Searching your world with Beagle : Ubuntu (6.10)

By | 2007/01/03

Every now and then I blog about a program that is a must-have. You might remember my previous posts about Tomboy (reminder plugin) or (tomboy 5.0 release) that I still use daily. When you find a program that makes your life easier you’ve just got to share it! Isn’t that what all of this is about?!

Today I wanted to write about Beagle and the deskbar-applet. For those of you not already using or familiar with Beagle it is the best way to search for files on your system. It works in the same way that OSX or XP do in that it creates an index of all the files on your system to make them more accessible during a search. (Prior to beagle searching was limited to find which is not nearly as efficient.)
To get started with todays tutorial we’ll need to install two packages.

sudo aptitude install beagle deskbar-applet

Once you have Beagle installed you’ll need to begin the indexing process. Note: this could take a little time. If you’re on a laptop you might want to plug the thing in. The intense I/O that the hard drive indexing will do can drain your battery pretty well.

Begin the indexing by running the following command (on the command line or via ALT-F2):

beagled

Now that Beagle is chugging along to index all of your files you can safely move to the next step.

You’ll want to add the interface to Beagle to your GNOME panel by adding the deskbar-applet that we just installed. Doing this is as simple as adding another applet to your panel.

right-click on your launcher panel

select "Add to Panel"

select "Deskbar"

Once this is added to your panel you can try to search for a few things or right-click on the applet and change some of the preferences.

While beagled is still indexing away here is a quick rundown of some of the options within the deskbar-applet.

del.icio.us Bookmarks (search your del.icio.us bookmarks by tag name)
History (previous Beagle searches)

Dictionary (look up definitions in the dictionary)
Programs (launch a program by its name or description)

Mail (send mail to your contacts by entering their name or email address)

Web (open web pages and send emails by typing the complete address)

Files, Folders and Places (view your files, folders, bookmarks, drives and network places)

Web Bookmarks (open your web bookmarks by name)

Web History (open your web history by name)

Web Searches (search the web via your browsers search settings)

Beagle (search all of your documents)

Computer Actions (logoff, shutdown, restart, suspend and related actions)

Developer Documentation (search Devhelp for a function name)

Files and Folders Search (find files and folders by searching for a name pattern)

Window Switcher (switch to an existing window by name)

Yahoo! Search (search Yahoo! as you type)

Any and all of these can be toggled to an active/in-active status. Only use the ones you want. The deskbar-applet really makes accessing your data, commands, windows and programs as easy as you want it to be.

Well it looks like beagled indexing has finished (with the initial indexing anyway). You will want beagled to run regularly to keep up to date with your changes. Set beagled to start automagically with the following:

System > Preferences > Sessions : Startup Programs : Add : beagled

Update: per Brandon’s comment below beagled does not need to be added to the startup programs. A file should have been created (on Edgy machines) at $HOME/.config/autostart/beagled.desktop that automagically launches the beagled indexer at login. Thanks for the update Brandon!

Update: I’ve added a later post including two steps to integrate Google search to your Deskbar Applet.

You’re all ready to go at this point. Select a few of the options from the list above and start searching. You’ll be quickly surprised at how quickly and efficiently it is able to find just what you’re looking for.
Enjoy! One more must-have program brought to you by Ubuntu Tutorials 😉

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16 thoughts on “Searching your world with Beagle : Ubuntu (6.10)

  1. bag

    Hi Christer,

    thank you for your blog. It is a pleasure to read. Regarding to your beagle blog i must say i only have trouble with beagle. It is a nice idea but i think MetaTracker is much more powerful and lightweight. Maybe you will try it…

    Sincerely,
    Paula

    Reply
  2. Erez

    Not to mention that a: it’s based on Mono, aka .NET, and it’s a HUGE resources hog. Memory, hard drive, CPU, you name it, of all the resources black holes known to man, it’s one of the most devious, yet most annoying. Just run it for a few hours then check top.

    Reply
  3. Daniel

    I agree with Erez on this one. To be honest, I’ve just removed beagle from my laptop five minutes before reading this post. It was really annoying to see my laptop battery dropping so suddenly, constantly. I really do hope there’s going to be performance improvements because it is a really nice app.

    Reply
  4. cenebris

    I thought beagle is turned on by default after installation? Maybe it’ll be in next ubuntu releases?

    Reply
  5. Martey

    Daniel, the version of Beagle in Feisty (0.2.14) has an option to disable indexing while on battery power – this might help your issues with battery life.

    Reply
  6. Daniel

    Thanks Martey, but I’m using Edgy right now. I am going to install Feisty on my home computer, but my laptop is for work mostly and I can’t risk it to crash by installing Feisty. Anyway it’s good to know that work is in progress and, how I’ve said earlier, I can’t wait to see some improvements on beagle because it is a great application.

    Reply
  7. Ubuntu Tutorials

    I’ve been running beagle & the deskbar-applet for a while now and I haven’t had any trouble with it. That’s odd.

    Reply
  8. Simon

    In Edgy, I already have an option to select indexing on battery power or not.

    Anyway, Beagle is maybe a good idea, but a big mistake on how it was written…
    Wenn I work on my Laptop it stops indexing so I have more userspace. That’s good.
    But on Idle mode, it starts Indexing and the CPU starts heating like a radiator. That’s not so good because it uses all userspace.

    Since a month I banned Beagle, and wating for tracker now.

    Reply
  9. Pingback: For Once I Oneder » Blog Archive » Beagle Shining, The Holidays, and Playlists on My iPod

  10. Joe Shaw

    Hey Christer,

    Thanks for the great tutorial for getting Beagle up and running on Ubuntu. Now we just need to get it set up and running by default in Feisty!

    Reply
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  12. Brandon Hale

    “System > Preferences > Sessions : Startup Programs : Add : beagled”

    This step should not be necessary on Ubuntu Edgy. A .desktop autostart file should have been installed that has already added beagled to your startup programs. This will take effect on the next login.

    Reply
  13. Pingback: » Adding Google Search Function To Deskbar Applet : Ubuntu (6.10) Ubuntu Tutorials : Breezy - Dapper - Edgy - Feisty

  14. jp

    Beagle looks good but has still many issues it seems.

    I was most disappointed to find out that contrary to what the beagle FAQ says, none of my Thunderbird emails were indexed.

    Documentations is very lacking – there should be more information about what is getting indexed how, which filetypes, compression methods, etc, whether symbolic links are followed, whether documents and files without extensions are still recognized and how etc.

    This is a black box that may or may not do what you want and there is no GUI to figure out what it did. This is bad since when you get zero matches you never know whether there are really zero matches or Beagle just missed them.

    Reply
  15. Anonymous Coward

    I think you mean Vista indexes files to enable fast searching, not XP.

    Reply
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