And a total total one at that.
I’ve had to advise someone to uninstall an app I recommended.
To whit: Recoll.
The problems with desktop search are the impact upon:
- system performance ¹
- privacy ²
- security ³
If you don’t want to run those gauntlets then, at the other end of the scale, there’s simple on demand file-searching — good for finding files, but you can’t search inside them (which is pretty limiting).
In between those two extremes is a lot of garbage that combines the worst of both worlds by not only combing the worst of both worlds at all, but by not even combining both worlds, just bits of each — leaving you with an inadequate mix of the worst of the two (which just adds insult to injury).
Over the years, I’ve tried all kinds of solutions on all kinds of platforms and the end result is still the same to this day: I don’t have a desktop search engine.
On Android, I turn everything Google off that I can without turning my phone into a dead weight (above all, I have no Assistant).
On Windows, I disable the search indexing on absolutely everything. I’ve got audio (and occasionally video) to work on and do not need any latency or glitching; I’m a big boy (so I’ve been told) and can take care of organising my files myself, thanks — I don’t need to search for any of my files, I know where they are (they’re where I put them).
I forget what, if anything, I used to do on an iPhone or Mac and generally just pretend I’ve never even used (let alone owned) either of them; instead drawing a discreet veil over my youthful indiscretion — thus far, I’ve successfully suppressed any recollection of them (thankyou, subconscious) and really have no idea what measures I might once have taken in their regard.
On Linux, I just don’t install one — one of the major benefits of using Arch is the fact that, if I didn’t install it myself, it isn’t on my system and doesn’t, therefore. need disabling.
But, every once in a while, being a smartarse bites me in the arse and I need to search for something on the Linux machine — not altogether infrequently on the basis of some barely even half-recalled text string (I’ve got no idea what the file might even be called, never mind where it might be).
The filemanager I refuse to do without, no matter how outdated it may be by today’s standards is SpaceFM — it is, in fact, the very first application I ever install after whichever system-auditing solution is my weapon of choice at the time ⁵. Not only is it a godsend when it comes to heavy lifting as root (I pretty much only ever use it as root), but it comes with a useful filesearch engine that also does FTS and, furthermore, like a stalker, doesn’t have any boundaries (happily searching inside binaries as well as text based files). But it doesn’t index, so each and every search is from the top all over again … which can result in a long and tedious wait (again *sigh*). So … periodically I have a bit of a ‘moment’, scream “I’m sick of this sh*t!” ⁶ and look for an alternative.
Bearing in mind my desire not to sport an anus like the Japanese flag when it comes to my privacy, I’ve ended up spending a lot of time indeed researching the various offerings as a result. And the best compromise I’ve managed to find so far was Recoll — all the benefits of an FTS index with none of the impertinent intrusiveness and, unlike earlier attempts (such as Catfish, for instance), promised to be not entirely crap in bed either.
It turned out to be an absolute disaster though:
- It just never stops f**king indexing — seriously … it’s like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, only the magic spell stands in awe of Recoll’s OCD and ADHD.
- It uses an utterly ludicrous amount of resources even when ‘in the background’ … making it essentially impossible to grab enough of them in the foreground to make it a background process in the first place.
- Unless you cripple it to the point of rendering it all but paraplegic by limiting what it may index to one directory (and no subdirectories neither, you hear!?), the indexes grow to hundreds of gigabytes before its finished getting intimate with so much as 10% of your data, gobbling up your entire storage until there’s no room left for anything but the indexes and the only things there are to index are the indexes themselves.
Which is why, each and every time I’ve suppressed the trauma of the last for long enough that I make the mistake of giving Recoll another try, I end up shamefacedly crawling back to SpaceFM’s filesearch with my tail between my legs and the promise that I’ll never cheat on it again, I swear — it may be painfully slow to perform a virgin search each time, but at least it does FTS, doesn’t privacy-rape me and harbours no ambition to bring about the entropic demise of the Universe by overwriting it with a f**king index.
So, having ‘recommended’ Recoll to someone by virtue of not having removed it from my list of apps I recommend, I was obliged to tell them to uninstall it.
The only reasons I haven’t uninstalled it in the meantime myself are:
- inertia — I’d have to actively uninstall it and … well … I never use it, never remember it as a result and I’m busy doing other things, so it just never gets uninstalled, just lurks there instead … a low grade malaevolent presence on my harddrive, leaving me with a mildly disquieting sense of unease about something but, like the sulfurous whiff of an imp’s fart overpowered by the stench of brimstone in the pits of Hell, unable to pinpoint the exact cause ⁷.
- “just in case”
I’m unable to provide a good argument as to what kind of case would be just …but the thought that there might be one nags at the base of my subconscious, telling me to “keep it … just in case.”
I should just tell my subconscious to f**k off really, but … well … you never know, do you? And it has proven to be right so many times now that, if only I could, I’d travel back in Time and impress upon my young self the absolute necessity of heeding its wisdom at all times, no matter how irrational it may seem at the time — with hindsight, it’s clear that it has yet to be wrong about anything.
Maybe I could simply download the package and its dependencies and back them up somewhere — that way I’d have the peace of mind of having covered my arse against any ‘just in case’ eventualities … without the need to ever actually install the f**king thing and ruin my day yet again.
… the search (oh, the irony) for a decent search engine continues.
¹ Don’t have a desktop search engine running as even a background service, if you intend to do any serious audiovisual work.
² I’d love to love the Zeitgeist engine, for instance, but … not only am I just not into that kind of thing anyway … don’t relish the idea of needing a buttplug to prevent seepage later in life.
³ Do any ‘administrative’ searches and it’ll add a note of what system-level resources you’ve investigated and where they’re located — just waiting to be exfiltrated and potentially taken advantage of.
⁴ I’m largely not bothered about others’ opinions, but even I have my vanities … and “I have an iPhone” or “I use a Mac” are akin to admitting to being a necrophiliac paedophile bestialist with a coprophile fetish — or … brrrrrrrrrrrr … left-handed.
⁵ Currently, AFICK, for a number of reasons.
⁷ John Tinney knows what I’m talking about.