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According to Wikipedia, Nautilus was originally written by Eazel inc. However, it seems like a major part of GNOME today. Nautilus's website is apparently live.gnome.org/nautilus. So it looks like GNOME really claimed Nautilus.

Could it be that Nautilus continued to be developed by GNOME, and no one else so that's why it's officially part of GNOME? Also are there any other environments that use Nautilus by default or is it just GNOME? And if there aren't any, is this for technical reasons, or otherwise?

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Wikipedia has some answers.

It was originally made by Eazel, but Eazel is now gone. Nautilus lives on through the GNOME project now.

With open-source, GPL software, ownership of a project is really a matter of who wants to put in the work on something. Since anybody is allowed to copy a project and make their own version, you sometimes will see a project being worked on by two or more groups at once. This might happen when two groups disagree about the direction to take the project in, so they "fork" into two different paths.

In the case of Nautilus, with Eazel being gone, and GNOME still working on the project, there is no disagreement here. It is clear that the GNOME version is the "official" one.

I believe it is not used by any other environments. I am not sure if Nautilus could run without other components of GNOME. I expect that it would run, and any functions that require GNOME components would just not work. If you have a system running with KDE, try launching Nautilus and see how it reacts.

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Nautilus uses Gvfs for filesystem access, but works fine without the rest of GNOME. –  grawity Nov 5 '11 at 1:13

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