Meet 'Files,' the Latest elementary Appby Imported Article

Am Monkey, the lead developer of Marlin, recently  “lost interest” in the file management app formerly planned for use in elementary OS. However, fear not; elementary is here to pick up the reins and continue the development.

Rather than abandoning the hard work gone into developing the first-class file manager, elementary has decided to take the existing code, refine it, patch up some papercuts, and continue its maintenance. With elementary developing the app, it allows us to more easily fix a lot of long-standing UI issues and inconsistencies. And of course we’ll continue cracking down with the HIG as we do with our other apps.

In the spirit of elementary simplicity, we’ve also decided to rename it simply to “Files.” The name “Marlin” was a clever pun, suggesting it was "the fastest fish in the sea of file managers" and referencing the fact that both Nautilus and Dolphin carry names related to the sea. However, this pun is lost on most users—except perhaps big Linux buffs—and doesn’t describe the function of the app well.  “Files,” on the other hand, is as simple as it gets and lets the user know exactly what the app is for.

Another welcome change coming to Files is the re-integration of elementary technologies like the Granite framework and the Contractor extension service; this ensures a reduced codebase, easier maintenance, guaranteed consistency, increased stability, and a couple of free bug fixes and translations.

We’re already hard at work.

With the transition from Marlin to Files, we’ve already been able to land some fixes and improvements. Victor Eduardo landed some outstanding patches to fix up UI bugs and papercuts, like those present in the file properties dialog. Tom Beckmann re-integrated Contractor, making it interoperable with all of the apps and services already providing Contractor extensions. Daniel Fore and I have each landed some small bitesize string fixes. Cody Garver has taken on packaging as well as doing the actual merges and code reviews. We look forward to continuing the development, making this awesome app even better.

Test it, help out.

As with any pre-release software, there may still be bugs and things might break. However, for those adventurous testers, you can grab Files from its official Launchpad page to compile yourself. If you’re using the elementary Daily PPA, you should be able to install it on your system the usual way soon. Update: Files is available in the Daily PPA now.

Remember, things may break. But if you’re into testing, we’d love if you could file bug reports for any issues you may encounter. And if you’re lucky enough to know more than one language, you can always help with translations. Finally, if you're into helping directly with code, there are a handful of smaller bugs just waiting to be squashed.


After a few weeks of silence, Am Monkey has responded to us and we held a meeting regarding Marlin and Files. Apparently he has resumed development of Marlin. However, Files will continue to exist as an official elementary app, carrying patches where necessary. Code that would be beneficial to both Marlin and Files will be proposed upstream to Marlin in addition to being added to Files. We look forward to collaborating as much as possible while ensuring our users have the best experience.

Published May 26th, 2012
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