Dual panels finally grown for the Gnome Nautilus: step-by-step instructions for installing on Jaunty and Karmic

Marx is right: work and reality are based on contradictions and the resolving of those contradictions through program and process. So ever since the Norton Commander I've been zinging along on dual panels: move stuff from here to there, compare stuff, go places and stay in one place at the same time. Indispensable!

The Linux universe has enjoyed the terminal based but fully interactive Midnight Commander (a clone greatly improving on the old Windows Norton Commander) which has been around for years and years now, but one wants a solution native to the desktop you are using.  One tires of copying the path from the GUI file manager into a terminal cd command to invoke the Midnight Commander just where it itches, it would be more straightforward to do most tasks directly on the desktop. And one tires of configuring network shortcuts, as well as mime types or whatever it is you have to do to get single click file associations working (video, word processing, etc.).

On Kubuntu you've got Krusader, and of course on Ubuntu you can have all the KDE stuff you want running on top of Gnome. I have blogged here about Konqueror and Vim 7 as IDE (2006), and more recently about having adopted the Gnome Commander ("Ever since I got tired of waiting for Nautilus to grow a second pane, I have been working with Konqueror and more lately Dolphin"), although to be truthful, on the desktop I have always come back to Dolphin, while spending most of my time actually with Midnight Commander in a terminal (it's just a joy).

Nautilus grows a double pane

I remember reading discussions in the Nautilus community, with people scoffing at double panes... but no longer. With Ubuntu Lucid, Gnome's Nautilus file manager will support double panes right from the get go (See Ars Technica's Lucid article). But Ubuntu users don't have to wait for Lucid! A package has been available for Jaunty and is now available for Karmic too:

  1. Holger Berndt's hb_gnome package on launchpad, with the Nautilus split view branch for Jaunty and Karmic
  2. http://www.webupd8.org/2009/09/how-to-install-dual-panel-nautilus-for.html (and a more recent post announcing availability for karmic) has a video and instructions on how to install and use.
    The instructions below are based on this excellent post.
Since the latter excellent article assumes basic "PPA" (Personal Package Archive) experience, I thought I would go through the instructions step by step for the rest of us, and also comment on first impressions, both on my laptop running Jaunty and my desktop running Karmic Koala.

Precise instructions on installation

(All based on https://launchpad.net/+help/soyuz/ppa-sources-list.html - "How do I use software from a PPA" where there are very detailed instructions).


1. Add the following two lines to /etc/apt/sources.list (back up this crucial system text file first!):

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/berndth/ppa/ubuntu jaunty main
deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/berndth/ppa/ubuntu jaunty main

2. Authenticate the software package with its key:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys 246BF391


Just do:

sudo add-apt-repository  ppa:berndth/ppa

Then, in both systems, do:


sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

This last command should install the new packages: 

  • libnautilus-extension1 
  • nautilus-data 
  • nautilus

Then start nautilus:

killall nautilus && nautilus &

"Then press F3 to open the second panel in Nautilus or via the menu."

It works! Cool!

The webupd8.org post also tells you how to make the dual-panel mode default:

If you want to start Nautilus by default in dual-panel mode, press Alt + F2, type:


then navigate to apps/nautilus/preferences and enable the option called start_with_extra_pane.

First impressions

OK, you can drag and drop files between panels, all the good stuff. I'm gonna just make this post now and go play. We can add our impressions in the comments below. Chau!


thx, that´s what i was looking for!

Nautilus extensions!

Here I am commenting on my own article, but... Nautilus extensions!!! For example, right click on anything and open a terminal right there (and hence, Midnight Commander, for example... :) )!

sudo apt-get install nautilus-open-terminal

Restart Nautilus:

killall nautilus

Then, run Nautilus via, for example, the "Places" menu. Right click on a folder and see "Open Terminal" option! Even though Karmic already comes with more functionality than Jaunty, you can find more extensions in your package manager (for example, just run Synaptic and search on "nautilus extension").