Use a Dual-Panel File Manager for Better Productivity

If you are a full time Linux user, you’ll agree that a lot of tools are required to perform day-to-day work. For example, you need a text editor, an application for viewing binary or hex files, a software that can compare files, an archive creator and extractor, and the list goes on and on. While there’s no problem in using tools aimed at specific purposes, juggling between them can be a bit time consuming.

What if you could access most of these features from within a single software? Or better yet, think of a file manager that packs a majority of these tools so that you don’t have to open separate applications for your day-to-day tasks. Directly to the point, you’ll be glad to know that such tools exist, and one of them is Double Commander which we’ll be discussing in this article.

Double Commander is an open-source, dual-panel file manager that’s available for various operating systems including Linux. It is inspired by Total Commander but contains some new features. The application is still in beta phase, presumably because all the features envisioned for it haven’t been implemented yet – it’s currently under heavy development.

Note: we’ve used Double Commander version 0.7.2 beta for this article.

The download and install instructions for Double Commander are there on its official website. You can proceed by clicking links corresponding to your OS. For example, in our case (Ubuntu) we clicked the link corresponding to GTK2 in the GNU/Linux section and then selected Ubuntu.

Given that we’re using Ubuntu 14.04, the following set of commands downloaded and installed the file manager on our system:

Once installed, you can launch the application by running the following command:

Here’s the UI of the application.

0-dbcmndr-ui

You can see that there are two side-by-side panels listing contents of the same directory “/usr/lib/doublecmd.” Needless to say, you can click the double dot [..] entry in the beginning of the content list to go to a directory of your choice.

For example, I opened “/home/himanshu/Desktop” in both panels.

1-dbcmndr-desktop-dir

I know you’ll be eager to know about the various tools that I mentioned in the introduction of this article and how you can access them. Let’s begin with the comparison tool which you can access by heading to “File -> Compare by Contents.”

2-dbcmndr-compare-launch

Of course, you need to select a couple of files before launching this tool. Here’s a screenshot of the compare tool in action.

3-dbcmndr-compare-tool-in-action

Moving on, just next to the “Compare by Contents” option is the “Multi Rename Tool.” As the name suggests, this option lets you rename multiple files in one go. Just select the files that you want to rename and click this option, and you’ll see the following window.

4-dblcmdr-multiple-rename-launch

As you can see, I selected two files named “screenkey” and “screenkey-edited.” Now suppose the aim is to append a “-new” text at the end of the name of both files. For this just add this text after the “[N]” in the ‘File Name’ text box, and you’ll see that the “New File Name” column at the top shows the updated file names.

5-dblcmdr-multiple-rename-in-action

Now, click the “Rename” button at the bottom to complete the operation.

Next up, the “Pack Files…” and “Extract Files…” options that follow the “Multi Rename Tool” option (described above) in the “File” menu. They let you create an archive and extract contents from an archive, respectively. An important thing worth mentioning here is that you can easily drag and drop a file into an archive, and Double Commander will make sure that it’s added to the archive.

Move over to the “Mark” menu, and you’ll see various available options, including a couple that let you copy the file names as well as names with complete paths of the selected files.

6-dbcmndr-mark-menu

Similarly, head over to the “Commands” menu, and you’ll see a “Run Terminal” option which – as the name suggests – opens a command line terminal from within the editor.

7-dbcmndr-term-launch

Keep exploring these main menus, and you’ll find some very useful features.

Moving on, the next set of important functionalities is located at the bottom of the Double Commander UI.

8-dblcmdr-bottom-buttons

Clicking the “View F3” button opens the built-in file viewer to view files in hex, binary or text format, while the “Edit F4” button launches the internal text editor. Similarly, the other buttons let you copy, move, and delete stuff, as well as create a directory and exit the application.

Each panel window has a set of symbols over it (image shown below) that act as clickable buttons and serve as shortcuts to directories.

9-dblcmdr-dir-shortcuts

Suppose you want to go to root directory. Instead of clicking the “[..]” entry again and again, you can just click the “/” symbol from the list shown in the image above. Similarly, “..” takes you to the parent directory, “~” takes you to your home directory, and “<” opens the current directory of the other panel.

The “*” entry (that the set show above begins) requires a bit of special mention. Clicking this button lets you open special directories – for example, directories represented by environment variables. The following screenshot should make things more clear.

10-dbcmndr-spcl-dir

There are also options to add your current or selected directory in the special directories list.

Double Commander is a powerful file manager that’s not at all difficult to understand or use – all you need to do is to spend some time with it. While all of what we covered here is just the tip of the iceberg, it should be enough to get you started. If you are a heavy Linux user, I am sure you’ll benefit from Double Commander. Go ahead and try it.

7 comments

  1. Are you shilling for the developers of DoubleCommander?

    For years Linux has had a dual-panel file manager available. It is called Midnight Commander. It is either installed by default on some distros or it is in the repositories of others.

    File managers that come with KDE, such as Dolphin, have a split-screen mode which works the same as dual-panel. You can also load two (or more) instances of Dolphin, arrange the resulting windows side by side horizontally or vertically and you have a multi-panel file manager.

    “The application is still in beta phase, presumably because all the features envisioned for it haven’t been implemented yet – it’s currently under heavy development.”
    Why take a chance on a beta version of a package when both Midnight Commander and Dolphin have been out of beta phase for many years and had their bugs and problems already ironed out?

    • I think you’re criticism is a bit harsh and unwarranted. The author acknowledges others while introducing a new(ish) player to the field:

      > you’ll be glad to know that such tools exist, and one of them is Double Commander

      As a longtime distro-hopper and fulltime Linux user for the last year, I’m aware of many of the default favorites. It’s nice to see articles discussing alternatives to the old guards. It’s good for end-users, developers working the (often) thankless job of writing open source software and the community as a whole.

      Don’t overreact to every ripple within a community that depend on eachother to innovate and keep moving forward. It’s counterproductive.

      • “you’ll be glad to know that such tools exist, and one of them is Double Commander”
        If Double Commander was a proven version 1.x product, I would not have made any comment. However, by author’s own admission, it is still in beta stage, with all features still not fully implemented. Linux detractors are forever pointing out that Linux products are “not ready for prime time”. So there is no need for the author to add fuel to the fire by recommending a beta product. For all we know, Double Commander may go to that Great Bitbucket in the sky without ever getting out of beta phase.

        “It’s good for end-users, developers working the (often) thankless job of writing open source software”
        It would be much better for the end-users if Linux open source developers took a look at the available software and developed new software that is actually NEEDED, not just another version of an existing software. Linux’s strength is the freedom of choice, but it is also its Achilles heel. It is much easier to fork existing software than it is to design and write new software from scratch. How many File Managers do we need? How many Desktop Environments and Window Managers do we need? How many re-spins of existing distros do we really need?

        Many users want to switch from Windows to Linux but they cannot because the Windows software they use has no Linux equivalents. ex.: video editing, income tax, accounting software. Big software houses will not port their products to Linux because they do not see enough profit in it or just don’t want to. Therefore it is up to the individual and small groups of developers to provide the software that the users need. I’m sure that Linux users would much rather see Linux equivalents of Peachtree Accounting or TurboTax or any of the Adobe products than another File Manager.

      • Miguel, this was one of the best and most mature answers I have seen in a long while. Thank you for nurturing the open-source community spirit, good sir!

  2. ThX for that post!
    I recently switched from Win7 to Ubuntu. The tool I missed most by far was my Total Commander which I use for a long time. I know Midnight-Commander, but I would consider it a (better) Norton Commander from the DOS era. It was nice, but I was XtreePro Gold addicted anyway :)

    I will check that Double Commander, because it is hard for my fingers to learn new tricks especially when there is no need to do so.

    regards
    Torsten

  3. Krusader is far better. It *can* be a lot to learn, as it has an awful lot to offer, but if you wish to KISS, then it’s still the best there is. I’ve been using it over everything else on Linux for *at least* 10 years.

  4. Well this is awesome, this is exactly what I needed! I just started learning Linux, and at the same time I am a big time Windows user, which makes it even harder of course. On Windows I have this simple tool: http://www.winzip.com/win/en/features/file-manager.html where I manage all my files and folders, and keep everything very much organized, but I could not figure out how to on Linux, so thanks so much for this trick! It’s awesome!

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