Pantheon, the Miller Columns File Browser on Ubuntu Raring Ringtail

I’ve written about the necessity of a Miller Columns based file browser previously (and suggested a terminal based app called Ranger). At the time of writing, I did know of Marlin, and Dolphin, but as of the last year or so Marlin crashes frequently and is hardly useable in my case (running ppa:marlin-devs/marlin-daily), and in the case of Dolphin, I just adamantly dislike KDE.

Marlin is even less of an option, as since upgrading to Raring Ringtail (13.04) candidates aren’t even available. Previously on Quantal Quetzal (12.10), I’d barely seen updates, which is not surprising because the lead developer had professed having lost interest. He did later recant, but the lack of development since speaks for itself.

As of late, I’ve come across a browser that’s based on Marlin, whose developers committed to continued development regardless of Marlin’s development status. It’s called Pantheon, and has apparently been renamed Pantheon Files.

And so comes this HowTo, which takes advantage of an early Marlin repo. Luckily, it’s compatible with Ringtail, despite being developed for the elementary OS –this, in part, because it’s based on Ubuntu and uses the same package manager.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:elementary-os/daily

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install pantheon-files

You could also try the following, as it worked on Natty and Oneiric. I haven’t tested it, though.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:elementaryart/elementary-dev

Desktop drawing

If you’re using a window manager such as my favorite OpenBox, you probably don’t want Nautilus to take over your desktop when it’s invoked.

  • Disable the “Have file manager handle the desktop” option in Gnome tweak tool.
  • Open dconf and go to org/Gnome/desktop/background.
  • Make sure draw-background and show-desktop-icons are not selected.

Now you can use something like Nitrogen to manage your desktop image, although OpenBox does not have a true desktop, but this is the way I like things.


Open up dconf-editor and make sure /usr/bin/gloobus-preview is inserted under the following. (Last I checked, there is no candidate for Raring Ringtail, but my previous install still works.)

org > files > preferences


You should be able to avoid Nautilus by simply having any other browser called in its place. The file to edit is /usr/share/applications/defaults.list.

I haven had time to check but you could try some other in-house apps that elementary is developing. See

There you have it. You should have a Miller Columns based file browser called Pantheon, which is much more stable than Marlin, at least for me. You can still use ranger (suggested in an earlier post) which –together with MPlayer for previewing and Tilda– makes a quick and easy lightning fast browser (just highlight and press the right button, and escape to close the instance). But for more detailed manipulation of files –such as copy, paste, and edit file name– you probably want a GUI based solution.

As for GUI orientated file managers, Pantheon does the trick for me.



Maurice Cepeda

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