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YaCy is a search server you can install on your computer. It is based on P2P technology, which means that there are no centralized servers; instead, each of the servers installed on your computer and those of other users crawls the web and creates a shared searchable index. The tool works “out of the box”; however, there are a few things you would like to configure. Luckily, there is a dedicated page to explain that.
YaCy runs hidden in the Menu Bar, from where you can access its interface, via web browser. In Search Engine mode, it shows a portal with the usual search textbox. Besides, it lets you decide on what type of contents you are looking for: text or images. Likewise, there are additional search options for more precise results. There is a button in the upper right corner of the portal that lets you enter the Administration mode. This way, you can monitor usage, configure network access, administer RAM and disk usage, among many other things.
The idea behind YaCy is to allow people to search the Internet more democratically, without imposed censorship or logs of user requests. This is done through the P2P protocol, which allows you to access indexes shared on multiple other computers just like yours. Every node can crawl the web and index whatever is found, so it has the potential to create a really huge shared database. Also, if your intentions are not to search the whole web, there is the possibility of creating a search portal that shows only those resources that are shared on your Intranet.
Although the idea behind YaCy is conceptually sound, it seems there is still a long way to go before it can become a recommended general-purpose search engine. First, it is in no condition to compete with other search engines in terms of information volume. Second, its “democratic” sorting of results makes them appear in a quite random order, which means that most of the search hits you get are very probably useless for your purposes. Still, it may serve for specialized uses or indexing local contents. Finally, from the technical point of view, YaCy has the inconvenience of using many system resources as well as bandwidth.
All in all, YaCy is a great idea, conceptually speaking. However, from the practical point of view, there are still many technical aspects to solve. The product is open-source and I will not discourage you from giving it a try.
- Allows creating your own search engine or search portal
- No censored results
- No logs of user requests
- Searches and indexes local shared resources
- Most results may be irrelevant for your purpose
- Not as much volume of information as that indexed by major search engines
- Overuses local resources and bandwidth