Search file servers from the Web with libferris and PHP

Libferris allows you to index and perform full text search on a number of file formats, including PDF, manual pages, and office documents. The recent availability of packages of libferris and its dependencies for Fedora, Ubuntu, and openSUSE makes it simpler to use the library to provide a file server search interface for the Web. Libferris was initially created to provide a virtual filesystem interface, similar to GnomeVFS and KDE's KIO. Over time libferris has gained sophisticated support for indexing and searching filesystems.

The technique described here makes use of a new user called libferrissearch on the file server to run the search interface. Using a dedicated user allows you to explicitly grant libferrissearch access to only files that you want the Web interface to find, and allows the search interface to return results which might be accessible to the user via NFS but which are not accessible to the Web server. This makes the software more useful to people who wish to take advantage of libferris for file server search, but it does introduce a bit of extra complexity in setting up the search system.