[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

> 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...


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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