Gnome Commander

A powerful file manager for the GNOME desktop environment

Installing Gnome Commander on Debian, Ubuntu and Mint 30 May 2019


Gnome Commander is no longer available in the Debian, Ubuntu, Mint and some other repositories due to the removal of old libraries used by GCMD. Until such time as that can be resolved it is necessary to manually install GCMD on Linux Distros which derive from Debian. Part 1 of this document will provide step by step instructions for compiling and installing GCMD from its source code. Part 2 will describe a method for installing GCMD on multiple computes without having to install all of the development packages on each computer.

The approach described below has been tested on Ubuntu Mate 18.04 on an Intel PC and on A Raspberry Pi 3B+, Ubuntu (Gnome) 19.04 and Linux Mint 19.1 on an Intel PC. It should work on most similar distros.

UPDATE (December 27, 2020)

GitHub user tromoto reported that it is possible to compile Gnome Commander on Ubuntu 20.04 with the use of external packages. He described his efforts in a comment on GitHub. As stated there, it is not needed to use GCC 8 explicitely, as GCC 9 is able to compile Gnome Commander out of the box. Also, you don’t need libgnome-2.0 and libgnomeui-dev. I removed the installation steps of these packages below.

UPDATE (July 19, 2020)

It has been reported by some users that the approach below is not working with Linux Mint 20 and Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.

UPDATE (January 28, 2021)

New instructions are available for building GCDR on Ubuntu 20.04 and Linux Mint 20. PLease check the Latest news on the home page.

Part 1 - Installation from source

The first step is to create a development environment with the necessary tools to compile gnome-commander. This can be done on an existing Ubuntu installation or to a new installation on a test computer or a virtual machine. Starting from scratch:

Install Ubuntu or related OS and install all available updates. Install the development environment by opening a terminal (command window) and executing these commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y build-essential itstool libglib2.0-dev libxml2-utils
sudo apt-get install -y gtk+2.0 

The computer is ready to build GCMD. Now it is time to obtain the source code.

Get the latest gnome commander source code from the Download section (currently gnome-commander-1.10.2.tar.xz). Right click on the link and “save as” to a convenient location on your computer. You may optionally verify the file with the sha256 check sum or gpg signature provided on the web site.

Locate the downloaded file and open it with your Archive Manager. Extract the contents of the archive to a convenient location (e.g. ~/development/ - it does not matter - even Desktop will work fine.)

If you prefer to do it all from the command line (make sure to check the web page for the location of the latest source tarball)…

mkdir ~/development
cd ~/development/
wget .
tar -xvf gnome-commander-1.10.2.tar.xz -C ~/development

In the terminal navigate to the top directory of the source (e.g. ~/development/gnome-commander-1.10.2/ ) and enter the command:


This will verify that all necessary packages are available and that the environment will support compiling GCMD. It should end by stating:

Type 'make' to build gnome-commander-1.10.2 and then 'make install' to install

Next type:


and when that is complete type:

sudo make install

When the process completes, GCMD should be ready to run. Try it by typing gnome-commander. You will probably see some error messages. They seem to relate to the old libraries used by GCMD. However, the errors do not seem to impact any gnome-commander functions. In your applications menu the Gnome Commander icon should appear on the menu under “Accessories”.

It is possible to build Gnome Commander so that it includes the option to only run a single instance. The above instructions do not include this option. It will be possible to open Gnome Commander again and again and again.

If you desire to include the single instance option it is necessary to add the following packag to the machine on which you are compiling the application:

Ubuntu 18.04 etc. - install libunique-dev (available in the Universe repository)

Once this is done it is necessary to run ./configure; make and sudo make install as described above. It is also possible to create a package with rpmbuild or checkinstall as described in Part 2 of this HowTo.

A new option will appear under Settings in Gnome Commander:

   Multiple instances
     [X] Don't start a new instance

On a new installation this option is checked by default. If you are upgrading an existing installation from a .deb package this option may be unchecked.

A final note regarding building the package on Ubuntu. Installing the libunique-dev package AFTER compiling Gnome Commander seems to break the gcc version selection. This is easily fixed by running

sudo update-alternatives --config gcc

and selecting gcc version 8.

Part 2 - Creating a deb file

If it is desired to install GCMD on multiple computers without installing all of the development packages on each one and without going through the build process on each computer, these additional steps will help.

In the terminal type the following:

sudo apt-get install checkinstall

With the terminal pointing to the same directory as in Part 1 (e.g. ~/devel/gnome-commander.1.10.2/) type the following command:

sudo checkinstall

When this process completes you should find a file gnome-commander_1.10.2-1_amd64.deb in the current directory. Copy this file to the target machine where you wish to install GCMD. Open a terminal on the target machine, point it to the directory where the .deb file is located and issue the command:

sudo gdebi gnome-commander_1.10.2-1_amd64.deb

This will result in gnome-commander being installed. However, there is a dependent package which gdebi will not install for some reason. Install this by issuing the command:

sudo apt-get install -y libgnomeui-0

Gnome commander should now be installed and ready to run and the new Gnome Commander menu entry should appear on the menu under “Accessories”.

UPDATE (May 10, 2019)

It has been observed that installation of the various development packages as described above will break Firefox in Ubuntu 18.04 on the Raspberry Pi platform. This does not appear to effect the 32 bit nor 64 bit Intel/AMD platforms. Investigation has found that the offending packages are the result of installing gtk+2.0. Further testing has shown that GCMD may be successfully compiled and installed WITHOUT gtk+2.0.

If you are planning to compile and install GCMD on Ubuntu or a Debian family distribution you can save some space by NOT installing gtk+2.0.

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