Ultimate desktop search: Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 and Beagle

Desktop searching has always been a little confusing to me. That’s because I have a lizard brain – so much of my time is spent coding that I can’t stand to see things in disarray particularly files and directories so I can generally find a file faster than a search can.

When Google released Desktop Search for Windows I played with it. Full text searching done blazingly fast through anything text-based on your drive from your web cache to your emails and personal documents. Impressive but not without problems the biggest being the Windows-centric design which made portability difficult.

In typical FOSS fashion developers saw a good idea and made it better. The result was Beagle a powerful searching and indexing tool for the Gnome desktop environment.

Beagle has been showing up slowly around the place but nowhere as impressively as Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 (SLED10). When they say “integrated” search at Novell they really mean it.

While you’re doing your work Beagle will scoot about indexing your indexables. In SLED10 it supports searching of:

  • office documents
  • emails
  • web cache
  • GAIM instant messenger logs
  • multimedia file metadata (ID3 tags EXIF data etc)
  • application names

The amazing thing is how Beagle shows up everywhere and always seems helpful (in other words not like that fricking paper clip). While browsing in Firefox I looked down at the status bar and there was a tiny icon of my faithful little hound just indicating that he was dutifully indexing while I was browsing. Don’t want him to? Click him. He’s back on his pillow.

The indexing is very impressive too. SLED10 features a small “sticky notes” style application called Tomboy which allows you to easily create small notes that are available at the click of a button. I made one with a particular word in it closed it ran a Beagle search for the word and it was in the results (which came back in less than one second). That was less than 20 seconds after the note had been created. The word you’re looking for is “phwoar”.

All in all SLED10 and Beagle represent a huge productivity increase for information workers. The operating system is incredibly easy to use (and easy on the eyes) and has many powerful administration features such as the ability to very easily create custom install images and deploy them to hundreds of computers over the network in a matter of hours.

Interested APC online readers can grab the pre-release version and give it a bash.

Look out for a full review of SLED10 very soon. Or ignore what I think and give it a go yourself. As long as you give the OS a try I’m happy.