The Corpus Callosum

Beagle Is Way Cool

The August issue of Linux
has an article showing how all the the
most-anticipated features of Windows Vista are available today, on
Linux.  Although Microsoft touts these as “innovations,” they
are not new, or at least won’t be new by the time Vista is actually on
retail shelves.  

One of these features is Instant
.  It indexes everything on your hard drive,
so you can find anything quickly.  

The comparable Linux tool is Beagle.  It not only reads and
indexes the contents of text files, but it reads the contents of PDF
files, tags embedded in photos and mp3’s, etc.  

What I’ve found to be an especially neat feature, is the Firefox
plug-in.  It scans the pages you read while browsing the
Internet, and adds that to the index.  Want to find a page
that you’ve seen, but did not bookmark?  Beagle will find it,
if you can remember a few distinctive keywords.  

screen capture
shows it in action, having found not only the
from my most recent post, but also the web pages that I used as
reference material for the post.  


  1. #1 UndergradChemist
    August 21, 2006

    Actually, a “desktop search” of that type is already available for Windows:

    In addition, Mac OS X has had the search for more than a year now:

  2. #2 Greg P
    August 21, 2006

    One of the things I was reading on fedora-list that made we wary of beagle was the assertion that it might hog system resources and slow other apps down. Not true?

    There also is Google desktop, which I have to say I wasn’t so impressed with the last I checked it.

    Picasa is also neat (also from Google), and has versions for Linux and Windows (don’t know about Macs).

  3. #3 Claw
    August 22, 2006

    Actually Windows has had indexed search capabilities since Windows 2000 (implemented in the little known MS Indexing Service), but for some reason poorly exposed it in the UI. They planned to implement a better UI for it when they announced Instant Search in their Longhorn (now Vista) push five years ago.

    Say what you will about Microsoft’s ability to execute and deliver, but at least for this feature, I would say that it was Microsoft that spurred the innovation. It was after this feature was announced for Longhorn that Mac OS made it into Spotlight in their OS. Google also implemented it for Windows PCs in their desktop search client. Similar clients for Linux soon followed. However, Microsoft’s inability to finish Vista on time prevented the feature from being released with the OS.

    Faced with the embarrassment of competitor desktop search clients appearing before they were able to release Vista, Microsoft was able to respond with Windows Desktop Search, which UndergradChemist mentioned, for existing Windows PCs. In this case, they were actually able to deliver it quickly soon after Mac OS and Google released their desktop search clients because of the fact that MS Indexing Service had been part of the OS since Windows 2000. Windows Desktop Search is essentially just a better front end for exposing MS Indexing Service’s capabilities.

  4. #4 Joseph j7uy5
    August 22, 2006

    One of the points about Beagle is that it indexes web pages that you have viewed. I am not familiar enough with the Windows version to know if it does that, but the information on their web page does not specify that explicitly. I guess I was assume that is a unique feature. Perhaps others do it too.

    When you first use it, it does slow things down considerably. I do not motice any performace issues now, although I am sure that there is some degradation, it is not noticeable.

    Google desktop had a security issue shortly after it was released. I think the original issue was fixed, but there is still a worry when you enable the capability to search across multiple computers. That is because information from your hard drive is stored on Google’s servers.

    Picassa is something I have not tried. I do use Kflickr to upload photos, but of course you need a Flickr account to use it.

  5. #5 as seen on tv
    September 10, 2006

    Interesting! thanks

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