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Why We Built a Visual File-Explorer For Cockpit (Houston)

As you may have heard us say, HoustonUI was built on the open source Cockpit Project, and it’s pretty freaking awesome. However, it was missing one cool feature open source community have been asking for — a visual file manager. So, we built it ourselves. Houston’s new Navigator is a visual file manager that will work with any Cockpit deployment – that’s right, this will work on any server, not just our Storinators!

This intuitive file browser has everything you would expect, including:

  • New directories with a right-click
  • Open folders, navigate
  • Edit files or change permissions
  • Light/dark mode

And, this is all without the need to go to the command line. Houston’s Navigator is built and complete on our end, but we want to hear from you and get your feedback before we release it. Remember, this is not tied to our hardware anyway, so you’re free to download and explore. So, download it, play around with it, and let us know what you think! We look forward to hearing from you.




Hello everyone, welcome to another Tuesday tech tip with 45Drives. Brett Kelly here. What we're talking about today is about Houston again, and I'm really excited to come talk about Houston because we have been working on a lot of new modules. A lot of new modules, a lot of updates to the existing modules. And we're nearing our end of our development sprint here, entering our validation and release phase. And what a better time to start teasing some of the cool stuff we built.

As always, Houston is built off Cockpit. So, a lot of the things we build are built in mind for 45Drives systems, we build them in mind of that, they will be helpful for non 45Drives people, people who just use Cockpit on their systems. So, I guess really what I'm here to say, with a little bit of excitement, (I'm going off on different directions) is we got some stuff coming. And we've got some great updates to the existing modules that you guys have seen, like our ZFS module. We've added a lot of new ones.

And in particular, I wanted to show off one that we built that we feel will be really useful to our customers who use Houston and just the general Cockpit community. It's one of the more highly requested features. I've seen it a lot, and it's one of those ones where the devs are like, “great idea, but can someone else to handle it.” So, we did. And I want to show to you guys what.

OK, so this module we built, this feature is… You know what? I'll just show it to you. So here we are. We're looking at Houston, our landing page, Cockpit, very familiar. A lot of people have seen this. The attentive might see some nice things on the side, but I'm going to jump right to something we call navigator. We have built a file-explorer/ file-browser/ file-manager (whatever words you want to use to call it) directly in the cockpit. This is giving you a graphical look, as you would expect if you connected through Windows or Mac Finder or a Linux desktop environment, of all the files on your server.

What you can do here is, well, just whatever you can do in a file-explorer. You can open folders, you can navigate through, you can change permissions. So, all the things that you would usually have to do in the command line, local in your system, we can do now in Houston and cockpit, whatever one you're using.

Why I say it like that is whether you're using a 45Drives system or you're using just any old box running Cockpit on it, you will find use for this. There is nothing that ties this to only work for 45Drives hardware. Of course, we dropped our logo in there, because why not?

And well, I could sit here and go through every feature and left click button and right click button you can do. But what I encourage you guys to do is play with it, try it out, see if it works for you. Like I said, we're nearing the end of our “build-it” phase and we're going to validation. So, this isn't quite production ready yet. We think it is. We think it's really, really close. But you have to do validation. You have to get it in people's hands. So, we couldn't have been more excited to show it to everyone right now.

Without going on forever here, this is what you'd expect it is, is an intuitive file browser. You need to change some config files. I don't know. Samba, for example. Where you at. You can edit right in place. All the things that you might have to hop to the command line, not anymore.

Don't like the light? Switch it to dark mode because did you really build a software JavaScript page if you don't have dark mode these days?

Anyway, I'm excited, I'm so excited, I can't quite find all the words I want to show you guys, but we get a nice little right click. You can make new directories that way. Give it a new name.

This video is supposed to be a tease, so I'll probably leave it at this. We've got a lot of other things cooking as well. Besides our navigator, I, I'd recommend people check out 45Drives GitHub. You can find the release of this here, as well as some of the other stuff we're working on. So I guess I'll leave it there.

All right. So that's a sneak peek of one of our new modules we built. And like I said, if you want to go hop over to GitHub and take a look at some of the other stuff we've been working on, you'll get some hints in there. Whether you're an existing Houston user with 45Drives, a soon-to-be new one, or a non-45Drives customer who has a box and Cockpit, a lot of this stuff will probably be very useful to you. I encourage people to try it out, particularly navigator, if you're ready.

And I do want to say we are in a validation phase. We are still working out some bugs. Some things might change. So don't put too much trust in it. Now, that's the wrong way to say it. It's just not fully tested yet. We finish building it, but you'll be hearing more from us as updates come out. And hope you guys enjoyed that video. I'm out of things to say and I'll catch you next week or the week after, I’m not sure yet.



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