Midnight Commander

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Midnight Commander[1] (mc)[2] is an orthodox file manager for Unix-like systems (also works in Windows) and a clone of Norton Commander.

Midnight Commander is a text mode application. The main interface consists of two panels which display the file system. It is used in a similar way to many other programs run in the Unix shell. Arrow keys control file selection, the insert key is used to select files and the Function Keys perform operations such as renaming, editing and copying files. Later versions of the Midnight Commander additionally have mouse support for easier operation. Such versions are aware of running inside an X terminal, which allows them to react to the graphical pointer and update the name of the window in which Midnight Commander runs.

Midnight Commander's features include the ability to view the contents of RPM package files, to work with common archive formats as if they were simply another directory, and to function as an FTP client. Midnight Commander also includes an editor called mcedit. mcedit is a separate executable, which can also be used independently of Midnight Commander. mcedit's features include syntax highlighting for certain languages, and the ability to work in both ASCII and hex modes. Users also have the option to replace mcedit with the editor of their choice.

Midnight Commander can also rename groups of files, unlike a number of other file managers that can only rename one file at a time. This is convenient for manipulating large collections of files, e.g. to make them conform to a new naming convention. Midnight Commander can also move files to a different directory at the same time as it renames them. It lets the user specify the original and resulting file names using wildcard characters. This makes the power of regular expressions in Unix or Linux available for renaming files, with a convenient user interface. In addition, the user can select whether or not to utilize "shell patterns" (automatic grouping of wildcards). All of these features are available by using the File > Rename/Move menu selection. (Pressing F1 would then produce a brief explanation of the options, including examples of how to use wildcards.)

Midnight Commander is now included in most Linux distributions and is licensed under GNU General Public License.

It is very popular on Linux due to being based on versatile text interfaces, such as Ncurses or S-Lang, which allow it to work on a regular console, inside an X Window terminal, over SSH connections and all kinds of remote shells.


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This is a work in progress, all of the content of this article has not been verified to work, use it at your own risk

Raw Binaries


Compiled by casaschi and packaged by izzy - forces use of characters +, |, - for line drawing. If you want to save space (about 1M), copy only the files from bin/ to /bin. The stuff from usr/ is only needed for syntax-highlightning, VFS support (browse tar/zip/... files like directories) and online help[3]

wget http://downloads.nas-central.org/mirrors/linkstationbinaries.webhop.net/ppc/mc_ppc261.tgz
tar -C / -xzvf mc_ppc261.tgz

Midnight Commander should be available by executing


despite the filename, this is version 4.6.1 of Midnight Commander

Another Release...

An alternative, totally unsupported tarball for Midnight Commander 4.61 can be found here. It is kinda big because all of the supporting libraries are in the archive. If you already have glib and libgpm on your terastation or LS, you can do without the /usr/lib directory.

This build of MC4.61 works pretty good with the OpenTera firmware update which can be found here. It was derived from the MC4.61 distributed by Debian PPC. In short, I ripped it off from a FreeLink install on my LS120.

LSPro/Live (Stock)

Compiled by Kaiten. glib is not included in the stock firmwares. It is available below.

wget http://downloads.nas-central.org/Users/kaiten/mc-4.6.1_arm9.tgz
wget http://downloads.nas-central.org/Users/kaiten/glib-2.12.12_arm9.tgz
tar -C / -xzvf mc-4.6.1_arm9.tgz
tar -C / -xzvf glib-2.12.12_arm9.tgz
ldconfig -v

Midnight Commander should be available by executing


Report issues here [4]


Use apt-get to install Midnight Commander

apt-get install mc



ipkg install mc


Alexander Skwar has created a fairly extensive selection of Ipkg packages for the MIPSel (LS2) LinkStation, Install Ipkg and enable his feed:

ipkg install mc

Attention: installing MC by using ipkg will download and install version 2.3.2 of libc6 - overwriting in a process libpthread-0.10.so with older version

Why don't line drawing characters work?

Since version 4.0.13 there's the command line option -a to force use of characters +, |, - for line drawing (only available when compiled with S-Lang). Use the -a option if any of the suggestions below doesn't help.[7]

In general, there are three cases:

  • Lines are shown as ASCII characters like this
|         |
This also happens when you use the -a option. Other than that possible reason is 1 or 2 (see below).
  • Lines are shown as lower case characters like this
x         x
Possible reason is 1 or 2 (see below).
  • Lines are shown as blanks or missing characters. Possible reason is 2 or 3 (see below).

The reason for the problem is one of following:

  1. Your terminal might not support line drawing characters. VT100 compatible terminals, rxvt and xterm and color_xterm do support them.
  2. Your terminfo or termcap database might have missing or incorrect definitions for line drawing characters. Set the acsc variable in the terminfo database like this: acsc=a\376k\277l\332m\300j\331n\305w\302v\301u\264t\303q\304x\263h\2600\333 Don't forget issue 'tic' command. This supposes you are using PC character set. The octal values might be different for other character sets. If you are using termcap instead of terminfo, you should modify above solution appropriately.
  3. Your terminal font might not support line drawing characters. Try changing the font.

Keyboard Shortcuts

From the openSUSE Wiki[8]


Enter has few functions:

  • if you have text in command line (one with command prompt, above function keys in the last) it will be executed as command
  • if command line is empty than it will do something with selected file in active panel:
    • if file is executable - it will be executed
    • if there is plugin able to open file it will be opened (rpm, tgz, gz, etc)
  • Ctrl + r will refresh active panel
  • Ctrl + x c opens chmod dialog for marked file
  • Ctrl + x o opens chown dialog for marked file
  • Alt + ? opens search dialog

Panel Functions

  • TAB is switching focus between left and right panel
  • Insert marks or removes mark on file(s)
  • Alt + g marks first file or directory in active panel
  • Alt + r marks middle file or directory in active panel
  • Alt + j marks last file or directory in active panel
  • Ctrl + / Look for filename given in last line of active panel (not whole screen), and jumps on first file
  • * marks removes marking for all files in active panel (not directories)
  • + (Plus) brings up the input box where it can be given regular expression. All files with names that fill condition(s) in regular expression will be marked.
  • \ (Backslash) remove marking for more data (opposite to "+")

Shell Functions

  • Alt + Enter copies selected filename in command line
  • Ctrl + Shift + Enter copies full path of selected file in the command line
  • Alt + H shows command line history

Function Keys

  • F1 Help
  • F2 Opens user menu
  • F3 View selected file content
  • F4 Opens file in internal text editor
  • F5 Copies selected file. Default is to another panel, but it asks first.
  • F6 Moving file. Default is to another panel, but it asks first.
  • F7 Make directory.
  • F8 Delete file or directory.
  • F9 Opens main menu at the top of the screen.
  • F10 Ends current action; editor, viewer, dialog window or ends mc program.


  1. Wikipedia: Midnight Commander
  2. The official site of GNU Midnight Commander
  3. The NAS-Central Community Forum / Terastation (ppc) / How to install Midnight Commander ?
  4. The NAS-Central Community Forum / LS Pro/Live / Midnight Commander ?
  5. The NAS-Central Community Forum / Linkstation 2 (mips) / midnight commander (or similar) on LS?
  6. The NAS-Central Community Forum / Linkstation 2 (mips) / Search for Midnight Commander LS2
  7. GNU Midnight Commander: Frequently Asked Questions
  8. Midnight Commander - openSUSE
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