Proposal: Remove Archive Manager from default install

GNOME 41 dropped Archive Manager (file-roller) from GNOME Core, their list of recommended components. This is because the default file manager (nautilus) has built-in support for creating and extracting common compressed files (.zip, tarballs, etc.).

Therefore, I propose that we drop Archive Manager from the default Ubuntu Desktop install. It will still be available for install.

If you want to try this out, you will need to use Ubuntu 23.04 “Lunar Lobster” (still in development). Yesterday, the Desktop Icons NG GNOME Shell extension was updated to drop the hard dependency on Archive Manager (Thanks Sergio & Marco for working on this!). The extension is an essential part of Ubuntu Desktop, so removing Archive Manager from older Ubuntu versions means you’re no longer running the supported Ubuntu Desktop. Sorry.

In my testing, I did notice that the built-in decompression used by nautilus and recent Desktop Icons NG doesn’t support as many file types. One example is .deb but most people just want to install deb files, not extract them to look at individual files. As a developer, I’ll probably install file-roller on my computer to be able to handle those extra formats.


I am totally against this proposal


And you have totally no arguments why you are against?

Just a note: Desktop Icons still supports file-roller, so simply installing it from the repositories returns all the functionality. It is even detected “on the fly”, so you don’t even need to logout or reboot. The same if you uninstall it: Desktop Icons will detect it “on the fly” and will change to libarchive, like Nautilus.


I would agree with keeping it as pre-installed by default and if you really must try it, how about in a separate custom or non-mainstream version for 23.10/24.04?

And then see how people like the move before this kind of proposal

I use file-roller occasionally to browse archives to selectively extract files. While I don’t think its a bad idea to make file-roller optional, I do consider browsing archives to be a fairly basic function in this day and age, so if this goes ahead it may also be an idea to encourage GNOME contributors to include archive browsing features in Nautilus, if only for the reason that the likes of Windows and macOS have this feature build into their respective file managers. Ubuntu is probably the flavour of Linux that most people try first, and if something simple like double clicking a zip file doesn’t work, it may turn new users away.


Does Nautilus support all formats supported by file-roller, or only some? If it doesn’t support all formats, I wouldn’t recommend removal, though changing it from a Depends to a Recommends might be a reasonable middle ground (provided by default, but allows removal without nuking the whole desktop.)


There is gtk4 port by Paolo Bacchilega in the works that will add drag and drop to nautilus again. I find it sad that file-roller has to go when it becomes usable again. I see the point that file-roller was neglected for a long time but in the last year things got rolling again.

If I would change the default lineup, I would swap totem with the mpv driven celluloid. That would enhance the Ubuntu video playback usability immensely. In its basic state totem will disappoint a lot of new users.


How about if a program needs it the system offers to download it providing it exists?

If a traditionally packaged (.deb) app needs file-roller, the app packaging should depend on file-roller.


I think this conversation was inconclusive.

However, I believe there is enough support to drop the Archive Manager (file-roller) app from the minimal install now. It’s expected that there are a lot of useful but not essential apps missing from the minimal install, but people are welcome to install the apps they want.

I want to keep this topic open for the next release cycle.


Well, thanks for my first 23.04 WTF moment after mere 5 minutes of using it.

Let’s just put it this way: if a GUI tool does not let you preview the archive before extracting it, then unless you go back in time 30 years, that feature should not be considered as complete.

You don’t say?

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Cannot preview/browse tar.xz files on Ubuntu 23.10 default install.
Feels like a step back, what is the best way to get this back?

Install Archive Manager:

sudo apt install file-roller
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