xfm 1.3

xfm converted this file manager skeptic. After reading this review, you too may be swayed.
Configuring the File Manager

Many of the double-click/drag—drop operations are pre-configured in xfmrc based on the following format:


Xfm recognizes file names three ways: by the file name itself (e.g., core or Makefile), by its extension (*.c means c source files), or by its prefix (README*). The most common pattern used for the file_name is *.suffix, which, to have it recognize C files, is *.c, with the * permitting any file name ending in .c to be recognized. The push-action (activated by double clicking the icon) is what you most likely will change in the xfmrc file. For example, I changed the push-action on *.gif files to xv rather than xpaint. I also added:

*.au:xfm_au.xpm:cat $* >/dev/audio:

The first plays au files (audio files) when they are double clicked (read the Sound HOWTO, if you haven't configured sound), while the second merely associates the xfm_data icon to data files that I have created for executable programs.

Drop actions are those that occur when a file is dragged onto the icon. I don't have any drop actions defined for my File Manager window.

Configuring the Applications Manager

The programs and icons that constitute the Applications manager are dictated by the xfm-apps file. The entries in that file have a somewhat different form:


name is the title that appears in the Applications window, icon is the name of the icon to use, push-action is what to do when the icon is double-clicked, and drop is what happens when a file is dropped on the icon. A simple example is

PSPrinter:::printer.xpm::exec lpr $*

Double clicking this printer icon does nothing, while dropping a PostScript file on it from the file manager window results in the file being printed. The remaining entries in this file look like:

Xterm:::xterm.xpm:exec color_xterm -sl 600 -sb -fn
*     7x14 -j -ls -e tcsh:$*
Xclipboard:::clipboard.xbm:exec xclipboard:
Scilab:::math4.xpm:exec scilab:
Calendar:::calendar.xpm:exec xcalendar:
CD:/cdrom::cdrom.xpm:OPEN: (*This line should not be broken)

Toolbox, Graphics and System are icons that change the Applications window to another containing a different set of application icons. For example, I made a simple graphics tool box with the following entry in xfm-apps:


The LOAD command loads the .xfm/xfm-graphics file below:

XFig:::draw.xpm:exec xfig: exec xfig -P -e ps -startf 16 $*
XPaint:::xpaint.xpm:exec xpaint:exec xpaint $*
XV:::xv.xpm:exec xv:exec xv $*
mpeg:::movie.xpm::exec mpeg_play -loop $*

The Apps line gets me back to the previous window: xfm-apps.

In the other applications file, System, I have in .xfm/system

TOP::::exec xterm -e top:
who:::view.xpm:exec who|xless:
lpq::::exec lpq |xless:

By piping the last two commands to xless, an xwindow is created that displays the results of the Unix commands.

Dialog boxes allow the input of command line parameters, such as:

LaTeX::::(latex %Latex_file\:%;beep):(latex $*;beep)
grep:::grep.xpm::grep '%Regular expression\:%' $*

The percent signs delimit the comment for the dialog box (with the \ escaping the :). The beep is to tell me when the operation is done; it is defined as echo -n '^G'.

Changing the Defaults

If you prefer a different default editor than emacs, then you need to add an entry to the .Xdefaults file in your root directory. The xfm man page lists resources that you can change. I changed two by adding Xfm*defaultEditor: textedit and Xfm*updateInterval: 3000. (Be sure to run xrdb .Xdefaults to get the changes implemented if you want them before you next start X.) The update interval change was to refresh the directories more often than the default 10000 milliseconds. You can also change the default directory paths to the pixmap files; this may be important if your pixmaps are not in the default location (add Xfm*pixmapPath: your_path Alternatively, to make changes for all users, root can change options in the Xfm file in /usr/X386/lib/X11/app-defaults.