Midnight Commander

7 Excellent Console Linux File Managers (Updated 2019)

A console application is computer software which can be used with a text-only computer interface, the command line interface, or a text-based interface included within a graphical user interface operating system, such as a terminal emulator (such as GNOME Terminal or the aforementioned Terminator). Whereas a graphical user interface application generally involves using the mouse and keyboard (or touch control), with a console application the primary (and often only) input method is the keyboard. Many console applications are command line tools, but there is a wealth of software that has a text-based user interface making use of ncurses, a library which allow programmers to write text-based user interfaces.

Command-Line InterfaceConsole based applications are light on system resources (very useful on low specified machines), can be faster and more efficient than their graphical counterparts, they do not stop working when X is restarted, and are perfect for scripting purposes. When designed well, console applications offer a surprisingly improvement in productivity. The applications are leaner, faster, easier to maintain, and remove the need to have installed a whole raft of libraries.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts is a very famous quote from Aristotle, a Greek philosopher and scientist. This quote is particularly pertinent to Linux. In my view, one of Linux’s biggest strengths is its synergy. The usefulness of Linux doesn’t derive only from the huge raft of open source (command line) utilities. Instead, it’s the synergy generated by using them together, sometimes in conjunction with larger applications.

So what does the command-line offer users. There is a wide range of console based software which provide the same or similar functionality to their graphical equivalents. In the field of system administration, Linux is blessed with a good range of graphical file managers. However, some users are in their comfort zone managing files from the shell, finding it the fastest way to navigate the file system and perform file operations. This is in part because console based file managers are more keyboard friendly, enabling users to perform file operations without using a mouse, and make it quicker to navigate the filesystem and issue commands in the console at the same time.

Some people may prefer to use the shell instead of a console file manager. We covered some great tools that let you navigate the file system quickly – check out 7 Best Command Line Navigation Tools.

To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 7 high quality console based open source file managers. Hopefully, there will be something of interest for anyone who wishes to revel in the power of the console.

Here’s our verdict on the file managers.

Best-Console-File-Managers-Software

Now, let’s explore the 7 file managers at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, screenshot, together with links to relevant resources.

Console File Managers
Midnight CommanderUser-friendly yet powerful orthodox file manager
nnnFast and flexible file manager
RangerFile manager with an ncurses frontend written in Python
lfTerminal file manager heavily inspired by ranger
Vifmncurses based file manager with vi like keybindings
Last File Manager1 or 2 pane Python based file manager
WCM CommanderA Far Manager clone
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