Desktop search engines for Linux
By on December 3rd, 2009

The file system management is fine in Linux, but effectively searching the file system for specific files like mp3 (.mp3) , text (.txt), movie (.avi, .divx etc.), pictures (.jpeg, .bmp, .png) or documents (.doc) is one thing that most of linux users miss from their Windows Desktop.

The inbuilt search interface in most of the linux distros is not so user-friendly and effective, so we here present some of the better alternative Desktop search engines for linux:

Beagle

http://beagle-project.org/

Beagle is one of the most useful and exhaustive desktop search replacements we could find for linux.
The list of supported files types is very large ranging from images, audio, video, documents, DEB and RPM packages, Email from Evolution and Thunderbird , IM logs and even RSS feeds.
You can even add a new file type by editing the file at : /etc/beagle/external-filters.xml

Beagle can be invoked and run either from Command line or Web interface, while Command line is more powerful as you can specify exact phrases, words or even logical operators (AND, OR) or even use metadata of audio and image files.

Beagle achieves efficiency by building a non-redundant index of files, which is comparatively smaller than other engines.
For a 45 Gb partition, index was around 700 Mb.

Google Desktop Search

http://desktop.google.com/linux/

Google Desktop search for linux also supports many file types like Openoffice and MSoffice files, PDF, Html and others.
But downsides are:

  1. It does not index zipped archives.
  2. You cannot add new file types at all.

The noteworthy feature is you can point to the exact directory where you are looking for a particular life. Otherwise, it is just useful for average office use and is useless for a power user like me.

DocFetcher

http://docfetcher.sourceforge.net/en/index.html

Supported file types: HTML, plain text, PDF, Microsoft Office (doc, xls, ppt), Microsoft Office 2007 (docx, xlsx, pptx), OpenOffice.org Writer, Calc, Draw, and Impress, RTF, AbiWord (abw, abw.gz, zabw), CHM, Visio, SVG.

DocFetcher is coded in Java, so naturally it is fast in indexing and easy on CPU resources.
It also supports regular expressions, phrase search and logical operators (AND, OR, NOT). Like GDS (Google Desktop search) it also does not search zipped archives.

One interesting query feature found is: Boosting terms, using which you can assign custom weights to words, thus increasing or decreasing the level of matching of words.

Tracker

http://projects.gnome.org/tracker

Tracker is a part of Gnome project.
It introduces the concept of file tags, which is in my view overcomplicates the file system management.

The list of file types supported is quite large, still there is no Bookmarks, EMails or Contact search support.
The biggest downside is that indexer is the slowest among all those we compared.

After comparison, our clear favorite Desktop search engine for Linux OS is Beagle, which can effectively compete against any search interface for Windows.

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Author: Anurag Upadhaya

Anurag Upadhaya has written and can be contacted at anurag@techie-buzz.com.

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