People kind of bust on Thunar (I’m ambivalent, myself), but it does have some interesting functionality.
I know the trend in operating systems seems to be getting us away from folders, but I’m very much a folder kind of user.
My whole life with computers has been about putting material in the proper folder or directory, and it’s a habit I cling to. I know things like Spotlight for Mac or Synapse or GNOME Do for Linux, or even the shockingly effective and quick built-in global search Windows 7 has under its start menu are all designed to connect users to their files, regardless of where the actual file lives in the folder hierarchy, but for the times you can’t find what you need, usually because of a poor naming convention, folders still come in handy.
They’re also handy for projects, letting you mess with all of the files you need at once, without having to summon them one by one.
Despite the above emphasis on the importance of folders and directories, I’ve never given much thought to my file manager. As long as it showed me directories and hierarchies, I was pretty happy. Nautilus was always fine for me in GNOME and Thunar has been fine for me in Xubuntu.
But file managers can be used for more than navigation. One thing I’m finding very useful is that items you drag to Thunar’s sidebar (the conceptual equivalent of favoriting or bookmarking a directory) show up in the Xfce Places menu, giving you quick and direct access to a non-standard directory. Behold:
I realize this isn’t new functionality and it’s not unique to Xfce, but it’s a huge timesaver for me. Rather than navigating to frequently used files that aren’t held toward the top of directories, I can just pop into them via Places or Thunar.
Given how more and more software interfaces are handling the placement of users’ files for them, I’m especially grateful to anything that lets me easily get to the directories I need (another great example of this can be found in the cross-platform Filezilla client. You can bookmark frequently used directory paths, which is a timesaver in the maze-like Joomla CMS file system).
If you find yourself regularly navigating deep into directories, you should consider letting your OS do some of the work for you. It gives you the convenience of a file finder without your needing to surrender control of your directories.
It’s been about a month or so with Xubuntu and so far it’s just been a magical journey. But there are some things about it that I wish I could change:
- I wish Thunar let you switch the default drag-and-drop function from copy to move. I know you can just move stuff by holding down the shift key but it seems fairly out of step with current expectations. And if the Thunar developers really think the default should be copy, there should at least be a preference setting to let the user switch it to move. It’s a great file manager, though. Way, way easier than Nautilus. And less prone to freezing and hiccups.
- I wish suspending caused the screen to lock. It’s supposed to, but it doesn’t. It’s supposed to be fixed for 10.10, but I also think it’s been fixed before. Right now, I use the screensaver options to cause the screen to lock, but it takes a few minutes for the lock to kick in. It doesn’t seem very secure.
These are both very small annoyances, though. The vast, vast majority of my time in Xubuntu, it’s smooth sailing.
Xfce is a great desktop manager. 90% of the defaults are perfect for me and it’s not overly complex to manage. As I’ve mentioned repeatedly, I’m not sure it’s appreciably less system intensive than GNOME, at least within the context of Ubuntu, but speed kind of isn’t the point for me. I wanted a solid experience and so far, Xfce is giving it to me.