File Juggling with Krusader
Konqueror, KDE's default file manager and browser, is a good all-around tool, but that doesn't necessarily mean it fits all your file management needs. Sometimes a dedicated file manager can be a better choice for daily computing. Krusader is a powerful and versatile file manager that can make your work more efficient and productive. Krusader is available with most KDE-based major Linux distributions, including Kubuntu (and Ubuntu with KDE), PCLinuxOS, KANOTIX and so on, and you can install the tool easily using your distro's package manager.
When you launch Krusader the first time, it runs the Krusader configuration wizard. This does one simple but rather important thing: it locates helper utilities that Krusader uses for added functionality. Once Krusader has scanned your system, it shows an overview of installed and missing utilities. Although you simply can skip the provided recommendations, it's worth spending time on installing the missing components. Take a closer look at the missing utilities, and use the package manager to install them (on my laptop, for example, I had to install Krename, Kompare and Kget).
Figure 1. Konfigurator allows you to tweak Krusader's settings.
Once the wizard has scanned your system, it opens the Konfigurator window, where you can tweak Krusader's settings. First, you have to add paths to the installed helper utilities. Click on the Dependencies icon, and enter the paths into their respective fields. Enter, for example, /usr/bin/kompare into the Kompare field and /usr/bin/kget into the Kget field. Another thing you might want to configure is the startup directories. For example, usually you'd want Krusader to display your home directory in the left panel and some other directory in the right panel. To do this, click on the Startup icon, select the Start with following settings option and enter the desired paths into the Homepage fields. Alternatively, select the Save settings on exit option, and Krusader will always open the last-used directories on startup. When you are satisfied with the settings, press the Close button, and you should see Krusader in all its glory.
Krusader: the Basics
Figure 2. Krusader's main window is divided into two panels.
If you've ever tried to work with a twin-panel file manager, you'll feel at home in Krusader. And, even if you are new to it, you should be able to figure out most of Krusader's basic features. You can copy and move files from one panel to another, and you can move around directories using the navigation buttons at the top. The function buttons at the bottom allow you to perform the most common file operations with a single key press. Using context menus, you can perform different actions on files and directories -- for example, right-click on a file, and you can see its preview, open it with a specified application and manipulate it in a number of ways. In other words, you don't even have to read the manual to master Krusader's basics. But, if you want to unleash its full potential and call yourself a Krusader power user, read on.
Figure 3. Using tabs, you can manage multiple directories in the same panel.
One of the smartest features in Firefox (or any modern browser for that matter) is tabs; using them you can manage multiple Web pages in a single browser window. Although Krusader is not a browser, its Tabs feature is equally useful and efficient. Using it, you can open multiple windows in the same panel and switch between them by clicking on their tabs. This feature can come in handy in many situations. Let's say you need to copy files from different locations into one directory. Simply open the source directories in separate tabs in the left panel and the target directory in the right panel. Then, use the tabs to switch between the source locations, and copy files from them into the target directory.
Krusader includes two nifty tools that make navigation through directories faster and more efficient. The first one is the History button; click on it, and you will see a list of all previously visited locations. Select a destination from the list to jump to it.
Figure 4. Using History, you quickly can jump to previously visited directories.
Another useful tool is the bookmark manager (BookMan), and as the name suggests, it allows you to add bookmarks to locations. Using Bookmarks is easy. To bookmark, for example, the currently opened directory, press the Bookmark button and select Bookmark Current. BookMan also keeps a list of often-visited locations, so you don't even have to bookmark the most popular directories. To keep tabs on your bookmarks, use the Bookmark Editor, which allows you to add and edit bookmarks as well as group them into folders.
Krusader truly excels when it comes to dealing with multiple files: the file manager offers several indispensable tools that help you manage hundreds of files easily. Say you have a music folder containing several hundred .ogg and .mp3 files, and you want to select all .mp3 files and move them into a separate folder. Using Krusader, you can create a filter that selects only the files that match the specified criteria. To do this, press the select files using the filter button and specify the filter. Because you want to select all MP3 files, type .mp3 into the Enter a selection field. Press OK, and Krusader selects all files with the .mp3 extension. Better yet, you can save the specified filter by pressing the Add button, so you can select the desired filter from the list when needed.
Figure 5. Use Krename to rename multiple files in one go.
Need to rename several files at once? No problem. Select the files you want to rename, and choose File->Multi Rename. This starts the Krename tool that guides you through the renaming process.
Quick tip: one thing that might confuse you in the beginning is how Krusader manages removable media, such as a USB stick or CD. Normally, when you connect a USB stick, it appears on the desktop. But, to access it via Krusader, you have to navigate to /media directory. Here you should see and access all your removable storage devices.
Krusader also offers a nifty feature that can chop a file into smaller pieces, which can come in handy when you need to send a large file via e-mail or burn a huge backup file on several CDs. Select the file you want to chop, choose File->Split File, specify the size of each chunk and press Split. Of course, Krusader also allows you to assemble chopped files into one (File->Combine Files).
Krusader also can deal with files stored in remote locations, and it can access files via FTP (and its secure version SFTP), FISH (the protocol used to access files on remote Linux machines), and SMB (the protocol used to access files on remote Windows machines). Simply press the New Net Connection button, select the desired protocol, enter the required login info, and you can access the files as if they were on your local hard disk.
Figure 6. Synchronizer is Krusader's powerful synchronization tool.
Finally, let's take a look at Krusader's most advanced and useful feature called Synchronizer. As the name suggests, this feature allows you to keep two directories in sync. This may not sound like much, but Synchronizer offers a few advanced functions that make it a rather powerful tool. You can, for example, perform an asymmetric synchronization that moves files only in one direction, which effectively turns Synchronizer into a backup tool. You also can specify a filter, so Synchronizer syncs only specific files.
To synchronize two directories, select them in the left and right panels and choose Commands -> Synchronize Directories (or press Ctrl-Y). Pay particular attention to what directories are set as target and source (you can swap the target and source directories by clicking on the Swap sides button in the lower-left corner of the window). Press the Compare button to see a list of synchronization actions for each file. Finally, press the Synchronize button to sync the directories. If you plan to perform the specified synchronization again, you can save it as a profile. To do this, press the Profile button in the lower-left corner of the window, select Add new entry, and give your profile a name. The next time you need to synchronize the directories, simply choose the created profile.
These are only a few of Krusader's features, and there is much more to it than meets the eye. If you want to explore other aspects of this excellent file manager, read the official documentation at http://krusader.sourceforge.net/handbook.
About the Author
Dmitri Popov is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in Russian, British and Danish computer magazines. His articles cover open-source software, Linux, Web applications and other computer-related topics.