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Less is More: Orthodox File Managers as Sysadmin IDE

Home of OFM standards

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

(the logo was awarded
on Jul 18, 2000)

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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 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/€ 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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"The future is here, it's just not evenly distributed."
William Gibson

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#1535 (Feature support SCP-SFTP) – Midnight Commander

Currently mc supports FISH (copying files over SSH), however, it seems that it does not work on some servers, namely if you don't have shell accound on the machine and only scp/sftp is allowed (for example sourceforge servers used for uploading released files)

FISH does not work, as does not work using ssh to connect (you are kicked out after connecting with message that shell access is denied), but commandline scp and sftp works here.

If would be nice to add support for scp and/or sftp to help transfer files to/from servers where shell is not available.

Changed 5 years ago by replika

Thanks for your working on this feature. It works great so far.

BTW, how to disconnect a connection?

Tried cd but it is still connected; cd - will go back to sftp directory.

In "Active VFS list", it is displayed as //sftp://, but cannot change directory nor free the VFS.

Currently, I have to exit mc to close the connection.

Changed 5 years ago by IceMan

Midnight Commander from current git origin/master doesn't mention SFTP support in mc -V output.

$ LC_ALL=C mc -V

GNU Midnight Commander 4.8.3-95-g8ca27aa
Built with GLib 2.24.2
Using the S-Lang library with terminfo database
With builtin Editor
With subshell support as default
With support for background operations
With mouse support on xterm and Linux console
With support for X11 events
With internationalization support
With multiple codepages support
Virtual File Systems: cpiofs, tarfs, sfs, extfs, ftpfs, fish
Data types: char: 8; int: 32; long: 64; void *: 64; size_t: 64; off_t: 64;

Changed 5 years ago by slavazanko

Merged to master:

git log --pretty=oneline a343070..3786051

[Feb 11, 2017] SDB: Midnight Commander tips

Using the mouse

Although Midnight Commander is a text mode application it can make use of mouse. The openSUSE delivered mc will make use of the mouse when used with a GUI console, without any further configuration needed.

The text mode terminal that we get when booting in runlevels 2 or 3 is a bit different story. You have to install the package gpm ("general purpose mouse") which is also called mouse server. The gpm is used in Linux to receive movements and clicks from mouse. Start gpm and then start Midnight commander.

If you come to the text terminal using Ctrl + Alt + F1, then gpm will not work as another driver that belongs to GUI (X Server) claims control over the mouse.

... ... ...

FTP browsing

This is file browsing on remote FTP server just as it is on your computer.

  1. Press F9 to select drop down menus on the top of the screen.
  2. Press Alt + L if you want to use left side panel, or Alt + R for right panel.
  3. Press Alt + P for input box where you have enter server name. Enter for instance

and press Enter.

Now mc will try anonymous connection to remote machine. If machine responds, you'll get directory listing of /pub on remote server.

It is possible to do the same from mc command line by typing:

cd / 

Happy browsing.

Archive browsing

Archive in classic meaning is compressed file. In Linux you can recognize them by suffix like:

tgz, tar.gz, tbz, tar.bz2

and many more, but above few are the most used

  1. Highlight the file
  2. Press Enter

That's it. Midnight Commander will decompress file for you and present it's internal structure like any other directory. If you want to extract one or all files from archive mark what you want toextract and use F5 to copy in another panel. Done.

RPM browsing

The package installation files for any SUSE are RPM and mc will let you browse them.

  1. Highlight the file
  2. Press Enter

You'll see few files:


Browse to see details of your RPM.

The CONTENTS.cpio is actual archive with files, and if you want to see within:

  1. Highlight the file
  2. Press Enter

(You know the drill)

The *INSTALL and *UPGRADE will do what the name tells, but if you want only to extract one or more files from CONTENTS.cpio than use F5 to copy them in the directory in the other panel.

PuTTY and line drawing

PuTTY is terminal application used to access remote computers running Linux via ssh (SSH tunnels from Microsoft Windows see details). The line drawing in Midnight Commander, YaST and another applications that draw lines using special characters can be displayed wrong as something else. The solution is to change settings:

If that doesn't help, you may set this too:

Found on

User menu (F2 key) add-on

Diffs in color

Tip by James Ogley:

+ t r & ! t t
d       Diff against file of same name in other directory
        if [ "%d" = "%D" ]; then
          echo "The two directores must be different"
          exit 1
        if [ -f %D/%f ]; then        # if two of them, then
          diff -up %f %D/%f | sed -e 's/\(^-.*\)/\x1b[1;31m\1\x1b[0m/g' \
                                  -e 's/\(^\+.*\)/\x1b[1;32m\1\x1b[0m/g' \
                                  -e 's/\(^@.*\)/\x1b[36m\1\x1b[0m/g' | less -R
          echo %f: No copy in %D/%f

D       Diff current directory against other directory
        if [ "%d" = "%D" ]; then
          echo "The two directores must be different"
          exit 1
        diff -up %d %D | sed -e 's/\(^-.*\)/\x1b[1;31m\1\x1b[0m/g' \
                             -e 's/\(^\+.*\)/\x1b[1;32m\1\x1b[0m/g' \
                             -e 's/\(^@.*\)/\x1b[36m\1\x1b[0m/g' | less -R

[Feb 06, 2017] WinSCP 5.9.3 released

See also WinSCP Tips

WinSCP is a very good, flexible SFTP client, SCP client, FTPS client and FTP client for Windows. It uses PuTTY format of SSH keys. It can execute PuTTYgen and Pageant (from Tools menu on Login dialog). With a built-in editor that works for remote files it beats competition such as FAR or Total Commander.

The most important advantage of WinSCP over similar tools is that several sessions are supported simultaneously and you can "stack" them in a way you wish. Switching is via convenient horizontal tabs.

WinSCP provides very convenient integrated environment for working with Linux servers because it integrates well with Putty (a unique feature of WinSCP). No need to remember passwords anymore. It can launch Putty with the parameters stored on in WinSCP “sessions" allowing you to connect without further authentication. This ability to launch Putty with authentication settings taken from existing "session" in WinSCP makes it perfect launcher for Putty even if you do not use WinSCP features much.

Multiple sessions can be creates – one for each of your machines. Directories can be compared and newer file transferred to remote server or from the remote server with one click.

You can also compare individual files, which few other OFMs can do.

WinSCP take working with "directories favorites" to a new level. This is actually a very weak feature of FAR and it is absent from Total Commander. In WinSCP you can store frequently used directories inside you session or globally. The same true for windows desktop. If also provides you an ability to store favorites in two ways: per session and globally. computer). This makes it a better sysadmin tool then many other OFMs, as navigating to the necessary directory in other OFMs is a more cumbersome process.


WinSCP allows to edit files on the remote machine using built-in editor which is more user friendly that anything I know. This is unique capability to use standard windows style editor for editing files directly on Linux/Unix server. This is a notepad class editor, simple but very functional:

If your file requires a more complex editor you can configure if for specific extension, for example for *.pl you can use Nodepad++ which allow you to use Perl aware editor on remote files without manually transferring files back and forth.

for some extensions instead of editor you can use some other application for example viewer.

There is a setting to allow to open command line at the bottom. The results of the command entered are displayed in a separate screen. There is a built-in history of commands in this screen. Actually a pretty neat implementation of the "third" windows of OFM in GUI environment.

WinSCP also allows to view hidden files and directories Ctrl-Alt-H. Attributes of files can be not only viewed and changed but also changed recursively.

Standard for OFMs command line at the bottom can be activated via Shift-Ctrl-N. Execution of command invoke the third window which has history of commands.

You can synch directories between Windows desktop and remote server and several other more complex things that enhance your productivity (it is a scriptable tool)

Like in any OFM files can be displayed using mask (basic regular expressions) like in ls.

In many corporation this is a default tool for working with Linux servers

It is free and is licensed under GNU license. See History of WinSCP development for more details.

[Nov 10, 2015] Midnight Commander version 4.8.15 released

RHEL is still shipping 4.7


We are glad to finally announce the release of mc-4.8.15! This new version brings several critical bugfixes to the search / find file functionality, as well as a large number of other fixes and improvements.

Please note, that the minimum required version of glib is now 2.26.0!

I would like to thank everybody who contributed to this release (and, in particular, Andrew and Slava), including our dedicated translators!

In other news, we are very happy to welcome a long standing contributor Egmont Koblinger as a new committer.

We are very much in need for dedicated maintainers to carefully review and integrate user contributions, process bug reports and generally improve on our aging code base, and accepting a new committer is an important step towards improving current situation.


-- Sincerely yours, Yury V. Zaytsev

[Nov 04, 2015] What's the best dual pane (orthodox) file manager for OS X



If you're looking for an orthodox dual-panel file manager - it worth it to take a look at Files (Files Lite / Files Pro on Mac App Store):
It is hotkeys-centric, supports both FTP and SFTP, provides a bunch of selecting/filtering options and a multi-rename tool was added recently.

[Nov 04, 2015] Rich’s Quick and Easy Guide to File Management with MuCommander

November 15, 2013 | the logic grimoire

If you’ve downloaded and are using MuCommander, you probably know very well what a file manager is, and why you might want to use something better than the one bundled with your particular system. You are most likely a pretty competent computer user. Since that’s the case, I’ll keep this little guide as brief as I can. By the time you’ve finished reading it, you will know about the following:
•basic file and directory operations
•interacting with non-local files via ftp, etc., using the vfs (virtual file system) capabilities which are baked into muCommander
•how to integrate muCommander with your operating system’s shell for greater power and flexibility
•batch renaming of files (and directories?)
•other things I’ll think of as we go along!

File Manager Overview

As mentioned above, you may already be familiar with the two-pane “commander” interface to file managers. It was pioneered by Norton Commander, a popular DOS program from the mid-1980s that has spawned many clones over the years. muCommander is yet another of these “clones”, though I hesitate somewhat to call it that, since it is an interesting program in its own right.

As you can see when you open muCommander, there are two file windows (or “panes”) containing lists of files and directories. Try pressing “TAB” a few times to switch back and forth between them. You should see your focus change from one to the other, with a bright blue bar highlighting your current file selection.

The window you are in at this moment is the “active” window; the opposite is the “passive.” When you are in the active window and perform a file operation such as copy or move, the highlighted file is copied/moved to the passive window. Try this a couple of times, if you like, to see how it works (I recommend copying some files around with <F5> so you don’t lose anything important).

Each window has a “location bar” at the top which tells you where you are. To the left of that is a button with the name of the directory you’re in. Try clicking on it and you’ll see that a list of options are available such as other places in your local filesystem as well as network options like FTP, Samba shares and the like (I’m assuming you know what these are; if you don’t, you can read about them on Wikipedia, among other places).

... ... ...


Another neat feature of muCommander (and a number of other file managers, I might add) is its ability to store bookmarks of places you’ve been, and would like to go again, specifically directories. These can be local (on your own hard drive), or over the network via FTP or other protocols.

For example, you can bookmark the directory where you keep your favorite heavily-annotated plaintext copy of Charlie Stross’s science fiction novel Accelerando, so you can go back to it for a few moments’ reading in your spare time between work emails. This is a silly example, but you get the point. All kidding aside, I often keep a couple of “types” of bookmarks: those directories that I visit most often, such as “Documents” or “Videos”, and a few “temporary” ones that point to directories where I keep what I’m currently reading, or bits of code I’m working on. Please note that as of version 0.8.5, you cannot bookmark files.

You can use the “Bookmarks” menu visible at the top of the program window if you prefer to point-and-click. Below I’ll list a few bookmark-related keyboard shortcuts:
•<Ctrl> + <B>

Bookmark current location
•<Alt> + <4>

Show navigable “quick list” of bookmarks
•<Ctrl> + <Shift> + <B>

Open bookmarks list in file manager pane (this allows for file manager operations on your bookmarks collection, such as copying via <F5> (what is it with me and copying? I must do lots of backups). However, I don’t necessarily recommend this unless you know exactly what you’re doing as I recently had to stop muCommander from “copying” an entire open-source-software FTP site onto my Desktop. So YMMV.).

... ... ...

muCommander is an excellent computer program. Because it is written in Java, it is portable across Windows, Mac, and Linux systems (I say this from experience – I didn’t just read it on the website! :-) It can replace one or more of the other programs that one might usually need: FTP client, file navigator, batch renaming tool, and more. It is truly a wonderful program that can solve many needs, and with a little command customization and study on your part it can be made into a devastatingly effective tool that you can bring with you anywhere (anywhere computerwise, that is – and there’s even a portable version!).

As mentioned above, the best way to learn about muCommander is to mess around. Try different things that seem like they should work, read the keyboard shortcuts from the menus, and above all else, keep good backups of your important files (preferably using muCommander, of course!), in order to let the crashes fall where they may…

[Nov 03, 2015] file managers orthodox vs explorer

Dec 26, 2011 |


I realize this is very late to the discussion, but I don't think the original question was answered.

I recently switched to using an orthodox file manager: Krusader. "The deal" with OFM's is this. They are most efficient when used with the keyboard and have a very specific set of common key bindings and behaviors not found in managers like Konqueror or other Explorer-type file managers. They are most efficient when you are already familiar with using the shell, as they assist in constructing complex command lines involving many unrelated files. But they make performing the most common functions as simple as a single key press.

The interface of an orthodox file manager consists of three basic elements: two symmetrical panes showing the content of two directories side-by-side and a command line below. The current directory of the command line is tied to the current directory of the active pane and vice versa. Ctrl-down and Ctrl-up changes focus between the active pane and the command line. Tab toggles the states of the two panes between active and inactive. When the command line is active, Ctrl-enter inserts the file names highlighted in the active pane and Ctrl-Shift-enter does the same using the complete path to the highlighted files.

Basic file management commands are bound to the function keys F2 through F10. Copy and move operations start in the active pane and target the inactive pane. For example, to move a file, highlight it in the active pane and press F6. It will be moved to the directory in the inactive pane. Viewing and opening files and directories is as simple as moving the cursor bar to them and pressing enter. The highlight is toggled with the space bar. Files are most-easily targeted by simply typing their name. The cursor bar jumps to the first file that matches what you type.

Viewing, editing, renaming, and deleting, as well as making directories, are bound to function keys, making them a single key press to initiate. This is quite different from Explorer-type managers, which require using tool bar buttons, pull-down menus, or context menus for most of these operations. And copying or moving files using one of those managers is a much more cumbersome operation.

Explorer-type managers' one advantage is a graphical tree view of the directory structure, usually in a pane on the left, but their lack of convenience features for common file operations seems to make them better suited to viewing the file system rather than managing it.

Aside from the keyboard operation of orthodox file managers, they are remarkably consistent in layout, behavior, and key bindings between implementations on all platforms. If you know one, you will be able to instantly use another on a different OS with no need to learn anything. They minimize the number of key strokes for most file operations, making them competitive with the shell in terms of efficiency.

But that is only the beginning of their features. Most also offer integrated archive management and VFS features, letting you browse archives and ISO files as directories, for example. You can read more about orthodox file managers at The Orthodox File Manager (OFM) Paradigm.

Configuring an Explorer-type manager to show two directories side-by-side will not give you an OFM. You still won't have key bindings for the most-common file operations linked to the two panes and other behaviors that make these file managers so efficient to use.

[Nov 01, 2015] Roundup of Functional File Managers

May 21, 2013 | Windows.AppStorm

The ideas behind Norton Commander have been formalized into the concept of the Orthodox File Manager. These file managers have two panes and a command area. The command area is either an actual command line in the case of text-only programs, or buttons and menubars in the case of graphical equivalents. The two panes show different parts of the file system. This is convenient because one often wants to move or copy files between different parts of the filesystem, and Orthodox File Managers provide quick commands for doing this to selected files.

... ... ...

After trying out these alternatives, I still prefer Directory Opus, but if I had to choose, I would go with FreeCommander. Like its name, it’s free, and it has a good selection of features. I give Far Manager an honorable mention because of the plugin architecture and extensibility.

Although I wouldn’t want to see Microsoft kill another category of software by embrace & extend, I wonder why Redmond hasn’t folded features of Orthodox File Managers into Windows Explorer. There’s a market for it. This software has been a cottage industry for more than twenty years. Until Microsoft changes its mind, we can enjoy the competition among the little players in this market niche.

[Jun 11, 2015] mc 4.8.14 rpm packages

Hmmmmm. With urls it would be great:

Re: mc 4.8.14 rpm packages

Le mer. 10 juin 2015 à 22:46, Yury V. Zaytsev <yury shurup com> a écrit :
I haven't had a look yet, but from the description it sounds awesome! Do you think you could add a description with links here?

I used to maintain the RPMs in the past, but after Fedora picked up the speed this wasn't strictly necessary anymore, and I've never restored the nightly RPM build job after the old server became unavailable.


Sincerely yours, Yury V. Zaytsev

Hello Yury,

I’ve made a subproject for mc on my home at obs, so there’s only mc and no other packages that could mess up a bit existing installs.

To sum up:

CentOS 7, Scientific Linux 6,7, Fedora 20,21,22 packages are available. (F22 was added a couple hours ago on obs).

I have for now limited builds to i586 and x86_64. Is there any interest in enabling other archs for Fedora ? ppc ppc64 s390x local armv6l armv7l aarch64 ppc64p7 ppc64le are available (in the gui at least, I’m pretty sure there is not that much supported platforms).

I don’t plan on supporting nightly builds (it’d require quite a bunch of work and I’m afraid I can’t afford it).

I created an account on trac, but I must be blind (and/or dumb) because I can’t see where to edit a page. Here’s the content though:

== Redhat-based distros ==

Binary and source packages for:



wget -O /etc/yum.repos.d/home:laurentwandrebeck:mc.repo

wget -O /etc/yum.repos.d/home:laurentwandrebeck:mc.repo

wget -O /etc/yum.repos.d/home:laurentwandrebeck:mc.repo

wget -O /etc/yum.repos.d/home:laurentwandrebeck:mc.repo

wget -O /etc/yum.repos.d/home:laurentwandrebeck:mc.repo

wget -O /etc/yum.repos.d/home:laurentwandrebeck:mc.repo

wget -O /etc/yum.repos.d/home:laurentwandrebeck:mc.repo


You’ll find src.rpm packages at, in the /src directory corresponding to your distribution.

debuginfo packages are available for debugging purpose.

Help welcome to get SLE and openSUSE packages up and running.



[Jun 14, 2015] What orthodox file manager for OS X could I use?

Nov 18, 2012 |

muCommander has classic orthodox file manager keybindings. Sadly MC is not very mac'ish and lacks multiple tabs.

CRAX Commander

This is a graphical, dual-panel file manager with support for operations (copy, move, delete). This software has built-in support for SSH and FTP. This is not free software but you can download a demo version from the program site.

Moroshka File Manager (free)

Today I discovered another commander, the Moroshka File Manager. It has multiple tabs. Looks great. In particular the footer of the main-window is neat.


Supports all file operations. Fast, stable, small, lightweight.

Can be freely downloaded and used - no restrictions, just nag screen.

Newton Commander (free + open source)

Cloud Commander is orthodox web file manager for Mac OS, Windows and Linux.

Cloud Commander

[Jun 03, 2015] How to install and use Midnight Commander by David Both

May 27, 2015 |

One of my favorite features of Midnight Commander—and of my other favorite file managers—is the ability to drill down into the contents of various types of archive files like zip, rpm, tar, tgz, cpio and others. Simply highlight the desired archive file and press the Enter key. Midnight Commander shows the complete contents of the archive. You can navigate through the directory hierarchy inside the archive and open text files and scripts to view their content.

Midnight Commander makes it possible to directly copy individual files from the archive out to replace damaged or missing ones. I have used this capability many times to recover a damaged file from a backup tarball or to copy a good copy of a damaged executable or configuration file out of an rpm.

[May 23, 2015] Mooffie branch screenshots

As is the practice nowadays, we show you some screenshots to wet your appetite.

These screenshots demonstrate various features implemented with Lua. No C code is used.

See here how to enable these features.


You can write your own fields in Lua.

  • This image shows some git-related fields. This saves you from having to do “git status” repeatedly.
  • We also see here that the Size field was redefined (again, using Lua alone) to show commas (or some other means the locale rules dictate), to make it easier to read.
Let’s analyze what we see in the picture:

The git branch name is is displayed at the bottom of the panel (it’s not a field). The working directory is dirty (we have local modifications), which is why it’s displayed in red.

The When, Author, and Message fields tell us the details of the last commit of the file. For example, arg.c was last committed 22 days ago by Andrew. The commit’s ID (shown at the mini status) is 8c88aa01ad.

The St[atus] field is the realy useful field here (and is probably the only field you'll want displayed, especially since it has little performance penalty). It’s a two-character field showing the status of the file (see git-status(1) for the letters' meaning):

On the right panel: defs.js is ignored (by being listed in .gitignore), and a few other files are not tracked by git (indicated by ??). The working directory there is clean (displayed in green).

More fields; BiDi

  • This image shows some multimedia fields. We see the Durat[ion] of videos / songs, the Bi[trate] and, for videos, the Hei[ght] in pixels. These fields are sortable.
These fields are aggressively cached, so it’s feasible to use them even on slow machines.
  • The Name field was redefined to support BiDi languages like Arabic and Hebrew: the letters order is reversed and, for Arabic, character shaping is performed.
Note the drop-shadow effect for dialogs, and how the Sort order dialog was moved away from the center to make the screenshot more useful. This “pyrotechnic” is implemented with just a few lines of Lua code. No “code bloat” is involved here.

Visual Rename

Sometimes you wish to rename a bunch of files using some regexp. MC can do this but with MC it’s like shooting in the dark: you don’t know the names you'll end up with till you perform the rename, and then you may discover, to your dismay, that you'll be overwriting some files!

Visual Rename solves this by showing you, as you type, how your files will end up. It also warns you if clashes (overwriting files) will occur. You can also rename files down a directory tree by “panelize"ing first.

You may even plug in your own code. No more wasting time on writing those little shell/ruby/perl script to rename files!

Also note the “Panelize” button. There’s a special mode that makes Visual Rename act somewhat like a filter-as-you-type feature.


You can write filesystems in Lua. The following naive code:

local myfs = {

  prefix = "myfs",

  readdir = function ()
    return { "one.txt", "two.txt", "three.txt" }

  file = function (_, path)
    if path == "one.txt" then
      return "Mary had a little lamb.\nHis fleece was white as snow."



results in:

You'll also find bundled filesystems for SQLite, MySQL and MHT.


The editor too can benefit from scripting, as we'll see here.


A basic speller can be implemented in just 5 lines of code.

The speller script shown here interacts with your actual speller via the aspell / ispell / hunspell / spell binary.

This is very different than MC’s current approach of linking against a certain C library, an approach which deprives you of the freedom to choose a speller, and of the freedom to decide whether this feature is actually enabled (as it’s a compile-time decision).

Note, in the picture, that misspellings are only highlighted when they occur in comments (and string literals). We certainly don’t want “misspellings” occurring in the main code (e.g. “g_getenv”) to be highlighted.


Linter for various languages.

Visual Replace

The Visual Rename we've seen earlier also works in the editor, where it’s known as Visual Replace. It lets you see all the changes in advance, making it a safe alternative to the potentially hazardous “Replace All”.

Function list

Shows a menu of your functions.


Modeline support.

UnicodeData.txt; ruler; scrollbar

We see three features here:
  • The unicodedata.lua script shows the UTF-8 bytes, and the appropriate line from UnicodeData.txt, of a character we're curious about.
  • There’s a ruler if you need to measure distances on the screen. It works anywhere, not just in the editor.
  • There’s a scrollbar at the left.


The idea behind the “modeline” feature —of embedding meta information in the text— can be used for implementing various creative ideas.

Here we've embedded the names of the characters of a novel at the start of the text. Our "actors" script then colors them up. Males are in bluish color; females in pinkish.

Also shown here is our dictionary.lua script.

User Interface

We have an elegant, easy, and yet powerful API for creating user interfaces.

A game.

In this picture we also happen to be editing the source code of the game. We can edit Lua code right inside MC and then ask it to reload the Lua subsystem when we want to see the effects of our modified code. We don’t need to restart MC.

Notice, in the picture, several things borrowed from the JavaScript world: set_interval and on_click. Additionally, Lua is a dynamic language, which makes it possible to use different styles of programming.

Also note the scrollbar at the left.

Recently Visited Files; xterm titles

Here’s a box showing you the files you've recently edited.

This feature saves you a huge amount of keystrokes because you no longer need to navigate among directories. There’s also a “Goto” button which makes this box an alternative to the “Directory hotlist” box.

Files you're currently editing are marked with “*”. You can switch to them right from this box, which makes it a replacement for MC’s “Screens” box.

Files edited in other MC processes are marked with “!”.

You can even provide your own code to alter the list. E.g., you can add there files edited in Vim or gedit. Or you can populate it with all the files in your project.

You also see here alternative xterm titles. Note the terminal’s three tabs: MC’s builtin xterm titles would have wasted precious space. Here we have “[M] /path/to/dir” shown for the filemanager, and “[E] edited-file.txt” for the editor. You may customize this. E.g., you can add the process ID to the title.

Note that we're editing the “TODO” file in the left tab. Indeed, our Recently visited files box indicates (with a “!”) that this file is being edited by another process.


Want to save the state of your panels? You have it: snapshots.

This feature is somewhat like tabs, and somewhat like the “Directory hotlist”.

Note the “sb” snapshot, which doesn’t record a directory (indicated by <none>). We use it to easily restore a sorting order and a custom listing format.

The “p” snapshot, on the other hand, records nothing but directory paths (indicated by a missing +).


Tired of running irb, python, ghci, etc. every time you need to evaluate some formula? Sure you are.

Here’s the solution. A calculator.

You're not limited to math formulas: any Lua expression works.

Find-as-you-type; clock

This image shows two accessories:
  • You can search in any listbox widget. Here we demonstrate this with the Directory Hotlist dialog, but it works anywhere.
(“broo” matches “Brooks” because the search is case insensitive unless you type an uppercase letter. If the search string isn’t found, the “Search” box is painted in alert colors (typically red).)
  • You also see a clock at the top-right corner.


You can inject your own widgets into the filemanager (this is just a “by product” of our fine user interface API).

The ticker module injects widgets that show you the output of shell commands and have this display updated every X seconds.

In this picture we see two tickers. The top one (the reddish) shows some RSS feeds. The bottom one (the khaki) shows a random line from a text file (useful for people learning some [human] language and needing to improve their vocabulary, for example).

The user can easily improvise a clock by using a ticker, but there’s already one.

Some other potential uses for this ability:

  • A bar with extra information about the selected file or files.
  • A tab bar.


We can inject widgets to the editor too. Here we use this ability to inject, besides a scrollbar, a label warning you about files you won’t be able to save.

(This label, as the scrollbar, doesn’t come on top of the text: it’s docked south of it.)

Scrollbar; filter-as-you-type

[May 23, 2015] mc^2 by Mooffie

A very important news. Attempt to add LUA support to MC.

Hi guys!

I've just published a branch of MC with Lua support:

See the "screenshots" lin k.

Hi guys!

I've just published a branch of MC with Lua support:

See the "screenshots" link.

Also see the "other documents" link for background (especially "HISTORY").

Many, many tickets can be solved with mc^2, but I don't want to spam the ticket queue with my posts, so I've prepared a list of some such tickets (see "other documents" -> "TICKETS").

(But in a few tickets I *will* comment: in tickets I believe a constructive discussion could ensue, or where I feel people are truly in need of a solution.)


Now, I guess I'll be attacked for one reason or another. Let me save your time by attacking myself for you:


Q: "Is this a 'fork' of MC? Are you trying to split the community?"

A: No, this is not a "fork" (as per Wikipedia's definition). It's intended to be "food for thought" for the MC community. My hope is that eventually the principle behind mc^2 will be adopted by MC.


Q: "Is seems that you've invested a lot of time in this. Gosh, why waste human resources?! Especially on something that nobody's going to use?"

A: The time I "waste" here is negligible in comparison to the time and efforts wasted by tens of people who have tried to contribute code to MC over the years.

The principle behind mc^2, if adopted by MC, is going to put an end to this waste of human resources.


Q: "But why use Lua?!?! Why not pick the language that starts with 'P'?! Why not make it work with any language?!??!"

A: Let's not talk about languages/VMs *right now*. Please, as much as it's tempting.

Right now, the language is not the issue. The issue is the principle, of having some extension language.

The language/VM is obviously something everybody will have something to say about. You will. But not now.

If every passerby here will now emit his "2 cents" opinion/rant, it will kill the vision/project. It will start a Holy War. It will derail the discussion from the mainroad to the gutters. It's the least constructive thing that could happen. It means death.

In the future, when we know the principle will be regarded favorably by MC's maintainers, we could open this issue and discuss things.

One thing's for sure: You can't give an opinion about the subject without considering it for at least a week (or a month, I'd say). There are various facets to consider. There are threads of thoughts to be picked and discarded. There are insights to be acquired. You can't just barge in with "use Python!!", "use Parrot!", "use GObject!". As the Chinese saying goes, "Opinions are like belly buttons: everybody has one". It should take more, much more, than an "opinion" to affect the discussion.

So, again: let's not talk about languages now.

(For the record: I recorded my reasons for choosing Lua in "other documents" -> "HISTORY".)

Also see the "other documents" link for background (especially "HISTORY"). Many, many tickets can be solved with mc^2, but I don't want to spam the ticket queue with my posts, so I've prepared a list of some such tickets (see "other documents" -> "TICKETS"). (But in a few tickets I *will* comment: in tickets I believe a constructive discussion could ensue, or where I feel people are truly in need of a solution.) == Now, I guess I'll be attacked for one reason or another. Let me save your time by attacking myself for you: == Q: "Is this a 'fork' of MC? Are you trying to split the community?" A: No, this is not a "fork" (as per Wikipedia's definition). It's intended to be "food for thought" for the MC community. My hope is that eventually the principle behind mc^2 will be adopted by MC. == Q: "Is seems that you've invested a lot of time in this. Gosh, why waste human resources?! Especially on something that nobody's going to use?" A: The time I "waste" here is negligible in comparison to the time and efforts wasted by tens of people who have tried to contribute code to MC over the years. The principle behind mc^2, if adopted by MC, is going to put an end to this waste of human resources. == Q: "But why use Lua?!?! Why not pick the language that starts with 'P'?! Why not make it work with any language?!??!" A: Let's not talk about languages/VMs *right now*. Please, as much as it's tempting. Right now, the language is not the issue. The issue is the principle, of having some extension language. The language/VM is obviously something everybody will have something to say about. You will. But not now. If every passerby here will now emit his "2 cents" opinion/rant, it will kill the vision/project. It will start a Holy War. It will derail the discussion from the mainroad to the gutters. It's the least constructive thing that could happen. It means death. In the future, when we know the principle will be regarded favorably by MC's maintainers, we could open this issue and discuss things. One thing's for sure: You can't give an opinion about the subject without considering it for at least a week (or a month, I'd say). There are various facets to consider. There are threads of thoughts to be picked and discarded. There are insights to be acquired. You can't just barge in with "use Python!!", "use Parrot!", "use GObject!". As the Chinese saying goes, "Opinions are like belly buttons: everybody has one". It should take more, much more, than an "opinion" to affect the discussion. So, again: let's not talk about languages now. (For the record: I recorded my reasons for choosing Lua in "other documents" -> "HISTORY".)

[Mar 23, 2015] Midnight Commander 4.8.14 now released

Download page:;O=D

Major changes since 4.8.13

Core VFS


Viewer Diff viewer



[Jan 1, 2015] OFM Bulletin 2014

Recommended Links

Softpanorama hot topic of the month

Softpanorama Recommended

Top LinksSitesPapersXtreeAdd-onsWebDriveFTPKeymacrosHistoryEtc

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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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 Hater’s 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

Copyright © 1996-2016 by Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov. was created as a service to the UN Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) in the author free time. This document is an industrial compilation designed and created exclusively for educational use and is distributed under the Softpanorama Content License.

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Last modified: February 12, 2017