Improving file management in Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition on my Acer Aspire netbook

File management in the default setup of Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition is not intuitive, at least not to me. I recently had to copy files from a USB stick to my netbook hard disk and found this quite difficult as it seems impossible to pull up a two pane file manager directly and drag the files across – or at least I couldn’t find an obvious way to do it.

Here’s what’s involved:

1. Plug in USB stick. It appears on the Unity side bar and Nautilus opens a window on the desktop. I can see the folders and files on the stick but I can’t get to the home folder on the hard drive and drag the files across – at least not intuitively.


2. Open Files & Folders in the Unity sidebar. But this opens full screen and doesn’t show the pen drive so I still can’t drag the files from the USB stick.


3. Find the Documents folder, then click on the folder symbol at the top right of the screen, as shown above. Finally I have a Nautilus window of the Document folder alongside the Nautilus window of the USB drive.


4. Navigate to the file I want on the USB stick and drag it to the Documents folder on the hard disk.

Out with the old

Perhaps someone can tell me a quicker or easier way to manage files in Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition but this is the only way I could see to do it. And I’m not alone as Expert Reviews also found the whole process a little strange. If there is an easier way, it’s certainly not obvious or intuitive for a Ubuntu beginner.

I’m used to working with file managers. I’ve been using them since the late 1980s when I had PC Tools as my file manager in MS-DOS (before Windows). I’ve blogged about xplorer2, my current file manager of choice in Windows 7. For me, the file manager is a fundamental utility that I often use during the day and I just couldn’t put up with offering in Ubuntu Netbook Edition. I need a two column manager so I looked around for a decent replacement – one that showed a tree view of folders and drives in the left side and files on the right side and with the dual pane folder option. In the past, I had brief looks at a few including Thunar and Midnight Commander but I think I’ve now found the manager I want in Dolphin.

In with the new

Dolphin is a file manager for KDE (K desktop environment). I found that installation in Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition was a breeze and even the necessary KDE libraries installed without a problem. Initially Dolphin will open showing Places (Home, Network, Root, Trash) in the left panel. To get a tree view of folders, go to View, Panels and click Folders. If it opens on the right side of the screen, you can drag the folder window across to the left side if that’s where you want it. You may now see tabs at the bottom where you can select Places or Folders. You can remove Places altogether by going to View, Panels and deselecting Places – or use F9 to toggle Places.

To fine tune your set-up, go to Settings, Configure Dolphin and try out different things. For example, in Startup, set your start up folder. I would have liked the option for Dolphin to close and reopen in the folder I was last working in (as in xplorer2) but couldn’t find that option. Also, if you’ve come from Windows you’ll need to go to Navigation and make sure Double click to open files and folders is selected.

So now plugging in my USB stick, I can access it on the Places panel or more helpfully, on the Folders panel through the folder media. I can now open the folder I want and drag the files across to the hard drive much more easily. There’s also a button at the top to split the files panel if you find that easier.


I did have a problem opening a terminal window (Shift-F4). This should open at the bottom of the screen in the current folder. Just got an error Could not launch the terminal client. KDEInit could not launch konsole. Tried googling for a solution but got nowhere. I’ll just have to use Ctrl-Alt-t if I need the command line. Finally, I decided that I wanted to add Dolphin to the Unity launcher on the left side so I right clicked the icon and clicked on Keep in launcher. However, I found that it would only appear in the Launcher after a reboot.

So that’s my first taste of running a KDE app in Ubuntu and I’m impressed. I might just try Kubuntu on my netbook now.

2 Responses

  1. Cencen Says:

    I’ve researched some file managers for windows too, and xplorer2 is my favorite.
    This list is not updated for 1 months, though, but you can see it:
    I dont have any computer to run linux for this moment. But last year, I used PCMan FM for my netbook.
    Because of time stability (maybe CMOS Battery low), I switched it back to XP, because it is easier to change the system time.

  2. acer aspire one netbook review Says:

    I only purchased my Acer Aspire (10″) a few months ago and its already having some major problems which are really disappointing. In any case, I would really appreciate it if someone could offer me some help.Can you please help restore my Acer Aspire One?

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