Linux Format

The verdict

File managers


We’ve chosen Dolphin as the overall winner. The developers have decided to reduce the user interface complexity by default. With a bit of work, features can be re-enabled, meaning that Dolphin can scale all the way from a simple, lightweigh­t file manager to a tool that will satisfy the most technical of Linux users. The built-in facilities are comprehens­ive, but Dolphin has a lot of support for external tools such as more advanced disk management and file search tools. In file management terms, there’s not much that

Dolphin can’t do.

Krusader won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. However, it offers many of the advantages of a GUI file manager combined with a lot of the flavour and utility of a traditiona­l text-mode file manager. It’s not a beginner’s tool, and nor does it try to be. As well as being a power user’s paradise, it’s incredibly configurab­le.

Thunar is a great file manager that does everything that it sets out to do without breaking the bank when it comes to resource usage. For many users, it will be everything that they will ever need in a file manager. There are limits to its configurat­ion potential, though, and some more technicall­y orientated users might miss the more advanced features of the other file managers.

Like its parent project, Nautilus/Files, Nemo has a minimalist look that just looks right on a business desktop. It can do most of what an average user requires of a file manager. It even packs in some slightly more advanced features, such as the dual-panel mode and multiple tabs. However, there is a limit to its expansion and customisat­ion functions, and a more advanced user might find it constricti­ve.

We can’t fault Midnight Commander for being a great implementa­tion of a traditiona­l text-mode file manager. Once you’ve learned the keyboard shortcuts and the main menu, it’s a fast and accurate system for managing files. When used in repetitive file-copying situations, it’s difficult to beat for efficiency. As an added bonus, it can even be used over SSH. However, GUI file managers evolved for a reason, and for casual use, it can feel like a lot of work to use. It also lacks visual refinement­s such as file previews.

Adverts are a plague on the internet – although we’ll grant that in their current form, they’re less intrusive than in days of yore. It’s easy to look back on the late 1990s and early 2000s web through the haze of rosetinted glasses and view it as a utopia of high-quality independen­t blogs, free websites for everyone, and an explosion of experiment­al design along with non-predatory social media.

Lay your spectacles aside for a moment and consider that most of what you recall is wrong.

The internet at the turn of the century was never a utopia. Yes, you could get a free site from GeoCities, but you can make a better one today with GitHub Pages. Visually, the web was horrific, and adverts were both gaudy and omnipresen­t. Pop-up ads and pop-under ads would obstruct your browsing and slow your computer to a crawl. Webmasters (as they were then known) would do anything to make a buck. Google did a great deal to clean up the web and the advertisin­g space in general. When was the last time your PC crashed due to an infinite stack of adverts appearing out of sight under your active window? Do you recall the whack-a-mole of fighting against endless cascade of pop-ups appearing in random locations, and hammering the big red X, only to discover that it was a trick, and you’ve actually launched a new wave of attacks?

That doesn’t happen any more, and it’s largely down to Google’s dominance in the advertisin­g space.

Even without running any kind of ad blocker, your browsing experience is much more pleasant and less brazenly predatory than it was two and a half decades ago.

There are trade-offs, of course, and the biggest is privacy. While websites no longer assault your visual cortex with an epilepsy-inducing assault, they instead quietly note what you’re looking at. They measure how long you’re on a web page and how you interact with it. Fair enough, you may say. Website owners need to know which articles are doing well and what people like to read. They’d be shouting into the void otherwise.

But consider how many websites you visit in a day. Your metrics, engagement­s and interests are noted down on each one, and tied together into a profile, which if it fell into the wrongs hands, probably wouldn’t paint you in the best possible light.

The detail of a profile constructe­d from search and browsing data is alarming, and tracking companies can and do collect data on (deep breath) your age, location, devices, sex, sexual orientatio­n, religion, income, contracept­ive use, fertility, political views, race, health, your friends, your business dealings, how often you call your mum, and much, much more.

It doesn’t stop when you’re not using your computer either – thanks to that ever-present lump of metal, plastic and glass in your pocket. As well as the usual players, third-party companies pay impoverish­ed developers to slip SDKs into their apps. If given appropriat­e permission­s, these SDKs use Wi-Fi signal strength to map your location to within inches and beam that info back to the mothership.

All of this means that you get ads that are tailored to your interests – it’s mildly irritating and gives you a mild sense of paranoia that you’re being stalked, but at least you know about the latest Black Friday deals.

But consider what that intensely personal informatio­n could be used for in the hands of someone who wanted to do more than shill toasters.

There are many things that are illegal now that didn’t used to be, and some texts that were popular in the 1990s are now criminal to possess.

In parts of the United States, women’s search histories are being used as prosecutio­n evidence in reproducti­ve health cases. In November 2023, Russia outlawed the “internatio­nal LGBT public movement” as an extremist organisati­on, meaning that gay people could be treated as terrorists (always a handy go-to).

Rather than relying on search history, an ‘advertisin­g profile’ would be far more useful in rooting out potential law-breakers and bringing them to justice. And God forbid that a malevolent actor could use your profile data to influence elections or referenda.

Ad blockers are a great solution, and this writer employs the UBlock Origin add-on for Firefox on his two laptops and two mobile phones. But there is a total of five ‘proper’ computers in the household, plus an additional three phones, a couple of Chromebook­s, a streaming TV stick, an iPad, a few Raspberry Pis, and many other connected devices.

It’s a pain to set up ad-blocking extensions on every device, and on some – such as the Chromebook­s and Roku stick – it isn’t even possible.

Pi-hole is a deceptivel­y simple app designed to detect and thwart adverts and trackers on every device on your network – granting you peace of mind and the privacy to get on with your life without adding to a mysterious, privately-owned dossier of your activities. It can do a lot more besides. Read on to find out more…

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 ?? ?? Never having visited this site without Pi-hole before, it’s odd that Reach considers this writer the type to bet on sporting fixtures.
Never having visited this site without Pi-hole before, it’s odd that Reach considers this writer the type to bet on sporting fixtures.
 ?? ?? It may not look like much, but Pi-hole does more than just keep adverts out of your browser. It protects your privacy, too.
It may not look like much, but Pi-hole does more than just keep adverts out of your browser. It protects your privacy, too.

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