Notes on the
Nautilus File Manager

installed in a non-Gnome
desktop environment

( Xfce, LXDE, KDE, etc. )

including 'testimonials'

Interior of a nautilus shell
--- representing
the wonderfulness of
the Nautilus file manager

FE Home > FE Systems Overview page >


! Note !
This page may be touched up or revised occasionally
--- especially after a personal experience with
installing Gnome-Nautilus (or MATE-Caja) in a
non-Gnome (or non-MATE) desktop environment.

Links to sections below:




the Nautilus file manager ---

and Linux desktop environments (DE's),
Linux file managers,
and Linux/Unix windowing systems:

Sometimes when I go to a local Linux User Group (LUG) meeting (circa 2011) and I mention using my 'feNautilusScripts', just the mention of the word 'Nautilus' (later called 'Gnome Files') generates negative-knee-jerk reactions from Linux users who prefer a 'graphical' desktop environment other than Gnome.

Gnome (or GNOME) is the desktop environment for which the Nautilus GUI file manager was developed.

Linux distros that use (or have used) the Gnome desktop environment --- like Ubuntu, LinuxMint, and Debian --- have been dominating the estimates of numbers of users of various Linux 'distros' lately (circa 2007 to 2012).

But there are many Linux users who prefer

  • the 'heavy-weight' (resource-hungry) KDE desktop environment

or 'lighter-weight' desktop environments such as

and they may favor various X window managers not used in the Gnome desktop environment, such as

[Here (at is/was an exhausting list of window managers and desktop environments for Linux and Unix.]

Linux users who do not use Gnome (or MATE, an offshoot of Gnome2) may be disinclined to try out my 400-plus 'feNautilusScripts' --- because they think that the only way they can run Nautilus scripts is by using a Gnome desktop (with the Gnome window manager, Metacity or Mutter) -- and they do not want to use the Gnome desktop and window environment.

However, there are many reports on the web of people, using non-Gnome desktop environments and non-Gnome window managers, who prefer the Nautilus file manager to the several other Linux GUI file managers available with the other desktop environments.

Some of the file managers in other desktop environments are

An aside:

I would like to think that there is someone else out there that recognizes the powerful feature of the Nautilus file manager --- that it is set up to easily run a selected script against selected files.

Hopefully there are others out there who find that the Nautilus GUI-menu-hierarchy-of-subdirectories-of-scripts to facilitate the select-file(s)-and-select-a-script-to-against-those-files feature is a crucial missing-element in essentially all other file managers for Linux.

Two main sections below

It may be a surprise to most Linux users that many of the people who prefer the Nautilus file manager have managed to install and use Nautilus --- with KDE, Xfce, LXDE, and other desktop/windowing environments --- in other words, for use of the Nautilus file manager in non-Gnome desktop environments.

Two sections below provide

  • comments (testimonials) from Linux users on their preference for Nautilus

  • instructions (from Linux users) on how they installed Nautilus in several non-Gnome desktop environments

'TESTIMONIALS' for Nautilus,
over other Linux file managers :

Below are a few quotes from Nautilus aficionados who do not use Gnome ---along with links to the web-page sources of those quotes.

TESTIMONIAL-1 FROM 'ThistleWeb', 2010 May :

    A little while back I used Linux Mint 8 Main Edition, as I wanted an easy encrypted home partition and my usual XFCE edition wasn't released.

    For those who don't know, the Main Edition of Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu and is a Gnome environment.

    It was quite a pleasant experience although I couldn't switch long term.

    One application I gained a new respect for was Nautilus, the file manager in Gnome [versus Thunar].


TESTIMONIAL-2 from 'Capt Turk', 2010 Apr :

    Got to really liking Nautilus in Gnome. Changed over to Xfce and really don't like Thunar at all.

    I have Nautilus installed with a launcher, but would like to make it the default and get rid of Thunar.

    I prefer Nautilus for two reasons.

    One is the ability to browse the network which I've not been able to do with Thunar, and I've never been able to get pyNeighborhood to work.

    Second, being able to see, and access, my windows partition without having to jump through a bunch of hoops.

    Nautilus just seems to work on my computer without any problems.

    Famous saying of my father: "What's cake to one person is crap to another."


TESTIMONIAL-3 from 'Caspian', 2011 Jan :

    I decided to use nautilus as file manager in XFCE because I'm having some issues with thunar (slow mounting of removable drives etc.)


TESTIMONIAL-4 from 'davidpearson', 2011 Nov :

    If the Samba thing is the problem, do what I did [on Xubuntu]. Go to the Software Centre. Install Nautilus from there, and within XFCE, set Nautilus to the Default File Manager. Simple as that.

    I was having problems accessing my NAS until I installed Nautilus, and then it worked a dream.


TESTIMONIAL-5 from 'qs.perhct', 2011 Nov :

    Why would anyone pick Dolphin or Thunar instead of Nautilus?

    [I may try to find testimonial(s) with more specifics --- and replace this one with those.]


How to install Nautilus
in non-Gnome desktop environments :

Below are some guides from Nautilus 'aficionados' who have installed Nautilus in non-Gnome environments --- along with links to the web-page sources of these notes.


FROM 'Thistleweb', 2010 May :

    I wanted to have the option of using Nautilus on XFCE, and this is how I did it. This applies to all non-Gnome environments.   .....

    First install the usual way with:   sudo apt-get install nautilus

    Then you can run Nautilus and restrict it to just being a file manager [and not mess with the desktop] with the following command:   nautilus --no-desktop

    I created an icon on my top panel for Nautilus, with that command [with '--no-desktop']. So when I need it, I have it.

    Nautilus will still run in default [desktop] mode if you run it from the [applications] menu however.

    To change that you'll have to look in '/usr/share/applications' for the Nautilus '.desktop' file, right click and edit it in a plain text editor like GEdit. Change the command it executes to the '--no-desktop' as shown above and save. Remember these are owned by root so you'll need to open with gksu or sudo.

    The '--no-desktop' flag is also handy when running 'Dropbox', as it's integrated with Nautilus alone so far.


FROM 'Capt Turk', 2010 Apr :
Asking the question : 'How do you change the default file manager in Xfce?'

    I have Nautilus installed with a launcher, but would like to make it the default and get rid of Thunar.

    RESPONDER (FedoraRefugee) : [not a great reply; seems like mostly guessing and does not really resolve the 'make it the default' issue; mostly addressing 'get rid of Thunar']

    You could just use Synaptic to do this [remove Thunar]. Just install Nautilus first but be aware that it will pull in a bunch of Gnome dependencies. This really should not matter though.

    I would suggest NOT trying to remove Thunar, it will not hurt anything to leave it alone. You will just have to create a new desktop launcher linking to Nautilus.

    If it really bothers you, then use Synaptic to remove Thunar also. But be careful to read the list of what else Synaptic will want to remove. It may crash Xfce, I have no way of knowing for sure.


NOTE that you may need to find ALL places were 'nautilus' is started without the '--no-desktop' parameters.

Otherwise you get what 'LeonBA' reports:

    "The trouble is that Nautilus WANTS to control my [Xubuntu] desktop environment, and will push out XFCE when it gets a chance. Then my actual desktop changes, my icons move around to different parts of the screen, and I don't have the usual right-click options etc. that XFCE gives me."



FROM '', 2009 May :
ON 'Using Nautilus File Manager Instead Of Dolphin In KDE 4' [on Kubuntu] :

    1. Install Nautilus using Synaptic, or 'System Settings-> Add and Remove Software'.

    2. 'System Settings -> Default Applications -> File Manager' and choose 'Open Folder', then 'Apply'.

    3. That's it!

    [If this doesn't do it for you, try the next guide for installing Nautilus on KDE. It has several more steps.]


FROM 'pelle.k', 2008 Apr :
How to install Nautilus on KDE :

    control center > file associations > inode > directory
    [ then add: "nautilus --no-desktop" ]
    (make sure it's primary in the list)

    You'll not be able to open KIO slaves such as 'media://' with nautilus though.

    Maybe you should create launchers on the desktop running "nautilus --no-desktop media://", "nautilus --no-desktop computer://" etc?

    There are some other cosmetic changes you can do as well, such as installing gnome-volume-manager, gnome-settings-dameon, gnome-control-center etc.

    Another way is just to add "nautilus --no-desktop" as default application for inode > directory, but don't add it as *primary*, but secondary application, so you can right click and choose "open with nautilus" on the desktop/konqueror.

    I've successfully run a complete nautilus desktop replacing konqueror as root window and file manager, and it works really good actually.

    I did uncheck "icons on desktop" and disabled wallpaper in 'kcontrol'.

    Had to disable "hal backend" in kde to let 'gnome-volume-manager' take care of hal mounts:

      "HalBackendEnabled=false" in .kde/share/config/mediamanagerrc

    Then I had to run "gnome-settings-daemon &" in .kde/Autostart/startup.

    (This file should be executable, as usual.)

    (Nautilus itself is a GUI application and will survive the next session on it's own, because of KDE session managment.)

    I took the easy route and installed the whole "gnome" metapackage instead of selective packages though.

    The only problem was that kedit.desktop didn't want to start as default application for say, text files, but i had to enter kedit manually in that box you get during the "open with" dialog.

    I bastardized KDE, i know. It was worth it!

    If you make Nautilus your primary "file manager", kde will throw KIO urls (from system menu etc.) on it and that won't work.

    A nice way have your "own" system menu is to add a "quick file browser" on 'kicker' pointing to a directory where you create a few launchers --- like

    • "nautilus --no-desktop computer://"
    • "nautilus --no-desktop trash://"
    • "nautilus --no-desktop smb://".

    That is pretty much what the system menu does anyway ...

    To get Nautilus to do the desktop too:

    Run "nautilus &", without the '--no-desktop'.

    From 'Raccoon1400':

    If the desktop icons still look different than in nautilus:

    As soon as I unchecked 'show Icons on desktop', the wallpaper and Icons I had in GNOME showed up.



FROM 'blueXrider', 2011 Sep [on LinuxMint LXDE] :

    SUBJECT: LXDE How to change default file manager to Nautilus.

    If Nautilus is not already installed, Open Terminal.

    Type or Copy and Paste

    sudo apt-get install nautilus

    Go to [LXDE] Menu > Accessories > File Manager.

    Right click 'Properties'.

    In the Command window, type 'nautilus'.

    To change the Icon:

    Click the 'Change Icon' button.
    It will open 'System Icon Theme'.
    Browse to Nautilus. Select the Icon.
    Click OK. The window will close.

    Click OK on Application Shortcut window.
    Log out, then back in.

    You should see the the Nautilus Icon on the bottom Panel.

    Nautilus seems to recognise external media right away and auto-mount it better than PCManFM.


    PCManFAM seems a lot simpler.

    I keep them both around because it has that nice little 'Tools > Open Folder as Root' feature which makes it super-easy to move files around, change permissions, etc.


FROM 'satuser083', 2010 May [on LXDE] :

    SUBJECT: Replacing the standard file-manager in lxde.

    I have installed nautilus and it does work.

    (Sadly, only via a terminal, since I can't find it in any menu, but at least it does work.)

    However, I want to replace 'pcmanfm' with 'nautilus' as the system's standard fm [file manager].

    For example, I have a Directory Menu panel-applet in a side-bar.

    When I left-click it, one of the options is "Open" and selecting this option starts 'pcmanfm'.

    I want to start nautilus by selection this option.

    Right-click the panel. Go to 'Panel Settings'.
    Click "Advanced" tab.

    Change "Set preferred Applications/File Manager" from 'pcmanfm' to 'nautilus'.

    Done, dead easy.


FROM 'nokangaroo', 2011 Jun [on LXDE] :

    SUBJECT: Replacing pcmanfm with Nautilus in Openbox/lxde.

    Installed 'nautilus', which works very well in openbox with the '--no-desktop' option.

    (No perceptible speed disadvantage, and video still works without fractures.
    Speed is perceptibly faster than in GNOME.)

    Replaced 'pcmanfm' in my desktop launchers with 'nautilus --no-desktop' and unchecked "mount removable media automatically" in 'pcmanfm' to get rid of a DBus error message.

    (I just hope that nautilus will still be available after the demise of Gnome2.
    I suppose lxde will switch to GTK 3 in time).

    In the above solution the desktop is still drawn by 'pcmanfm'.

    But it is possible to get by without 'pcmanfm' entirely.

    As an experiment I got Nautilus to draw my desktop, and it works perfectly.

    (And Nautilus with the Sodio window border theme and Mist widget theme looks really cool.
    And the font rendering is excellent, better than in KDE.)

    I installed lxde to get all the files, and then I manually deleted 'pcmanfm', 'leafpad' and 'lxterminal' (for which there are better alternatives: 'gedit', 'kate', 'gnome-terminal', 'konsole' --- all of which work perfectly well in openbox/lxde).

    What remains to be done is to get rid of the Nautilus desktop context menu (which is not much use without installing the whole GNOME kit and kaboodle, which of course I want to avoid).

    A wallpaper can be set with the nautilus-wallpaper extension.

    Adding launchers to the desktop from the [desktop] menu works --- also creating new launchers with lxshortcut, except you have to manually mark them as executable.

    Also, mounted USB volumes are shown on the desktop, which I am used to from GNOME.

    So it seems that Nautilus needs only very few modifications to be a file manager of choice in Openbox.

    Of course you don't have to uninstall pcmanfm.

    I just wanted to see if it was really a dependency, which apparently it isn't.

    [Then 'nokangaroo' shows several system files

    • /etc/xdg/lxsession/LXDE/ autostart
    • /etc/lxdm/lxdm.conf
    • /usr/share/nautilus/ui/ nautilus-desktop-icon-view-ui.xml

    which you can see in the following link.]

    'nokangaroo' says:
    Also, I commented out the lines in '/usr/bin/startlxde' after "Ensure the existance [sic] of openbox config file".

    'nokangaroo' says:
    Right-clicking on the desktop shows the Nautilus menu as before, from which I have removed the nonfunctional entries "Add Launcher" and "Change Desktop Background" by editing '/usr/share/nautilus/ui/ nautilus-desktop-icon-view-ui.xml' --- removing lines 7 and 12.

    As the instructions he found to configure the root menu were unclear, 'nokangaroo' showed an example 'menu.xml' file that will work.

    (Replace 'nautilus' with 'pcmanfm' and 'konsole' with 'lxterminal' or 'xterm' if necessary.)



FROM at, 2008 Oct :

    SUBJECT: Run Nautilus file manager sans GNOME desktop.

    Nautilus is the default file manager in GNOME.

    It has a lot of useful features [and] at the same time is very user friendly.

    This tip is for those Linux users who are using an alternate window manager or desktop such as Xfce, Openbox, Fluxbox, Blackbox and so on, but would like to use Nautilus as their default file manager.

    When you run Nautilus, by default, it starts the GNOME desktop.

    This is problematic for people running alternate desktops or window managers because they lose the menu of their default desktop.

    To prevent that, run Nautilus with the following parameters :

    $ nautilus --browser --no-desktop


Some possible 'issues' with using Nautilus in non-Gnome desktop environments follow.

FROM 'Caspian', 2011 Jan [on ArchLinux?] :

    I've assigned a keyboard shortcut to launch this command "nautilus --browser --no-desktop".

    The first time I run it everything works as intended, but when I press the keyboard shorcut second time 5 nautilus windows open and nautilus replaces thunar on the desktop (switches to the background used in gnome, replaces the xfce right click menu with the gnome one, etc.).

    I am truly confused with this.

    Anyone has any idea what could be casing this behaviour?

    RESPONDER (Cdh) :
    In gconf-editor you can disable it drawing the desktop:

    Set 'apps/nautilus/preferences/show_desktop' to false and maybe 'exit_with_last_window' to true.

    For the opening many windows issue:
    I think it already was here in the forum, a problem with stored sessions I think. Maybe in ~/.cache?

    ISSUE REPORTER (Caspian) :
    Thanks for the help.

    I just rembembered 10 minutes ago about this gconf entry for nautilus and changed it.

    This is fixed but I can't seem to figure out how to solve the mutliple windows problem.

    There is not a single "entry" in the ~/.cache folder for nautilus.

    RESPONDER (Cdh) :



WEB SEARCHES for more info on
Nautilus in non-Gnome environments :

One way to find more information on Nautilus in non-Gnome environments is to do a WEB SEARCH on keywords such as

The Gnome3 'Files' file manager has probably removed a lot of the niceties of the old (circa 2009-2011) Gnome2 'Nautilus' file manager.

That is a main reason that the MATE desktop was spun off from Gnome2 --- and the 'Caja' file manager was spun off from 'Gnome2-Nautilus'.

Since 'Gnome3-Files' may not support (now or in the future) the 'Scripts-menu' capability that was in 'Gnome2-Nautilus', it seems advisable to augment the WEB SEARCHES above with the following MATE-Caja searches.

The 'Nemo' file manager of Linux Mint was spun off from a Nautilus/Gnome file manager, circa 2012-2015.

There is a possiblity that the 'nemo' file manager still has the 'Scripts-menu' capability of Gnome2-Nautilus.

That suggests the following WEB SEARCHES may be productive.

FE Nautilus Scripts . . . . Not Your Grandfather's Unix Scripts.

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Intalling Nautilus in
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Page history:

Page was created 2012 Mar 03.

Page was changed 2014 Apr 30.

Page was changed 2018 Aug 16.
(Added css and javascript to try to handle text-size for smartphones, esp. in portrait orientation.)

Page was changed 2019 Jun 30.
(Specified an image width in percents to size the image according to width of the browser window. Reformatted the sections for easier reading and access. Added some notes on Gnome3, MATE, Caja, Nemo.)