Linux desktop search

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Sure find command can do all the work (if you are a hardcore Linux user) for you. However, new Linux user need something that allows them to search stuff right from Linux desktop (no command line). They want utility that indexes files on Linux desktop PC and displays results in search engine style page(s) just like Google/Yahoo desktop search. Unfortunately, Google or Yahoo desktop search works with windows desktop. Nevertheless, Linux comes with Beagle search utility.


We have recently converted (read as upgraded) few users to Linux desktop and guess what, they demanded desktop search tool that can search:

  • Documents
  • Emails
  • Web history
  • IM/IRC conversations
  • Source code
  • Images
  • Music files
  • Applications
  • And much more, right from Linux desktop.

Most of these users are either office users or programmers. They are switching to Linux desktop because:

  • Programmers find it more challenging, secure, and other colleagues are using so they would like to try it out
  • Office users find it secure and virus free environment

Gnome project has tool called Beagle. It is a search tool that ransacks your personal information space to find whatever you’re looking for. Beagle can search documents, emails and much more. Its indexing sub-system and search aggregator built on top of the Lucene indexer.

Installing beagle
Debian user can use apt-get command to install it:

# apt-get install beagle

Fedora core user can use yum to install it:

yum install beagle

Configure File system
a) Beagle needs xtended attributes support on /home partition by adding user_xattr options field for your /home mount point in /etc/fstab file.

# vi /etc/fstab

Modify your /home line:

/dev/hdb2 /home       ext3    defaults,user_xattr        0   2

b) Remount the /home filesystem

# mount -o remount /home


# mount -o remount /dev/hdb2

Extended attributes are used by Beagle to keep track of which files have been indexed and which need to be re-indexed.

Automatically start beagled service
To run eagled service automatically when you log in your GNOME session, you need to add it to Start Programs in Session Manager as follows:

  1. Click on Gnome Desktop menu > Preferenses > Sessions
  2. Select Startup Programs tab
  3. Click on add > Type /usr/bin/beagled as a startup command. Save the session.

Logout and login again. Please note that if this is the first time login i.e. you run beagle first time, you will need to wait a bit for the daemon to index data from different locations before you can get any result.

Start searching with beagle

To start beagle click on Application > Accessories > Select Beagle search


  • General information on Beagle
  • Installing help for Gentoo, MandrivaLinux, SUSE, Ubuntu Linux distributions
  • Finding/locating files with find command part I and part II

Next time will see a small amount of tips and tricks related to beagle 🙂

If you are looking to perform google search from Desktop then you can try out Gnome applet called Deskbar. I do not recommend this applet as it is in beta and google restricts you to 1000 queries per day.


Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

5 comment

  1. you can also try “locate” for searching files – uses cron triggered indexing and much more efficient than find.

  2. “Sure find command can do all the work (if you are a hardcore Linux user) for you. ” Already wrong. “find” does not index file content, not even file names. You need “locate” to index file names. But then you still can’t search quickly for content. “grep” searches for content. “desktop search” is to “grep” as “locate” is to “find”.

  3. Upon typing “yum install beagle” I got a response that no such package was available. In addition, there is no /home in my /etc/fstab file. Has anybody else had this problem?

  4. @Andrew Stallard:
    Man, “we” suppose that you have your home folder in another partition not in the same that the filesystem is located, remember /etc/fstab is the file for the mount points in the system. If the package isn´t in your repository try downloading it from another source and install it, them excecute the rest od the procedure.

    I (since I was in Slackware, now I´am using Debian I dont know if it changes in that time) recommend you to use localte (slocate or rlocate) after updatedb. Could be very useful to you 😀

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