Re: [Usability] Nautilus Drag & Drop Behaviour

Sebastian Rittau wrote on 23/05/08 11:24:
> In reference to Nautilus bug #143746 [1], I would like to discuss the
> current drag & drop behaviour of files in Nautilus. Currently Nautilus's
> behaviour changes, depending on whether the file is dragged onto a
> directory on the same file system or a directory on another file system.
> * It was claimed that when dragging a file onto a different file system,
>   most users want to copy the file anyway. I think this is certainly not
>   the case for local file systems (like moving a file from /home to
>   /var)
> * The current behaviour is unexpected. Users need to distinguish between
>   "partitions" or "remotely mounted file systems". While most users will
>   probably grasp the difference between a local move and a move onto an
>   USB stick, it's hard to see why a drag inside my (NFS mounted) home
>   directory is different from a drag between my home directory and the
>   /tmp directory.

I agree that your specific examples show incorrect behavior from
Nautilus. If /home and /var are presented as being part of the same disk
(which is how Nautilus presents /home for me, though it's really a
separate partition), then dragging from /home to /var should indeed move
rather than copy. The same applies to an NFS home; that it's actually on
a separate device is an implementation detail, which (I assume) Nautilus
usually hides, and it should hide it when dragging too.

However, I don't think that means the "move on the same device, copy
between different devices" drag-and-drop model is broken in general.
It's not wonderfully consistent, but it Does The Right Thing in the
majority of cases. One obvious counterexample to your proposed "always
move" model is a CD-R: that you want to burn a file to CD rarely means
that you don't want the original any more. (Especially since you might
never get around to actually clicking "Write to Disc"!) Another example
is music players, both in hardware (e.g. an iPod) and in software (e.g.
Rhythmbox): that you drag music into the player doesn't mean you want it
moved from where it was before, it just means you want it imported.

> * The current behaviour can be confusing, since "old" versions of files
>   are left lying around. If move a file onto an USB stick to work on it
>   on a different computer, I suddenly have two versions of the same file
>   and have to find out, which version is newer. In the worst case I have
>   edited both versions (having forgotten about a copy) and have to merge
>   them or accidently delete the changes from one of the files.

I think that would be handled better by a merge and sync command, not by
a move *or* a copy.

Matthew Paul Thomas

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