I'm looking for a solution in Ubuntu that indexes PDF (and ps?) files for searching later.

The criteria would be:

  1. Compatibility: Often extracting text varies, depending on what software was used to create the PDF. Some PDFs can also be "locked", which I guess one should respect.
  2. Search functionality: wildcards, regex's, "fuzzy" matching.
  3. Speed of search

In my case I want to index a folder of academic journal articles, hence the requirement that it works consistently regardless of what software created the PDF. I'm already using a reference manager so would rather not replace that.

For example: A good front-end to Beagle, and a plugin that allows it to index PDFs would be perfect.

  • You need to clarify your question. Best setup for what? Indexing it where? Displaying it how? – pauska Jul 1 '09 at 13:54
  • There are GUI frontends to Beagle for all the major desktop environments, I think... – David Z Jul 1 '09 at 16:02

Tracker does the same thing as Beagle and Strigi, but contrary to Beagle, it's written in pure C (Beagle is a Mono application). Allegedly, it is a lot faster than Beagle, though I haven't done the math myself.

I can't find you a link to Tracker, but I'm sure it's in the default Ubuntu repositories.

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  • Installed (and cron'd) on default ubuntu-desktop meta-package. – LiraNuna Jul 3 '09 at 7:21
  • Condirmed, tracker works great without any tweaking. – pufferfish Jul 9 '09 at 14:38

Lucene does fulltext indexing of PDF, HTML, Microsoft Word, and OpenDocument. It's just a library, but there are several applications/CMS using it, or you could use it as a base for your own solution.

It is free software (Apache license).


If you are looking for something with a frontend, you might consider Beagle or Strigi:



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  • AFAIK Lucene is just a storage engine, albeit a very good one. I'm looking for something that has a front-end. – pufferfish Jul 1 '09 at 14:54

I use google desktop for searching on linux. Not free, but it's the best i've found.

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