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Less is More: The Orthodox File Manager (OFM) Paradigm

by Dr Nikolai Bezroukov

Content : Foreword : Ch01 : Ch02 : Ch03 : Ch04 : Ch05 : Ch06 : Ch07 : OFM1999 : OFM2004 : OFM2012

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File Commander (FC)

File Commander is a 32-bit classic (text mode) OFM for OS/2, Win32 and Linux (version 2.4 supports all major Linux distributions) written by Brian Harvard. This is the only notable representative of OFMs from Australia.

Originally the product was for OS/2 only and if we count those versions as we should, it is considerably older then FAR. Here is the history (minor version and version before 1.0 deleted):

14/03/94 v1.00
25/05/94 v1.1
21/10/94 v1.2
06/05/95 v1.3
16/11/95 v1.4
25/03/97 v1.5
29/09/97 v1.51  First Win32 release
16/08/98 v2.00
08/11/98 v2.01
02/05/99 v2.10
26/07/99 v2.11
06/01/00 v2.12
20/04/02 v2.20
23/09/08 v2.30
03/03/11 v2.40  First Unix release

After OS/2 went into permanent decline, Win32 version was added. Since version 2.12 (released in June 2000) OS/2 and Win32 releases were simultaneous and are supported equally. Now probably the most popular platform for FC became Win32 and here it competes with FAR.  Development stopped for several years and resumed in 2009 with the release of version 2.3. In March 2011 version 2.4 was released that supports major Linux distributions and supports them well (please remember that the original codebase was for OS/2 which was designed to be better OS then Unix)

This very compact and very fast implementation. The current version 2.4 Win 32-bit exe file is just 470K (twice smaller then FAR).

Brian Harvard is the author of several OFM innovations that later found their way to other command line orthodox file managers such as FAR. Among them  usage of regular expression in file selections, more consistent set of macro symbols for user menu and command line, Shift-Enter for running the command in a separate session, etc

As historically FC was one of the first OFM for OS/2 it really dominated command line OFM area for this OS. It was the winner of Readers Choice award of OS/2 e-Zine magazine (1998). OS/2 version was a must for any serious OS/2 OFM user (it was available from  SimTel disk utilities)

Main features:

File Commander 2.30 was a substantial update of the codebase and brought it into forefront of command line OFMs on all platforms. Among notable changes:

Version 2.4 was released in March 2011. It is the first release that supports Linux, Solaris and FreeBSD, As author explained to me (private letter) he wrote his own console implementation as part of FC for Linux because Linux terminal doesn't support many key combinations that he needed. Writing own console provides full control over the keyboard and the screen/window. The downside though is that it you need VC of X11 to run it, as it won't run via ssh/telnet. Among new features:

FC contributions

FC is an interesting product that introduced several innovations that later have found its way to other OFMs.  He also was probably the most aware of Unix developments (especially MC) implementer of Win32 OFM and that provides FC with some distinct advantages over FAR. For example recently he added "/" and "?" keys to viewer as search forwards/backwards as in many unix   tools (less, vi etc) I am not a regular FC user and probably I underestimated the innovation that FC introduced. Among the innovations that I would like to mention:

All macrosymbols  can be used in command line. The macrosymbol !t permit execution of the command for each tagged file. It has correct semantic in case no files was tagged; in this case it is equivalent to the current file.  In addition a separate macrosymbol !l(!L for the passive panel) provides for a space separated list of all tagged files. Macrosymbol !@ - Substitutes for the name of a temporary file that contains a list of tagged files, one per line.

FC also provide an interesting and very useful enhancement for starting a program: Shift-Enter will run command in a separate session.

FC has very reasonable built-in viewer and editor that have good compromise between being too complex and does not providing enough features to be useful.

FC deviations

FC is reasonably compliant with the part 1 of the OFM1999 standard. The main problem is that FC does not have quick view. Also changing of timestamp was implemented as a separate command, not as a part of the attribute command.

Rescanning of the hard drive in the quick tree view is implemented with non-standard key Ctrl-R  (that's acceptable, but the standard key for rescanning is F2).

Ctrl-Enter does not work on quick search. The author decided against this behavior as he thought that it would be more useful to be able to paste the current file to the command line without switching off the quick search mode with Esc. To move to the next/previous quick search match the user should use non-standard keys Alt-Down,Alt-Up. BTW the same keys move to the next/previous tagged file in the regular panel (they are listed among FC contributions, see above).

Recommended Links

File Commander

File Commander - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

File Commander for Windows (FCW) script and utilities. -

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Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers :   Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism  : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy


War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes


Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law


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 Haterís Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D

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