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Gnome Switches Nautilus Back To Browser Mode 311

An anonymous reader writes "In one of the do-the-developers-actually-use-their-own-software decisions in the Linux Desktop World, back in 2004 Gnome switched to the 'Spatial' view by default with their Nautilus file manager opening a new window with each new folder viewed. Many derided the decision as poor design or as being different for the sake of being different. Well, after five long years the Gnome powers that be have decided to switch back to browser mode."
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Gnome Switches Nautilus Back To Browser Mode

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  • by sorennielsen ( 620697 ) <[kd.tpyrc-n] [ta] [todhsals]> on Friday December 25, 2009 @06:24AM (#30550108) Homepage
    Didn't even notice. Haven't used a distro that didn't have "browsermode" set as default.
  • by hubert.lepicki ( 1119397 ) on Friday December 25, 2009 @06:24AM (#30550110)

    I don't know any modern distribution that is using spatial mode for Nautilus windows. Ubuntu tried that and it was only 1 or 2 releases they kept this default setting. Can you help me out with listing distributions that this change will affect somehow?

  • by Torrance ( 1599681 ) on Friday December 25, 2009 @06:38AM (#30550136)
    Debian uses spatial by default. I know, because it's about the first thing I change on a fresh install.
  • Re:Does it matter? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 25, 2009 @06:57AM (#30550188)

    Fedora (a very popular gnome centric distro) has nautilus set to open in a new window.

  • by GreatBunzinni ( 642500 ) on Friday December 25, 2009 @07:07AM (#30550212)

    The only differences between that pair of screenshots consists on a couple of dock window widgets which are pretty much never used on KDE's Dolphin and are turned off by default. I use KDE exclusively on a daily basis and I had to look at the screenshot to learn that KDE's Dolphin had an Info dock window and if you happen to use Dolphin then the window config you will get will be exactly the same config as the one Nautilus is sporting on it's screenshot.

  • by eqisow ( 877574 ) on Friday December 25, 2009 @07:53AM (#30550330) Homepage
    What you want is an orthodox file manager []. There are plenty of other options on Linux besides the ones you mentioned, such as emelFM2 [], Gnome Commander [], or Beesoft Commander []. Perhaps one of those will be more to your liking, though I personally find Krusader more than adequate.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 25, 2009 @07:58AM (#30550346)

    No need to switch to Windows VM. Total Commander works nicely under Wine (

  • by FooBarWidget ( 556006 ) on Friday December 25, 2009 @08:05AM (#30550368)

    Maybe because there are only so many ways to design a file manager? They've only been around for, what, 40 years?

  • by TeXMaster ( 593524 ) on Friday December 25, 2009 @08:31AM (#30550434)
    I too miss Total Commander on Linux. I've heard reports of it working pretty decently under WINE, but I haven't tried it myself.

    Krusader is indeed the best candidate to try and get something to the level of TC, but it really needs a lot of work. I really wish I had the time to grab the codebase and start hammering on those rough edges ...

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Friday December 25, 2009 @08:42AM (#30550462) Journal

    Not sure why this is moderated as interesting. The point of a spacial file browser is to use your spacial memory (which is big, and is the reason why you can find things all around the house or on a messy desk easily) to manage your files. Every time you open a folder, it opens in the same place on your screen. This lets you mentally associate screen locations with files.

    The problem with spacial browsers is that they don't scale beyond a certain point. They were great on older machines where you'd only have a few hundred files, but managing a thousand files with a spacial UI will just confuse the user. A good compromise would be to use spacial mode for documents and an explorer for everything else.

  • by ta bu shi da yu ( 687699 ) on Friday December 25, 2009 @08:43AM (#30550470) Homepage

    Well, the rationale for changing from spatial to browser mode in Nautilus is because much of the functionality is now being implemented in Gnome-Shell.

    From the following post [] by Alexander Larsson:

    The current ideas behind the design of nautilus is that its the main way to access files. By this I mean everyday stuff like finding and opening your files, rather than "file management" (reorganizing files, copying files, etc). This together with the desktop having links to important places (as well as being a repository for currently worked on files) makes this a sort of "desktop shell" in the sense that its how apps are launched to a large degree. This is also why spatial mode is the default for the desktop icons (and why browser mode is availibile in the menus as "File Browser" for those times you want to
    do intense file management).

    However, in the gnome-shell design a lot of the things nautilus is currently used for (locating and opening files) is integrated into the
    shell and mixed together with the ui for locating and starting applications. This makes a lot of sense to me as launching applications and opening files with an application are closely related actions, and a merged UI could do a lot better than the current sort of double UI with the panel launching apps and the desktop launching files. The shell also wants to de-emphatize the desktop as a place for storing files in use and launching links, for good reasons (read the design paper[1] for details).

    This leads to two initial conclusions from my side. First of all we should disable the drawing of the desktop by default. Second we should default to browser mode. This might seem a bit suprising (sic) since I've generally been on the spatial side. But, this has mainly been because I've seen nautilus as much more used as a kind of file activation shell rather than a hardcore file manager, and when that changes the rationale for spatial mode change too.

  • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted.slashdot@org> on Friday December 25, 2009 @11:52AM (#30551068)

    Hmm... Maybe you are too young to know, but the list view was the default since forever, in all software. It’s why “ls“ is named “ls”.
    Microsoft also had the list view in its file manager of Windows 3.1 and before.

    Only with Windows 95 did the resolution even become high enough to allow it for file management. And only then did they merge the program groups (windows with icons inside) with the file manager (a tree of folders and a list of files) to create the Explorer (then they naturally added the web browser in there, as it’s just another space to browse).

    It was hated by virtually everybody back then. As was the “new window for every folder‘ mode that became default.
    I still have a script that fixes up all windows failures after installation. It’s called AntiDAU (DAU = dümmster anzunehmender user = dumbest assumable user), similar to (XP)AntiSpy nowadays.

    I fear that I have to port that script to Gnome and KDE too. Which should tell you a lot about the sad state that they both are headed for (or actually, always were in a bit).

  • by vegiVamp ( 518171 ) on Friday December 25, 2009 @12:11PM (#30551164) Homepage
    "split view" ? You mean, the thing that Windows 3.1's file manager had ? Yes, it's always been very useful.
  • by salesgeek ( 263995 ) on Friday December 25, 2009 @12:48PM (#30551384) Homepage

    The UI developers have somehow created a UI system that somehow blows dozens of MB but actually provides less customisability and ease of use than Windows.

    You were doing OK until you hit this. There are few standards on the Windows platform for GUI that matter. Look at Windows Media Player, MS Word and, just for the hell of it, Internet Explorer 8. Toss in Lotus Notes, Quickbooks, iTunes and you have a full swing helpdesk nightmare. KDE and Gnome applications are remarkably consistent in their respective UIs. On top of that, I can run KDE apps on Gnome and Gnome apps on KDE. It just works.

    I'll take Linux over Windows every day because the business model is not selling defective by design software and then extorting money from the user to fix known defects. Your hardware, driver, and developer rant? I've never experienced the same issue - save hardware documentation. I've had many hardware manufacturers who have withheld documentation, but nary an open source project that did or failed to have workable documentation after the first version or two (about par for the course for proprietary software, anyway..

  • by thelexx ( 237096 ) on Saturday December 26, 2009 @08:23PM (#30559666)

    The Midnight Commander project was started in '94. Norton Commander was nearly a decade earlier.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"