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GSoC 22 – The First Blog Post

  • May 28, 2022
  • Pratyaksh Gautam

I’m really looking forward to this summer, since my project proposal for this year’s Google Summer of Code has been selected! I’ll be working on adding features to Thunar file manager, an XFCE application, with the help of my mentor Alexander Schwinn.

My history with XFCE

I’ve been big on open-source ever since my school days, and actually ran Xubuntu (an Ubuntu distribution with XFCE as its desktop environment) on my daily driver, an old netbook back in eleventh grade. It was too slow of a device to run GNOME, so I absolutely had to use a lighter-weight desktop environment, and compared to alternatives like LXDE which I didn’t like the aesthetics of, and pantheon (the default DE for elementaryOS) which still felt lacking in terms of performance, XFCE was the perfect balance of form and functionality.

Since then, I’ve done some distro-hopping before settling on my current setup, hand-rolled with awesome window manager and no DE. While I generally prefer to use the command-line, Thunar has been by GUI file manager of choice ever since I started using this setup a little over 2 years ago. It’s fast, light-weight, and gets the job done without getting in your way, which is exactly what I need.

Planned features

Thunar does however lack a few features that would be really handy to have, which is exactly what I’ll be working on.

Undo-redo

Adding undo and redo is an absolute no-brainer for me, and would probably be the single biggest thing I think Thunar is currently missing. If you’re anything like me, you’ve often selected the wrong file to move into another directory, and you have to manually undo it and move the correct file once you realize your mistake. Implementing this would do away with such frustrating tedium in the case of minor mistakes.

File counts for folders

Currently, the list view in Thunar has a ‘size’ column which shows the size of the corresponding file in the listing. However, this column is blank for folders (or directories). As such, it’s essentially wasted space for directories, but it could be put to good use showing the count of the files in the folder instead.

Picture-specific maximized thumbnail view

Managing pictures is primarily based on the content of the picture itself, rather than metadata like the name, date etc. So it would be very convenient to have a specific view optimized for folders with a large number of pictures, where the thumbnails take up as much space on the screen as possible. Think Pinterest, Google images etc.

If somehow I complete the work enlisted in my proposal ahead of time, I plan on looking at some of the file system synchronisation bugs that some Thunar users have reported.

Conclusion

I’m glad to have the opportunity to be able to work on open-source tools I myself use everyday, and feel really lucky to have the support of Google to be able to work on this over this summer. I’m really grateful for the help I’ve gotten along the way to getting my proposal accepted from Sergios Kefalidis, Alexander Schwinn, and other members of the XFCE community.

I’d like to congratulate my fellow XFCE GSoC contributors Yogesh Kaushik and Amrit Borah as well (who coincidentally are also from different IIITs :grin:).