Friday, November 17, 2006

The Thing About Beagle

Beagle is a desktop search tool for Gnome. I thought I might give it a go, because sometimes I need to find things. Since I am using KDE I also installed Kerry, which is a KDE front end for Beagle. All of this can be accomplished in Debian as follows:

apt-get install kerry

Phew, that was tricky. I can see why those windows guys find Linux sooo difficult. It is waaaaay easier to go to some random website, download an installer, pray that it is safe, double-click on the installer, click "Yes, I do agree to all of these outrageous license terms and I don't mind that it includes spyware, and adware", click Next, Next, Next, and finally reboot a couple of times.

Linux sure has a lot of catching up to do in the area of software installation.

But I digress. It's what I do best.

The idea with Beagle/Kerry is to make it easier to find stuff on your computer, or, as the Beagle folks put it "Beagle is a search tool that ransacks your personal information space to find whatever you're looking for. Beagle can search in many different domains."

Beagle can search based on file name, and on the contents of the many file formats it understands. And it is damn fast. Beagle can index your emails, documents, web history, and many other things that I am waaay too lazy to deliniate here.

So, anyway, Beagle and Kerry are now installed. You'll find Kerry under "Utilities" in the KDE menu. When first run it needs to index your system, which can take some time. You can use Kerry before this is finished, but don't expect a complete set of results.

Here's how you use Kerry: Type your search term. Press Enter.

At least, that's how it's supposed to work.

"Ah," says the reader. "We've come to the bit." And you would be right. This is the bit, and here it is. The thing about Beagle is that it misses stuff. Really really obvious stuff. I tested by searching for a file called "revaddress" in my home directory. No results. Huh?

Well, has it not finished indexing my home folder? Unlikely - I left it two days before testing.

Maybe I'm just not holding my mouth right.

I tried a different file, this time with the tip of my tongue sticking out the corner of my mouth to show how determined I was. Beagle found this one. Tried a few more searches for known files. Some were found. Others not. Perhaps there is a pattern of some kind, but if there is my enormous brain was not able to discern it during my exhaustive five second examination.

There is another bit. I was happy with Beagle's ability to search my Thunderbird mail folders, however when I clicked on a search result in order to open the message, Kerry failed with an error:

"Could not start process Unable to create io-slave:

klauncher said: Unknown protocol 'mailbox'. "

Update: Just now got a new version (0.2) of Kerry from the Debian repositories, and this error no longer appears. Instead, when I click on a search result to view the original email nothing whatsoever happens. So, they're half way to fixing the problem, I guess.

There is another bit. It is this. Beagle/Kerry use bucket-loads of memory, which I'm sure has been covered elsewhere so I don't know why I bothered mentioning it here, except that, for me, it means Beagle will be disappearing from my system pronto - for some reason I'm not keen to have ten percent of my RAM chewed up by a process that I might use, maybe, if you're really lucky, once or twice a month.

By the way, bucket-loads is a technical term - you probably wouldn't understand it, because it is so technical.


linnerd40 said...

I have had the exact same problems with Kerry/ Beagle. I use openSUSE 10.1, and it seems that Kerry/ Beagle can't find anything. Some stuff, it finds, other stuff... no way. And the memory thing really gets me too... but do you mind describing what a bucket-load is? I mean... I am such a n00b, don't quite get it. [/sarcasm] Anyway, nice post.

Anonymous said...

Beagle doesn't work for me either and it is slow as molasses :( I wish they had something as easy as Windows Desktop Search that MS released for XP..

chadm said...

I found that I had to match exact words in order to find anything. Partials just didn't work.

Since Kerry Beagle isn't working for you, I suggest trying kio-locate. Just type locate: in the Konqueror address bar followed by your query to run it.


Ben said...

It's technical. If you like you can think of a bucket-load as "a lot", although that would be a rather shallow understanding. Fortunately I am extremely shallow, so that would actually be quite appropriate.

I don't respond to anonymous comments, because.... Oh, crap.

Well, even searching for the exact filename often fails so, you know, and stuff.

Anyway, Tracker looks like it might be a better solution. I'd try it, were it in the Debian repositories. As it is, I'm too damn lazy.

Anonymous said...

Same damn thing happened to me..but I don't care 'cause I have big breasts

EazyVG said...

Using SUSE 10.1 and beagle seems to work fine for me, 32bit @office and 64bit @home.

For mail I use Kmail @home and Evolution @work, and both mail work fine when I click e-mail from search results. haven't tried with Thinderbird though.

Works fine with kopete and gaim, as with kpdf and evince and so on, and other apps.

But, being frank, instead of using Kerry on KDE, I still prefer to go with beagle-gui. So I have it on both KDE and Gnome running. I find Kerry is still raw and feature wise inferior to beagle-gui.

Regarding memory usage, maybe cause I have 2GB RAM I don't notice the usage. Only thing is when booting into KDE, it takes times to load beagle engine, and comparatively is longer on KDE boot than on Gnome.

madcap said...

>Well, even searching for the exact
>filename often fails so, you know,
>and stuff.

Aye, doesn't that "and stuff" thing there totally deserves a new sentence of it own?

Beagle is funny. It works ok in Mdv 2007 and finds mostly everything I guess (except for failing to open tomboy notes). But in FC6 it refuses to find anything and comes up with an "Uh Oh" everytime!

P.S. --> I'm still quite miffed how this captcha thing never works for me the first time. Damn!!

Anonymous said...

Please, drop off these minor topics, and go directly to the "thing that matters":
Debian nude or not!
Take up your responsibilities.

Ben said...

I think I shall just wait for tracker, and the inevitable KDE front end.

I believe you are correct.

And stuff.

Also, I also have a high degree of miffedness wrt captcha. Hate it. But hate spam more.

I don't respond to anonymous... Bugger. There I go again.

Anonymous said...

Not even big-breasted ones? Man, that's sick!!!