Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Ubuntu Software - The Tracker desktop search tool

Tracker desktop search tool
Ubuntu comes with a built-in desktop search tool (similar to Google desktop search), but you may not know it's there (Applications >Accessories>Tracker Search Tool. But before it can find anything, you need to set it up to index the files on your hard disk. Here's how:

From the main menu, choose System>Preferences>Search and Indexing. This brings up the settings for the Tracker search tool. On the General tab, under Indexing Options, check Enable Indexing. Then on the Files tab, under Indexing, check Index File Contents - this tells Tracker to look inside of the file types that it is "aware of" - this includes your Evolution emails.

Also under Indexing, check Index mounted directories - this tells Tracker to re-index when you restart Ubuntu. Under Watch Directories, check Index and watch my home directory - this tells Tracker to not only index your home directory on startup, but also to "watch" it for any changes and add them to the index. You might also want to add additional directories under Crawled Directories - for example if your are dual-booting with Windows, you can add your NTFS partitions and they will be indexed on startup, but not watched.

Tracker Desktop search preferences

That should do it - once you close the dialogue, you are prompted to restart the Tracker daemon and Tracker will be off and running. Now, anytime you restart Ubuntu, Tracker will wait 45 seconds and then start re-indexing all the directories you've specified. This process will use quite a bit of CPU resources (you'll probably hear the fan speeding up), but for me it hasn't been enough to interfere with the operation of other programs. You'll have a Tracker icon in the Notification area (like the Windows task tray) - if you need to change the Tracker settings in the future just right-click on the icon and choose Preferences. To use the search function, choose Applications >Accessories>Tracker Search Tool.

I've been using this tool since I installed Hardy Heron, and it's pretty good at finding things. The only problem I've had so far is that it is not indexing my Thunderbird email - I don't care much for Evolution and installed Thunderbird right away - it's got the best spam filter I've ever used. Anyway, I'll keep you posted on this, as I've asked about it in the Ubuntu support forums.

What next?

Problems? Questions? Leave a comment, I'll be glad to help. I'm still new at Ubuntu, too - but it may be that I've already been where you're at.

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