Shashank Sharma is a trial lawyer in Delhi and an avid Arch user. He’s always on the hunt for memorable geeky memorabilia.
By standing orders of Linux Format’s beloved Editor (your cheque’s in the post – Ed), these two pages are reserved each issue to highlight text-based utilities that generally enliven your CLI experience. As we’re celebrating 30 years of the Linux kernel this issue, we’ve decided to focus on a wonderful command-line project that’s been around for nearly as long. Midnight Commander is an orthodox file manager that features a split-pane interface and is one of the oldest file managers that’s still being actively developed.
Currently under the GPLv3+ license, Midnight Commander is part of the GNU project. First released in 1994, Midnight Commander quickly became a favourite of most of the Linux crowd. Despite its soaring popularity, with the ever-increasing focus on GUI applications in the late 90s to early 2000s, Midnight Commander slowly fell away by the wayside.
This explains why none of the popular desktop distributions offer it as part of the default installation. And yet, you can gauge the continuing popularity of the application from the simple fact that all distributions feature it in their software repositories, making it a breeze to install.
If you’re on a Debian/Ubuntu-based distribution, you can run the sudo apt install mc command to install it. You can similarly use the sudo dnf install mc command to install Midnight Commander on RPM-based distributions such as Fedora.
Navigating the MC interface
Once installed, you can run Midnight Commander with the mc command. Midnight Commander defaults to a colour mode, but the default colour-scheme might not appeal to everyone. If you find the use of blue and green unpalatable, you can invoke Midnight Commander without colours using the mc -b command. Run the mc --help-colors command for more information on the supported colour schemes and how to switch between them.
Although Midnight Commander is a text utility, it has full mouse support, which means that you can left-click to select different files, or even access the different menus at the top of the interface.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
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