Nautilus Elementary Simplifies File Browsing on Linux

nautilus elementary closeup   Nautilus Elementary Simplifies File Browsing on LinuxNautilus, the default file manager in Gnome-based Linux operating systems such as Ubuntu and Fedora, isn’t exactly pretty to look at. In fact at times it’s downright confusing. Windows recently overhauled its file browser to simplify things, and Mac’s Finder is constantly being refined, but Nautilus seems pretty much identical to how it was when I started using Linux in 2006 (I know: I’m a newb).

You change Nautilus using plugins, of course; Varun highlighted various ways to add custom functionality to Nautilus and Damien told you all about 6 useful extensions to improve Nautilus’ functionality.


But if you want to simplify the interface, extensions are not enough. This is why a group of coders have taken Nautilus’ lack of an overhaul into their own hands. The project, called Nautilus Elementary, greatly simplifies the Linux file browser without sacrificing stability.

What’s Improved?

The interface, mostly. Here is the old Nautilus:

old nautilus   Nautilus Elementary Simplifies File Browsing on Linux

And here is Nautilus Elementary:

nautiluselementary1   Nautilus Elementary Simplifies File Browsing on Linux

Okay, I’ll admit the font change is mine (it’s the Droid font, if you’re wondering) but all other changes belong to the Elementary project. Gone is the cluttered left panel, which seemed to serve as a series of random folder shortcuts. In its place is a logically organized panel which seperates shortcuts into three folders: Personal, Devices and Network.

If this sounds familar you’ve probably owned a Mac at some point. The organizational structure is similar to that of the Finder in OSX.

finder   Nautilus Elementary Simplifies File Browsing on Linux

Not that this is not a bad thing; Finder is a very easy to use file browser. Making the Nautilus Linux file browser more like Finder in this way is logical.¬†Behind the interface changes, however, it’s still the same Nautilus, which I also love: Nautilus is a very powerful file browser; it just needed an interface cleanup.

What else is new? Well, the top panel’s been cleaned up. The stop and refresh button are merged, and various redundant buttons have been removed. Additionally, the “view” dialogue has been replaced with three icons that represent how you view your files.

Add all these changes up and Nautilus is much more fun to use than before, in my opinion.

Okay, Let’s Install It!

Convinced by the screenshots? Then let’s get started!

Installing Nautilus elementary in Ubuntu requires some command-line usage, but don’t worry: it’s painless. Open up the Terminal (Click “Applications,” then “Acccessories,” then “Terminal“) and type the following commands in order:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:am-monkeyd/nautilus-elementary-ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

The first command adds the Nautilus Elementary repository to your system; the second updates your package information; the third updates your system with the new information. The net result is that you have Elementary installed, but you’re not quite done: you still have the old Nautilus running. To kill it simply type

killall nautilus

into your still-open command prompt. This will restart your file browser, leaving you with the shiny new Nautilus Elementary. If it doesn’t show up immediately simply open a folder from your “Places” menu and it will come up right as rain.

If you’re using a non-Ubuntu Linux distribution, such as Fedora, I’m afraid I can’t find a package for you at the moment. This makes some sense; the project is Ubuntu oriented, but that’s no comfort to Fedora users looking to use this version of Nautilus. Can anyone point to a package or Fedora and other Linux distros? Please share in the comments below!

Conclusion

I’ve got three key words for the Nautilus team: merge this upstream. These fantastic changes make your solid file browser even better, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be the default. A cleaner interface is a better interface, and leaves us much closer to finally patching Bug #1.

For now, though, I’m going to continue using Elementary despite it not being the default. What about you guys? Do you think you’ll install Elementary, or stick with the default? Do you think the changes look good, or am I just delusional? Let me know in the comments below!

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

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61 Comments -

0 votes

Edvinas Stonikas

I just installed this version of Nautilus and I really like it.
I agree with you that this version should be default in ubuntu and maybe in all gnome distributions.
Thanks for this post.

0 votes

Edvinas Stonikas

I just installed this version of Nautilus and I really like it.
I agree with you that this version should be default in ubuntu and maybe in all gnome distributions.
Thanks for this post.

0 votes

Lisa

This really is an improvement! I hope this version of Nautilus eventually comes standard for Mint!

0 votes

Miggs

Agree! “A cleaner interface is a better interface”! Too bad it’s not official..

0 votes

Ken Alpha

Please guys! If you want your a Mac OS based computer (the Steve Jobs mugshot is a dead giveaway), get one! Stop pimping Ubuntu to the point of it losing its identity! Sheesh.

0 votes

DigitalVampire

The only identity Ubuntu has ever had is “Linux distro for beginners.” … And that’s not a bad thing. People have to get their feet wet somewhere. Also, you can’t really blame people for wanting to OSX-ize their Ubuntu considering the head honcho of Ubuntu, Mark Shuttleworth, said “OSX is the pinnacle of user interfaces.” Obviously, I disagree with that statement.

0 votes

Kervin Vergara

Very good information you provide in this article. What good is knowing about this kind of thing you or imagined. Greetings!

0 votes

Istayhomealot

It’s a great improvement over the current look of nautilus!

0 votes

Guest

I don’t like it. I prefer the current version actually because it has more functionalities that I use all the time.

0 votes

itsjustarumour

Plus one. Nautilus Elementary takes away too many essential features that I use all the time. Its just a really, really bad idea. If This were made the default in Ubuntu, that would be one less user for Ubuntu. I simply wouldn’t be able to work with this piece of software.

0 votes

Daniel

Hi, can you tell me (I’m curious) what essential features are left if you use Elementary?

Regards!

0 votes

jhpot

There’s no features dropped, so far as I can tell; the interface is simply cleaner. If you miss a particular button that used to be there, though, I could see the frustration. I don’t, so I’m happy!

0 votes

Al

The most recent versions of nautilus-elementary include a toolbar editor with which to customize the order and the buttons that are found in the toolbar.

0 votes

Daniel

Hi, can you tell me (I’m curious) what essential features are left if you use Elementary?

Regards!

0 votes

Attila

I don’t understand why Linux needs a file manager. Is the command line not good enough? Mind you, I am not against using GUI for tasks that are easier to do with GUI; but the basic file handling in Unix/Linux commands are simple enough that I don’t see the point. Mind you, I have been using Linux for about fifteen years, and Unix for ten years prior to that. I have never used Nautilus. I had not even used Gnome or KDE until Fedora 8. Before that I used fvwm; but then, Fedora with Pulse Audio made it difficult to configure sound with fvwm, so then I changed to GNOME, and more recently KDE.

0 votes

Steve_K

Please explain how to restore the default Nautilus file system if a user does not like Nautilus Elementary.

0 votes

jhpot

Remove the PPA, then you can use Synaptic to revert Nautilus to the version in the default repositories.

0 votes

Steve_K

Does Nautilus Elementary permit the use of the CTRL-L hot-key combination to toggle between address bar and button modes?

0 votes

jhpot

No.

0 votes

ukayp

quite right, you can switch to address bar mode via ctrl+L and go back to button mode by pressing esc

0 votes

Sdemchenko

Weird… It works for me. CTRL-L turns buttons to the location bar and Esc changes it back to buttons.

0 votes

Al

If you mean invoking the location bar (where you can type in an address) and then switching back to the breadcrumbs, yes, it should be possible.

0 votes

Bigpook

hit F3 for dual pane. nice.
overall, I think its an improvement.

yes CTRL-L brings up the address bar…

0 votes

Bigpook

hit F3 for dual pane. nice.
overall, I think its an improvement.

yes CTRL-L brings up the address bar…

0 votes

supportive

I don’t know… I have not tried Elementary to make a comment on it… but I like the default Nautilus as it is now. Maybe I’ll give Elementary a try in the future. But for now I am comfortable with the default setting.

0 votes

ukayp

hi, just want to tell that it is possible (and easy) to compile and install it for fedora 13.
here a simple howto (‘#’ prefixed lines are command to run as root and ‘$’ as user):
# yum install bzr
$ bzr branch lp:nautilus-elementary
$ cd nautilus-elementary
$ ./configure –prefix=/usr

take notes of the missing devel packages. in my case they were:
glib-2.0 gnome-desktop-2.0 gthread-2.0 gio-unix-2.0 gio-2.0 pango gtk+-2.0 libxml-2.0 gail unique-1.0 dbus-glib-1
but I only installed what official fedora’s repos contain (e.g. there is not any gail package):
# yum install glib2-devel gnome-desktop-devel pango-devel gtk+-devel libxml-devel unique-devel dbus-glib-devel

then again:
$ ./configure –prefix=/usr
$ make
# make install

and now you can restart nautilus by typing ALT+F2 end execute:
nautilus -q

0 votes

jhpot

Thanks so much for that! It will really help our readers out, I think.

0 votes

ukayp

you are welcome :)

0 votes

ukayp

hi, just want to tell that it is possible (and easy) to compile and install it for fedora 13.
here a simple howto (‘#’ prefixed lines are command to run as root and ‘$’ as user):
# yum install bzr
$ bzr branch lp:nautilus-elementary
$ cd nautilus-elementary
$ ./configure –prefix=/usr

take notes of the missing devel packages. in my case they were:
glib-2.0 gnome-desktop-2.0 gthread-2.0 gio-unix-2.0 gio-2.0 pango gtk+-2.0 libxml-2.0 gail unique-1.0 dbus-glib-1
but I only installed what official fedora’s repos contain (e.g. there is not any gail package):
# yum install glib2-devel gnome-desktop-devel pango-devel gtk+-devel libxml-devel unique-devel dbus-glib-devel

then again:
$ ./configure –prefix=/usr
$ make
# make install

and now you can restart nautilus by typing ALT+F2 end execute:
nautilus -q

0 votes

Ari T.

- The important back and forward buttons are made smaller, and placed further to the left, where they are more difficult to reach. Not good.

– “Up” button has been removed for some reason. I often find it handy. Not good.

– Root file system has been moved under “Devices”. File system is not a device.

0 votes

Ari T.

- The important back and forward buttons are made smaller, and placed further to the left, where they are more difficult to reach. Not good.

- “Up” button has been removed for some reason. I often find it handy. Not good.

- Root file system has been moved under “Devices”. File system is not a device.

0 votes

cosmin

it`s a keeper. probably should be the default configuration for nautilus from now on. great job and thank you!

0 votes

Matt

Nautilus elementary breadcrumbs hack makes it even beautiful, try this link

http://www.techdrivein.com/201

0 votes

Parcours Lingual

Hi. How to revert from elementary to default view?

0 votes

adrian

Perhaps we should all keep in mind that developing and implementing new ideas such as this one is exactly that which allows the refinement of something which is already useful, even if we may not like at first.
So, in my opinion, just give it a try and see for yourself. Isn’t that a reason why we use Linux? (Freedom)

0 votes

adrian

Perhaps we should all keep in mind that developing and implementing new ideas such as this one is exactly that which allows the refinement of something which is already useful, even if we may not like at first.
So, in my opinion, just give it a try and see for yourself. Isn’t that a reason why we use Linux? (Freedom)

0 votes

Doky

it is good, very nice and simply

0 votes

DigitalVampire

The only identity Ubuntu has ever had is “Linux distro for beginners.” … And that’s not a bad thing. People have to get their feet wet somewhere. Also, you can’t really blame people for wanting to OSX-ize their Ubuntu considering the head honcho of Ubuntu, Mark Shuttleworth, said “OSX is the pinnacle of user interfaces.” Obviously, I disagree with that statement.