Midnight Commander: A character-based menu interface for Linux

I mentioned Midnight Commander in my last post, and now I will go into greater detail about this program here. I really like Midnight Commander. I like it for three reasons: 1. It’s convenient, 2. It gives you a lot of options, and 3. It looks nice.

Here is a screenshot of Midnight Commander running in Slackware Linux:


Midnight Commander lets you change what is displayed in both the left and right columns.  For example, here is a screenshot of Midnight Commander running in Arch Linux, with the right column set to display file information:


Pretty nifty, huh?  It gets better, because the menus in the file manager allow you to do just about everything with the files that you can do from the command line.


I haven’t tried most of these yet, but judging from the menus, Midnight Commander appears to be a fairly powerful tool.

You can also use the -b switch to force Midnight Commander into monochrome mode:


This is useful if you prefer a black background to a blue background.

And of course there’s the document viewer:


And the text editor, here showing my .plan file:


The text editor, which itself can be invoked from the command line using the mcedit command, is a full-featured menu-based text editor complete with syntax highlighting.

Next up: a post about my struggles to get the X Window System to work in Slackware.

Exploring packages in pkgtool

I like to look through the package repositories in pkgtool, the Slackware package manager, to see what packages are installed in my Slackware installation. pkgtool provides a menu-driven interface for installing, updating, removing, and viewing packages. One of the (possibly unintended) effects of this is that it adds a level of discoverability to the Slackware command line.



I’ve found a lot of neat or useful commands by looking through packages on my system. I will list a few of them:

Midnight Commander (mc): An MDI for Unix-based systems, including a file manager, a document viewer, and a text editor.



bpe: The Binary Patch Editor, a hex editor for Linux.


sc: The Spreadsheet Calculator. Looks a lot like Visicalc, but it appears to have different commands. I just found it and have no idea how to use it yet. Will have to explore it some more.  For now I’ve just taken a screenshot of a blank spreadsheet, because I don’t know how to add data to it.


So far this is all I’ve used pkgtool for, at least directly. I haven’t used it to install packages, because I’m not entirely sure yet how to do that. Apparently you have to get packages from somewhere else and then install them from a local directory. I’m not sure. More to learn about, I guess.