Common Interface Items
As the reader progresses through this manual on FSlint, you will repeatedly see common buttons and interfaces that you should be able to recognize. Not every function uses every interface option, so it is important to understand how these buttons and interfaces work . This will make it easier to understand their importance at various times. There are several tabs and buttons used to access each of the tools available. It is the goal of this guide to explain each of the tabs and tools as they relate to the graphical interface.
FSlint allows for more advanced and powerful filtration through the use of regular expressions and wildcards. An example of a regular expression would be using *.jpg to select all pictures of the JPG file type. You are encouraged to research regular expressions further as they are only briefly covered in this manual.
Search Path Tab
The first thing to notice when starting FSlint is the 'Search path' tab. This tab that allows a user to add or remove one or multiple directory paths to be searched. By default FSlint will search the directory from which it is launched. This is typically /home/<USER> if you start FSlint from a menu icon. The check box labelled 'recurse?' on the left hand side of the screen determines the depth of the search for duplicate files. If left unchecked, it will only search the directory listed. When checked, it will descend into every folder below.
Advanced Search Parameters Tab
The 'Advanced search parameters' tab allows you to filter out certain file types or directories. 'Paths to exclude' allows for not only paths, but also file types to be excluded from the search. FSlint, by default, will exclude several folders and file types that should not be managed by FSlint. You are free to add or remove items with the 'Add' and 'Remove' buttons.
The 'Extra find parameters' allows for a more refined search using the parameters of the 'find' Linux command. For example, to search for files that only belong to the user Fred the reader could add "-user `id -u fred`". The detailed use of the 'find' command is beyond this guide at this time.
The 'Select' button will bring up the same options as right-clicking in the results window. This menu allows you to quickly sort through the duplicate files found for further manipulation. 'Select using wildcard' will take a regular expression and apply it to the file names in the results window. When there are already several files selected, 'Unselect using wildcard' will take a regular expression and leave selected only the files that were left unmatched. There are three subsections to the 'Within groups'.
- "Select all but first" will highlight all files within a group except for the first entry.
- "Select all but newest" will highlight all files within a group except for the most recent.
- "Select all but oldest" will highlight all files within a group except for the very oldest.
After you have a selection of files, you can save this list with the 'Save' button. This is useful if you plan on doing more advanced tasks like passing the information on to a script for further analysis, or if you just want a record of the files before merging or deleting them. The save button will bring up a menu for you to select the location where you would like to store the output. The saved data will contain a full path for each of the files selected.
After selecting a file, or many files, you can delete them with the 'Delete' button. A confirmation window will appear each time this is done unless the 'Ask me this in the future?' checkbox is unchecked. This will permanently delete the selected files.
The Merge button will merge all the files within a group into one physical file using hardlinks, or symlinks if spanning across file systems. You can merge all files by ensuring no file is selected (right click -> Unselect all), or you can exclude files from merging by selecting them. Merging leaves the files on the system, but frees up hard drive space by using the command 'ln' to hard link the files.
A hard linked file is a single file on the disk that may appear to reside in two different locations. Suppose there are two folders, test1 and test2. Inside of test1 there are two files A and B. Inside of test2 there are two files B and C. If B takes up a considerable amount of hard drive space but is needed in both folders and is the exact same file, then this option is very useful as it will merge the B file with hardlinks. Only one copy of B will exist on the hard drive, but B will still appear and function as needed in both folders. More information on hard and soft links can be found by reading about the utility 'ln'.
If you are trying to remove excess files and B is not needed in both folders, the delete option would be a better choice. It is left up to you as to which copy of B to remove.
After you have chosen the 'Search path' and selected the type of search you wish to perform, the find button tells FSlint to perform the selected actions.