A lot of us are used to using a GUI (Graphical User Interface) on our computers. A GUI is a way for humans to interact with computers through the use of windows, icons, and tabs that can be manipulated with a mouse. A major benefit of using a GUI is that they make using computers a lot easier. However, this can make using command prompts counterintuitive. A great way to bridge this gap is to install Midnight Commander, a free cross-platform file manager, for your Linux machine. In today’s tutorial, we will show you how!


Let’s start by installing Midnight Commander onto our system:

Then we can run the manager by inputting the following line of code. Note: if you need to edit system files run it as ‘root.’

We are greeted with the following screen.

midnight commander

From here we can do a number of operations. We can copy, edit, and move files. We can do anything a regular file manager can do and more. We can FTP, SFTP, and view archives without extracting contents. Best of all, using a mouse is supported. So if you SSH to the server using an Xterm supported client, you can navigate using a mouse. You can use it with screen combinations as well; just make sure you run screen with Xterm support. 


Let’s try creating and editing a file. 

Now let’s edit the file we created by highlighting it and pressing f4. We are now presented with a blank file. 


We can add anything to the file then save it by pressing f2 as specified in the bottom row. We’re using the built-in editor, however, you can choose any other installed editors if you prefer. Just run select-editor and you will be greeted with the following screen. You can choose any installed editors to work with. 

The last thing we should mention is that working with the command prompt, you can drop back into the command prompt by using CTRL-O without quitting Midnight Commander. The same command brings Midnight Commander back. 

There are tons of other functions that are supported by Midnight Commander and we recommend checking out the Midnight Commander website to learn more.

Do you have any questions about running Midnight Commander? Let us know in the comments below!