Search Engines for Fun and Profit Part One: Introduction

I started playing with search engines a couple years ago when I started up FurFinder.net for the Bad Karma Networks line of sites. At the time the pickings were slim, most of the software available was either discontinued or poorly supported. This was also true of DataparkSearch but it was the thinnest kid at fat camp. More importantly, it was the first one I got to work - despite much sweat and tears expended.

Eventually I started redeploying DP search in my professional work; it's good to have search results embedded in your site since they provide great fodder for google et al. Unfortunately, due to the round-about way I had to compile DP it did not lend itself well to library updates and so on. Eventually I let FurFinder slip into disrepair; it was simply not worth the trouble dicking around with DP's ./configure options and lengthly config files to keep the spider/index end of it operational.

This week, however, I have had reason to revisit the whole search engine arena again. I'm finishing up a contract with a client who had requested this feature, and I set them up with DP search about a year ago. In that time the "stored" content storage daemon, responsible in part for producing relevant content excerpts in the search results, had decided it would like to stop starting or producing any output at all. Additionally, I was planning on making a large multi-item announcement on the BKN sites covering things like the new image board interfaces and mass virtual hosting platform. Wouldn't it be nice to re-launch FurFinder.net too?

Normally I avoid Java software like the plague but this time Open Search Server caught my eye thanks to rave reviews. I was not let down. Five minutes after I downloaded their binary package I was logged into the web-based front end. Half an hour later I had my client's site indexed. An hour after that I had the search results seamlessly integrated with their site.

This series will chronicle my experience migrating FurFinder.net to OSS, from installation to fine tuning and maybe even some code samples here and there.


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