Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Review of Nautilus 0.1

Author:Eric Kidd
Posted:8/17/2000; 12:47:37 AM
Topic:Review of Nautilus 0.1
Msg #:19768
Prev/Next:19767 / 19769

As Doc Searls observed (and Dave Winer quoted):

Eazel is a Finder. It fills the same role for Linux that the Finder has for Apple since Andy wrote it back in the late Pleistocene and Susan gave us all those pixel-perfect icons.

Actually, Eazel is a company. :-) The Finder-for-Linux is called Nautilus.

The good folks at Eazel just released Nautilus 0.1. After much hands-on compiling, I got it running on my Linux box.

Guess what: The folks at Eazel haven't lost any of their old magic. Nautilus is slick, slick enough to make Michael Dell start wondering about Linux on the desktop.

But first, a disclaimer: Nautilus is pre-release software. It has a few bugs and display glitches (though not nearly as many as Mozilla used to). It will suck up all your RAM and then dump core. Unless you write software for Linux, you're probably not going to be able to compile version 0.1. Wait for 0.2 and some RPMs. :-)

So what's it like?

Start with the Macintosh Finder. Borrow some good ideas from Windows Explorer. Package everything as components. And then toss in some ideas that have been floating around Apple for years (but never got shipped).

You can look at some slightly out-of-date screenshots. (I'll point to several of these later.)

"View as Album"

Eazel has taken the Windows Explorer metaphor and pushed it even further. Nautilus has the usual forward and back buttons, a history list, and the ability to view web pages. But it's got some spiffy new tricks, too.

The left-hand side of the window contains tabs. Each of these is a modular Bonobo component, running within Nautilus.

But the right-hand pane is where the fun stuff is happening.

Nautilus can display a directory in several different ways. Like the Finder, it supports "View as List" and "View as Icons". Like Windows Explorer, Nautilus supports viewing as HTML.

Nautilus, though, includes specialized viewers: If you have a directory of MP3s, you can choose "View as Album". Nautilus even figures out the artist and album name from your ID3 tags.

And yes, the "View as..." options are modular components. You can write your own.

Other Fun Touches

The icon views zoom in and out.

If you point your mouse at an MP3 file, it starts playing automatically.

You can control the complexity of Nautilus' interface using a skiing metaphor.

Everything is customizable and themeable (this is Linux, after all--I think there's a law saying all Linux software must have a zillion configuration options).

How can I try it out?

You may want to wait for a future release. Version 0.1 took me four hours to install (and I'm already familiar with the Gnome build system). But if you're daring, start with a recent RedHat or Debian box, install the latest version of Helix Gnome, and grab the Nautilus tarball from the Gnome FTP site.

The rest of the instructions are in the README file. But take them with a grain of salt--installing Nautilus is still substantially harder than compiling your own Linux kernel.

If you're a little less adventurous, wait a while. Thanks to Helix Update, you'll eventually be able to download and install Nautilus without even touching the command line.


There are responses to this message:

This page was archived on 6/13/2001; 4:56:05 PM.

© Copyright 1998-2001 UserLand Software, Inc.