Section: User Commands (1)
Updated: 12 April 1999
xfiler - X file manager with drag and drop capabilities
[-version] [directories ...]
Xfiler is a file manager program for the X window system formely known
as files, and before that as
xfm. It provides virtually all of the features that you would expect in a file
manager - move around your directory tree in multiple windows, move, copy
or delete files, and launch programs with simple mouse operations. Directory
displays are updated automatically in regular intervals when the contents of
the directory changes. User-definable file types let you specify a command
to be executed when double-clicking on a file. Last but not least,
xfiler can automatically mount and unmount special devices like
floppies as you open and close the corresponding directories (mount points).
xfiler accepts a list of directories as command line arguments. For
each directory, xfiler opens a file window. If no directory is given,
the user's home directory will be used.
Most of it should be fairly obvious. There is one
or more file windows in which directories (also termed folders) are
displayed. In order to perform an action, you either select items and then
invoke a menu operation, or you drag items from a file window to a second
(maybe the same) file window. You can also
double-click on an item to start a corresponding action (like launching an
application, editing a file, or changing directories), and press the right
menu button on an item to bring up a menu containing operations for a single
file or application. File operations are accessed
from the file window menu bar as usual.
The left-hand mouse button selects an item (and deselects all others in the
same window). The second button toggles the selected state of an item.
You can drag with the left-hand button to another window to move files from
one directory to another. The second button used in the same way will copy
files. New file windows can be opened by simply dragging a directory icon
to the root window.
The action taken when double-clicking on a file depends on the type of the
file. If it is a directory, it is displayed in the file window. If it is an
executable, the program is started. Other files are opened in the default
editor (specified by the defaultEditor resource), unless another action
is given in the rc file (see CONFIGURATION below).
Directories can be displayed in three different forms: tree (display
subdirectories in tree-like form), icon (display directories and files
as icons) and text (similar to ls -l). These options are selected
from the View menu. In the tree form, clicking on the arrows takes you
up or down one level.
Directory displays are updated automatically in regular intervals when the
contents of the directory changes. You can also explicitly request a folder
update by double-clicking on the directory name field of the corresponding
File manipulation operations.
Create a new (and empty) file.
Rename a single item (directory or file) or move selected items to another
Create a copy of a single item under a new name or copy selected items to
Like Copy, but creates symbolic links rather than copying the selected
Delete the selected items.
Select items by pattern. The usual metacharacters are recognized (*,
?, [ ]). (Currently there is no provision for escaping these.)
- Select all
Select all items in the current directory (except the parent directory).
Deselect all items.
Operations dealing with directories and the file window.
Create a new directory.
- Go to...
Display the specified directory.
Display your home directory.
Display the parent directory.
Delete all items in the current directory.
Close this file window.
Options for the directory display.
Select the tree form display.
Select the icons form display.
Select the text form display.
- Sort by name
Sort directory by name.
- Sort by size
Sort directory by size.
- Sort by date
Sort directory by date.
Specify a pattern to determine the files which should be displayed in the file
window. (This only affects normal files, i.e. directory items will not be
filtered. The Clear button in the Filter dialog form reverts to the full
- Hide folders
Suppress directory items.
- Mix folders/files
Mix directories and other files.
- Show hidden files
Show hidden files (files starting with a dot).
FILE POPUP MENU
Operations on a single file. This menu pops up when pressing the right mouse
button on a directory or file icon.
Open a file window on the selected item. This option is only available if the
selected item is a directory.
Edit the selected item using the program specified in the defaultEditor
resource (only available if the selected item is not a directory).
Same as Edit, but invokes a program for viewing the file (defaultViewer
Move the selected item.
Copy the selected item.
Create a symbolic link.
Delete the selected item.
Display information about the selected item (file size, permissions and such).
Change the permissions of the selected item.
Various aspects of xfiler can be configured by changing corresponding
resource settings in the applications default file. Some important resources
are listed below:
The path on which to search for bitmap and pixmap icons, respectively.
The names of the system-wide configuration file used by Xfiler (see
Set the time interval in milliseconds for which a sequence of two mouse clicks
should be interpreted as a double click. Default: 300.
Set the time interval in milliseconds in which to perform automatic folder
updates. Default: 10000.
Resources to request confirmation for various operations. XXX can be
any one of Deletes, DeleteFolder, Copies, Moves,
Overwrite and Quit. By default these are all enabled.
The command with which xfiler invokes your favourite editor.
The command with which xfiler invokes your favorite viewer.
Xfiler calls other programs by executing your shell (as taken from the
environment variable SHELL). Since Bourne compatible shells need one
extra parameter, xfiler needs to know about the type of the shell. If this
resource is not set (default), or is equal to the special string AUTO, a
quick-and-dirty test is done at startup.
Set the BourneShells resource to a comma separated list of full path
names of Bourne compatible shells if you experience problems. If your shell matches an entry in this
list, xfiler will assume it is a Bourne shell.
There are way too many available resources to list them all in this manual
page, so please take a look at the application defaults file for more
Besides the application resources, xfiler can be configured by means of a
configuration file called .Filesrc located in your home directory. If
this file is not found, xfiler search for a system-wide one. The
location of such file may vary and can be adjusted using the corresponding
X resource. It is a plain ASCII file which can be edited using any text editor.
Any line in this file which starts with a hash sign (#) is interpreted
as a comment; empty lines are ignored. Note that there exists a line
splitting this file in two parts: file type configuration and device
configuration. Also, if xfiler has been compiled with the
MAGIC_HEADERS option then another file called FilesMagic
(system-wide) or ~/.FilesMagic is used (see below).
FILE TYPE CONFIGURATION
The first half of the Filesrc file specifies the types of ordinary (non-executable,
non-directory) files which xfiler should recognize.
Each file type associates a pattern with an icon and two different kinds
of actions (commands to be executed on the file). If xfiler has been
compiled with the MAGIC_HEADERS option then it is possible to specify
icons (but not actions) for directories and executables as well. Each line
has the following format:
As indicated, the different fields are separated by a colon (use \:
to escape the : character, and \\ to escape the backslash
character itself). The meaning of these fields is explained below.
This field allows you to specify which files belong to the type. File types
can either be specified by a filename pattern, which refers to the name
of a file, or a magic header, which refers to the contents of the file,
There are three types of filename patterns: Literal patterns
specify a literal filename such as ``core.'' Suffix patterns
specify a suffix the filename must match, and are indicated by a leading
asterisk, as in ``*.c.'' (All characters following the initial *
are interpreted as literals; there is no expansion of embedded wildcards.)
Finally, prefix patterns specify a prefix to be matched against the
filename. They are denoted by a trailing asterisk, as in ``README*.''
Magic headers are specified by a symbolic name given in the FilesMagic
file, enclosed in angle brackets. Entries referring to a magic header cause the
contents of the file to be checked against the magic numbers in the
FilesMagic file. The format of these entries is described in Section
MAGIC HEADERS below.
The name of the bitmap or pixmap file containing the icon to be displayed
for this file type.
The command to be executed when the user double-clicks on a file of this
type. This command is passed to the shell (via -c), together with
the name of the selected file. The command is executed in the directory
where the selected file is located. The filename is available in the command
as the positional parameter number one, such that an action of the form
xyz $1 invokes the command xyz on the selected file.
There are also two special kinds of push actions built into xfiler,
EDIT and VIEW which invoke the default editor and default viewer
on the selected file, respectively.
Similar to the push action, this field denotes a command to be executed when
a collection of selected files is dropped onto the file. The absolute target
filename itself is available as positional parameter $1, the remaining
arguments denote the names of the files dropped onto the target file. The
command is executed in the directory which contains the selected files. No
special built-in commands are available for this type of action.
If an action field is empty, the corresponding action defaults to ``do
nothing.'' For instance, the following entry defines an icon and an
EDIT push action for .c files:
As another example, here is an entry for compressed (i.e. gzipped) tar
files. The push action causes the archive to be extracted, while the drop
action replaces the contents of the archive with the files which have been
dragged onto the archive:
*.tar.gz:files_taz.xpm:exec tar xfvz $1:exec tar cfvz $*
(Note the use of the shell's exec command. Since actions are invoked
through the shell, it is often useful to replace the shell with the actual
command which is to be executed, in order to conserve memory space on
It is possible that different patterns given in the filesrc file overlap.
In this case xfiler uses the first pattern which matches. Therefore
you should always list the more specific patterns first. For instance, the
following two entries specify what to do with compressed tar files (specific
case) and other .gz files (default case):
*.tar.gz:files_taz.xpm:exec tar xfvz $1:exec tar cfvz $*
*.gz:files_z.xpm:exec gunzip $1:
xfiler also enables you to prompt for additional parameters before an action
is executed. This is generally more useful with application entries than
with file actions, and will therefore be described in the context of
application configuration, see PARAMETER DIALOGS below.
DRAG AND DROP OPERATIONS
xfiler handles the following DND types:
DndFile, DndExe, DndLink, DndFiles, DndRawData and DndText.
DndText and DndRawData are ignored unless the drop occurred
over a dir icon or over an empty region of the file window (called iconbox).
Over the iconbox or a dir icon a new file is created and the DND data
is thrown into it. Other kinds of drops are treated according to the target.
Over icons with drop actions the corresponding action is executed
in the directory of the target;
the target name and the DND data are passed as parameters.
When the drop occurs over an executable file that file is executed
in its directory and the DND data is used as parameters.
Over dir icons or the iconbox, a distinction between internal and external
(drops that come from another application) is made;
external drops are ignored while internal ones yield move/copy operations.
Drop made over other kind of icons are ignored.
When compiled with the MAGIC_HEADERS option, xfiler can determine
file types using the magic numbers contained in the files.
The magic numbers are described in a configuration file whose path is obtained
from the magicFile resource. The format of the file is the same as that
of the magic(5) file, with some extensions like regular expression
matching. (See xfmtype(1).)
There are five built-in types which are used if all the patterns in the
magic file fail:
File size is zero.
Not a regular file.
Could be read and looks like ASCII.
Could be read but all tests failed and doesn't look like ASCII.
To specify a magic file type you include it between angle brackets at the
beginning of the pattern field:
<GIF>:files_gif.xpm:exec xpaint $1:
or combined with a filename pattern:
In the latter case, the file must meet both conditions, i.e. be an ASCII file
and have a .cc suffix.
To include angle brackets in the type or the pattern you must escape them
If xfiler is compiled with the MAGIC_HEADERS option, it is also
possible to specify custom icons for directories and executables. For this
purpose, the magic file distributed with xfiler provides magic file
types named <DIR>, <EXEC>, etc. For instance, here is an entry
which specifies a special icon for hidden directories:
In the same way you can also override the built-in icons for displaying
arbitrary directories and executables:
The device configuration section of filesrc, lets you specify which mount
points xfiler should keep track of, and which actions to perform in order
to mount and unmount the corresponding file systems. This allows you to access
file systems on special devices such as floppies, CD-Roms, etc. in a
transparent way. All you have to do is to enter a directory named
in filesrc (e.g. by opening a file window on it), and xfiler will
automatically perform the corresponding mount action for you. Likewise, if you
leave such a directory, xfiler invokes the corresponding unmount
action. (CAUTION: You still have to take care that you unmount a file system,
e.g. by closing every file window which has been opened on it, before you
physically remove the corresponding medium.) Alternatively, it is
recommended that you use external utilities like supermount to perform
such operations without any risk of data loss.
An entry of the devide section has the following format:
The directory field denotes the mount point of the file system,
mount-action the command to be executed in order to mount the file
system, and umount-action the command for unmounting the file system.
Here is a ``typical'' entry from a filesrc file:
/disk/a:mount -t msdos -o user /dev/fd0 /disk/a:umount /disk/a
Of course, the details of how to mount a floppy file system may vary from
system to system, and you might have to take special actions if you want to
use mount as an ordinary user. See mount(8) for details.
xfiler lets you prompt the user for additional parameters when a push
or drop action is invoked. In such a case, a dialog form appears, with one
field for each parameter, into which the user can enter the required
arguments. Currently, no checking is done on the supplied parameters; in
fact, the user can simply leave all fields empty. Parameters are specified
in an action using the form
where parameter-name is an arbitrary string not containing the %
character, which will be displayed in the dialog form. (As usual, a literal
% character can be escaped with the backslash.) xfiler replaces
each such %...% construct with the corresponding value entered by the
Programs started by xfiler inherit their standard output and error streams
from xfiler. Therefore, if you start xfiler from your session or window
manager instead of an xterm, you should redirect xfiler's standard
output and error to something which you can read while xfiler is running,
if the window manager does not already do that for you. Usually, you will
reassign both stdout and stderr to /dev/console, using the
xfiler >/dev/console 2>&1
Then you can read error messages and other output produced by launched
applications in the console window on your desktop (such as xconsole,
or xterm -C).
xfiler supports icons in both the X bitmap and Arnaud Le Hors' XPM format.
A collection of useful icons is included in the distribution.
Standard location for xfiler configuration file.
X(1), xconsole(1), xterm(1), mount(8), Arnaud Le Hors:
XPM Manual. The X PixMap Format, Groupe Bull, 1993. The Drag and Drop
HOWTO by Cesar Crusius.
CAVEATS AND BUGS
xfiler catches the TERM signal to gracefully terminate the program,
unmounting all open file systems which have been mounted by xfiler.
However, some window and session managers may not send TERM signals
to their client applications when terminating an X session. Therefore it might
be necessary to explicitly quit xfiler or manually close file windows before exiting X.
xfiler depends on your shell - see resource BourneShells.
Overwriting a directory while moving does not work.
Copyright (c) 1990-1993 by Simon Marlow
Copyright (c) 1994, 1995 by Albert Graef
Copyright (c) 1996 by Andre Hentz
Copyright (c) 1999 by Ulric Eriksson
The original version of this program (called xfm) was written by Simon
Marlow (email@example.com) at the University of Glasgow. Albert Graef
(firstname.lastname@example.org) at the University of Mainz
is the author of the lastest xfm version (1.3.2) which contains many
bug fixes and enhancements. Other people have contributed additional
Dave Safford (email@example.com; automatic folder updates);
Robert Vogelgesang (firstname.lastname@example.org; shell detection code);
Juan D. Martin (email@example.com; magic headers);
Kevin Rodgers (firstname.lastname@example.org; Filter option);
Scott Heavner (sdh@falstaff.MAE.cwru.edu; View option);
Brian King (ender@ee.WPI.EDU; default values in parameter dialogs).
In 1996, this program underwent a complete reformulation in order to be able
to work together with DnD (the Drag and Drop protocol by Cesar
Crusius). Many features of earlier versions were removed due to the new role
played by xfiler in the context of OffiX. OffiX is an
expandable environment built around DnD and aimed to give novice and
expert users a comfortable and common desktop.
In 1999 this code was snarfed by Ulric Eriksson to become part of Siag Office.
At the same time, the user interface was redesigned to conform to the other
Intended as a small baseline file manager, it is available for all file
management needs, but can be configured away.
- MENU COMMANDS
- FILE TYPE CONFIGURATION
- DRAG AND DROP OPERATIONS
- MAGIC HEADERS
- DEVICE CONFIGURATION
- PARAMETER DIALOGS
- CONSOLE OUTPUT
- SEE ALSO
- CAVEATS AND BUGS
Ulric Eriksson - April 1999 - email@example.com