In Ubuntu 11.10 the nautilus version has a new feature, as you can see: it adapts the column's width to the content of the column itself (at least for the Name column).
This behavior is not always desirable, so I am looking for a way to disable it.
As this seems to be hard-coded into Nautilus, your best bet be to report a bug, as there is no solution short of patching Nautilus. Even with the newer versions of Nautilus that use dconf, there is no option to change this setting:
In Ubuntu 12.10 (so far) it seems Nautilus no longer has this problem. If the final version comes with the standard Nautilus 3.6, you will be able to change the column width freely.
As Roland Taylor said, the way
However, I was encouraged by con-f-use to give an answer relating to
The screenshot displays the column setting and behind it you can see the adjusted columns in list view- any changes made to them are saved when exiting
Future versions of
I had the same problem under Ubuntu 14.04, Nautilus 3.10.1.
In Nautilus edit/file settings/display I checked "navigate folders in tree view" and discovered that the problems are gone.
I use German system language, therefore the exact names might be off.
As i only have installed the German version, some translations of the menu might be different, but anyhow it will work if you enter the values below.
Configure fixed column-width
Or, simply, execute
The column width will stay now the same in nautilus, no matter of the length of the file name. Also after closing and re-opening, all columns will have the same size.
Good alternatives to the nautilus commander are: "Krusader", "Tux-Commander" and for whom who is missing Norton Commander : "GNOME Commander".
(For a continuesly backup i would entrust you „back in time“)