File Managers: Can I delete some?

I have been having a lot of fun trying out different Ubuntu flavors (Gnome, Mate, Xfce). They all seem to have their favorite File Managers, but they are quite different!

I mostly need a file manager to search, and secondarily to show ID3 tags in columns. Thunar (xfce) seems unable to do either one, Caja (mate) can search but I cannot find any way to add columns. That leaves Nautilus, with the following plugin:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:atareao/nautilus-extensions
sudo apt install nautilus-columns

Can I safely delete thunar and/or caja? I have already chosen “Files” as the default manager.

This article might help you with your answer Cliff

I wasn’t 100% sure which is why I checked on this before answering

what distro are you using and did you install thunar and caja?

It is all inside Ubuntu 18.04. I never specifically installed them, they came with the installed DE.

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EDS, my question is whether it is safe to remove Thunar and Caja. They are not “fit for purpose”, as the BBC like to say.

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did you settle on one particular de? if you try to boot into ubuntu mate, there may be an issue if caja is uninstalled.

are you running any kind of backup program? if i were going to do this, i would take a system snapshot first just to make sure i had something to go back to in case something goes wrong.

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Yeah, I decided on Maté. I found xfce too difficult, although its great memory usage made my video chats a pleasure. In Gnome, I sometimes had windows freezing when I tried to copy text from a document to the “Notes” window in the videochat program.
The DEs are all installed as login choices when I boot Ubuntu (/dev/sdb1). Your suggestion of a backup seems very wise.


A little searching found some posts saying that the file manager is integral to the DE, and attempting to remove one would cause unintended consequences. Has anyone experienced that?

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do you necessarily need them gone? is having caja onboard messing with nautilus? or are you just trying to clean up unused stuff?

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Yeah, just a de-cluttering thang. Likely not worth the risk, I am concluding.

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in general i like to try and keep the clutter to a minimum as well, but i think in this instance caution sounds wise.

i find dealing with id3 easier in my music player where i can edit them. i never really considered trying to view them in my file manager.

You shouldn’t try to remove the file manager that comes with your DE. The default file manager is an integral part of the DE and you may have consequences for that.

For example, some applications that use the file manager will try to open the default file manager and if that doesn’t exist, it will result in an error.

So even if you have additional file managers in the system, don’t delete the one that comes with the DE.


Just thought the article would help you as it covered those things when I read it - I don’t particularly know what the BBC say as I don’t really watch the television or listen to the radio as apart from Manx stations

The default file manager for Xubuntu is Thunar and once I installed a second one -Nautilus- and it corrupt my system immediately. My advice: stick to the one that’s your default system file manager.

The best way to handle this is to do a fresh install and your favourite packages. Otherwise you might end up loosing everything. Happened to me after my DE experiment.

I’m with the leave-it group. After all, none of these programs eat up much storage space or RAM–it’s not Windows! An uncluttered DE, like an uncluttered desk, is the sign of an unoccupied mind.