Changing default file manager 'system wide' (24.04 LTS)

topic (file manager)

hi, so after some digging around i have not had much luck in finding how to change system wide default file manager. i would like Nemo to come up for everything rather than pcmanfm-qt, i understand it cannot be removed as many things are tied to it for desktop functionality.

i have changed file association to nemo, removed auto mount options in pcmanfm-qt and ticked all the mount options in nemo.

i would like nemo to open from system menus and my computer shortcuts etc not pcmanfm-qt.

Thank you for your time, really appreciate any help, ideas / links to relevant guides

I have not Googled yet so I am answering based on my own knowledge but I don’t know if it’s possible to do what you’re asking as far as keeping yourself under the standard Lubuntu/LXQt desktop session and then force it to have nemo as the file manager.

The reason being, and to the best of my knowledge, this is largely due to how the “desktop” components function with each other. The file manager, in the case of Lubuntu being PCManFM-Qt, is also pretty much what enables what you see as the “desktop”. So that GUI aspect of there being a wallpaper and icons is actually happening because of the file manager.

I think what makes these sort of things even more confusing is that despite all of this, you can swap out your window manager just fine in most cases (I think).

Anyhow, I don’t recall what dependencies nemo has nor what desktop it’s normally meant to run under (i.e. GTK vs Qt) but I think whichever that is, it would need to be brought in along with everything else it needs… even though all you’re trying to do is use a different file manager.

Someone can correct me here but I can see how there’s nothing technically stopping you from installing nemo or even another whole desktop environment on your Lubuntu install, but at that point you’re liable to see very unpredictable results and may even cause instability on the system.

Of course, I’ve never studied this topic very well myself, so I could be wrong.

Cheers :v:

  1. install nemo
  2. Run lxqt-config-file-associations and set “Files” as the default file manager
  3. Create nemo-desktop.desktop in ~/.config/autostart:
    [Desktop Entry]
    Name=Nemo Desktop
  4. Run lxqt-config-session
  5. Do the following in the “LXQt Modules” section:
    1. Select “Desktop”
    2. Click the “Stop” button
    3. Uncheck the checkbox
    4. Select “Nemo Desktop”
    5. Click the “Start” button
    6. Check the checkbox
  6. Remove everything on the Desktop because these are all links to pcmanfm-qt (for example the trash.desktop has Exec=pcmanfm-qt trash:///)
  7. Add all the appropriate icons:
    1. Right click on an empty space on the Desktop
    2. Click “Customize”
    3. Click “Desktop Preferences”
    4. Turn on all the icons you want

The key here is that in both cases, the file manager actually controls the desktop. So you need to stop pcmanfm-qt and replace it with nemo.

End result:

I’ll leave it up to you to figure out the Nemo way to set the wallpaper. I couldn’t! (even after literally using the commands from the appropriate actions). Maybe use feh and add a similar Desktop Entry for it. That’s what I do because having something running the desktop makes for issues with a tiling window manager, which is what I use.

Regarding the other issues, I’d suggest making separate topics for them.


thank you, it is much appreciated, will continue to dabble around with this tonight. :+1:

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Appreciate the help guide, i have had a play and as far as can tell all that really achieves is now having a my computer desktop icon shortcut that opens in nemo rather than pcmanfm-qt. because pcmanfm-qt is a big part of how everything works i also loose alot of menu options that would normaly have, such as the right click on desktop menu list. Also in systems settings file browsing options are all still via pcmanfm-qt.

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Yeah well it doesn’t seem to be that Nemo manages the desktop quite as independently and completely let as pcmanfm-qt but you’d have to check with people who support Nemo to be sure.

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yeh i will continue to look into it, no doubt will find myself going down rabbit holes along the way.
To be fair the only thing i use it for is mainly its gui file transferring / drag and drop stability. Pcmanfm-qt is for whatever reason seems to be hit and miss in terms of file transferring especially with usb sticks. prefer something nearer to windows when it comes to time left of file transfer, read and right speeds and actual reliability that the file has actually transferred after 100% and the gui closing down after.

Why not try to get that fixed instead of going through all this headache? Run pcmanfm-qt, reproduce the problem, then run ubuntu-bug pcmanfm-qt. When you’re done filling the report, please link here.

i will come back to this if / when replicate my issues. however with this particular query I am just being picky with the file manager / gui i prefer in terms of the look and feel / information during file transfering etc.


I hear two things here:

  1. You’d like to see an improvement (read: feature request) to the copy files dialog.
    • I would recommend you describe in clear detail what specifically you would like to see changed about the dialog. I see differences, but it is not clear to me what you’d like to see changed/added. You can submit that here.
  2. You were experiencing some sort of crashing.
    • This is what I recommended filing a bug about.