Drill: New Desktop File Search Utility That Uses Clever Crawling Instead Of Indexing

Drill is a new file search utility that uses "clever crawling" instead of indexing, for Linux, Windows and macOS.

The application can locate files and folders, but it does not search file contents. It's designed for desktops, using a Gtk GUI by default, but there's also a command line frontend available, albeit quite minimal right now (a Ncurses backend is on the todo list as well).

Drill file search tool

The user interface is very minimal, with an input field where you type what you're looking for, and a list of search results. Double clicking on any of the search results opens that file (this currently only works on X11). Opening the folder containing the file is on the to do list, like quite a few other features.

The Drill developer, Federico Santamorena, says that after switching to Linux, he had almost everything he needed, minus a fast desktop-oriented search tool, so he created clone of "Everything" that runs on Linux (as well as Windows and macOS), called, Drill. The Windows-only application called Everything dumps the NTFS partition file list, and can scan your files almost instantaneously.

"File searching in Linux instead is broken: updatedb is old technology and it's sad a lot of GUI applications use it as backend like Catfish, AngrySearch and FSearch still use indexing and are slow too", writes Federico on Reddit.

Drill "doesn't care about weak systems", mentions its project page, making use of full multithreaded power in a clever way to find your files in the fastest possible way.

Drill uses clever crawling instead of indexing, and excludes some obvious folders that the user doesn't care about (e.g. node_modules). Another difference between Drill and other file search utilities is that Drill uses clever multithreading - it uses at least 1 thread per mount point, which should speed up the search, since most of the time the limitation for file searches is usually the disk speed, and not the CPU or RAM. And finally, Drill caches everything (to RAM) to speed things up.

Main Drill features:

  • Designed for desktop users
  • At least 1 thread per mount point
  • No root privileges required
  • Try to avoid "black hole folders" using a regex based blocklist in which the crawler will never come out and never scan useless files (node_modules,Windows,etc)
  • Use priority lists to first scan important folders
  • Betting on the future: slowly being optimized for SSDs/M.2 or fast RAID arrays
  • It's free and open source software

Quite a few items are on the Drill to do list, like being able to open found files on Wayland, adding a Ncurses frontend, sorting by column, showing actual folder size, or metadata searching.

Another attempt at creating an "Everything" file search tool clone for Linux is gosearch, which makes use of recent changes in Linux 5.1 to keep a file index up to date in real time, using few system resources. gosearch is very new, just like Drill, and is currently for the command line only.

Download Drill desktop search tool

There are Microsoft Windows, macOS and Linux binaries (AppImage, DEB and AUR packages) for download. RPM, Flatpak and Snap packages are on the to do list.

The AppImage should work on any Linux distribution. Make it executable (either from command line or from the right click -> Properties menu from your file manager), then double click the file to launch it.