Remote file management with konqueror and kate
I am probably not the only one who is using this fruitful combination for my remote file management and editing jobs, but for those of you who still haven't discovered the benefits of using it here is what the buzz is all about.
Konqueror is one of the killer apps on GNU/Linux. You may even prefer other file managers for your daily local file management routines, and yet still find konqueror simply unavoidable, or at least you will after reading this article. ;)
Besides local file management, konqueror can do web browsing and remote file management, and is being quite excellent at both of these tasks. I don't use it as my web browser, but I use it heavily for things like manually updating and moving pages on a web server or the other computer in our home network. Doing this pretty much feels as easy and straightforward as plain local file management. You can browse a remote system via FTP or SSH or both (SFTP, FTP via SSH). You just have to type the correct address to the address bar and it will connect, load the remote directory and then you can just proceed with doing with what you wanted to do with the remote files.
For example, if you want to connect to a remote computer located on domain.com via FTP to manage some files on it, you would type the following in your konqueror address bar:
"Username" is your user name on that remote system. After hitting enter on this address konqueror will ask you for the password associated with the "username" on domain.com. Once you enter the correct password you can browse the remote system just as you would browse your own local one.
If the remote system has SSH support running, you can also connect to it via SSH, in which case konqueror will use the FISH protocol:
:22 part indicates a port 22, which is an SSH port on the remote system. FTP uses the port 21, but konqueror apparently doesn't require it to be specified as is the case with SSH.
You can also use SFTP, which is FTP over SSH and is hence more secure (since SSH is a Secure SHell):
:22 port specification is still present because it still goes over SSH. In all of above cases you will end up in your user "home" directory, that is
/home/username/ of the remote system, although in case of SSH, if you have the proper permissions you will be able to surf through the entire system.
You can also specify in which directory do you want to enter right after logging in. Simply append
/path/to/directory. For example:
If you are accessing a certain address often you might want to save yourself all the repeated typing and just create a clickable link to where you want to go. This is what konqueror calls "network folders", and they are located at
To create a new network folder, click on "Add A Network Folder" icon in remote:/ to bring up a wizard which will guide you through the process of creating a link to your remote directory. You will see here that konqueror also supports some other alternative protocols such as webdav and MS Windows (over smb://), but we're not covering it all here. In the first screen you have to choose the protocol that you will be using (SSH for example).
The next screen will ask you for:
- The name of your link (will appear only in remote:/ for you to be able to identify it)
- Username on your remote system (username in above examples)
- Server address (which is *only* your hostname, like domain.com in above examples)
- Port (which will usually be preset already, for example, to 22 for SSH)
- The folder, which is a directory path where you want to end up after logging in.
Once you fill out this info correctly you can save and connect immediately. Make sure to have the "Create an icon for this file folder" tick box ticked in order to have the link created for you for later use.
So, what does kate have to do with all this? Well, once you connect to your remote system you will probably want to edit some files there. For example, I usually edit some HTML or PHP files. You can use any editor for this by right clicking a file and choosing to open it with any editor you have installed on your system. Konqueror will download it for you to a temporary location while you work on it.
However, it does make a difference which editor you choose to use here. If you use a GNOME based editor such as gedit then to save the changes you have made to the document, pressing ctrl-s wont actually update the remote file. It will only save changes to that temporary file that has been downloaded. You have to close your gedit file window to be prompted if you wish to upload changes to the remote system.
Not so in kate, and other KDE based editors (kwrite for example). Kate will upload changes to the remote system immediately once you press ctrl-s to save the changes you've made. This is extremely useful if you don't have a web server running on your local system, but want to experiment with some file modifications to some PHP files, for example.
Instead of having to save, close and then upload changes to update the remote file every time you make a change, all you have to do is press ctrl-s and the remote file will be updated. This not only gives you the benefit of faster updating of files, but the use of the undo feature within kate which is useful if you accidentally make a mistake in your file and wish to quickly undo it and update the remote file manager with the correct modification.
What's even better, the dialog for opening files in kate supports remote addresses, so you can put all of the above addresses in an open dialog address bar and kate will connect and allow you to open a file from a remote system. In this case you don't even need konqueror. :)
While this is the biggest reason I love using it, kate is also an excellent file editor in itself. You can have multiple files open and switch between them with a click of a button. It has excellent syntax highlighting for a great number of programming and scripting languages. It has a built in terminal if you ever need it and a whole slew of other potentially useful features.
If you are a programmer who dislikes full blown IDE's, you might want to give kate a go. It has the most essential tools for a programmer, without much of the extra bloat. And its excellent integration with konqueror and its remote file management capabilities described above just makes things even better.
Even if you are not a programmer you will find this combination useful. For example, you might have a computer hooked in a LAN. You can easily manage it using konqueror and edit files on it using kate. These two are born to work together in remote file management.
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