Was it normal in the past to not be able to do this without installing ntfs config?
I'm trying to understand the reason for this post.
(I have only had the latest version of PCLos.)
The reason why before it needed ntfs-config is that all was happening in /etc/fstab : fstab was then the only place where you could configure mount points that would be mounted as soon as the boot was occuring. (At the end of the boot, I suppose). Or it could be done as root, from a console, but not as user, with no special permission. Now, it can be done dynamically, as user, in a way that does not need to use /etc/fstab or the command "mount" which can be used only as root.
Fancy : before, mount it from fstab. You could add the command line yourself, by hand (I mean, to mount the ntfs partition) provided you had installed the driver ntfs-3g. Or you could mount it as root from console. The access was not easy either... had to check you didn't need to be root to be able to modify/access a file in any way, in the Nfts partition.
and there is also a "before before" : when Ntfs-3g didn't exist, or during the period while it was starting, unstable, and could damage a file system. At this time, people had found the idea of creating a shared partition on a FAT 32 filesystem. This was 2004/2005 and before : no so old ?
(I was just starting at that time, a real newbie, and never got to give it a try).
Now, for people using PCManFM, the latest versions, there is gvfs : Gnome Virtual File System, and libfm (I don't really know what it does, by the way) and this, along with policykit, and the policykit.conf we have, allow us to mount and unmount a partition on the fly, without having it configured in fstab. You can also access everywere as you need. Only in the Linux partitions, you need root permissions to modify a file... this is quite normal I think, that a minimum security is still there...
I noticed that if you configure with ntfs-config, then there is an entry in /etc/fstab (it configures it for you instead of you having to do it manually), but then the other Linux partitions can't be mounted on the fly anymore from within PCManFM.
In Thunar, you can't see partitions from within the left sidebar. You can see only the mount point directory if you configured one. This is another way of managing the files.
I don't know how it behaves with Dolphin, I don't use KDE. You may want to try, and you tell us ?