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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Searching for Search in KDE

Things have come full cycle for me.

When I first discovered Linux, I fell in love.  It had that "dangerous" look that many of us like.  It was KDE3 and Fluxbox that had me at hello.

So history happens, and things ebb and flow with time.  KDE self-mangled themselves with a poor release choice of KDE 4 and in just a couple short years, Ubuntu and Gnome follow, jumping off the same bridge......

Just about the same time that KDE finally gets its poop in a group.

So, listening to friends and associates talk about the KDE improvements and yearning for days of old. I dove back into the KDE pool and it felt like seeing an old friend after a long absence.

However it didn't take me long to remember why said friend and I parted ways...I mean aside from some stupid design choices.  This problem preceded that by years.

I have terabytes of data on my computer organized (strewn) across three hard drives.  Gigs upon gigs of music, hopelessly lost in the 60's and 70's.  Movies, pictures, documents....scans of birth certificates, etc.

I have a lot of stuff.  And yeah, I remember where i put each and every file.  Uh-huh...and I will take the gold in the Men's 100 meter this year in London too.

So a fast and reliable search feature is critical for me.  For as long as I can remember, or as far back as I have to remember in this case, search on the KDE desktop has in a word......


Many tell me that the default search tool, Kfind; is just spiffy.

No it's not.  Putting in the search string "music" and setting it up to search my home folder should have a least triggered a response for the music folder within Home.

It didn't.  It told me there was nothing referring to "music" in my home folder.

Uh, yes there is.

Kfind insisted that there wasn't.

We are still at odds over this.  But more so, I need a good search client for my desktop.  Kfind is Kfired.

So what's all this noise about Akonadi and nepomuk?

I mean, I thought they were supposed to be the cat's ass in indexing and search.  So far, all they have done is chew through exorbitant amounts of CPU cycles while indexing.

Now listen, this isn't a rant....well maybe a little bit, but sheesh.....Look, I really am beginning to like KDE again, at least I am trying to like it but it keeps getting in my way.  Turns out, these great indexing protocols don't even have a native front end for themselves.  There's nothing I can find in the repos that will give me, for example, a gui front end for Strigi.  Isn't that what all this noise in the background is supposed to give me?

A searchable database?  Great, you built me the road and leave me standing in the middle of it without a car.

Out of frustration, I installed Nautilus into my beautiful, pristine KDE environment.  Why?  Because Gnome search is spectacular.  I click on the little binoculars in my panel and choose the directory or drive I want to search and it starts spitting out results like a machine gun.  I can click any of the results and go right to the folder holding my search query.

Dolphin search isn't near as smart yet as his big brother Nautilus.  Maybe he's the pretty one, but he couldn't find his a$$ using both hands.  Besides, I want a dedicated search client...not an "also can do" in the file manager.  Usually "also can do" features can't.

I dunno....this wouldn't be the first time I blathered about a problem when the solution was right in front of my face....that may be the case now but in my Google search for a solution, I am seeing a ton of folks with the same frustrations.

OK, never mind....this IS a rant.  Fair enough...but for the love of Limburger, it's been years since I faced the same problem.

It just seems a damned shame that KDE desktop search sucks just as much as it did over 4 years ago.

Or maybe it is fixed and I am just not familiar enough with the environment to know what I am doing. That could be as well.

Go figure.

All-Righty Then


Anonymous said...

Some corrections (disclaimer: I'm one of the admins of the official KDE forums):

- Akonadi is not related to indexing at all, only to PIM, so you can just turn it off if you use, say, webmail, or non KDE PIM apps;
- Nepomuk is partly indexing partly something else, and the two things can be switched on and off independently - the indexing part is quite reliable nowadays (even better in the upcoming 4.9) and doesn't trash the CPU anymore.

Further answers:

Anonymous said...

Also, for better understanding of what Nepomuk is all about:

Randy Meyers said...

Thanks to Einar for the link. That article cleared up lots of stuff for me but even following the instructions, I'm not getting the results I am used to getting using Recoll or Catfish. Maybe I just need to give the indexing more time, its only been 4 months since I installed Kubuntu.

And my apologies to the KDE Devs for ever stating that they were out of touch with their user base. Let me quote from the article.

"Nepomuk stands for“Networked Environment for Personal, Ontology-based Management of Unified Knowledge”

With such clear and concise naming of an application, how could I ever have thought they didn't have my feeble little brain in mind when they name their apps.

Anonymous said...

@Randy The KDE bit was part of a larger EU-funded project on semantic technologies.

Surprisingly, only the KDE bit receives still active development after the EU funding ran out.

In KDE, the idea is to actually hide this jargon from the common user because of course it just brings confusion.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the links Einar.

I've been using KDE since I switched to Linux back in 2005. Now I use both XFCE and KDE. Yes, things were/are a little rocky with KDE 4.x. I didn't start using KDE 4 until 4.5.

The KDE developers took a big chance with KDE 4 but I believe it was the right thing to do in the long run.

As far as Nepomuk (When ever I see that word my brains initially reads it as "Neopunk".) is concerned, I avoid all desktop search utilities. Seeing it chew through CPU cycles bugs me. It hides other CPU hogging applications too. The other thing that bugs me is that I haven't found a way to turn Nepomuk of completely. It still wants to turn itself on no matter what I do to tell it to lay off.

Scott Dowdle said...

Some of this depends on if you have Desktop Search enabled or not... but even if not, the following three methods may be helpful... and you'll probably kick yourself for missing them:

1) The K menu search field... just click on your K start button (or however it might be rebranded by your particular distro) and type music in there. Helpful stuff came up for me.

2) The launch app widget... hit alt-f2 and type music... and some helpful stuff may come up or not. It did for me

3) From the Dolphin file manager... you may or may not have the search field showing in your Dolphin window... if not go to Edit -> Find (or type control-f) and then the Dolphin window morphs into a search tool. It has a few buttons at the top that allow you to search for files or content or everything. Type in what you want and click search... and something useful should come up... it did for me.

If none of those worked well it might be because you have the desktop search service turned off (System Settings, under the "Workspace Appearance and Behavior" section, Desktop Search). A lot of people turn it off because it does use up resources when it indexes... and some users have reported excessive resource use at times. I personally have not had any problem with it being on that I've noticed.

Steven said...

Khm KFind workis fine here finds everything that is there to find. Maybe there is a configuration or some other bug in your KDE distribution.

As for Nepomuk it is an upgrade of basic search. It can search in tags, comments and other metadata that you add to your files and I love it. But yes it does take a long time to index all the files. It is examining them a lot more thorougly after all as it extract the metadata from files. So if you have a lot of files it is normal to take so long. Maybe you should just enter settings for Nepomuk and limit the folders that are indexed.

Jacob Colver - Phoenix said...

I've had hair-pulling fits with search in KDE as well. I have to agree with the author, Kfind is teh suck, depending on which distro you use. I installed NetRunner and Kfind didn't work at all for me but when I installed the Mint version of the latest KDE release, it worked well. Thanks for the tip on Nepomuk. God that name sucks,

KDE does need a dedicated search tool, like gnome does, like Xfce does, like almost every other DE. Dolphin works IF you set it up right but I want something that does nothing but search. Gnome Do comes to mind. Krunner is ok but I've never been able to have it give me clickable links to whatever I am looking for. That kind of defeats the whole purpose of it, Right?

istok said...

i'm a new KDE user so i can't compare it to how it was in v.3, and i understand it was pretty bad in early v.4. but what i have now in KDE i absolutely love. it's very stable and very functional. after a long stint with standalone WMs the fact KDE's so full-featured is like hiring a chef to work right in my kitchen instead of having to cook myself. i like to cook, but not all the time :)
regarding this blog post, i don't use search much on my system so krunner does the launch and search job well enough, so i can't really relate to the author's problems.
but one thing i will say, and the reason i'm commenting, is there's no point in trying to live in any kind of past. maybe it really was glorious (although i always thought gnome 2 was rubbish, hence my escape to standalone WMs), but the past is simply not coming back.
time to get optimistic and constructive, file bugs and feature wishes against stuff we don't like, and make the best of what we have in linuxland without all the negativity.
... i think :)

Lamarque said...

Nepomuk is always launched in a KDE session because activities uses it. The only way to prevent that is compiling activities without nepomuk support, which most distribution do *not* do.

We use Nepomuk a lot in Plasma Active and it works well.

Anonymous said...

Dolphin works IF you set it up right but I want something that does nothing but search

I am not sure what you mean by that. I didn't have to set up anything. All you need to do is tell it whether you want to search file-names only or their contents, and where to start searching from or everywhere. What is so difficult set up?

Michelle Minkin said...

I didn't have to set up anything

Well aren't you fortunate?

It depends largely on the distro. As Scott above us stated, it depends on if desktop search is enabled or not. I highly suspect that Ken ran into a distro that did not have it enabled. I used NetRunner for a short while and ran into the same problem and then switched over to Mageia and it worked out of the box.

Smug attitude not withstanding, I am sure Ken appreciates the fact that you are doing well with your desktop search.

I too prefer a dedicated search client that does nothing but search, but then again, that's just my preference.


J. Cain said...

Running Kubuntu 12.04 here, using KFind. Typed in "music" all lowercase. First result was my home music folder. I would assume, Ken, that in all likelihood it is a Distro-centric issue.

Image of KFind's results:

Matthew Miller said...

"KFind is KFired"

I am still chucking over the choice of words you used.

Seriously, however...

I discovered a GUI-less way of quickly finding files. If you absolutely have no idea where your file is, except in your /home directory, then do the following:

Open up your native terminal, then type the following:

find. | grep {search term}

Where {search term} is what you wish to look for. If your filename has spaces in it, enclose it in double quotes. I find what I'm looking for in record time.

Just something to think about.

Anonymous said...

find -iname '{search term}'
works, no need for grep

-iname searches by name ignoring case -name uses case you can use * ect

you can search for a lot of other criteria with find such as creation/modification time and size.

Kevin (Whizard72) said...

No one has ever created something that's nearly as good as Spotlight in Mac OSX. This is where Linux falls flat on its' face is in desktop search capability.

Microsoft's Indexing is SO-SO.

Anonymous said...

I never did stop using KDE. I just didn't switch until about the time KDE4.5 came around. Nepomuk desperately wants to be my desktop search agent. I will have none of it. When it does finally get working with a front-end UI it will still chew through CPU cycles at the most undesirable moments.

Unlike my garage I don't have scads of junk laying around on my hard drives for the most part. I try to keep it down to what I can backup on a couple of DVDs. If I want to listen to a Buddy Holly song I'll go to YouTube. I see no reason to load up my hard drive with 10,000 songs.

Movies are a little different. I try not to support the MPAA. It's not that difficult with the junk they are producing today. I have a few old movies on my hard drive but I'd never bother to back them up. If they got trashed, good-bye. I viewed them once. That's enough for the next decade.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that kde 4.0 transition was rocky, but things are better now. I recently made the acquaintance of Recoll and found it to be a fantastic index/search solution. One of the best features is that it re-indexes only when you tell it to, so you can schedule it using cron to do it when the machine is otherwise idle. You can set the paths that you want indexed, include, exclude paths. I like KDE but there are some things that are handled better by non-kde programs and fortunately it is easy to install them and they all play nicely together. Like most people, I have nothing to do with akonadi or nepomuk, and keep them turned off. With Recoll for search, Thunderbird for email and Firefox for a browser, I can have a nice KDE desktop that behaves itself.

Rafael said...

For search, catfish is great: