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I am quite new to Debian 8.4. I am not sure if this is the right community on stackexchange to pose this question. Please tell me, if not.

My question: I am using the Nautilus file manager. I view a directory with some files in list view. Then I click on the bar with 'Name' on it. The order of sorting changes. My question is: How does Nautilus sort the files if I click on this button. More specifically, what is the sort order? e.g I have four files - and _ and a and b. If I have them sorted in ascending order (I call it this way, if a is before b) then _ will be before -. What is the general rule for sorting in Nautilus? And how could I find this information on my own - for example in the source code? I spent half an hour searching the web...

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    nautilus follows your locale collation rules (which determine the sort order). – don_crissti May 19 '16 at 23:38
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    @don_crissti Collation affects how it sorts the characters it chooses to sort. But the point here is that it ignores some when evaluating sort order. – underscore_d Oct 19 '16 at 18:35
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"_" or "-" or other symbols do not have any impact at all, only the following letters are relevant for sorting. It's really annoying but I guess sort options are too hard to code for the devs…

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    Are you sure about that this is generally the case? See the comment under OP's question, what's your collate setting? Also, did you find that out through trial and error or can you please cite any sources? – phk Jul 17 '16 at 15:22
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    but I guess sort options are too hard to code for the devs… Lame attempt at a dig. Rather it's probably a deliberate decision so that things sort lexically, by the intuitively sorted alphanumerical characters only - rather than expecting general users to know/remember/not be baffled by the arcane sorting order of non-alphanumeric characters in their particular collation. While you and I might be well versed in the old trick of 'put an underscore at the front so it sorts first', the general desktop user definitely would never predict this intuitively. GNOME aims to be inclusive of those users – underscore_d Oct 19 '16 at 18:37
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Nautilus takes the "ls sort order" of the operating system (which is not always the same) and adds natural sorting to it.

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A very good question.

It seems that the underlying answer lies in the Unicode sort algorithm.

I started to read through this out of interest, got as far as normalisation but then my brain exploded. I therefore conclude that all sorting is done by magic and let it go at that.

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Nautilus used to have these options :

View >> Arrange Items >>>
1  Manually
2  By Name
3  By Type
4  By Modification Date
5  By Emblems

Suggest "By Name", then it should be alphabetical order.


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    thanks, but as I mentioned the problem is not the alphabet. How are _ and - treated? How is hierarchy? And where can I find the official way it is sorted? – user50224 May 19 '16 at 19:14
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    @user50224 And where can I find the official way it is sorted? in the open source code, of course. – underscore_d Oct 19 '16 at 18:32

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