAR
Far Manager
MC
Midnight Commander
  NCW
Norton Commander for Windows
Total Commander WinSCP Krusader EmelFM2 FreeCommander mu
Commander
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)
Aban-
doned
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)
ndnv
2.31.5309 (Mar 23, 2010)
1.75 build 2634 and 2.0 build 1897
(Feb 03, 2011)

Far 3.0 built 2884

4.8.1
(Sept 2012)
  2.01 8.01
(Aug, 2012)
5.1.5
(May,2013)
2.0.0/2.4.0-beta2
(Mar, 2011)
2-0.8.1
(2012-04-20)
2009.02b 0.9 (as of July, 2012) 2.54, Sept 2010
OS supported DOS  OS/2,
Win 9x,Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD

 Win,
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
(Java)
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

GNU
License
  Commercial Shareware GNU License GNU License GNU License Freeware GNU License Commercial
Price $90 ? $35 $0 $25 $0  
£21/€ 35
$44/€ 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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[Dec 07, 2014] 30 Cool Open Source Software I Discovered in 2013

WinSCP is definitely OFM of the year for 2014. The current stable version is 5.5.6. Progress of this application was notes by many astute observes of such tools. for example it was listed among 30 cool applications by cyberciti.biz the last year. This year it became better. this is actually pretty amazing and innovative OFM. with ability to have multiple scp sessions in the second panel, favorites and many more cool features. It have tab, saved sessions (with the ability to create icons for each !), favorites both for loacl filesystem and remote filesystem and many other useful features. Built-in editor is pretty good. Those who use Putty can open Putty for each saved remote host.
The set of currently open sessions, can be saves as workspace and restored later. Bookmarks can site-specific or shared -- nice feature that prevent clutter of bookmarks. Sections can be copied (via "Clone to new site" option !) and edited.

18 WinSCP - Easily transfer file using scp

It is an open source free SFTP client and FTP client for Windows. Its main function is the secure file transfer between local and server under your control. Most new MS-Windows user find WinSCP an easier to use as compare to putty and friends.

Operating system : MS-Windows
Purpose : SFTP/FTP client
Download url : winscp.net

[Dec 06, 2014] MC tabs

18 Oct 2014 | mail.gnome.org

Dear all,

Sorry for the delay. I've had some personal problems but now I am ready to take care of the mc tabs. Please note that I've modified the 1581 ticket and also attached a patch there.

Egmont, I've also added basically everything that you said I should in our last conversation.

Now the tabs are responsive to the mouse, can be moved from one panel to the other, the current tab can be copied to the current panel and also the current tabs on both panels can be swapped.

Extra, the tabs position can be changed.

I am using mc-4.8.13 with tabs without problems since more than one month daily at my work (Win7/cygwin), at home (arch linux) and on my servers (red hat and cent os).

Before, I've used without problems mc-4.8.10 with tabs for I think more than one year.

Regards,
Cosmin Popescu.

[Nov 12, 2014] MC Tutorial by Jane Trembath

All shortcuts are noted in the menus. In mc's keyboard shortcut notation, 'C-x i' would mean press Ctrl and x simultaneously, release both then press i. M refers to the Alt key. A few common shortcuts:

• Ctrl R - refresh or rescan directory view
• Alt-shift ? - find file
• Ctrl-x d - compare directories (release ctrl-x before pressing d)
• Ctrl \ - open directory hotlist
• Ctrl-x c (o,s,l) - chmod, chown, symlink, link
• Alt c - quick cd (opens a box, quicker to type than arrowing through if you know its full path)
• (Shift) + - select group. Can enter wildcards to highlight a certain type or name of file.
• (Shift) * - reverse selection. Changes highlighting to all unselected files. Handy to use these two in combination if you are trying to quickly select all but a certain group.
• \ - unselect group. Opposite of +.

The command line

Although I don't use the command line much in mc, it should execute whatever you have typed into it. If you wish to su, it will return you to the terminal to type in your password. Then relaunch mc as root; if you ctl-o, it will take you back as user.

While anything remains typed into the command line, the sideways arrow keys move through the text and won't work to navigate in the panels. If your arrow keys suddenly don't work, check and clear the command line.

To scroll back and forth through command history, use alt - p for previous and alt - n for next command instead of the the up and down arrow keys (as in the terminal window), since mc uses them for navigating.

[Nov 08, 2014] Re: mc-4.8.13 with tabs

mail.gnome.org


The patch is at https://www.midnight-commander.org/ticket/1581

On Thu, Nov 6, 2014 at 4:18 PM, Mike Smithson <mdooligan gmail com> wrote:

On Thu, 06 Nov 2014 04:00:04 -0800, <mc-devel-request gnome org> wrote:
I am using mc-4.8.13 with tabs without problems since more than one month
daily at my work (Win7/cygwin), at home (arch linux) and on my servers (red hat and cent os).

Before, I've used without problems mc-4.8.10 with tabs for I think more
than one year.


How do I test out this mc-4.8.13 with tabs?

mc tabs



Dear all,

Sorry for the delay. I've had some personal problems but now I am ready to take care of the mc tabs. Please note that I've modified the 1581 ticket and also attached a patch there.

Egmont, I've also added basically everything that you said I should in our last conversation.

Now the tabs are responsive to the mouse, can be moved from one panel to the other, the current tab can be copied to the current panel and also the current tabs on both panels can be swapped.

Extra, the tabs position can be changed.

I am using mc-4.8.13 with tabs without problems since more than one month daily at my work (Win7/cygwin), at home (arch linux) and on my servers (red hat and cent os).

Before, I've used without problems mc-4.8.10 with tabs for I think more than one year.

Regards,
Cosmin Popescu.

[Oct 30, 2014] Happy 20th Birthday!

Oct 29, 2014 | mail.gnome.org

From: Egmont Koblinger <egmont gmail com>

Recently I did some digging about the history of mc. It's unclear when the first version was released, the oldest I could find is mc-0.3 released on Apr 29, 1994 [1].

Version 1.0, the first one bearing the name "Midnight Commander" was released on Oct 29, 1994 [2]; exactly 20 years ago. (If you wonder what the original name was: check out the links!)

A short blog entry from its author is at [3].

A very long, interesting story about mc's history can be read at [4].

Sadly, as this post points out, mc almost died twice already – and the really sad aspect that casts a shadow to the current birthday is that I personally feel it's dying again for the third time.

The initial passion from the new maintainers has faded. They hardly have time to work on the project. Many patches or important bugreports go unnoticed for long months or even years. Some tickets have heated technical discussions between some non-maintainers, yet the maintainers remain silent. Some contributors have already expressed that they've lost motivation due to the lack of response from developers, and alas more (including myself) are likely to follow. (This whole issue has been raised in [5].) I really don't know how this problem could be solved... I'm just hoping that we'll be able to figure out something.

Anyways, for now, let's celebrate 20 years of Midnight Commander :)

[1] http://www.informatica.co.cr/linux-desktops/research/1994/0504.html
[2] http://www.informatica.co.cr/linux-desktops/research/1994/1031.html
[3] http://tirania.org/blog/archive/2009/Oct-06.html
[4] http://www.softpanorama.org/OFM/Paradigm/Ch04/mc.shtml
[5] https://www.midnight-commander.org/ticket/3004

From: "Mike Smithson" <mdooligan gmail com>

Today's Topics:

1. Happy 20th Birthday! (Egmont Koblinger)

...

Sadly, as this post points out, mc almost died twice already ? and the really sad aspect that casts a shadow to the current birthday is that I personally feel it's dying again for the third time.

The initial passion from the new maintainers has faded. They hardly have time to work on the project. Many patches or important bugreports go unnoticed for long months or even years. Some tickets have heated technical discussions between some non-maintainers, yet the maintainers remain silent. Some contributors have already expressed that they've lost motivation due to the lack of response from developers, and alas more (including myself) are likely to follow. (This whole issue has been raised in [5].) I really don't know how this problem could be solved... I'm just hoping that we'll be able to figure out something. Anyways, for now, let's celebrate 20 years of Midnight Commander :)

1994? Yes, there are few records of the history of this obscure code.

I've been using mc since the days when it sucked. The 4.6 years were pretty good, it worked well already, and some major things were hacked out. 4.8 series is awesome. I got away from it for a few years, came back, and some clever people had worked it right over. Sure, they missed a few things, but the code cleanup was great.

Thank you who ever you are.

I would help, I have a bunch of patches I apply to every new version.

I don't understand the ticket system. I set one up, someone made a bizarre reply to it, and that's all that happened. I even showed the exact code that accomplished it. Nobody said yes or no, there was no dialog whether it sucked or was good. Someone just told me to make a ticket. Sounds like Russians to me. :)

I would love to help. Tell me how.

ps I like having my personal hacks for something like mc. It is my file manager. I don't use Nautilus or whatever. Maybe mc-4.8.13 is getting very close to as perfect as software can get. It is very effective.

I think forums work better than mailing lists. I want to frame things up and respond to critique. And make it easy to do so. Developers *are* users.

mc is not Twinkies(tm) in crisp plastic wrap. It's more like something you cook at home.

There ya go. Midnight Commander Cookbook.

A million magic hacks.

--

Peace and Cheer

[Sep 05, 2014] Midnight Commander 4.8.13 released

https://mail.gnome.org/archives/mc-devel/2014-September/msg00000.html
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

Hi all,

mc-4.8.13 now released.

Download page: http://ftp.midnight-commander.org/?C=N;O=D


Major changes and fixes since 4.8.12

- -Core
  * New engine of user-friendly interruption of long-time operations
(#2136)

- - Editor
  * Improvements of syntax highlighting:
    * CMake (#3216)
    * PHP (#3230)
  * Translate language names in the spelling assistant dialogue (#3233)

- -Viewer
  * Add separate normal(default) colour pair for viewer (#3204)
  * Dealing with utf-8 man pages in view/open (#1539)
  * "Goto line" is 1-based now (#3245)

- - Misc
  * Code cleanup (#3189, #3223, #3242)
  * Add new skins: gray-green-purple256 and gray-orange-blue256 (#3190)

- - Fixes
  * First Backspace/Delete is ignored after mouse click in an input
widget (#3225)
  * Recursive find file doesn't work on Samba share (#3097)
  * Recursive find file doesn't work on Windows NFS share (#3202)
  * Incorrect file counter in move operation (#3196, #3209)
  * "Directory scanning" window is too narrow (#3162)
  * Colon is not recognized inside escape seq in prompt (#3241)
  * Quick view doesn't grab focus on mouse click (#3251)
  * fish subshell: overridden prompt (#3232, #3237)
  * mcviewer: broken switch between raw and parse modes (#3219)
  * mcviewer: incorrect percentage in mcview hex mode (#3258)
  * RAR VFS incorrectly recognizes UnRAR version (#3240)
  * viewbold and viewselected are missing from some skins (#3244)
  * Incorrect enconding name for manual page (#3239)
  * "User menu -> View manual page" doesn't do coloring (#3243)

[May 19, 2014] WinSCP 5.5.3 released

Continued

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 <ndnguyen@wanadoo.fr>

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:


Add-ons

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 <epement@jpusa.org>.

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:


History

See also Softpanorama History links




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Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

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The Last but not Least


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Last modified: December 06, 2014