Tag Archives: locate

cfind: A search tool built on a search tool

I had to read the home page for cfind more than once to figure out what it does, but I don’t think reading it any more will help me understand why it would be useful.

cfind “provides functionality similar to that of Google Desktop from the command line” — and that much I understand. But the little intricacies are escaping me.

cfind needs locate, which is part of mlocate in Arch and not installed by default. Before you can use locate, you have to run updatedb. After that, locate can scramble through the database of your files and pull out just about anything you want, in fractions of a second. That we saw long ago.

Before you can use cfind, you have to run cindex, it’s partner application. Once all those steps are complete, you can query cfind for search strings. So once more: updatedb, then locate if you want, then cindex, and finally cfind.

And here’s the kicker: cfind and locate will generate almost identical output, with two exceptions that I can see. cfind apparently only searches through text and TeX files, and cfind orders its results by “relevance.”

Here’s what it looks like when it’s finished, sort of.


There I sent the results of locate, on the left, and cfind, on the right, through paste with column -t | most for readability’s sake. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I guess my confusion lies in the need for a tool to skim a database made from another database, when there’s already a tool that skims the original database. O_o How is cfind better than using straight locate, and filtering the results for TeX or text files?

These are the questions that keep me awake at night. ๐Ÿ˜

I appreciate that cfind might fill a niche, but I only rarely work with TeX files and don’t have enough text files to justify a search tool built on a search tool. And without any guidance on its algorithm for “relevance,” I don’t think I’ll be keeping this around.

For the record, this is the second tool I’ve come across in two years that lays claim to the “Google Desktop for the CLI” title. The other, you might remember, was doodle. Neither one seems to have usurped the standby, Unix-esque tools — find or locate — that are already available. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ