I agree that this is a kind of a personal issue - to use a file manager or not in Linux, but I heard that it's also a bad practice to use a file manager especially for newbies because first of all they have to learn the shell and all file manipulations should be done from the shell. Is that true and do Linux users use file managers?

  • 3
    is_necessity || is_luxury? Yes. (and from a search in package manager, I see that many file managers exist, so apparently someone uses them) What's the point? They're tools for a task; does it matter which ones are used? (after all, very very few file manipulation tools are actually built into Linux) Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 14:57
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    @Piskvor "very very few file manipulation tools are actually built into Linux"? There are none built into Linux, because Linux is the kernel. And there are just enough of them in the GNU toolset to perform almost any possible task. Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 15:34
  • @rozcietrzewiacz: isn't filesystem driver a "file manipulation tools"? Linux has quite a few of them.
    – Lie Ryan
    Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 19:49
  • @Lie is driver a tool? No, this is a fundamental misconception in my view. A tool = utility (like a program or script). Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 19:58
  • @rozcietrzewiacz: since when is a driver not a program? In fact with regards to FUSE, the disk manipulation driver (i.e. IDE/PATA/SATA) becomes your "filesystem driver" and the FUSE driver becomes your "file manipulation tool".
    – Lie Ryan
    Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 20:45

4 Answers 4


Everyone uses what one finds best for a given task. This is almost completely individual, there cannot be a general answer.

Linux users do not need to learn shell operations at all if they don't feel like (and don't get forced to by some situation). And the other way around: one can perform all the needed tasks using only the command line (no file managers or GUIs even). It all depends on what you (intend to) use your system for.

  • +1 I think I have a file manager installed (pcmanfm maybe?), but I've never used it. So no, not a necessity. Not sure "luxury" is the right word either.
    – frabjous
    Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 12:37

Sometimes it is nice to just klick around a watch things.

And sometimes you actually want to get something done and then you start a shell.

So it is a matter of taste if you like the gui filemanagers or not. But I would not say it is a luxury thing.


I use a file manager quite rarely. When I went from Windows to OpenBSD I tried to learn "the unix way" so I got very familiar with the shell and such. Now however I've came to realize that shells are very handy, but in some cases they can't beat graphical file managers.

I use a graphical file manager when:

  1. Dealing with long or "difficult"(spaces, etc) named files where I just want to select a few files and copy them or do some other simple operation on them.
  2. Mass file renaming that can't be automated in any foreseeable way
  3. Dealing with pictures (seeing preview tiles is very handy)

Other times I use a shell because in general, I can get things done faster.


Necessity. Today's users have hundreds of thousands of files and terabytes of storage. Tomorrow's users will have even more. (Check the graphs for storage density over time; it's logarithmic growth.) A good 'Finder' is more necessary now than it has ever been; and 'Desktop Search' is also very important since 'Finding' is a task better given to the computer itself.

  • (not to say that this applies to everyone) I can find files much more easily with command line. It takes me longer to find files with a graphical display. I'm not sure how search is specific to a file manager (it can easily be a command line tool, and the "find" tool along with grep is quite useful). Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 19:19
  • Maybe it is a necessity, but finding/desktop search is irrelevant. The find command is far more powerful and flexible than using 'Finder' or 'Desktop Search' in my opinion.
    – f0ster
    Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 19:29
  • Perhaps you could focus some effort on bringing the power of find into the Finder then. Guess what: The GUI wars are over, the command line lost; so move on, aka: bring the power into the GUI. Commented Sep 7, 2011 at 15:19

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