Sunflower: A Dual Panel File Manager for Linux

Sunflower: A Dual Panel File Manager for Linux

Sunflower is a powerful dual-pane FOSS file manager for your Linux Desktop, written in Python. It integrates seamlessly with GNOME desktop and works rather well in any other Desktop environment as well.

While the main advantage of Sunflower over other file managers such as Ubuntu’s default Nautilus really shows with file operations like copying and moving across drives, devices or directories, Sunflower offers many powerful features the usual “built-in” file managers either lack or make it more difficult to access.

Getting Sunflower

There are two ways to install Sunflower on your system. If you want to have the latest and greatest, head over to the sunflower website and download the installation package built for your system.

If you prefer using the command line, you could get the .deb archive (for Debain based systems, such as Ubuntu and Derivatives) with

You then need to manually install the package. On Debian derivatives you could use the dpgk command

If you do not mind lagging a few minor versions behind and want automatic updates, you could also use the Artareao PPA repository for Ubuntu and Derivative systems.

(Please note, it is not advised to use PPAs in Debian. If you use a proper stable system such as Debaian 7 or 8, you should consider using the direct installation method instead.)

To access Sunflower’s terminal feature you will also need python-vte

Main interface

Sunflower comes with many handy features built right into it. It uses a true dual-pane interface as opposed to just tabbing like we see in Nautilus or placing two tabs side by side as Dolpin or PcmanFM does.


The real difference is you can open more than one tab on either pane.


From the top row of each tab you can access some information of the current folder and icons to open a terminal on the active folder (in a new tab), access history and use/create bookmarks.


Sunflower does not come with different views like grid and list view of folders and previewing file and folder contents. Although there is a fast media preview functionality, this is somewhat limited. From the views menu, an additional command entry area, a command bar and a toolbar could also be enabled, although the latter must first be configured via “Edit -> Preferences -> Toolbars.”


An interesting feature is the ability to visually mark any folder or file with Emblems for quick reference. You can use more than one emblem of a file or folder.


Emblems are accessible via the “Right click -> Properties -> Emblems” tab.


Sunflower focuses on productivity, which it delivers, even with its simplistic approach, as is evident from its broad configuration options.


Powerful file operations

Sunflower really shines when it comes to file operations. The dual-pane layout makes copying files a breeze. Dragging and dropping anything from one pane to another opens up an advanced copy menu.


If you need to move or link something, you can drag and drop with a right click. (Selecting either option will open a similarly advanced menu to what you’ve seen above.)


When you create files and folders (Right click > New File or Directory), you have immediate access to set their permissions by toggling the advanced options.



Sunflower is easily extensible via Python and GTK plugins. Many built-in plugins are available from Edit > Preferences > Plugins.


There are community-built plugins available as well. Some examples are:

To install either of these, just navigate to their respective links above, download the zip and extract it contents into


While describing itself as a minimalist, easy-to-use file manager, Sunflower packs many advanced functions under a simple user interface. It is fast, stable and makes file operations easier and simpler to preform. People with different levels of experience in Linux could find it most useful. Sunfower is probably one of the best File Managers for Linux and an excellent candidate to use alongside or even as a replacement for your regular file manager.

Attila Orosz Attila Orosz

Attila is a writer, blogger and author with a background in IT management. Using GNU/Linux systems both personally and professionally, his advice stems from 10+ years of hands on experience. In his free time he also runs the popular Meditation for Beginners blog.


  1. I prefer my dual panel file managers to be “commander”-like. On Windows I use Altap Salamander, hands down the best. On linux I am using Double Commander right now.

    1. IRL I use Midnight Commander. :) Yet the GUI of Sunflower is one I would consider using, if I ever need a GUI fie manager. I think if you enable the command prompt and buttons, you get a most “commander-like” interface, unless you mean something else. I am aware of Double Commander, but never actively used it. Do you thin it has some advantages over Sunflower (in functionality?)

      On Windows… well, I prefer to have Windows only on in the wall of my house. :D I like to have my PC malware-free…

      1. I have not used Sunflower TBH. I base my opinion on this article and screenshots only. I have used several “commander”-type file managers in Linux and Windows. If Altap releases Salamander for Linux, I’d pay for it. I have been using it for more than a decade (when it was still called Servant Salamander) and it just works for me.

        Here’s a screen shot of Double Commander, whose interface is simple but very usable: (Yes, I am downloading a video from Youtube)

          1. Strange enough, even though I’ve been a KDE user for some 9-10 years or so, I’ve never used Krusader. I always preferred Dolphin, as it can switch the second tab on an off, on demand. But you are quite right, Krusader is very similar in functionality. (Although AFAIK it is KDE dependent, isn’t it?)

  2. “It (Sunflower) integrates seamlessly with GNOME desktop and works rather well in any other Desktop environment as well.”

    Does that mean that Sunflower pulls in many GNOME libraries during an install to a non-GNOME desktop environment? Or is it self-contained and doesn’t have dependencies?

    1. It means that it is purely GTK+ based, basically (so is Gnome). I do not recall it pulling in many dependencies at all on Ubutnu 14.04 (Unity) or Debian 8 (Gnome 3). i have not tried installing it on any other DE yet, so your mileage may vary.

      (And will largely depend on what your DE is, and/or what your system looks like when you turn it inside out. possibly the weather and the migration of birds affect it too, but black magic/voodoo is also reported to help. What it might help, I could not possibly tell.)

      With the PPA approach you can try

      apt-get -s install sunflower

      It will simulate what would happen if you were to install it (no root needed). If you decide that you do not like what it does, you can remove the PPA with ppa purge.

      If you prefer installing the downloaded .deb, go with

      sudo dpkg -i --simulate [packagename]

      to see what would happen (you need root for this one). Either of these simulations should tell you what else it might pull in as a dependency, which is impossible to tell, without knowing your system. Hope this helps.

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