Remote computer searching with Beagle

Jack Wallen discovers Beagle remote searching and is so impressed, he had to share it with his TechRepublic readers. Read on and learn how to set it up yourself.

There are times when I set up a feature on a piece of Linux software and it makes me think, "More people need to be using Linux because it is incredible!" That happened yesterday. I wrote about setting up remote search using Beagle for another site I write for (Ghacks) and found myself in awe at what the tool was able to manage.

I have used Beagle in the past. I've always liked what it offers. It's a great indexing search tool, one that doesn't bog down your system like the competition's does, and as far as I am concerned, it should be the default search tool on all Linux desktops. It's fast, reliable, and searches just about everything (meta-tags in media files, email, Web sites, files, folders, images, news feeds, your lunch box...), and -- best of all -- it's network aware. That's right, you can set up your Beagle search to include other PCs that have Beagle configured similarly.

Effectively you could create a complete LAN-aware search on every Linux/Beagle machine on your network. How efficient is that? How "why hadn't someone thought of that before?" is that? Better Linux is that?

I'll answer that. Very Linux.

And in a departure from my normal rantings and ravings, I thought I would show you how to set up this feature on your Linux machine. And before anyone gets their GNOME-undies or KDE-dockers in a wad - it's desktop-independent. You can have this up and running on GNOME, KDE, Enlightenment (my fave), or any other Linux desktop. With that said, let's get to work.


There is really nothing special to the installation. Fire up your package manager, search for Beagle, select it for installation, and install. Make sure you are using at least Beagle 0.3.0. In my Ubuntu install, I was using 0.3.9 and all worked smoothly. NOTE: I had an install on Elive using 0.3.8 that had issues with the networking option. The issue was a missing DBus dependency.


The configuring of Beagle networking is fairly simple. For this sample we will have a desktop and a laptop machine. During the configuration you will find yourself going back and forth between machines. Here are the steps:

  1. Open up the Preferences window (Search | Preferences).
  2. Click on the Data Sources tab.
  3. Make sure NetworkServices is checked.
  4. Click on the Network options tab.
  5. Make sure the top two check boxes are checked (the Password option is not available at this point).
  6. Give the machine a name.
  7. Click OK.

Now go to the Laptop machine and repeat the above steps. Once you have done that, go back to the Desktop machine and follow these steps.

  1. Open up the Preferences window.
  2. Click on the Network options tab.
  3. Click the Add button.
  4. In the resulting window double-click the available host you want to add.
  5. Click OK.

Now go to the laptop machine and repeat the above steps. You're almost ready to go. But before you do, you should log out and log back in to both machines.

Searching Fire up Beagle (there will either be a desktop icon or you can find it in Applications | Accessories | Search) and click Search | Domains and make sure Neighborhood is checked. Enter your search string and you should see results popping up from both machines. Brilliant! You can now search all machines, using Beagle NetworkServices, from one machine.

Final thoughts

I realize that Microsoft is claiming that this feature is unique to Windows 7 Enterprise (Federated Search). Obviously, it's not. And I didn't have to get it through Volume Licensing. It was free, easy to set up, reliable, and the indexing didn't kill my machines. I already was fond of Beagle. Now? I am hooked. Beagle is a great tool that should be the default search tool on all Linux distributions. If you've not given Beagle a try, do...and while you're at it, set up remote searching. And now, back to our regularly scheduled program. See ya next time!