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When I pick and choose files to copy to or from a single device, Nautilus accumulates file operations in parallel:

File Operations

I worry that in certain circumstances this could cause fragmentation of the destination device, or transfer slowdowns due to scattered reads on the source device and increased network connection overhead.

How can I queue these file operations instead, so that each operation starts only after the previous one has finished?

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I would think the whole idea of parallel transfer was made to speed things up. Maybe you find out, whether it is worth worrying at all, before trying to circumvent this parallel invocation? Maybe the ChangeLog of the project has some information? – user unknown May 23 '11 at 15:30
cp <Source1> <Dest1>; cp <Source2> <Dest2> :P. – crazy2be May 23 '11 at 16:52
@userunknown AFAIK the point of parallel transfer is not to speed things up, but to be agnostic about the priority of items copied. For example, a user might copy 20 GB of music files, then decide to copy a 10 kB text file. If queuing were enabled by default, then the user would have to wait for the music to copy before copying the small text file. If parallel copying occurs with the same source or destination drive, then it will slow down the process, since the read/write/transfer is competing. There might be special cases (e.g. SSD is the shared drive) where it wouldn't make a difference. – Sparhawk Jan 18 '13 at 10:34
@Sparhawk You're right. In most cases sequential writes being interrupted because of others being run simultaneously make them run as random writes and slow down transfer rates dramatically. However, when copying from multiple separate physical drive, this can be advantageous as it can read/write in parallel in such a case. – gertvdijk Jan 18 '13 at 11:13
For KDE users reading this, this is feature request #259512 – gertvdijk Jan 18 '13 at 11:21
up vote 4 down vote accepted

See if this question and relative answer can help you: Is there a copy handling progam available that can queue, pause and resume?

It means to use an application other that Nautilus, that AFAIK cannot do what you ask.

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There are 2 nice GUI programs:

  1. Ultracopier [deb Install ultracopier]
  2. MiniCopier [java]
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While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. – stephenmyall Jan 18 '13 at 11:22
Thanks a lot for providing an answer, but can you please provide a brief description of each app, including the pros and cons of each, as well as instructions for installing on Ubuntu and links where the OP can find out more about each? – Chris Wilson Jan 18 '13 at 13:07

The default behaviour does not let you queue AFAIK. Maybe there is a setting somewhere we can enable so that it copies one by one. Until then, you could try to find an application that lets you copy or move with a queue feature. Just my 2 cents! ;)

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