donnatella: A brand new Linux file manager

So I have been working on this little project for some time now, and I am happy to finally have a first (pre-alpha) release to share with the world. That makes a first (and important) milestone I can check.

donnatella - donna for short - is a free software, file manager for GNU/Linux systems.

Did the world really need (yet) another file manager, you ask? Well, obviously I felt it did. I have my reasons, so let me explain why I decided to work on this, and see if donna might (or not) be of interest to you.

Why another file manager ?

True, there is already a selection of file managers one can choose from, so why make another one? Mostly because I couldn't find what I was looking for.

While there are file managers, it felt to me that there was really mainly 2 kinds of FM: CLI ones, which were of no interest to me simply because, while - as any good Arch Linux users - not afraid of the command line, I was looking for a GUI one; and ones made for, it seems, always the same target users, which I don't recognize myself as. (And let's not event mention the recent trend to "simplify" everything to the extreme, because the desktop is dead and everything is made for phones and other tablets nowadays, of course.)

Most file managers seem to approach things in a similar fashion and target the same kind of users. Nothing wrong with that, but I was looking for something different. Targeting what can sometimes be referred to as "power users," for those who - even on GNU/Linux - would like to use a GUI file manager instead of a CLI one (or none at all).

And as a free software enthusiast, I like the idea of putting the user in the center, giving him/her the control. A good tool isn't one you have to change your habits & workflow to adapt to, but one that adapts to you. Because the user has to be in charge, that's (part of) the whole idea.

Adding to that is the fact that I had been using Windows for (too) many (many) years, and there as well it took me some time to find a file manager I liked. But I eventually did, I loved it and even became addicted to quite a few of its unique features.

So I knew I was looking certain things I would most likely not find in any existing file managers for Linux.


If you're working on Windows, consider switching to the wonderful world of free software. If you can't, and are in need of a good file manager, I couldn't recommend anything other than XYplorer.

It is a brilliant tool, backed by its amazing author who's listening to its customers and improving it daily. donnatella is in no way trying to be a "clone" of XY in any way, but having used it for as many years as I have, being addicted to some of its unique features as I am, users of XY will certainly recognize in donna some features from XY, such as the Mini Tree, Boxed Branches, and other wonders.

Unix: Where you have one tool for one job

Another source of inspiration for donna was this famous idea that says that you should have one tool for one job, and combine them to perform whatever task you need done.

It's an idea I certainly like, but that seem to vanish as soon as we enter the world of GUI. I'll use an analogy that is certainly imperfect and has its limitations, but bear with me (and forget that there are CLI file managers for a minute) :

On the command line, the equivalent of the GUI file manager would be your shell. You can use whichever you want, you can even switch at will, this will not impact what tools you use daily.

You shell will not copy, delete or search for files. It's not its role. It is there to provide you an interface to your file system, to help you easily use the tools you need on your files, but it doesn't actually do those jobs, it lets you use that one tool for the job.

And yet, as soon as we use a GUI file manager, it becomes a completely different story: your FM will be the one tool to do everything: copy, delete, search, show/preview any media files, (un)mount devices, it does it all.

donna doesn't follow this idea, and tries to do nothing; Nothing else than being an interface to your file system, and provide ways to easily use whatever tools you might need to work with your files.

Why redo cp, mv, and other find when they are all very good, tested & optimized tools for their specific jobs. For example, donna will simply allow you to start find, then parse its output and present the results in its own GUI: you get the speed & power of find with the efficiency of donna's interface.

And if you want to search for files owned by a given package, you can simply use your package manager the same way. Pick the right tool for the job, and use donna (and its GUI interface) to help you work better/faster.

Also: unique features!

This explains why I decided to work on this little project. But that's not all. As hinted earlier, during my years using XYplorer, I've become addicted to quite a few fantastic features that were either really nice to have, or became a requirement in my daily workflow.

donna aims to provide such really cool features, brand new ones or ones clearly inspired from other tools. Please see donnatella for a (non exhaustive) list of such (implemented) features, as well as download links and the likes.

And of course, as always, bug reports, suggestions or any other form of constructive criticism is very much welcome.

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