In 2009, I finally 'took the plunge' and migrated my mail, bookmarks, etc.
from a (main) Microsoft Windows machine to a (main) Linux machine.
I have documented reasons why I went to Linux, along with install notes, on
my Ubuntu Install notes page
I do a lot of web page development (this site) in which a lot of
photos and other image files are processed (renamed, cropped if need be,
down-sized, gamma-corrected if need be, thumbnailed, etc.).
I found that I needed to change the default preferences of the Nautilus
file manager in order to navigate QUICKLY through directories containing
hundreds of image files.
The screen captures below, of the Nautilus Preferences panels,
document my preferences settings.
You get to the Nautilus Preferences window by opening up a Nautilus file manager
window (say, by choosing 'Places' from the top-of-screen toolbar of
Ubuntu Gnome and opening the 'Home folder'). Then choose 'Edit > Preferences'
via the top of the Nautilus file manager window.
Following are images of the six panels of the Nautilus Preferences window, corresponding
to the labels:
- List Columns
There are comments below each panel image --- indicating why I chose to change
the default settings as well as which settings I changed.
I chose 'List View' rather than 'Icon View', because when dealing with a directory
containing hundreds of files, to bring up hundreds of icons representing those files
is a ridiculous processing load. It is much faster to simply show the file name
using the relatively miniscule 8-bit codes (1 byte) that represent each letter in the name.
In contrast, each icon is on the order of 5 to 20 KILObytes in size.
Even a 100-character filename --- along with size, permissions, and dates information ---
is only a few HUNDRED bytes --- i.e. at least 10 to 40 times smaller than an icon.
Apparently the font-renderer used by Gnome/Nautilus is at least as fast at rendering
file names (and associated data) as the icon placement routines that convert the
icon image files into images in the Nautilus window.
I turned on the checkbox for 'Show hidden and backup files' because I frequently need
to look at hidden files in my home directory, such as 'rc' (run control files for
applications), to deal with 'glitches' in applications. Besides, Linux is an 'open'
system. I do not like the idea of lots of hidden stuff. I am not a 6-year-old who
needs to be sheltered from the complexities of my computer system. It does not slow down
the opening of my Home directory much, having this option turned on --- when 'List View'
I like to use 'Ask every time' for determining what to do with executable files.
I do a lot of script development. Sometimes I want to execute a script --- sometimes
I want to edit it. The 'Run' or 'Display' popup prompt that I get,
with this option turned on, allows me to choose which action I want to do for
the double-click on the filename.
I turned on the checkbox for 'Ask before emptying the Trash or deleting files',
because I don't mind taking the extra second to respond to the 'OK to trash/delete' popup.
It's a small price to pay for a little extra safety margin in doing deletes ---
especially if I accidently select the wrong files to delete because of a nudge in
moving the mouse.
I turned on the checkbox for 'Include a Delete Command that bypasses Trash', because
I frequently need to delete files that I really know I want to delete that instant.
I do not want to go through an extra step of opening the 'Trash' directory to
delete the files after they are moved there. I am careful with using the Delete option
that is added to the options menu that appears when you right-click on a file. I have
not had an accident yet, after about a year of using that option. (Knock on wood.)
Besides, I usually keep backups of my important files.
I probably added a couple of items to the defaults in this list --- and changed the order
a little. I like to see the size and date-modified (which is the create date, if the
file has not been modified), because I am often dealing with image files and I want to
see their sizes --- for example, after cropping them or after creating a '.jpg' file
from an '.png' file. The create/modify dates help me decide the dates on which I
took photos with my digital camera. (This is helpful since I do not like to mess up
an image by having the camera put a date-time 'stamp' on the photo image.)
The 'Show text in icons' option is probably not applicable to me, since I turned off
representing files by icons. In any case, I would probably want 'Never'.
The 'Show thumbnails' option is another big PROCESSING-OVERLOAD issue
for me when I am dealing with directories of hundreds of image files. I use 'Never',
because I do not really need the image file thumbnails.
If I want to see the images, I simply right-click an image filename
and choose to run the EOG (Eye of Gnome) image viewer that lets me rapidly view, back and
forth, the list of image files. THIS 'Never' OPTION IS A BIG RESPONSE-TIME IMPROVEMENT
in showing the list of files in the Nautilus file manager.
Similarly, for 'Preview of soundfiles'. I use 'Never', because if I need
to hear a sound file, I can simply right-click on its name and choose an application
like 'mplayer' or 'audacity' to check its content.
The 'Count number of items', for Folders, is handy when I am dealing with directories
of image files, so I can quickly see the number of image files in any of the
sub-directories in a directory at which I am positioned with the Nautilus file manager.
I don't use 'Always', however, since I do not deal with image files over my network ---
and if I did, I think I could forego the overhead of counting files in remote
I turned on 'Ask what to do' for all the media types --- CD audio, DVD video,
Music Player, Photos. Frequently, for example, I do not want a CD audio or a
DVD video to start playing --- nor do I want a software CD or DVD to automatically
start executing install software. I may be wanting to convert the audio or
video files on the CD or DVD to another format.
In fact, I turned on the checkbox 'Browse media when inserted', at the bottom of the
panel, because I generally like to check out the contents of a CD or DVD before
deciding what to do with it. For example, an application CD often contains software
for MS Windows or for a Mac, but not for Linux. I am typically only looking for a PDF
file, on the media, that holds the user manual.
If I did not use the 'Browse media when inserted' option, then I would probably want
to turn on the 'Never prompt or start programs on media insertion' checkbox.
I don't want programs to start up, in many cases.
I need to look at the files on the media first. I know I would want the 'Never start
programs on media insertion'. I'm not so sure about 'Never prompt on media insertion'.
I think I would want an 'Ask what to do' prompt. That checkbox should probably be
changed into two separate checkboxes. Or the 'Never prompt on media insertion' portion
of the checkbox statement can probably be handled by the option specifications for
the various media listed at the top of the panel.
That about does it for my settings in the Nautilus file manager. If I find a few
new media types to address, I plan to make updates to this page. And if developers
add a few new 'Preferences' options in future Nautilus releases, I may address those.
If the Gnome developers make drastic changes to the Nautilus file manager
(heaven forbid - it just needs a few relatively small improvements), then I may
have to drastically re-write this page --- or describe settings for a new file
(I have nightmare visions of Gnome developers making some ugly,
next-generation file manager --- and they come out with a bug-filled, hard-to-understand,
and hard-to-use file manager like the KDE developers did circa 2005-2010 when
they came out with the Dolphin file manager. I had a short look at that in late
2009 and threw up my hands.
One more reason not to use the KDE desktop --- besides
its processing overhead. I can't believe that cell-phone companies like Nokia
and some of their partners are going to use Qt for development of cell-phone apps (2010).
They had better get into the guts of Qt and do a lot of code improvement to
improve the processing efficiency of many of its routines.)