Newbie question about the file manager system in Mandrake...
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You can try disabling certain features in konqueror to speed it up (like previews). If you want to run Gnome's file manager (nautilus), it'll work okay as long as you have it properly installed. The problem you'll have is with stuff like drag 'n drop, for example you wouldn't be able to drag a file from Nautilus to Konqueror. If all you want is speed, try xfm. It lacks a lot of features though. You can run all three from the shell or from the run dialog.
The packages for xfm and nautilus should be on your Mandrake cd. I think it's in the /mandrake/rpms directory. Mandrake may have a gui system for installing it's packages, but I don't know what it is. You can try kpackage (run it like nautilus and xfm).