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To me it's a hard question- I use different file managers for different tasks. As far as ease of use and power, Xandros File Manager is hard to beat, but plain old Konqueror is faster, bash command line even faster, MC great for non X stuff, etc.
Distribution: Debian ("lenny", "squeeze"), Linux Mint, XUbuntu
Midnight Commander for File Manager of the Year
MC is an antique, imitating as it does Norton Commander
from DOS (and I wouldn't be surprised if the line goes back even further).
Because it's command line based it's just bloody fast. It's wonderful
for manually inspecting directory differences -- it's great for
reorganizing your files and trees. It's got a short learning curve,
though a couple of the useful advanced features would be nice to
discover more easilty. It can prune entire directory branches, but makes rm -R * quite a bit safer!