Page Three

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2005-07-05 Print this article Print

Unfortunately, one of the neatest new features of SLS 9.3, Beagle, a desktop metadata search program that indexes a users hard drive content in a way thats similar to Google Desktop 2 or Apples Spotlight on steroids, doesnt run by default on the KDE interface. Thats somewhat understandable since its a GNOME application, but since Beagle has easily gotten the most buzz of any single application on SLP 9.3, youd think Novell would at least install it so that it was easy to get to from the KDE interface.
Well, I found that not only was it not easy, it was practically impossible. Now, Im sure theres some way to get Beagle to run under KDE, but after a lot of searching and testing of possible solutions, I couldnt find one that would work.
If you do elect to explore running Beagle, in a GNOME instance, under KDE, the best map to possible success is this Gentoo Linux Beagle Install page. The best general guide to the care and feeding of your Beagle is the Beagle Wiki. In my case, I finally just switched SLP over from KDE to GNOME 2.10 for its interface. Now, I could finally get Beagle to work. First, however, I had to manually set its indexing engine to work. To get Beagle up and chasing data you need to open a terminal window and start the Beagle Daemon, its indexer and search engine, by running "$ beagled" from your $HOME directory. This must be done as a user; you cannot run it as root. If you want to check up on it, you can also run it in the foreground with: $ beagled —fg –debug. To make sense of the debugging output, you can get started with this information from Novells Dave Camp. Even with it up, as it comes in SLP 9.3, Beagle isnt able to index or search many kind of files, including Firefox Web pages, Evolution mail or Microsoft Office documents. To add support for those files and others, youll need to follow the instructions in the BeagleWikis Optional Packages page. There are also some data files, such as Thunderbird or Mozilla mail, that Beagle cant read. Or, to be more exact, there is a backend for them in the source code that you can activate by recompiling the program with a suitably revised Makefile. Now, once I was done with all this, Beagle lived up to its hype as the Jaguar of desktop search programs. Unfortunately, it also lived up to a number of other characteristics of that British luxury car: it tended to break down a lot. In particular, while this version has fewer memory leaks than the earlier versions, it will still keep eating memory until your machine stops working. In my case, that was about 50 hours. Until these leaks are fixed, your best approach is to set up a cron job to run every night to kill off and restart beagled. So why bother with all this? Well, when Beagle delivers, it really delivers. Ive already found its ability to index and find information seconds after Ive written it, in, say, a Gaim 1.1.4 IM session, to be invaluable. Next page: The Xen of PCs.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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