Trash plugin for SpaceFM compliant with the Trash specification
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Corbeille-SpaceFM ("Corbeille" is the French for "Trash can") is a plugin adding trash support in the file manager SpaceFM.

Corbeille-SpaceFM is compliant with the Trash specification, so it's interoperable with other compliant implementations, that will be able to manage files moved to trash by Corbeille-SpaceFM, and vice versa. Tests were made with Thunar, Nautilus and Dolphin.

Corbeille-SpaceFM supports filenames containing any characters, for example newlines.

Also, Corbeille-SpaceFM was coded with speed in mind. It has multi-core support and can manage hundreds or thousands of files without suffering significant delays. See the section Details below for benchmarks.


Special attention was given to have minimum requirements. It's written in Bash, and only a few external tools from the package coreutils are used (ls, mv, rm...), so it should work out-of-the-box for everyone. If not, read the message error displayed while using a command of the plugin.


The plugin is available in a few languages:

You can use the downloaded archive to install the plugin in SpaceFM. Instructions to install a plugin in SpaceFM are available in the SpaceFM manual. In short, you can:

  • install a plugin, so it will be root protected (root password needed) and available to all users in the SpaceFM menu Plugins, or

  • copy a plugin, and paste it elsewhere (no root password needed).

From source code

An archive of Corbeille-SpaceFM can be built from the source code:

  • Download the source code.

  • Extract the archive.

  • Open a terminal in the extracted directory.

  • In the terminal, run the following command:

      ./ archive $LANG

Possible values for $LANG are en (English), fr (French) and sv (Swedish). An archive will be created at the root of the directory. You can use it to install the plugin in SpaceFM.


See instructions about uninstalling a plugin on the SpaceFM manual.


Corbeille-SpaceFM consists of 9 commands (available in the SpaceFM menu Plugins | Trash if installed with root protection). Note that there's no command confirmation dialog before proceeding to the selected action.

  • Move to Trash: you must select at least one file outside the trash directory to have this command enabled. Selected files will be moved to the trash.

    Hint: it may be useful to create the keyboard shortcut Shift+Delete for this command.

  • Restore: you must select at least one file in the trash directory to have this command enabled. Selected files will be moved to their original location. If the original location already exists, the file won't be moved and an error will be displayed.

  • Delete Permanently: you must select at least one file in the trash directory to have this command enabled. Selected files will be deleted permanently, so they will no longer be recoverable in the trash.

  • Go to Trash: this command is always enabled. It will open the trash directory in a new tab in the current SpaceFM window. Also, if top directory trashes are detected (for example, a trash in a removable device), they will be open each in a new tab.

  • Display Properties: this command is always enabled. It will open a pop-up dialog displaying the number of files in the trash and the total size of the trash.

  • Empty Trash: this command is always enabled. It's just a convenient way to delete permanently all files in the trash. You can get the same result by selecting all files in the trash and choose to delete them permanently.

  • Limit the Size of the Trash: this command is always enabled. It allows to reduce the trash to a given size. The files are deleted in ascending order of date of trashing (older trashed files are deleted first).

  • Delete Old Files: this command is always enabled. It allows to delete files moved to the trash for a given number of days.

  • Delete Big Files: this command is always enabled. It allows to delete files moved to the trash and whose size is greater than or equal to a given size.



Corbeille-SpaceFM was designed to be fast, even when handling a great number of files. Multi-core is supported, Bash built-in commands were favored as much as possible and subprocesses in loops were reduced to a strict minimum.

Here are benchmarks comparing Corbeille-SpaceFM with Thunar, the default file manager of Xfce (I chose Thunar because Xfce is the desktop environment I'm using). Each command handled 1000 plain text files and was run 5 times. Results are the average time in seconds.

The first benchmark was on a laptop with an Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 processor and 4 GiB of RAM. SpaceFM 0.7.3 and Thunar 1.2.3 were used on Xubuntu 11.10. Results are:

Corbeille-SpaceFM Thunar
Move to Trash 3 12
Delete Permanently 3 12
Restore 4 15
Empty Trash 1 1

The second benchmark was on a netbook with an Intel Atom N450 and 2 GiB of RAM. SpaceFM 0.7.3 and Thunar 1.2.3 were used on Ubuntu 11.10. Results are:

Corbeille-SpaceFM Thunar
Move to Trash 15 41
Delete Permanently 14 44
Restore 19 50
Empty Trash 10 6

Symbols used for file size

Corbeille-SpaceFM uses the conventional binary prefix meaning when displaying file size, i.e. power of 2, but with the new prefixes proposed to unambiguously differentiate binary prefixes from SI prefixes (power of 10). For example, MiB is used for 1024 KiB, and 1 KiB refers to 1024 bytes.

Trashable files

Files on the same device as the home trash are moved to this trash, i.e. $XDG_DATA_HOME/Trash. Most of the time, this will result to move files to /home/user/.local/share/Trash/files.

Files on other devices are not handled by Corbeille-SpaceFM, as allowed by the specification. Reasons are that such trashing is complex and, in my humble opinion, not very ergonomic.

According to the specification, files on other devices may be moved to the home trash. However, consider these situations:

  • Moving external files to the home trash would result in copying these files from their original location to the home trash device. It may be fine for a few files from an USB 2.0 removable device, but what about trashing 50 GiB, or trashing files located on network resources or on slow devices?

    The specification allows to use exceptions, for example disabling trashing for network locations. However, it doesn't really solve the problem, and I think that moving files from a device to another should result from an explicit action taken by the user.

  • Removable devices are sometimes mounted with different names, so a file trashed one day may not be restorable if the device was unmounted and mounted again in the meantime.

  • A file trashed from a removable device won't be restorable if the device in question isn't mounted.

An implementation may choose instead to support trashing in top directories, i.e. directly at the root of a mounted file system. However, consider the following:

  • Two locations are possible, $topdir/.Trash/$uid and $topdir/.Trash-$uid, so there are two locations to check, with the risk of two non empty trashes on the same device for a single user.

  • A lot of cases are very tricky: file systems without sticky bit support, without numeric user ID or without user ID at all, without permissions, etc. If there are too many exceptions, is it still useful?

  • One can use a removable device on multiple systems with different user IDs, so each time with a different trash directory. His own files previously trashed aren't accessible to him (except to use root privileges).

Also, I consulted bug reports in Launchpad about trashing mechanism and found some interesting cases:

  • The trashed files are located in a hidden directory, so they're not displayed by default in most file managers. There are bug reports regarding users who shared their device without knowing that their deleted files were located in a hidden directory. People with whom the device was shared had access to the trash, especially when taking into account that the trash isn't a hidden directory on Windows.

  • There are bug reports about users not able to add files on their device while they trashed contents. They didn't know that a hidden trash was present on their device and was still using disk space.

  • There are bug reports about the fact that hidden trash directories are created automatically and never deleted, even when empty.

  • There are bug reports about adding ability to disable top directory trashing.

See for example this old (2005) bug report with 13 duplicates and 104 comments, Shouldn't put .Trash-$USER on removable devices, or this other one (2004), Ask to empty when unmounting media with items in trash, with 12 duplicates and 44 comments. Both are marked as fixed, but they're not. What we can observe is a lot of confusion from users and unclear implementations (or specification).

Personally, I would add that some file managers display files from top directory trashes directly in the home trash without any differentiation between them and the local ones. One may empty the home trash without knowing that it will also empty trashes located on other devices. One may want to empty a top directory trash without emptying the home trash, but find no way to accomplish this. One may also think that all files listed on the home trash are (logically) located on the home device, but after unmounting a removable device (and maybe sharing it), realize that some trashed files are no longer accessible (or, in other words, that the device still contains the trashed files). All of this is confusing.

I really think that the best way to handle trashing of files located on a different device is to let the user manage it manually. For example, one can manually move files to the home partition, then decide to move them to the home trash.

However, note that the Corbeille-SpaceFM command Go to Trash will display top directory trashes, if any, since the specification states:

If an implementation does NOT provide such trashing, and does provide the user with some interface to view and/or undelete trashed files, it SHOULD make a “best effort” to show files trashed in top directories (by both methods) to the user, among other trashed files or in a clearly accessible separate way.


Corbeille-SpaceFM is translatable:

  • Right-click on any Corbeille-SpaceFM command name and choose Command | Browse | Files. Open the file, located at the root of the directory. Strings to translate are present in the sections Localization, 1 of 2 and Localization, 2 of 2.

  • Right-click on any Corbeille-SpaceFM command name and choose Command | Browse | Plugin. Open the file plugin, located at the root of the directory. Strings to translate are in the following format:

      cstm_00000000-label=String to translate
      cstm_00000000-desc=String to translate

Anyone interested can translate all strings and send me the result.


Git is used for revision control. Repository can be browsed online or cloned.


Author: Jean-Philippe Fleury (
Copyright © 2012 Jean-Philippe Fleury

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program. If not, see