I already wrote a bit about desktop search on Linux systems, you can find more in the section Desktop Search (surprise, surprise).
However, the last look at the situation in general is quite some months ago, and several things have developed since then.
The desktop old bulls
First of all the more or less desktop specific developments: at the moment KDE is concentrating on developing a new desktop search system around strigi (with including the results from the Nepomuk project) for KDE 4, while the current GNOME ships with beagle.
However, both projects try to cover the needs of both desktops – beagle addresses the KDE destkop with kerry, and strigi has asked the GNOME folks for comments about a possible cooperation. So, to keep it right: both would disagree if you would call them desktop specific!
Both projects are well maintained and are further developed and enhanced all along. Both released new versions this month covering bugfixes as well as new features.
The current advantages: since beagle is part of the current GNOME it is shipped with most distributions and is used by quite a lot of people. Strigi looks like becoming one of the major parts of the future KDE 4 search and information management system and therefore will support Nepomuk, which is a standard is this field.
The best known shortcomings of both are for beagle a huge (reported, so probably subjective) memory and CPU consumption so that it slows down the system, while strigi is at the moment not able to use the benefits of inotify without problems and is not part of the current distributions – you have to install it by hand.
Beyond that old bulls
Now, beyond the horizon of the current well known solutions:
There are currently two solutions (at least I know of) I already mentioned marginal somewhere in this blog which are interesting: Tracker and leaftag.
Leaftag became famous beacause it was the first solution providing tagging possibilities for the Linux desktop. The screenshots do look nice and go pretty much in a direction I would prefer – however, leaftag does not seem to index stuff by itself, you have to give away tags. This is a bit of a problem when you want to get an overview over a data storage with just too many files to tag by yourself. The even bigger problem however is that the changelog hasn’t seen anything new in a while. Also, I do not know any distribution shipping it yet.
Tracker is another attempt of creating a real indexing/search engine, this time together with tag support. The screenshots give again a nice first impression. Also the changelog gives a good idea of the ongoing development. Although coming straight from the GNOME world, Tracker tries to go the non-desktop-specific way over freedesktop.org, implementing specs from there, communicating by D-Bus, and so on. But, well, there wasn’t much KDE integration yet, it is more a GNOME project hosted on fd.o with no hard GNOME dependency for the main libraries at the moment… And, like strigi will do it with the help of Nepomuk, Tracker is able to understand and use RDF. Standard compliance is important, I think.
And the distribution support? Well, there is a specific support which brought me to this article: Ubuntu thinks about replacing beagle in the next release with Tracker. The idea behind is that Tracker comes along with more features and less shortcomings from Ubuntu’s point of view. It will be interesting to see what Kubuntu does when Ubuntu switches away from Beagle – maybe we will see strong KDE integration of tracker through that way, provided by the Kubuntu folks.
Even far more beyond
There are, of course, other projects around – but I haven’t heard of them much, or they are in an early stage. Here is a short summary about what I heard.
- kat is dead! Nothing to argue about that. Actually there are not even any project pages provided at kde-apps anymore. Phew, I wonder what happened there…
- GLScube seems to struggle if it should continue development on the current code base or should restart from scratch – so in any case, a very early stage of development.
- Pinot is another crawler and says at least that it can handle tags. Haven’t heard much about that besides its homepage and someone mentioning it on a comment.
- Other projects investigating the semantic search – there are various: Haystack, knowledgesearch, etc. However, out of all of them, only the already mentioned Nepomuk made real noise until now.
In any case, the landscape of search and index integration into the Linux desktop is boiling again – with Ubuntu one of the biggest distributions is thinking about dropping beagle, the most used solution for this task. With the strigi integration into KDE 4 it maybe becomes the new standard on all KDE machines – maybe. Exciting :)