When comparing Emacs vs PCManFM, the Slant community recommends PCManFM for most people. In the question“What are the best Linux file managers?” PCManFM is ranked 10th while Emacs is ranked 20th. The most important reason people chose PCManFM is:
General use, and most operations, are snappy and responsive.
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Keyboard-focused, mouse-free editing
Emacs can be controlled entirely with the keyboard. While true, I often find the mouse and menus handy for those lesser-used commands. An aide-memoir.
Pro Total customizability
Customizations can be made to a wide range of Emacs' functions through a Lisp dialect (Emacs Lisp). A robust list of existing Lisp extensions include the practical (git integration, syntax highlighting, etc) to the utilitarian (calculators, calendars) to the sublime (chess, Eliza).
Pro It's also an IDE
You can debug, compile, manage files, integrate with version control systems, etc. All through the various plugins that can be installed.
Licensed under GNU GPL.
Pro Self documenting
Emacs has extensive help support built-in as well as a tutorial accessed with C-h t.
Pro Works in terminal or as a GUI application
You can use Emacs' command line interface or graphical user interface.
Pro Great documentation
With 30+ years of use the Emacs documentation is very thorough. There are also a lot of tutorials and guides written by third parties.
Fully compliant GNU-emacs is available on many platforms, and they all understand .emacs configuration files.
Pro Lisp customizations
With lisp customization, any behavior of Emacs can be changed. Update with pre-release patch can be also applied without recompiling the whole Emacs.
Pro dabbrev-expand (Alt-/)
Dynamic word completion.
Pro Provides org-mode
Advanced planning and publication which can start as a simple list.
Pro Mini buffer
You can pass complicated arguments in the mini buffer.
Pro Enormous range of functionalities (way beyond simple "text editing")
Through its programmability, a very broad range of functionalities can be integrated in emacs, turning it even into a "single point of contact" with the underlying operating system.
Pro Rectangular cut and paste
Emacs can select rectangularly.
Pro Vi keybindings through Evil mode
Evil mode emulates vim behaviors within Emacs. It enables Vi users to move inside the Emacs universe.
Pro Has been widely used for a long time
The first verion of Emacs was written in 1974 and GNU Emacs in 1984.
Pro Visual selection and text objects with Evil
Evil is an extensible vi layer for Emacs. It provides Vim features like Visual selection and text objects.
Pro Support multi-line editing, multiple frame, powerful paren, crazy jumping style
Review the "Emacs Rocks" video.
Works on Linux, Windows, Macintosh, BSD, and others.
Pro Integrates planning in your development process
You can jump straight from your org-mode files to programming tasks - and back - and build a seamless workflow.
Pro Helm plugin adds even more power to Emacs
Powerful commands, search, and more with the Helm plugin.
Emacs is great for everything.
Pro GTK+ widgets support
Pro Excelent tutorial to get you started
The tutorial you are presented with at startup shows you exactly what you need to get started and teaches you how to use the built-in help yourself later.
Pro Interactive Shells
Emacs has a number of shell variants: ansi-term, shell, and eshell.
Managing several large mailing lists has never been easier using Gnus. The threading commands and the various ways of scoring articles means that I never miss important messages/authors, etc. A joy to use.
Pro eshell is cross platform
You can use the underlying operating system shell as a terminal emulation in an Emacs buffer. Don't like the default shell for your configuration? You can change it to your liking.
Pro Excellent Lisp editing support
Built-in packages make editing Lisp source code feel natural.
Pro use-package and org-mode
Missing some neural package that predicts actions
Maybe in the next release ...
General use, and most operations, are snappy and responsive.
PCManFM is a very lightweight and simple file manager.
Pro Can open folder as root
PCManFM can open different folders as root, this way you don't have to use the terminal to move around files for which you need root permission.
Pro Auto mounts drives
PCmanFM automatically detects and mounts available drives.
Pro Supports "quick-directory" typing
While in a PCManFM window, typing either a "~" or a "/" will automatically start typing into the location bar, allows for tab completion, and pressing Enter goes straight to the typed directory.
Pro More RAM is available for other processes, and the system uses less swap
Overall, the system becomes faster.
Pro Fastest starup
PCmanFM is the fastest GUI file manager to start.
Pro Uses tabs instead of new windows
Tabs can practically be managed just as in a browser, so you don't end up with windows open all over your desktop. New tabs automatically start in the same location.
Pro No back seat driver
Does not obstruct professional work by engrossing root warnings.
Supports fast failure resolving in bulky configuration and log folders.
Con Learning curve is long
While it's better than it used to be, with most functions being possible through the menu, Emacs is still quite a bit different from your standard editor. You'll need to learn new keyboard shortcuts.
Con Sometimes the extensibility can distract you from your actual work
If I ever want to lose half a day, I'll start by tweaking my .spacemacs config file.
Con Keyboard combinations can be confusing for new users
For example, for navigation it uses the b, n, p, l keys. Which for some people may seem strange in the begging. However they can be changed easily.
Con Documentation is not beginner-friendly
Although lots of good built-in documentation _exists_, I have after four years of Emacs as my primary editor not figured out how to actually make use of it, and rely completely on Google / StackOverflow for help.
Con Hard customization
For customization, you need to learn Lisp
Con A lot of jokes in this serious software
Con Using Emacs on a new machine without your .emacs file
Con Can't extend with scripts
Unlike Nautilus and Caja, this can't extend with scripts. If script extension is added it can become a really good FM.
Con Some operations are slow
Because it tries to be as lightweight as possible and tries to use very little RAM. This can unfortunately lead to it being slow sometimes.
Con Right-click option choice limitation
You can only choose one option in the right-click menu instead of being able to select multiple at once.
Con Uses a bit more RAM than thunar
Thunar uses less RAM but you pay in slower startup and stability.
Con Directory trees can be confusing
Starts you off in a directory tree that is your home folder as if that is the very top. (Just use a single tree as it actually is and expand appropriately).