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DF-SHOW – A Terminal File Manager Based On An Old DOS Application

By sk
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If you have worked on good-old MS-DOS, you might have used or at least heard about DF-EDIT. The DF-EDIT, stands for Directory File Editor, is a DOS file manager, originally written by Larry Kroeker for MS-DOS and PC-DOS systems. It is used to display the contents of a given directory or file DOS systems. Today, I stumbled upon a similar utility named DF-SHOW (Directory File Show), a terminal file manager for Unix-like operating systems. It is an Unix rewrite of obscure DF-EDIT file manager and is based on DF-EDIT 2.3d release from 1986. DF-SHOW is completely free, open source and released under GPLv3.

DF-SHOW can be able to,

  • List contents of a directory,
  • View files,
  • Edit files using your default file editor,
  • Copy files to/from different locations,
  • Create soft links and hard links,
  • Rename files,
  • Delete files,
  • Create new directories from within the DF-SHOW interface,
  • Touch files,
  • Update file permissions, owners and groups,
  • Search files matching a search term,
  • Launch executable files.

How To Use DF-SHOW Terminal File Manager

DF-SHOW consists of two programs, namely "show" and "sf".

Show command

The "show" program (similar to the ls command) is used to display the contents of a directory, create new directories, rename, delete files/folders, update permissions, search files and so on.

To view the list of contents in a directory, use the following command:

$ show <directory path>

Example:

$ show dfshow

Here, dfshow is a directory. If you invoke the "show" command without specifying a directory path, it will display the contents of current directory.

Here is how DF-SHOW default interface looks like.

dfshow 1

List contents of a directory

As you can see, DF-SHOW interface is self-explanatory.

On the top bar, you see the list of available options such as Copy, Delete, Edit, Modify etc.

Complete list of available options are given below:

  • Copy,
  • Delete,
  • Edit,
  • Hidden,
  • Modify,
  • Quit,
  • Rename,
  • Show,
  • hUnt,
  • eXec,
  • Run command,
  • Edit file,
  • Help,
  • Make dir,
  • Quit,
  • Show dir

In each option, one letter has been capitalized and marked as bold. Just press the capitalized letter to perform the respective operation. For example, to rename a file, just press R and type the new name and hit ENTER to rename the selected item.

dfshow 2

Rename files

To display all options or cancel an operation, just press ESC key.

Also, you will see a bunch of function keys at the bottom of DF-SHOW interface to navigate through the contents of a directory.

  • UP/DOWN arrows or F1/F2 - Move up and down (one line at time),
  • PgUp/Pg/Dn - Move one page at a time,
  • F3/F4 - Instantly go to Top and bottom of the list,
  • F5 - Refresh,
  • F6 - Mark/Unmark files (Files marked will be indicated with an * in front of them),
  • F7/F8 - Mark/Unmark all files at once,
  • F9 - Sort the list by - Date & time, Name, Size.,

Press h to learn more details about show command and its options.

To exit DF-SHOW, simply press q.

SF Command

The "sf" (show files) is used to display the contents of a file.

$ sf <file>
dfshow 3

Display file contents

Press h to learn more "sf" command and its options. To quit, press q.

Want to give it a try? Great! Go ahead and install DF-SHOW on your Linux system as described below.

Install DF-SHOW

DF-SHOW is available in AUR, so you can install it on any Arch-based system using AUR programs such as Yay.

$ yay -S dfshow

On Ubuntu and its derivatives:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ian-hawdon/dfshow
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install dfshow

On other Linux distributions, you can compile and build it from the source as shown below.

$ git clone https://github.com/roberthawdon/dfshow
$ cd dfshow
$ ./bootstrap
$ ./configure
$ make
$ sudo make install

Update on November 24, 2018:

As Robert Ian Hawdon mentioned in the comment section below, there is also a COPR project which provides binaries for RPM based distributions including Fedora and CentOS:

$ sudo dnf copr enable roberthawdon/DF-SHOW

Or,

$ sudo yum copr enable roberthawdon/DF-SHOW

It’s also possible to build and run DF-SHOW on FreeBSD, macOS, and even Hurd when compiling from source.

The author of DF-SHOW project has only rewritten some of the applications of DF-EDIT utility. Since the source code is freely available on GitHub, you can add more features, improve the code and submit or fix the bugs (if there are any). It is still in alpha stage, but fully functional.

Have you tried it already? If so, how'd it go? Tell us your experience in the comments section below.

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8 comments

gazoo October 31, 2018 - 8:35 am

I used DF-EDIT back in the day. Good, effective app. Always went back to Vern Buerg’s List(.com) because of the way I worked. I preferred jumping straight into the command line and performing file ops – so I mostly needed a fast navigator (and quick viewer of 7bit ascii and 8bit binaries). Wonderful seeing a useful command-line DOS utility ported to Linux. Going to give it a look. Thanks for the great write-up on this – nostalgic!

Reply
sk October 31, 2018 - 9:35 am

Glad you find it useful. Keep visiting!

Reply
Old Dos Guy October 31, 2018 - 9:09 pm

Ahhh, DF was a usefull program in the day. Happy to see a revival. Now if someone would port Stereo Shell from DOS – how sweet it would be…
🙂

Reply
Walt Seefeld May 26, 2019 - 11:15 pm

YES!! I still wish for Stereo Shell every time I have to do any significant amount of file organization on Windows. Definitely miss it.

I know it’s an old thread, but I just stumbled upon it. I was looking at several * Commander applications, specifically hoping to find a Windows derivative of STS. Just HAD to respond and support another STS fan.

Glad it brought me to this site! Definitely bookmarking it.

Reply
Eric November 7, 2018 - 6:23 pm

Ubuntu and derivatives??? Please!!!
“Debian and derivatives”

Reply
sk November 7, 2018 - 7:50 pm

Agreed. You’re right! Will use in next guides.

Reply
Robert Ian Hawdon November 24, 2018 - 4:46 am

Thanks for your glowing review. It’s nice to see others finding my applications useful. I wrote DF-SHOW partly as a way to help some of my colleagues who are not as confident working on Linux systems from the shell to navigate around systems more easily as I remember DF-EDIT for DOS being just as useful for me when I was younger. It was also my first application written in C and it’s been a bit of a learning curve, but rewarding to see it come to life over the past few months.

Just an addition to the article, there is also a COPR project which provides binaries for RPM based distributions including Fedora and CentOS:

https://copr.fedorainfracloud.org/coprs/roberthawdon/DF-SHOW/

It’s also possible to build and run DF-SHOW on FreeBSD, macOS, and even Hurd when compiling from source. Whilst Linux is the primary target, I do aim to make sure it’s compatible with other Unix-like systems.

Thanks once again.

Cheers,

Robert

Reply
Robert Ian Hawdon November 24, 2018 - 4:54 am

Great site. Thanks for your glowing review. It’s nice to see others finding my applications useful. I wrote DF-SHOW partly as a way to help some of my colleagues who are not as confident working on Linux systems from the shell to navigate around systems more easily as I remember DF-EDIT for DOS being just as useful for me when I was younger. It was also my first application written in C and it’s been a bit of a learning curve, but rewarding to see it come to life over the past few months.

Just an addition to the article, there is also a COPR project which provides binaries for RPM based distributions including Fedora and CentOS:

sudo dnf copr enable roberthawdon/DF-SHOW

or

sudo yum copr enable roberthawdon/DF-SHOW

It’s also possible to build and run DF-SHOW on FreeBSD, macOS, and even Hurd when compiling from source. Whilst Linux is the primary target, I do aim to make sure it’s compatible with other Unix-like systems.

Thanks once again.

Cheers,

Robert

Reply

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