Is there any file browsers for Linux that cache image previews, just like Windows Explorer cache them to a file named Thumbs.db?

As in the latest ext3/4 filesystems, an inode can hold extended attributes, is it utilizied by any file browser? Well, the default 256B inode size may be too small to hold the preview, I can reformat it to get a bigger inode.

I'll be very glad to hear good news, because to refresh the previews for large images and video files are very slow in Nautilus, and noises from the harddisks ..

1 Answer 1


Nautilus uses ~/.thumbnails normally. Lots of image viewers do generate thumbs there as well. In the normal sub-dir of my system most of the preview files are about 20 KiB in size. It's kinda disturbing that there're no either sqlite database in single file or cache hierarchy (like f/ff/ffdcd558a…1e5200.png) so some FSes could have poor performance looking up a file inside overgrown directory, though, but on the other hand, plain file storage is way simpler to handle inside bunch of different user programms, no mandatory demanding sqlite to be installed and most up-to-date FSes shouldn't have troubles with such plain files layout.

Problems with xattr resemble sqlite's ones — extra complexity, limitations of FS support (according to wikipedia only ReiserFS and XFS handle arbitrary sizes, and EXT3,4 are limited to one block only which would mean 4 KiB mostly).

  • If Nautilus uses the ~/thumbnails, why does it refresh the preview everytime I refresh the folder? Did I miss something?
    – Lenik
    Jun 14, 2012 at 9:11
  • @XièJìléi, a bug? Have you tried looking inside ~/.thumbnails? What is there(?), is it updated(?), and on…
    – poige
    Jun 14, 2012 at 9:19
  • This is why we can't have nice things.
    – bahamat
    Jun 14, 2012 at 21:15
  • @bahamat, those "nice things" turn out tends to be Windows and Mac OS X. :)
    – poige
    Jun 15, 2012 at 1:44
  • I don't think that sqlite is extra complexity. Given that it's a very thoroughly tested piece of mission-critical-proven code, you'd be very, very hard pressed to develop something similarly stable and robust on your own. Sqlite, AFAIK, has been used in certified avionics applications. I'd wholeheartedly expect a homebaked thumbnail database solution to be brittle on broken sessions, power cycles, etc. These days sqlite represents a certain standard of performance, and it's not overly complex given how much work it'd take to have something equally robust. Jun 15, 2012 at 4:21

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