This project appears to be abandoned, with newer distros now including automatic search capabilities. It remains here for archival purposes only.
Much has been written recently about the search facilities in the new Microsoft® Windows Vista and how wonderful it is. Well, I'm here to tell you that Kubuntu and Ubuntu have an equally good search function that will hold its own against alternative systems.
"NEW" - see the last section for Kubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon)
What is it?
I'll deal with Ubuntu first, as it has the facility already built in to the operating system.
It's called Beagle and is accessed via Places; Search. You don't need to do anything to Ubuntu to use the application. Like Vista, it is an indexed search facility, so once it has indexed your files, results will be very fast indeed.
Kubuntu is a little different. As Kubuntu is a KDE based system, the default search, Kfind, is just like the old Windows facility. It will start at one end of the file system and search each file until it finds what you want. However, all is not lost, as you can use Beagle in Kubuntu too. Beagle is in fact the back end. In other words, it works behind the scenes indexing and finding what you want. But you can add Kerry and this will provide a front end to enable you to search via a Graphical User Interface (GUI). You can also create a search icon on your desktop, to enable a direct search in Beagle.
Beagle will automatically index your /home folder. If you want it to index elsewhere, (a network drive for example), you can tell it where to look via its Open configuration dialog link. More about that later.
Where do I start?
First, you need to install Beagle.
As always, if you're a command line guru, all installation can be done via the command line, but as the purpose of this contribution, is to help new users get the best from their Kubuntu system, I will demonstrate the method using the built in package manager,
Adept can be accessed via the K button at the bottom left of your desktop and selecting System; Adept Manager.
Simply click on Adept Manager and a pop-up box will ask for your password. Remember, in Linux, you cannot install programs (applications) without root privileges. Such is the built in security of Linux.
Once Adept opens, the first thing it will do is update itself and then a list of files will appear. At first look, it can be daunting, but notice all the files are in alphabetical order, so just scroll down until you find what you want. Click on the > and the title will expand as shown in the screen shot. Here is what you're looking for:
Now click the Request install button and you will notice the no change will change to install.
You may also at this time select the Kerry front end and install the two together, but you can also install them separately if you so wish.
It is only when you click on Apply Changes at the top of the page, that the installation process will begin.
From here on, it's an automatic process. Adept Manager will take care of all the dependences - that is, it will decide which other files (if any) you need to make the package(s) work properly. You will see something similar to this:
Once the installation process has completed, if you installed Kerry as well as Beagle, you should have an icon in your Panel like this:
The little Beagle dog is the Kerry front end to beagle. Click on it and you will see this:
I have to say, from this point on, you can use the search facility. But remember, Beagle is silently working in the background indexing all your /home folder files and if it's a large folder, it's going to take some time to complete. Beagle is configured to use minimal resources, so it will have virtually no effect on you using the machine while it's doing it's work.
Simply type in the first few letters of what you are searching for and when the little bent arrow at the top right hand side of the search box turns darker in colour, click on it and view the results.
However, you can (if you so wish) click on Open configuration dialog and see this:
It is here you can personalize Kerry Beagle to suit your own needs (try that in Vista!). Of particular interest may be the Indexing tab, that allows you to add additional sources to be indexed.
Clicking on Add brings this box up:
As you can see, it makes Kerry Beagle very selective in what you index. What is the point of indexing binary system files for example (unless you are a developer) but you can include networked files on other machines in addition to anything you wish to add on the host.
An alternative to Kerry
If you don't wish to use the Kerry front end (for whatever reason), it is easy to set up an icon to access Beagle directly. Having used both methods, I have to say, while I have nothing but admiration for the developers of Kerry, this direct access method does seem a little more efficient.
If you want to try this, Right click on the desktop and select Create New; Link to Application
This will bring up a box like this:
On the General tab, where it says Link to Application type the name that you want to appear with your icon. I simply chose beagle, but it doesn't matter what you use as long as you're happy with it. You can also click on the icon to choose what you want to use:
Just click on an appropriate icon to associate it with your shortcut.
The Permissions tab will sort itself out, so don't worry about it!
The Applications tab is the important one.
The Description can be whatever you want.
Comment can be used or ignored.
Command is critical, as this is the actual command that will launch your search window. It should be:
Work path can be selected by clicking on the folder icon and selecting what you want.
And finally, you can ignore Preview/ as it's not going to do much at this stage.
Click on OK at the bottom of the box.
You will now end up with an icon like this:
(I chose to use a very "imaginative" magnifying glass!)
Clicking on it will produce this:
Subject to the indexing taking place (mentioned above), this window will search in real time. In other words as you start typing the letters of your search query, results will start to appear in the lower window that now says Quick Tips.
Just like Kerry, you can configure Beagle on where it searches. You do this by selecting: Search; Preferences and then in the new box that appears, select the Indexing tab.
Notice that not only can you add paths for the indexing engine to explore, but also exclude paths for privacy.
Finally, you can move your newly created shortcut to the KDE panel (normally at the bottom of your desktop) just by dragging and dropping. Once you've created a new panel icon if you no longer need the desktop one, delete it and use the KDE panel icon as your primary launcher.
Kubuntu 7.10 now has a built-in search engine known as Strigi.
It can be accessed from the big K >> Strigi - Desktop Search. When you click on the application, it will launch Konqueror and you will see this:
Click on Start daemon and this is next:
You can see that 6863 documents have been indexed already, resulting in a 44MB index. If you now click on Start indexing, again, this is what will happen:
The indexing will pick up from where it left off and add any un-indexed files to the index. If you now click on search (top left in the window), we will see this:
A search box has now appeared, allowing us to type any word into it, to be found. For the purposes of demonstration, I typed kubuntu into the box and this is the result:
There are also some other controls along the top of the window, next to the original search we clicked on; status tells you whether the daemon is running and if indexing is occurring; preferences, allows you to add and delete directories for search purposes; then there are the normal help and about options which are self explanatory.
All in all, a useful tool that is included as default.