KDE to include Google-type desktop search

KDE to include Google-type desktop search

Summary: KDE developers are working on a search engine for the desktop, which they hope will be ready in the next 18 months


Developers of the open-source Linux desktop environment KDE have announced plans to simplify searching for files on the KDE desktop by adding a Google-style search feature.

The next version of KDE, which will either be called 3.4 or 4, and is likely to be released within 18 months, is expected to include the new search feature. Aaron Seigo, a KDE developer, said that developers have already been discussing and writing code for the new search engine at the KDE Community World Summit, which is currently taking place in Ludwigsburg, Germany.

The search engine will be included on the control panel and will build on KDE's current search functionality. "We are planning a Google-like search system for the control panel, although people will still be able to search for files by name," said Seigo. He pointed out that at present it is much easier to find files on the Web than on your own computer.

Seigo said the search tool is expected in the next version of KDE, but that developers couldn't guarantee that it would be completed by then. The developers may beat Microsoft to the punch with their improved search feature, as the software giant has also been discussing plans boost the power of desktop search in Windows.

Improved searching features in Microsoft's plans for the next-generation operating system Longhorn, due in 2007. The plans for Longhorn include a new method of file storage called Windows Future Storage (WinFS).

Microsoft's Web site claims that WinFS will revise the way users can search for files, regardless of which application created the data. A Microsoft spokeswoman said on Wednesday that she could not give an update on how WinFS would work and when it would be available.

The improved search is just one of several planned interface enhancements for KDE. Developers also want to simplify its look and feel.

"We are planning on streamlining KDE. Developers love to build an interface with a million levers and buttons, but it's not easy to use. We want to make the interface more intuitive without limiting power," said Seigo.

Three professional usability experts have joined the KDE project and are helping improve the interface.

Seigo said that open-source desktop software is traditionally not as easy to use as it should be, as developers have not met the needs of less technical users.

"Open source is traditionally written by programmers for programmers," he said.

Seigo did not know how KDE would look in the future, but he hopes the interface will become so intuitive that people will no longer think of it as a user interface.

"I don't know what KDE 4 will look like, but we are hope that people will stop recognising the fact that it is an interface."

But some in the open-source community doubt whether a Linux desktop will ever be able to rival the usability of a Microsoft Windows desktop. Paul Salazar, the European marketing director at Red Hat, said it has chosen to focus on Linux on the server, rather than the desktop, due to the fact that it cannot compete with Microsoft's R&D budget.

"We made a profit of $125m last year and reinvested 20 percent into research. Microsoft invests $7bn a year in research and development. We can't match that," said Salazar.

Topics: Apps, Software Development

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  • One of the best things about linux is its innovation. If there is one arguement above all others on why Microsoft shouldn't be allowed to enforce a total monopoly on the desktop market is that innovation is seriously suffering.

    In the 70's and 80's, within every 5 years we would see totally new and exciting ways of basically using a computer. These days what's changed in the last 5 or even 10 years? the basically same Windows NT code with a blue taskbar and start menu?

    For example, look at how plain and hopeless the Internet Explorer user interface is, sure the underneath code is good (except for the many security holes and bugs of course), but the user interface is by far the worst of the modern browsers when compared to say Mozilla's tabbed browsing or Konqueror's smart internet and local hard drive browsing side by side technique.

    Its this innovation which drives the IT industry, nowadays however, like so many industries that fall victim to a monopoly (telephones, railways, power - all until recently) innovation totally goes out the window. With telephones for example its only now under pressure from competitors that BT offer (quite) cheap broadband - which could have been offered 10 maybe even 15 years ago if BT had been forced by the market to do so.

    The same I think can be said for IT, hopefully over the next 10 years as Microsoft is forced to start innovating by Linux we will all end up with better, more reliable software.
  • They borrowed the idea from Tsert Inc.

    See www.tsert.com/tsert-linux.htm

    They even added some help text to the
    Konqueror URL window thinking they can copyright the idea.

    Theft is too prevalent in software
    development and is considered either
    as reverse engineering, derivation on
    previous work, borrowing, etc.

    Pierre Innocent
  • There's no mention in this article of Apple's 'Spotlight' technology. This was unveiled a few months ago in the next version of Mac OS X that will be available at the beginning of next year. It offers hard drive and application level searching with sub-second response times. http://www.apple.com/macosx/tiger/spotlight.html

    It seems coincidental that the Linux guys have suddenly jumped on the bandwagon after Apple's technology was showcased at their recent developer's conference. Both KDE and Microsoft's attempt at this is at least 2 years behind Apple's.
  • Concerning Paul Salazaar's comment on research investments, the last time I checked, Redhat was composed of oss. Redhat is not burdened with creating and improving the whole OS and everything on it. They have the advantage of using improvements made throughout the community, which means the world is working on Linux, not just Redhat. They have made significant contributions, though.

    I don't understand comments that say Linux won't be able to rival Windows on the desktop. I have used Windows as long as it has existed, and it is my opinion that the Linux desktop with KDE easily surpasses the Windows desktop. Both at home and at work, my Linux systems have a huge advantage in security, usability, and connectivity. There is simply no way Windows can compete. The only advantage Windows has is specific applications not found on any other platform.

    That will change, though. It's just amazing to think that in the last 8 years that I have been using Linux, my company has gone from mostly Windows and Novell servers to almost entirely Linux servers. And that is mostly due to vendors porting their proprietary apps to Linux and not supporting other OS's.