Midnight Commander gets a change
#171 Henry, Saturday, 21 July 2012 9:26 PM (Category: UNIX Tools)
(Tags: mc midnight commander)

When the recent big Slackware upgrade came down the pipe, Midnight Commander got an upgrade. The first thing I noticed was when I next invoked mc, I got this message and I was back at the command line:

Failed to run:
Your old settings were migrated from /home/hgriggs/.mc
to Freedesktop recommended dirs.
To get more info, please visit

When I start it again, it starts up as per usual. Almost as per usual. So far I have noticed one change in behaviour.

Before, if I wanted things to start up again the same, I would have to have focus in the right pane when I quit. Then when I started up again, the current directory would be in the right pane, and whatever directory was in the left pane before I quit would still be there. Focus would be in the right pane again. So I worked like this, and most of my file copy operations would be copying from the right pane to the left pane. In some weird way, I accepted this as normal. After all, as a programmer, when I move the contents of one variable to another, I am copying from right to left. And there are other examples. Over the last 18 years of using Midnight Commander (I started using it in 1994), I got so used to this method of operation that I never thought about it much, just accepted it as the way things were.

After the upgrade, I found that this no longer worked. If I left focus in the right pane when I quit, then when I started Midnight Commander up again, the left and right panes were switched and focus was still in the right pane, and I would have extra keystrokes before I could do what I intended to do. I rapidly realised that it now works in a more sensible way. If I leave my cursor in the left pane, then at startup the current directory is in the left pane, and whatever directory was in the right pane is still in the right pane and focus is in the left pane. Copying actions now go from left to right.

It took only a couple of minutes to overcome the habit of the last 18 years. I much prefer copying from left to right. It just feels right.