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Old 12-15-2007, 01:08 PM   #1
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Listing Huge Directories

Greetings all,

I'm running Slackware 12.0. The /usr/bin and /usr/lib directories are huge. In KDE, listing those directories in either the Konqueror file manager or Konsole, or in Xfce, in Terminal or Thunar, displaying the directory takes several seconds. Thunar will not display anything until several seconds while Konqueror displays but continually updates while loading the directory.

Without X (pure console) the listings are very quick. If I open Midnight Commander inside of Konsole or Terminal, listing those same directories is almost immediate.

Granted, I run old boxes with old video cards, but I'm wondering if there is a way to speed the directory listing displays of such huge directories when using a file manager through X.

Old 12-15-2007, 01:24 PM   #2
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Yeah, use a lighter file manager. As you saw, 'mc' is a light file manager. I use rox filer, because it is the lightest file manager that still can do thumbnails. It's very fast and functional too, especially on old boxes. Konqueror is probably the most bloated file manager you will find, second only to M$ file manager (explorer).
Old 12-15-2007, 06:10 PM   #3
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The argument about KDE and bloat might be credible, but I mentioned that the same problem occurs with Thunar/Terminal in Xfce.

I find the Windows File Explorer in NT4 to be plenty fast. I connected my NT4 box to my Slackware box (the boxes are connected through a router) and File Explorer displayed the /usr/bin and /usr/lib directories almost immediately.

I tested Xfe, but I dislike the cosmetics [shrug]. Still, Xfe displayed those same directories at about the same speed as the NT4 Explorer (although without the network overhead).

I discovered some information about tune2fs and e2fsck. My primary /usr partition did not have directories indexed. After modifying that partition accordingly, I noticed no speed improvement when using Konqueror, Thunar, Konsole, and Terminal.

Possibly then Konqueror, Thunar, Konsole, and Terminal suffer from a design flaw with displaying large directories.

I'd like to hear more thoughts about the issue.
Old 12-16-2007, 03:59 AM   #4
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Thunar isn't much better than Konqueror, and neither is Nautilus, they all have similar levels of bloat. On an old box, I don't recommend them.
Old 12-16-2007, 05:19 AM   #5
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The reason that rox is faster is because of the way it retrieves the directory information. Even so-called lightweight file managers can be quite slow to list directory contents depending on how they get the info.
I use the old GTK-1.2 version of ROX which is even faster than the new one. Knonqueror, well, love it or leave it -I haven't used that beast for years now -actually only tried it a few times before giving up. I have a (Wow!) a PIII 700Mhz these days, but I still enjoy having things happen immediately when I click something, so I've never gone back to any of the bloatware stuff like KDE, GNOME or XFCE. Yes, XFCE is also bloatware and never was as fast or lightweight as was claimed.
For me WindowMaker without the dock, taskbar as a panel and a special patched-up version of ROX-1.2.2 never keep me waiting. I use the old GTK-1.2 version of sylpheed for e-mail -takes about one-half second to start up. My only concession to other toolkits is that I use the static version of the Opera browser. I've become so spoiled by using it that I just can't drag myself away from it, though I usually use dillo for viewing local html pages.

Woodsman, have you tried using the pcmanfm filer? It might possibly do a better job than XFCE or ROX. It is a GTK2 based program which is being actively developed.
Old 12-16-2007, 05:59 AM   #6
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Using Slackware 12 and Konqueror is wicked fast on my machine. Granted, the very first time a folder is read, it takes a few seconds if there's a lot of stuff in the folder (like /usr/bin), but after that it's instant. At least on my computers (all of them are +1 year old, one is +3 year old).

Other than that I've found that Krusader is an excellent filebrowser. Try it.
Old 12-16-2007, 01:47 PM   #7
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I appreciate the comments. One of my disappointments with current free/libre software is the dependency upon fast hardware. I appreciate the desire for speed and gadgets, but there is a lot of usable old hardware still in use and a lot sitting on shelves that could be used.

KDE does a lot of what I need, but there is no way, short of becoming a C++ expert, to disable a lot of unnecessary features. Konqueror is a decent file manager, especially with features like fish, but always has been slow on my 400 MHz K6-III+ and 350 MHz PII Deschutes (both with 256 KB of RAM). Although useful to many people, I would love to strip all the web support from Konqueror. I know that KDE4 will support Dolphin and only time will reveal the results.

Some people will shrug and argue that my hardware is the problem, not KDE. I counter that for many years I ran WFWG 3.11 on a 486 with only 16MB of RAM. I have that same setup in a separate partition on my K6-III+ box, along with running NT4, and speed is never an issue with either (I don't us WFWG 3.11, just keep it installed for conversation and posterity ). Both of those "antiquated" operating systems run circles around KDE or even Xfce in terms of speed on that same box.

Some people might argue that KDE and Xfce provide much more than WFWG 3.11 or NT4. That point is debatable. From a straightforward desktop perspective, not at all. WFWG 3.11 had as many or more Control Panel options than the current Xfce. The NT4 file manager is plenty fast too. I admit that the complete KDE comes with many useful tools, but the basic desktop is slower than WFWG 3.11 or NT4 --- and always has been. So what did the Microsoft developers do right with those OSs that the KDE developers can't? I don't know and I am not enough of a subject matter expert to speculate.

Regardless, in my opinion, there is a significant disconnect with the way the free/libre developers approach the desktop. GNOME also is known to be sluggish on anything but modern hardware and I'm tickled to see gnashley agreeing that Xfce never was as fast or lightweight as was claimed. I observed that long ago too, although I keep installing Xfce and hoping for improvements.

The next option seems to be playing with window managers, but that is not for everybody. I see computers primarily as tools and although I enjoy tinkering under the hood, when I want to work I thoroughly enjoy the straightforward approach of point-and-click to configure my desktop. I'm not ashamed of that attitude. There are times to tinker and play, and there are times to work. Frankly, the window manager route means a lot of configuration sweat equity. And what about the handful of KDE apps that I prefer to run anyway? The window manager route means loading all the KDE libraries before the app can open --- slow and frustrating. Not to mention the hodge-podge approach of running QT and GTK apps in a mixed environment.

Oh well, enough spitting and groaning. Back to the original problem --- how to resolve the problem of using a GUI file manager with large directories?

Rox Filer: I don't like.

pcmanfm: Tried but was buggy on my box.

XFE: stable, some cosmetic issues with my tastes, but I might learn to like. XFE is much faster than Konqueror or Thunar and a potential candidate for improving my experience with older hardware. But I am having problems compiling the latest version. I started a new thread addressing that problem.
Old 12-16-2007, 02:13 PM   #8
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I found that gftp is fast, even it's not really a file manager but more like total commander in windows or GTK mc.
Old 12-16-2007, 02:29 PM   #9
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I find free software runs alot faster compared to the (modern) microsoft counterparts, you can't really compare new software to software designed 10 years ago. If you compared konqueror to windows explorer in windows xp, or vista, it would be alot more fair. I found slackware 12 to run a hell of alot faster then windows xp on my rig(pIII, 600 mhz, 256 mb of ram). I also highly doubt vista would even install on my machine, let alone boot.


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