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Installing Nautilus: An Emerging Linux File Manager

by Terrie Miller

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Nautilus Preview Links

The Nautilus FAQ - quick, concise information about Nautilus.

GNU Nautilus Development page - here's where you'll find all the information on Nautilus, including information on how you can join the Nautilus testing team and help with the project.

Preview Release 1 - includes links to all necessary files and instructions for Nautilus as well as links to the Helix GNOME and Mozilla software you'll need.

Other Related Links:

When the O'Reilly Network editors decided to test Eazel's Nautilus preview release, they first had to find a machine they could pirate for installation. As it turns out, I had just pirated such a machine myself for web page testing and for getting familiar with Linux on a day-to-day basis.

I've always felt a little uneasy about my dependence on Windows. And how could I work at O'Reilly and not at least experiment with open source operating systems? So I welcomed the project to install Nautilus. As a relative Linux newbie, it sounded like just the thing to get me going.

Maybe you've also been wondering how easy (or hard) it is to install the preview release of Nautilus -- especially if you're not a Linux expert. If that's the case, come with me and I'll tell you what I've learned.

What I had to work with

Our test machine was a hand-me-down Pentium II with Red Hat 6.0 installed. The first thing I noticed was that it had a few configuration quirks. Because the Nautilus site recommends Red Hat 6.2, I decided to start over with a clean installation. Thankfully, with some help from our SysAdmin, I was able to do that without too many problems.

Before installing the Nautilus preview, I also had to install Helix GNOME 1.2 and Mozilla. I was a bit apprehensive because I'd never installed Linux apps before. What I'd read about such endeavors didn't seem particularly positive either. I crossed my fingers and started with the Helix GNOME install.

Installing Helix GNOME

The Helix Code folks have worked hard to make this installation run smoothly. The instructions for installing under Red Hat are pretty easy. As a typical user, you don't actually install this like "traditional" Linux applications; instead, you run an interactive install by issuing a command line to start the go-gnome installation through lynx.

This takes you through an interactive install. In my case, the install tended to hang when it tried to retrieve FTP locations for the actual download of files. (I'm convinced that this was something unique to my own combination of system and network; I found that backing up and choosing the option to specify your FTP location -- and then simply leaving the default location that's already listed there -- worked better for me.)

Unfortunately, I kept getting various errors each time I got beyond this point. Since I was dealing with a network environment that was not in my direct control, I had a hard time deciding if the problems were the result of interference on our end or theirs. So I opted to download the file for their "manual install" and try that instead.

The instructions for the manual install say that if the downloaded file has a .gz extension, it needs to be uncompressed. In my case, the file did not have a .gz extension, but I still couldn't run the installer. After trying a couple of other things, I found that renaming the file so it did have a .gz extension, then uncompressing it, did allow things to work. I notice that on my Windows machine, the file does download with a .gz extension, so I chalk this up to some error I made when downloading through Red Hat 6.2's default Netscape install.

Once I got the Helix GNOME installation running, I found that selecting components to install was a little confusing. I began by just using the "select all" button, but ran into problems with the process timing out at various places ... and other such delights. However, I found that the installer is very good about cleaning up after itself when you abort. That was a welcomed surprise.

When I initiated the installation again, I realized that, by default, a good complement of components is already selected (it hadn't been clear to me that they'd already selected a "default" set). I stuck with that set (except for removing games to save some disk space), and from there the installation completed successfully.

Installing Mozilla

The Nautilus installation site includes good instructions for installing Mozilla, which I was able to do successfully without problems.

Installing Nautilus

All of this preparation! I was finally ready to actually install Nautilus. Keep in mind, this is an early preview release of the software, and the installation isn't really designed for newbies like me. That being said, I plunged ahead.

Most of the installation went smoothly, except for the last command to actually build the application. I kept getting this error message:

Error: failed dependencies: libghttp = 1.0.6 is needed by libghttp-devel-1.0.6-0_helix_1

This was aggravating because the file it seemed to be asking for was in fact there. After trying this about three times (starting from the point of downloading the Nautilus install files each time) and running into the same problem, I checked out Eazel's Nautilus mailing list and found a thread about the same error. As suggested there, I went to the Nautilus development download area and to get the libghttp_1.0.7.rpm file and put it into the directory with the other rpm files. I was then able to complete the install.

I wrote to the author of the message stating what I had found, and I asked him why the libghttp_1.0.6 rpm file was included when the libghttp_1.0.7 version was needed. Through various troubleshooting exchanges with him, I can only assume that I downloaded an incorrect set of files during my first attempts. (I can see how that would happen when I look at the install instructions page -- it's easy to scroll past the headings to get to the download links, so perhaps I was clicking on links to development install files rather than preview release files.)

Screen shot of the Nautilis interface.

Success! Nautilus is up and running. (Click for full-size view.)


Clearly, these installs are not meant for the typical Linux newbie at this point ... but it's encouraging that, with a little sense of adventure, I was able to get Nautilus running on the desktop. The Eazel folks provide clear, concise information on their web site, and they seem to be genuinely interested in tracking down problems that even novice users are having with their preview release. It seems like a great start on their mission to improve usability for Linux users.

Terrie Miller is an amateur naturalist, citizen scientist, permaculturist and writer from Northern Calfornia. Her personal weblog is

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