Command line file manager for Linux

Published by TheJoe on

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes


This article was published more than a year ago, there may have been developments.
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Today we talk about file management via terminal interface, a topic not new to those who have to manage remote computers or servers without a graphical interface.

The first piece of advice I can give is to quickly learn how to use the terminal. The terminal itself is already the main tool to work well. Knowing it and understanding how to make the computer work without a graphical interface is a plus that should not be underestimated. For this reason, the first file manager I recommend is precisely…

1_ Terminal (the “Command Line File Manager”)

Although it may not look like a file manager, but then I wonder what a file manager is in Linux if we don't talk about the terminal. Very powerful and flexible, especially when you understand the Linux filesystem, offers basic and advanced features such as search, the copy, the move, removal, or creating files. Through dedicated packages it supports FTP protocols, SFTP, SMB, SSH and more.

2_ GNU Midnight Commander

Midnight Commander is free full screen text mode software. Among the features is the search, the copy, the move, creating and removing files or directories.

To install it on Ubuntu / Debian:

$ sudo apt install mc

Among the noteworthy features:

  • can execute commands in a subshell
  • integrates a viewer / editor, but allows the use of other installed software

It is present in the repositories of the main distributions, or on official website.

3_ Ranger console file manager

Ranger is another of the best choices if we are looking for a file manager on a terminal. The interface and commands are similar to the Vim syntax, supports preview of files and directories, your favorites, if enabled, it supports point-to-click with mouse and navigation between TABs.

Ranger installs on Ubuntu / Debian with the following command:

$ sudo apt install ranger

4_ Cfiles fast terminal manager

Cfiles is a fast and lightweight file manager, written in C using ncurses. As a Ranger, Cfiles also uses Vim syntax. It has some addiction (cp, mv, fzf, xdg-open and a few others).

Unfortunately, its lightness requires a few more steps in the installation. First let's install the developer tools.

$ sudo aptt install build-essential

Then we move on to installation via GIT.

$ git clone
$ cd cfiles
$ gcc cf.c -lncurses -o cf
$ sudo cp cf /usr/bin/

5_ Vifm console file manager

Vifm is another terminal file manager that uses the curses interface. In this case, some of the features of mother. If you are already a Vim user you will not have to learn other syntax to work with Vifm.

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Like other file managers its interface is divided vertically, supporting two paths simultaneously, supports autocomplete, different views of the hierarchical tree of files and it is also possible to launch remote commands.

It installs very simply.

$ sudo apt install vifm

6_ Nnn termilal file browser

Nnn is the fastest textual file manager on the list. Although its functions were not complete in previous versions, it is now a full-featured file manager, extremely light and similar to a graphic file manager, although it is only textual. The interaction with the program is simple and allows new users to approach the terminal in a not so traumatic way.

We install Nnn with the following command:

$ sudo apt install nnn

7_ Lfm last file manager

Lfm is a curses-based file manager written in Python, which can be used with a single panel, or double. It has some features that make it interesting, like filters, your favorites, la history, VFS to compress files, the tree view and the direct integration of commands find, grep, df and other. Custom themes are also available.

We install Lfm with the command:

$ sudo apt install lfm

8_ Lf list files

Lf is a file manager written in Go and inspired by Ranger. It was originally created to fill the gaps that Ranger has.

Some of the features of Lf are:

  • è cross platform – Linux, OSX, Windows (partially)
  • a single binary file, no addiction
  • uses little RAM
  • it is configured with shell commands
  • customizable shortcuts

Future plans include mouse support.

To install Lf it will be enough download the executable from the official website for your distribution.

9_ WCM commander

The last file manager on our list is WCM commander. Software cross platform, whose authors tried to emulate the behavior of Far Manager (command line file manager for Windows).

Includes a text editor and a viewer with syntax highlighting, virtual filesystems, point-to-click support and a rather fast interface.

I official packages for each distribution can be downloaded from the site.


Beyond the most complex file managers, or more complete, the user decides, according to your needs. Which one do you use? I forgot some? Write it in the comments.


I keep this blog as a hobby by 2009. I am passionate about graphic, technology, software Open Source. Among my articles will be easy to find music, and some personal thoughts, but I prefer the direct line of the blog mainly to technology. For more information contact me.


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