Informing the IBM Community

Midnight Commander


IBM is doing such a great job on the Open Source front, it’s difficult keeping up with all their offerings as of late.  That’s not a complaint, keep going IBM!

Another great example of software being added to that list is Midnight Commander – what a great name!

Midnight Commander is a very helpful graphical file manager, that allows copying, moving and deleting files and whole directory trees.  It also is great for searching for files and running commands.

Just what we need to manage our files and directories on the IFS.

Getting Midnight Commander

Installation of Midnight Commander is made simple by the inclusion of Open Source Management tool into IBMs Access for Client Solutions product.  If you need further details on Open Source Management, someone wrote an excellent PowerWire article on this topic which can be found here.

Take the option to install the MC software.

Starting Midnight Commander

Fire up a QSHELL session, I’m using the Chrome Secure Shell extension.  This can be seen in the figure below.

In this shell, type the command MC and this will fire up Midnight Commander.

By default, Midnight Commander will start in black & white mode, if you prefer colours, use the -c switch.

Your user profile home directory will initially be shown within the windows.

For those of us old uns, doesn’t this look like the old DOS XTree and Norton Commander utilities going back to the eighties!

When Midnight Commander opens it gives you two side by side panels.

These panels are both configurable, so we can have a tree listing on the left side, with the file attributes on the right side.  This is configured from the Left and Right menu bar options.  All very useful. Use the TAB key to switch between the panels.

For each left and right pane, we can have a tree listing, an attributes pane, a quick view and a file listing.

Although help manuals on their website are minimal, the F1 function key for help is very useful.  Where has that key combination been used before?

Another useful key combination is the F7, use this key to create a directory.

At the bottom of the screen, you will see ten labelled rectangles, these relate to the command keys that are available, for example, F10 will exit Midnight Commander.

Above this is where you can enter shell commands.  All very useful.

To see the contents of a file just use the F3 key to view.


Midnight Commander has many more features than those presented here.  Hopefully, this article will give you a quick insight into how useful Midnight Commander can be for managing files on our IFS.

A big thank-you to all that attended my presentation on Open Source Package Management at the last IBM i user group meeting in Wolverhampton in the UK.  Hopefully, we can all meet up again at the next meeting in 2019.

Andy Youens is an IBM i consultant/instructor at Milton Keynes, UK-based FormaServe Systems.


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3 responses to “Midnight Commander”

  1. Hello,

    thx for description.
    I am missing one screenshot to config the secure Shell. Can’T connect to the iSeries. Normal QSH in 5250 is not starting the Midnight Commander.
    Can you help me ?

    1. Nigel Clapham avatar
      Nigel Clapham

      Hello Heike,
      Apology for the delayed reply.
      I recommend you contact the author of the article Andy Youens. He can be contacted via his company,

  2. Hi Heike

    Drop me a Twitter message @AndyYouens, sure we can help