[svlug] About mc

J C Lawrence claw at kanga.nu
Sat Jan 19 13:37:16 PST 2002


On Sat, 19 Jan 2002 02:57:42 -0800 
Erik Steffl <steffl at bigfoot.com> wrote:
> J C Lawrence wrote:

> mc can be configured in various ways, incuding single pane (you
> can quickly change the views).

Yup.  On the rare occasions I do use mc, I use it in single pane
mode.

> you just move the cursor, enter to run the program (if not
> executable you can define what to do with file), it's fairly
> intuitive, no unnecessary fancy stuff (you can turn off status
> line etc.)

The bindings I'd like would be something like:

  ENTER -- (on file) less, on directory CD
  SPACE -- tag
  C -- copy
  D -- delete
  M -- move
  R -- rename (mv)
  L -- hard link
  Q -- quit
  S -- sym-link

Not interested in executing anything.  I should probably take an
afternoon off sometime and just write the damn thing.

>> If the command keys are letter based (c=copy, d=delete, m-move,
>> r=rename, etc I'm fine and configurability is not needed.  I
>> don't

> let's face it - c=copy, r=rename is for beginners, once you
> learn the keys it does not matter which keys you use (the layout
> of the keys is mnore important than whether it's c for copy). 

I have use for a file manager no more than once or twice a month.
I'm not going to learn the keys, and if I do I'm unlikely to
remember them.  That's the primary reason I explicitly don't want
function key based bindings and do want letter based bindings.
There's just not enough value/use there.

As an aside I have a particular dislike of function keys in the
general case, and with the exception of (rare) VT switching or
window size controls, just never use them.

> It is kinda arrogant from a program to not let you assign any
> keybindings but IMO it's not serious usability problem.

I generally consider it critical.

>> want to launch editors, run scripts, or handle spiffy regxes --
>> just

> why not editors? isn't editing files fairly common task
> performed on files?

I have other tools for that, and I just don't have a need/want to do
it from a file manager.  ido.el or iswitchb.el under XEmacs is quite
good enough, or if I get particularly painful, dired mode.  More
simply I only have/want use of a file manager on those rare
occasions where the command line is inconvenient -- which usually
means that I want to do something to a set of not-obviously-regexped
files, or just want to poke about and look at files (eg wander about
and read the contents of /usr/share/doc).

>> text mode point, select, and shoot.  Not particularly interested
>> in an internal command line.  Don't want help.  

> aren't you using command line? 

>From bash, yes, from the file tool, no.

> why would you go to different window to have command line
> available? 

I don't.  I start from the CLI, work there, if something is a bit
clumsy there I go into the file manager and do whatever, and then
immediately exit back to the CLI.  If it happens that I need to skip
out of the file manager quickly for a short task before returning a
Ctrl-Z does the job (`fg` is your friend).

> doesn't make sense - you'd have to cd again even though you are
> right in the directory you want to be in in mc...

Ctrl-Z.  Directory switching is also not a particular pain or
something I feel a need/want to avoid.  In the vast majority of
cases I'm already in the directory I want to work in.

> help: how do you know how to use it then? not everything can be
> self-evident. 

Given that all I want are simple file processing commands (mv, cp,
ln, rm, less, tag) the help can be handled in a single screen, or a
man page just fine.  

> on modern desktop machines there is no excuse for programs not to
> have context sensitive help.

Which I rarely to never use.  Not worried.  Not interested.  I'm not
a fan or much of a user of "modern desktop" design.

> that doesn't sound appealing at all. can't imagine doing e.g.
> reorganization of mp3 files that way...

<shrug>  I tend to organise my MP3s as I download them.

>> The emphasis is on speed and simplicity.  One of the things I
>> really miss is an equivalent to 4DOS/4OS2's "select" command.

> never heard of it so I can't comment...

Something like (faint memory):

  SELECT <file-spec> <command>

Brought up a scrolling text list of the matching files which could
be cursored among and tagged/untagged with SPACE.  Hitting ENTER ran
the provided command on all tagged entries.

That alone under bash would remove 90% of my need/wish for a file
manager (I faintly understand you can do something not entirely
dissimilar under zsh, but I haven't looked into that yet).

> but how do you work with compressed/tar-ed files? 

I unpack them.  Not a problem.  It is relatively rare that I work
with tar.gz files that I don't want them unpacked.

> IMO being able to just hit enter and have the VFS show the files
> inside, including ability to view the files is quite handy. 

True, its handy, and if present its a feature I'd occasionally use,
but its not something whose absence I'd particularly miss or likely
even notice.

> Plus you untar by simply copying the files from tar file to
> destination directory (and it works with various formats, you
> don't have to think about which type of compression to use etc.)

<shrug>  Okay.

> never wanted to find files and then do something interactive
> with them? 

Yup, thus the wish for SELECT as above.  Its not particularly
something I want an over-arching or integrated tool for.  

> VFS is your friend again (of course, for non-interactive use
> find|xargs or similar is better)?

Aye, I use <something> | xargs frequently.

> ftp can be a VFS as well - that way you can view the files by
> hitting one key (just like local files), copy files (just like
> from/to local disks) etc...

I use interactive FTP so rarely (two or three times a year if that)
that that's hardly important.  

> also considering that for lot of tasks shell is better then file
> manager it is very convenient that you can just ctrol-o and have
> the panels disappear - no need to switch context (and cd to a
> directory again in different xterm) etc...

Ctrl-Z.

Note however that you are defaulting to the idea that you spend most
of your time in the file manager, or that it is at least a default
interface.  Conversely I'm starting from the view that a file
manager is something I only use when the command line is
inconvenient for some particular problem, and thus only use a couple
times a month.

> I am kinda surprised by your negative attitude towards mc - from
> what you say you need IMO mc is the best match. LIST doesn't
> compare (for both beginner and power user).

LIST (which I last used ~8 years ago under DOS and OS/2) does what I
actually want.  mc enforces a UI which I find nearly unusable and
supports a raft of features that I find distracting from what I'm
actually trying to do.  More simply I'm looking for a small
component to add to my tool box and extend it in a few directions
and I'm not looking for an integrated solution to replace much of my
toolbox or solve problems I don't have (or already have solved in
other ways I like).

Hurm.  John Crowe's list (OSS) seems a fairly good starting point.
Its got most of the basic supports there already.  I really should
take some time off and just hack it into shape.

-- 
J C Lawrence                
---------(*)                Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas. 
claw at kanga.nu               He lived as a devil, eh?		  
http://www.kanga.nu/~claw/  Evil is a name of a foeman, as I live.




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