I am an extreme moderate

May 22, 2011

The big 3

Filed under: Uncategorized — niezmierniespokojny @ 8:22 pm

I’m on the way to leave Windows for Unix. There is only one big obstacle: software compatibility. I have to move the most important tools or find and learn suitable replacements.
There are really only 3 programs that matter:
Total Commander, Firefox and MirandaIM.
I use Total Commander as the main computer management console. 99% of what I do on a computer starts with it.
Firefox. Web browsing, obviously. But also good majority of my public communication.
MirandaIM does all private talk.

Also, these are the only tools that I heavily customised. Ever. And not surprisingly – they are the most tweakable tools in their respectable categories. I spent 100+ hours on Miranda. Significantly more on Firefox. And probably ~1500 on Total Commander.
I think the numbers say it clear, they are important for me.

Moving Firefox turned out to be easy. Copying the config folder to a Linux version mostly worked. I still have some edges to polish, but it’s manageable.
Total Commander works great on Wine. Except for one thing. It can’t launch native programs. Which is 80% of what it was supposed to do.
Miranda is said to be working great with Wine too. Except that it doesn’t launch. Well, I’m not surprised, nobody said that the 36 plugins that I use are compatible with Wine. I leave troubleshooting for later, there are more important things. And I think I can live with Pidgin. Though don’t want to, Miranda gives me many features that are unavailable on it.

So the biggest problem is TC. I have to find a replacement. Actually I know this for several months already and I spent some hours on research.
But also, I don’t want to leave it. I put a really big piece of my heart in it. I went through every single thing that can be customised in the GUI. Then in configuration files. Then started writing extensions. Then started implementing (but never finished) entirely new plugin framework based on instrumenting Total Commander binaries, then integrated hundreds (literally) of external tools to streamline their use. I stopped when I realised that for months I’ve been spending much more time on configuration than on actually using it and that I was optimizing for scenarios that have never happened, but I thought they might happen.
So I stopped extending and just did some maintainance. Why did I put so much time in it? Because I enjoyed productivity that Total Commander enabled. I knew that returns were smaller than the time I invested, but it was so much fun to do whatever I wanted to do so really fast… And talking with people (often programmers like me) about advanced management tasks that were problematic to them and knowing that a couple of keystrokes, 2 clicks and in a second or 5 I can have it done.
I wonder whether I’ll ever be as productive with Unix. I have little hope. I’m thinking sometimes about writing my own file manager. Better than TC (it’s not *that* hard, there’s 1000 things I’d improve). But I don’t think I’ll bite the bullet. After all, there is a reason Total Commander is so good – a great programmer developing it full-time for 18 years. Some work could be saved by using more modern (read: productive) tools. But the cost is still overwhelming. 1500 hours doesn’t look so big now, does it?

This post is the first productive work I did on my new Lubuntu.

EDIT: I was tired when I wrote it and got hours calculations wrong, you know, 40*52 was just over 1000. Fixed now.


  1. Why not MacOS? 😀
    Try Double Commander, most of plugins is supported.
    As Miranda U can try QutIM.

    Comment by OMFGuest — May 23, 2011 @ 6:40 am

    • Thanks, I’ll do.
      Double Commander was already on my ‘must check’ list, but QuitIM is new to me.

      And MacOS is not an option, I don’t like it. Well, like most of Apple software. Actually I don’t think I liked any Apple software.

      Comment by niezmierniespokojny — May 23, 2011 @ 7:53 am

    • Finally, I can be pretty certain I’ll stay with Double Commander. I tried it long time ago, but had no time to play with it. I’m severely missing FTP/SMB connection support (the former is being worked on) and really dislike how quick filter works only on files and not directories. And have 100 minor issues with it like the lack of regexp support in quick filter. But still, I was positively surprised. When I started it, it felt familiar right from the start. Over the time I learned to accept its limitations, I don’t like them, but can live with them and they don’t cost me very much productivity, much less then I feared. There is surely nothing better for a Total Commander refugee.

      Comment by niezmierniespokojny — July 9, 2011 @ 6:57 pm

  2. There’s plenty of filemanagers for Unix. There’s a whole bunch of *Commander clones, like Midnight Commander or the mode you get when you press F3 in Gnome’s nautilus. Thunar is a smaller Nautilus which is designed for xfce but can be used in any environment. There’s also always the shell (any sort of recursive file management can be done with combinations of mv, rm, cp, find and grep).

    Really, I’m pretty sure most of the ideas in Total Commander originally came from Unix.

    Oh and Nautilus supports smb and ftp and sftp natively.

    Comment by Nick — July 18, 2011 @ 8:59 pm

    • Thanks for your suggestions. I’m so satisfied with DC that I didn’t expect them to be better, but I could be surprised. And I like seeing different ways of doing the same things, you never know when you’ll find some good ideas.
      I wasn’t aware that Nautilus had a dual pane mode. And I liked how the file list was a tree. Not sure if it’s really useful, but it is definitely interesting. Nevertheless it lacks too many things to mention, most importantly treating archives like directories (which is way faster to use than switching back and forth between programs) and severely crippled keyboard usage. I’m a hybrid file manager user, I use both keyboard and mouse extensively and it’s hard to me to be productive with only one. And actually it’s a major reason why I didn’t even consider mc.
      I never thought of using terminal to do file management, but I don’t see it as a productive option either, even though *nix terminals are much better than what Windows offers.
      As to Thunar…it’s such a basic tool…it may be good for basic needs, but I’m used to having much more and Double Commander gives me much more. Actually I keep finding things that it does better than TC and though at first I considered it to be just a clone (it’s even written in the same language), I see that I was wrong. It’s heavily inspired by TC, but it goes its own way.

      For quite some time I am thinking whether to write a post on my experiences with various *nix file managers that I encountered…there’s like 15 of them and growing. We’ll see.

      Comment by niezmierniespokojny — July 20, 2011 @ 12:09 pm

  3. Some days ago new DC was released, what you think about it?
    Also, did you try QutIM or now you’re using something better?

    Comment by Tarada — September 4, 2011 @ 6:17 pm

    • I noticed there was a new version of DC, but I didn’t have time to look into it yet. I only read the release announcement and was severely disappointed that FTP support was implemented as a plugin because I read that because of a FreePascal bug (or whatever compiler they use), plugins don’t work on FreeBSD.
      As to IM, I didn’t put much time into it yet, but I’m still working on making my Miranda work on Wine. Up to now the success is that it boots ans shows UI. Even with the cute skin that I made! It doesn’t respond to any actions though, so the only thing I can do is look at it. I’m not in a hurry and I saw some work on Wine integration being done, so I hope things will be solved by others.
      But anyway I started getting first hand experience with alternatives. Only pidgin for now though and I didn’t manage to import my database yet.
      I didn’t hear about QutIM before, thanks for suggestion. Sadly, the first look at their website reveals that (at least for now) it’s useless for me because it doesn’t support gg network. gg used to have market share of 99% or so in my country (Poland) until Skype came. Now it’s still like 90-95%, a must-have.

      Comment by niezmierniespokojny — September 4, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

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