Linux file attribute edition support in Nautilus

I do day-to-day support for an uncle of mine who insisted a few months ago to try to run Linux+GNOME despite not being a tech savvy person. For the moment he is pleased with the experience. Sometimes he tells me what could improve his life, generally there already is a ticket for that, but I could not find any ticket for this one.

He has tons of files, literally more than 30 years of accumulated files. The files come from different programs that, incredibly so, he regularly opens to check I don’t know what. He is terrified to delete his files inadvertently, even if he has backups. Remember, he is a 70 year person, not particularly at ease with technology, so misclicks happen all the time.

He asked me how he could “protect” a directory so it is editable but not removable, and this is were I discovered file attributes. I was surprised to still ignore their existence after almost 20 years of day-to-day Linux usage :). (They are not the usual rwx attributes, but more advanced ones, that can allow such states as editable but not removable or append only, that can be displayed with lsattr and editable with chattr.)

I protected the dangerous files for my uncle, but he asked me how he could do this on his own, and then I realized that nautilus has no support for those attributes. As the nautilus bugtracker suggests to do feature request on the discourse, here I am.

So here is a feature request for nautilus: allow the file attributes to be edited when the filesystem supports them. Maybe in the same fashion that one can edit the good old rwx attributes.

What do you think?

I could find this somewhat related issue Btrfs compression integration (#1542) · Issues · GNOME / Files · GitLab, that was specifically about the c attribute (use compression). I guess the answer may be similar for supporting all file attributes: it would need to go through design (by filing an issue at Teams / Design / Whiteboards · GitLab) and it may likely be better to instead implement this as a plugin for Nautilus. Similar as for ACLs and extended file attributes (not the same as file attributes you’re asking about) there is the plugin Eiciel.

Which file attribute are you using to prevent deleting, i? Because I think that also prevents editing the file.

The a attribute on a directory produces the desired effect.

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