As a note, I don't use any of the programmes listed below anymore! I guess I grew out of them. For me it's ranger for file browsing and even opening media, with its inline preview of images, and opening them with feh, while videos open in mplayer, it's unbeatable.
First up it's X file explorer
Below I look at Sunflower
Xfe is light-weight and opens up fast - that in itself is a good reason to migrate to it from dolphin, if you are a dual-panel file manger person.
It has many good features but also lacks some common to the kde file managers or nautilus.
Edit a dir/file name -select and press F9 or properties button.
press first letter of a dir and the first dir beginning with that letter will open in the panel
to install .deb packages just click to open them in X File Package, then find the buttons on the bottom bar.
If linux plain text doc's become executables -select multiple files, > Properties > Permissions uncheck executable, but only works in home partition, so give extension like .txt (use pyrenamer as can't multiple rename extensions in xfe).
But .txt is not linux so in respect to linux text files xfe is disfunctional.
sunflower-fm/ (download the .deb)
A nice and promising dual-panel file browser (it's only in alpha stage so far). One cool thing is the ease of comparing directories with the tap of F12 (or whatever shortcut you like!) -see pic below.
Useful Keyboard shortcuts
hint: edit the hotkeys for Clipit first to avoid calling clipit menu with ctrl-alt-P -set clipit history <Super><H>
(my own are in bold blue)
What it lacks
Symlink icons are not different to directory icons.
Sunflower vs Thunar vs Xfe !
Pluses for Sunflower
I haven't used this one much yet, but it is dual panel, opens in a bash window with `mc' and can compare directories, then copy over files not found in other etc. It looks more keyboard-friendly than GUI browsers, and with that, possibly faster to work with once you've learned the keys. Text docs can be viewed in own viewer.
Download it here http://www.midnight-commander.org/
Documentation here http://www.midnight-commander.org/wiki/doc
To make mc transparent you need to edit the ~/.mc/ini file and change the line under [Colors] to
edit colours http://plug-and-pray.blogspot.com/...
If we were happy just having tabs, Thunar 1.6 is lightning fast to open as many tabs as you need, with a GTK shortcut key (point to file menu and enter shortcut) to do that (Ctrl-Space for me).
Then there's a X terminal program Ranger, which if you get into, might see you quit using all of your GUI file managers!! Because Ranger, as well as being a directory browser, is a complete and competant file manager in itself, and its easy to use with just the keyboard (though mouse works too) -see my Ranger page