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A better toolbar for Thunar

  • January 21, 2022
  • Sergios - Anestis Kefalidis

A better toolbar for Thunar

  Welcome to my first Xfce development update for 2022. Happy new year!

Toolbar and Custom Actions

The problem

  In the past, there have been quite a few discussions about the toolbar and which items it should contain. Both developers and community members wondered: "Should the reload button be removed?", "Why isn't the search button a toggle in the toolbar?", "Should toggle buttons exist in the toolbar?". As you might expect, there was no perfect answer to those questions. Some people liked one thing, other people liked the exact opposite.

  You can see all that in the following links:

The solution

  Here comes Merge Request 173 which introduces the ability to customize the toolbar. That is done through a new "Toolbar Editor", which is based on the existing "Columns Editor", where the user can reorder and hide toolbar items.

Toolbar Editor

The toolbar editor.

  Instead of being satisfied with the ability to customize the toolbar using built-in items, I decided to take it a step further and give users the option to add their custom actions to it. Presently, only actions that are used on directories can be displayed as items in the toolbar but in the future we could expand that functionality if there is user demand.

Toolbar

A custom toolbar.

Other improvements

  I have also been working on some smaller improvements. Thunar can now handle shortcuts that include the 'Tab' key and I am prototyping a spinner element to let users know when a search is ongoing.

Future plans

  This is probably the last big feature that I will develop for Thunar 4.18. After this is merged I will probably focus on fixing regressions and bugs.


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xfce4-terminal 0.9.1 development release

  • December 10, 2021
  • Sergios - Anestis Kefalidis

  Welcome back! For the last two months, I've been working on fixing regressions introduced by 0.9.0 (thanks to all the people who use try the development releases) and a few new features and enhancements that the community has been asking for.

Enhancements

  The `scrolling-on-output` preference has been slightly reworked. Previously, you were unable to scroll-up while the terminal was printing (the view would be immediately scrolled back down). The new, improved behavior follows the printed lines only if you haven't scrolled upwards. If you have, the view stays there and you can continue the automatic scrolling by going back to the current "end" of the terminal screen, i.e. by scrolling back down.

  Additionally, as was promised in the previous release, I reworked the checkbox to disable the 'Unsafe Paste' dialog. Now you can disable the dialog temporarily instead of being forced to permanently disable it and then having to re-enable it (disabling it permanently is not advised).

New features

  A new scrollbar type has been added, called overlay-scrollbar. This scrollbar is provided by GtkScrolledWindow which xfce4-terminal now uses for its terminal screens. Overlay scrollbars are slimmer, therefore they save some horizontal space. If you like the old scrollbar style that is still available (and will probably be the default in the final release).

  This version also includes the XfceShortcutsEditor widget that I wrote about in a previous post. Keep in mind that you need libxfce4ui 4.17.2 (or greater) to use this feature, otherwise the entry will be hidden.

  Last but not least, you can now customize what the right-click action. Instead of opening the context menu, you can configure xfce4-terminal to paste the clipboard or the current selection.

Release notes

  You can find the full release notes at the following link: Release Notes


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A shortcuts editor for Xfce and a couple of other things

  • November 25, 2021
  • Sergios - Anestis Kefalidis

A shortcuts editor for Xfce and a couple of other things

  Welcome to another Xfce development update! In this one you will learn about the new Xfce Shortcuts Editor and a couple of upcoming Thunar features.

Shortcuts Editor

  As you may know, I'm the maintainer of xfce4-terminal and a developer for Thunar. It just so happens that both of these programs have a ton of shortcuts. Until now, there was no GUI for changing shortcuts. Users had to manually edit the `accels.scm` file which is doable yet cumbersome.

  Additionally xfce4-terminal, being a terminal emulator, has the problem of its shorcuts colliding with the shorcuts of terminal applications, rendering them unusable. To fix that issue users needed to once again dive into the `accels.scm` file and change the default shortcuts manually.

  That is why I created a new widget called XfceShortcutsEditor in libxfce4ui. Applications that use XfceGtkActionEntries for their accelerators can easily integrate that editor in their UI and enjoy the benefits without any additional complexity.

Thunar Shortcuts

The XfceShortcutsEditor integrated in Thunar's Preferences dialog.

Termianl Shortcuts

The XfceShortcutsEditor as a separate dialog for xfce4-terminal.

Thunar improvements

  As far as Thunar specific improvements go, I'm happy to announce that the next version of Thunar will have a customizable Statusbar. By right-clicking, users will be able to hide/show information that they (don't) need.

 Additionally the folder properties dialog now displays the type of contents of the folder (i.e. the number of files and folders insdie the folder).


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xfce4-terminal 0.9.0 development release

  • October 16, 2021
  • Sergios - Anestis Kefalidis

  Welcome back! Since I became maintainer of xfce4-terminal I've worked on replacing deprecated parts of the codebase, closing old bugs and merging Merge Requests which have been sitting around for a while.

GtkActions

  The majority of my time was spent on dealing with the, now deprecated, GtkActions/GtkActionEntries and GtkUiManager which were used for creating the menubar, toolbar, right click context menu and for handling the shortcuts. All of that logic was moved to Xfce's own XfceGtkAction entries which are supported by the Xfce team. As a nice bonus, this transition slightly reduced the size of the codebase. Some deprecated parts remain, like the UI for changing encoding from the menubar but I've decided to transition slowly to make sure that things remain stable.

Sending signals

  The most exciting new feature is the ability to send signals to foreground processes. This is done either through the right click menu, or through the `Terminal` entry of the menubar. We have Cyrille Pontivieux to thank for the initial implementation of this, which I simplified and later transitioned to the new menu/shortcut system.

Release notes

  You can find the full release notes at the following link: Release Notes


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A couple of big features for Thunar

  • September 16, 2021
  • Sergios - Anestis Kefalidis

A couple of big features for Thunar

  Welcome to my first post-GSoC blogpost. Google Summer of Code might have ended but I'm continuing my daily work on Thunar and Xfce Terminal (more on that later). This blog-post is accompanied by a video that showcases what is written here.

Recursive Search

  I'm happy to inform you that my work on implementing a performant recursive-search in Thunar has been met with success. Users will be able to recursively search their filesystem (including remote folders and other special locations like Recent and Trash) and sort the results like they would in any folder. Presently, searching is depth limited but in the final version you will be able to select a custom depth or no depth at all, to make sure that this is useful even for older machines and at the same time makes use of the resources of faster systems. As this is a work in progress there are some bugs and crashes but it looks like the big issues have been solved at last. You can see for yourself at: link.

Shared Thumbnail Repositories

  Additionally, I wanted to give users the option to create shared thumbnail repositories from within Thunar. That's why I've been working on creating a script to create Shared Thumbnail Repositories using any thumbnailer that implements the D-Bus thumbnailing spec (tumbler being an example of such a thumbnailer). You will be able to use this script from Thunar through a custom action.

Xfce Terminal

  Lastly, I wanted to let you know that I've become the maintainer of xfce4-terminal. I've been working on resolving old issues, fixing bugs and merging MRs that have been sitting stagnant for months. I've got a lot of exciting things to show you on that front, so stay tuned.


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Shiny new things in Thunar thanks to GSoC 2021

  • September 11, 2021
  • Alexxcon's Software Development Blog

GSoC 2021 is over now and I am happy to tell you that both students working on thunar did an excellent job. Alot of nice stuff has been added thanks to them !

In order to allow you to discover all these new features, Thunar 4.17.5 was just released. (Note that this is a development release. It still might have some rough edges)

For details about the new features check the summaries provided by Sergios and Yongha:

Sergios GSoC Summary

Yongha’s GSoC Summary

Besides these, here as well some more new features added during GSoC for which I thought they would be worth to mention:

  • Bookmarks got moved into a separate ‘Bookmarks Menu’ and a ‘create bookmark’ option was added (MR !109 and MR !71)

bookmark menu

  • A new menu item “Set Default Application” was added to the “Open with” submenu (MR !79)

Open with - Set Default App

  • A new section ‘Default Application’ was added to the ‘thunar-chooser-dialog’ (MR !81)

Default App Section

On top there are still various open merge requests with partial finished features, most of them from GSoC students for which I did not find time so far. So expect more new stuff to arrive soon !

You as well might want to keep an eye on xfce4-terminal, which received alot of activity recently, since it is now maintained by Sergios Kefalidis.

If you find a bug on any of these new features, please make use of the xfce bugtracker.

Happy testing !

GSOC contribution summary

  • August 17, 2021
  • Yongha Hwang

Secure .desktop handling (Thunar !117, !121, Exo !44, Libxfce4util !16)

.desktop file is a special kind of script that is optimized for launching application. It can use custom icon and name to represent application. However, this feature can be abused as it can disguise it as any type of file. To prevent this security breach, I introduced a “trused” flag to mark whether this .desktop file is safe to execute. By utilizing GVFS-metadata, there is no way that the flag of any downloaded file. A user will be warned about the safety hazard until the user sets “trusted” flag up.

File copy improvements

Implement queued transfer management (Thunar !116)

Sequential transfer, which is introduced in 4.16, caused freuqent freeze and/or crash. Now sequential transfer is handled by a queue, and now this feature works without a problem.

Keep modified time for the file copied from foreign location (Thunar !127)

When copying from remote locations, all the metadata gets lost. The original plan was to use g_file_build_attribute_list_for_copy() to overwrite metadata of the copied file, but for now, it only copies modified time of the original file.

Use “copy name” when copying from gvfs-google backend (Thunar !121)

When copying a file from gvfs-google (google-drive:// protocol), the filename was replaced with unreadable number-alphabet combination. Now the filename is maintained without a problem.

Use intermediate file to copy files (!130)

When a file transfer gets interrupted for any reason, the file that is not fully transferred is left on the destination. Since that the single file on the destination is guaranteed to be corrupted, a user cannot just retry copying the same file on the destination and skip duplicate files. To solve this problem, Thunar will try to delete the incomplete file if it can. In case the destination is not accessible at the time, there is a safer option that first copies a file with a different name than the original and then change the name of the copied file to its original.

Fix invalid filenames when copying to FAT-like filesystem (!137, !138)

FAT and NTFS have a stricter naming rule than EXT filesystem. Also, Windows has a reserved word for filename. For this reason, when copying a file to FAT-like system, Thunar will automatically rename to avoid illegal names before copy.

Check if a target directory is a subdirectory of the moved folder (!139)

Now Thunar will check if a target directory is a subdirectory of the moved folder before trying to copy files.

Implement “safe copy” (!144)

New option “safe copy” will compare checksum of the original and the copy if enabled. This will largely increase copy time, but it would be useful if the source location or the destination is unreliable.

Miscellaneous

For directories, leave size column blank (Thunar !83)

For some reason, Thunar has shown a block size of the filesystem as the “file size” of the directory. This value might be confusing to a user, so now the file size is only shown for regular files.

On “Select by Pattern” add option for case sensitivity (Thunar !89, !98)

“Select by Pattern” feature was not case sensitive, so now case insensitive select is introduced and set as a default.

Improve computer:// panel (Thunar !92)

Detail view for computer:// was incomplete since it cannot be handled like a normal directory. Now “size” column shows disk usage info, and “type” column shows a device type.

Deprecate ExoBinding (Exo !42, ThunarMediaTagsPlugin !4, Xfce4PlacesPlugin !7, Thunar !113, ThunarVolman !8)

Since ExoBinding in Exo can be replaced with GBinding in GLib, ExoBinding is deprecated and the usage within XFCE project is replaced with GBinding.

Preserve metadata when editing desktop item (Exo !43)

When editing a desktop item with exo-desktop-item-edit, all the metadata got lost since the modified file was actually a new file that replaces older one. This problem is fixed and the file modified maintains its info.

A journey comes to an end

  • August 16, 2021
  • Sergios - Anestis Kefalidis
A journey comes to an end

  As this year's Google Summer of Code comes to a close, so does this series of blogposts. Since this is my last post related to GSoC I have decided to summarize my contributions to Xfce and give you a glimpse of what I'll be working on in the foreseeable future. If you have read my previous posts, you can skip right to the end since you have already read most of the stuff that I'm going to write.

What has been done

  My project's goal was to improve various aspects of Thunar, dealing with several important deficiencies that existed. In the roughly two and a half months that my work lasted I made the following contributions:

  • Add zoom-level as a per-directory setting MR, giving users the ability to have the zoom-levels of their directories restored upon opening them.
  • Support for GTK-Recent MR, adding support for the `recent:///` location, and all that this entails.
  • GTK-Recent
  • Provide additional menu item for trashed files: "restore and open folder" MR, giving users the option to immediately open the location of files restored from the Trash folder.
  • Add a preference to restore tabs on startup MR, or as it is known in other programs a preference to 'restore the last session'.
  • Preference
  • Support shared thumbnail repositories MR, making Thunar one of the relatively few programs that support the #SHARED part of the freedesktop.org thumbnail spec. For more info about what this I've uploaded a video in a previous blogpost.
  • Search improvements for Thunar MR, which completely reworks Thunar's search functionality and makes Catfish easily accessible from Thunar.
  • Some bugfixes and minor additions.

 Additionally since I've started working on Thunar, in the beginning of this year's GSoC I've worked on improving the `Trash` location by adding a new `Date Deleted` column and making the `Empty` and `Restore` actions more accessible.
Trash

  I've also made minor improvements to the `Renamer` as well as dealing with various small bugs or missing features of Thunar.

The future

  Google Summer of Code might be ending, but my job isn't done. I will continue working on adding a decent recursive-search. A lot of progress has been made on that front, but the performance isn't quite there yet. Besides that, I want to give Thunar users an option to easily create Shared Thumbnail Repositories which is something that I will probably do through a new plugin.

Acknowledgements

 All in all, I've had a great deal of fun and I'm very much looking forward to continue working with the Xfce community on improving the Xfce Desktop Environment. I want to thank my mentor Alexander Schwinn (@alexxcons) for his continuous support and exceptional mentoring, as well as his calm and motivational attitude. I also want to thank Yousuf Philips (@philipz) for promoting all of our work, posts and videos and being a really friendly and kind person to talk to (which was especially great when I first came in contact with the Xfce community).


Link to all my Thunar Merge Requests: link
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Search improvements

  • August 2, 2021
  • Sergios - Anestis Kefalidis
Search improvements

 Welcome back. This is my last (or second to last) blog post for this year's Google Summer of Code with Xfce and Thunar. Unlike previous weeks this time I have only one new thing to talk to you about. Searching in Thunar.

 Most of you might have noticed that Thunar has had a significnt deficiency for a while. Thunar has been missing a decent solution for searching for files in the filesystem. Users could search for files in the selected directory, but even that was a pretty mediocre experience, because results weren't being filtered while searching. Fortunately there is another program under the Xfce umbrella that makes searching for files a breeze. That program is, of course, Catfish. Unfortunately this status quo requires users to juggle between Thunar and Catfish even when searching for simple things.

 In the past two weeks I've been working on two things. First, making Catfish easier to use through Thunar. Second improving Thunar's built-in search features to make routine and/or simple searches possible without leaving Thunar. The first improvement is pretty straightforward. A new button has been added that allows the user to open catfish with the specified search query from inside Thunar. As far as the improving the built-in search features goes, I've implemented a basic depth-limited recursive search in Thunar that is accessed from the location bar, which can now be used as both a location bar and a search bar. As the user types his/her search query the view is updated with the results. For convenience in addition to the current directory and its subdirectories, Thunar searches the GTK-Recent database for eligible entries.

 Instead of describing how all this works I would like to demonstrate state of things to you. Some small things are missing (like options for selecting whether the GTK-Recent database should be searched and a new `location` column that will be introduced), but the core functionality has been implemented and is close to being merged.


Link to all my Merge Requests: link
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Supporting shared thumbnail repositories and video update

  • July 11, 2021
  • Sergios - Anestis Kefalidis
Supporting shared thumbnail repositories and video update

 Greetings! After 84 yea.... 17 days I'm back with another blog-post. This time a shorter one, since most of my work has been on finishing the features that I talked about last week and implementing support for shared thumbnail repositories (as specified in freedesktop.org).

 Support for Shared thumbnail repositories: For 15 years the #SHARED part of the freedesktop.org thumbnail specification has been ignored by the vast majority of Linux file managers. At last, the time has come for Thunar to be one of the first, if not the first, file managers that support shared thumbnail repositories. 'What are shared thumbnail repositories' I hear you ask. Let me explain. Imagine that you have a large external hard drive that contains family photos (something that most, if not all of us have). Connecting it in a new PC or as a different user would normally lead to thumbnailing for all the files that are visible in your file manager. That process is both slow and wasting space. That is the problem that shared thumbnail repositories solve. Instead of creating and storing thumbnail in the default location of the PC filesystem, thumbnails are stored locally in the USB/HDD/CD. It is a niche but potentially extremely useful feature.

 I've linked a video that showcases the stuff that I've talked about in these blogposts, with the exception of shared thumbnail repositories. Even though the code is complete and it works as it should there has been a problem with Tumbler while refactoring. Specifically, it looks like Tumbler doesn't use libxfce4util, where I placed some shared code to avoid duplication. Hopefully next time I'll be able to show them to you.


Link to all my Merge Requests: link
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