One of the reasons I switched to KDE from Gnome was Dolphin, the file manager that ships with KDE.  When I made the switch a couple of years ago, the Find feature in KDE worked really well.  But some time in the last couple of years, the two distributions I’ve been using – Kubuntu and Linux Mint KDE – haven’t had the Find feature working from the base install.  I’ve muddled along without that feature for about two years (I don’t always need it, but there have been a few times when I really did need it and it didn’t work).  I finally figured out how to get it working.  It has to be one of the most ridiculously broken elements of Linux I’ve ever discovered as the solution is convoluted and counter-intuitive.

To begin with, from the base install in Dolphin, here is the Find button:

enabling find function in Dolphin in KDE

If you click it, it will open a find dialogue in the location bar at the top of Dolphin:

enabling find function in Dolphin in KDE
(click for full size)

If you try to find something, you’ll get an error message that says, “Invalid protocol” that looks like this:

enabling find function in Dolphin in KDE
(click for full size)

Dolphin has done that for the last two or three years or so, which means I haven’t been able to use this very basic feature of the file manager.

If you look around for advice on how to fix this, you’ll get mired in a bunch of forums that suggest different things about “baloo,” the new search program in KDE (that replaced Nepomuk, the failed, processor-hungry semantic search engine that no one really liked).  Here’s the problem with “baloo”: it’s not installed by default in Linux Mint KDE or Kubuntu.  That’s actually fine if you don’t need this search feature.  But, and here’s the convoluted part of this, you don’t actually use baloo for the search function in Dolphin.  However, you have to install it in order to enable the search function in Dolphin to work, but then turn baloo off.  Seriously!  It’s rather absurd and broken at the moment.

Here’s what you have to do.  First, install baloo4 from synaptic:

enabling find function in Dolphin in KDE
(click for full size)

If you try the search function now, it still won’t work.  Dolphin won’t give you the error message anymore, but it also won’t find anything.  It just gives you an empty page of results, regardless of what you search for.  But, installing baloo does something that makes enabling the Find feature possible.  If you open up System Settings, you’ll see a new icon that wasn’t there before – Desktop Search:

enabling find function in Dolphin in KDE
(click for full size)

We’ll return to that System Setting option in a minute.

Next, go back to Synaptic and install the following packages: kde-baseapps, systemsettings (probably already installed), and kfind (also probably already installed).

enabling find function in Dolphin in KDE
(click for full size)

You can still try searching in Dolphin after you’ve done this, but it won’t work.  There is one more completely counter-intuitive step.  Once you’ve installed kde-baseapps (and the other two packages), go back to the System Settings window and click on the new Desktop Search icon.  There is a check box below the window where you can exclude locations that says “Enable Desktop Search.”  Uncheck it and click “Apply”:

enabling find function in Dolphin in KDE
(click for full size)

Now, try searching in Dolphin and, voila, it works:

enabling find function in Dolphin in KDE
(click for full size)

This fix for the Find feature in a basic program in KDE is completely counter-intuitive.  In sum, in order to turn on the “search” feature, you have to install a package that you aren’t going to use, install another package that you are going to use, and then turn off the first package (baloo).  Why?  Why?  Why?

KDE programmers – I love your software!  I really, really, do.  But this makes no sense.  Can you please decide on a file/folder search solution, install it by default, and then make it a simple click of a button to turn it on or off?  This should not be anywhere close to this complicated!

63 Replies to “Linux: Getting “Find” working in Dolphin on KDE (Linux Mint and Kubuntu)”

  1. Thx a lot, Ryan.

    I’m using KDE/Dolphin on Linux Mint 17.1 and 17.2 and the bug (sorry, can’t sugar-coat it) still exists.
    With your explanation here I got KFind running finally, but still I can’t find files e.g. by date.
    Dear KDE-programmers: Please, don’t force me, to switch back to Windows :-(

    1. Yeah, I don’t entirely understand why this is the current situation on KDE. I think (don’t know for sure) that the idea is that the krunner application (what comes up when you hit Alt+F2) is supposed to eventually take the place of trying to find files in Dolphin (not sure why you can’t use both). When you turn off Desktop Search in the System Settings, krunner no longer searches for files, even if you have the Desktop Search plugin checked in krunner’s settings. In other words, there seems to be some level of conflict or disagreement among the KDE programmers as to where file searching should be done: in krunner or Dolphin. Why these are mutually incompatible is beyond me. It’s stupid. Someone at KDE needs to fix this.

  2. Wow! This has been plaguing me for a long time, and has discouraged me from urging my friends into Linux as strongly as I used to. Such a fundamental, necessary function, that has to work! THANK YOU SO MUCH! I don’t know how you figured this out. The cryptic hints getting me bogged down in baloo just didn’t solve the problem.

    1. I finally decided I would stick with trying to figure it out until I did. It took me about 3 hours one night, but I found a process that worked and after I double-checked that it did work, I did a little cheer! It involved lots of googling and the willingness to totally bork my laptop that I was going to reformat soon anyway. I didn’t end up messing up that install, but I was willing to in order to figure this out.

      Glad it helped you out.

    1. Kevin,

      You disable baloo by turning OFF “Enable Desktop Search” in System Settings.

      I’m running LinuxMint 17.2 on three of my computers (Kubuntu on one a fourth). This fix works on all four of them.

      Best,

      Ryan

      1. Wonderful. I have SUSE LINUX 15.0 with kde desktop. At some
        I disabled the File Search Option in Desktop Configuration.
        Then I wanted it back, no amount of fooling around with Desktop configuration helped
        After reading Ryan’s post,I disabled the baloo search option in Desktop configuration.
        And Lo and behold Dolphin started giving the search results again.
        Thanks a lot ryan

  3. Thank you Ryan, your investigative work really saved many of us KDE enthusiasts from a lot of frustration

  4. Hats off to you ryan.
    I’m using debian Wheezy with xfce, but prefer Dolphin as the file manager and the search function has never worked since I installed Dolphin. Saying this as it’s not isolated to Linux Mint and the solution works, at least on my system, so probably would work for others also.
    Your directions above are magic. Thankyou.

  5. I’m a first time KDE user. This search configuration problem is a big black eye for KDE. Your help was very much appreciated. BTW, the button on the Configure File Search system settings page on my system reads, “Enable File Search.”

    Thanks!

  6. No, it’s not senseless.
    Turning off the search in system settings disables baloo but not searching in general. KDE then uses a more “conservative” approach to finding files by traversing the filesystem each time you start to search — something like “grep -r -i searchstring”.
    It just doesn’t use baloo, so no meta-keyword database indexing with accessing is done. This is why this is way slower for large directories and thousands of files.
    Apart from this I really currently don’t get baloo to work either. krunner does find something but I don’t really know how, dolphin find does not find anything.
    So, in a sense, for me it is still a mess.

  7. Been fiddling with Plasma 5 over Kali-rolling, liked Dolphin but, up until literally 10 minutes ago when I found Ryan’s post, was equally frustrated with the inability to search.

    On Plasma 5 Ryan’s fix is System Settings > Search > File Search and disable the checkbox ‘against Enable File Search’ which, on my system, lists the externally mounted file systems.

    My native file system is SDA3, but my mounted volumes are a mixture of FAT32, NTFS & PTP/MTP. From the file system point of view the exception thrown by Dolphin, and the fix, make perfect sense if the search protocol(s) required for my external sources are not the same as that launched from an SDA3 filesystem. And vice versa (if the search protocol launched from within a FAT32 volume falls over when it reaches an SDA3 volume).

    If someone has mounted filesystems the same as their native ones (I don’t) then perhaps they could see if this supposition works?

    Anyway I am a happy chappie now I know how to manage the issue. If Dolphin gets fixed, then I will be ecstatic.

    1. Update: did an upgrade and dist-upgrade and Dolphin died again …… could not be resurrected using this fix on my system. Still digging for a fix.

  8. Kubuntu 16.04’s Dolphin doesn’t ‘Find’. There is already a ‘Search’ item in System Settings, with Plasma Search having a selection. Baloo4 wants to remove a whole slew of apps, the suggested alternative (baloo-kf5) is already installed. Is one of the Plasma Search items the culprit?

    1. Further investigation: System Settings > Search has “File Search” which, when you look closely, has a list of places NOT to search. Un-checking this got some ‘Find’ in Dolphin! Oops – works fine on a directory tree from / (root) of a drive, but when encountering links/symlinks nothing happens. Dolphin says it’s searching down the bottom of the window, but there is no disk activity or report. Shame! – pretty much all of my data files reside under symlinks :(

  9. Thanks! This fixed the Dolphin search feature in my wifes Debian Squeeze/KDE system. When I installed Debian 8 I opted for Xfce but Dolphin is a must-have app. I can’t use this fix on my system because I don’t have the KDE settings menu (so I can’t get to the box in Desktop Search to uncheck it) but Catfish works ok. It may be time for me to go back to KDE. :)

  10. Thanks,
    I removed baloo afterwards, and the find in dolphin still works.
    How did you find this solution?

  11. I am running Ubuntu 16.04. I followed your steps but still no search in Dolphin. Do you think the steps should be different for my os?
    thanks for your effort in any case.

  12. This is 10/2016 and this issue still exists in Debian 8 / Jessie!! Your fix works for Debian 8 with KDE desktop. Kudos and thanks!

  13. I have the same problem, I open dolphin in Ubuntu 14.04 and this open and it don’t shows any files or folders.
    If I run Dolphin by terminal apears the error:
    dolphin(4302): No ksycoca4 database available!

    I try to follow this tutorial but Not appears the icon Desktop Search on System Settings.
    Some idea to help me?

  14. I can’t open systemsettings, because systemsettings only runs under KDE. I have LXDE. Is there a file I can manually edit to get search working in Dolphin?

  15. This is KDE Neon 5.8 (base is Ubuntu 16.04 LTS).
    A KDE, freaking, Neon – KDE own distro.
    End of 2016.
    And this problem is still there!

    Enter anything in search – and it does not work. Quering balooctl status says it indexed a whopping 11 files!! I have added all my drives there. All permissions are correct. And this!

    You solution disabling baloo and using kfind instead worked like charm! The options to pick modification date and file type are grayed out, but why should I care if default search itself is broken?

    THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

    1. Dex above is right! Here is how to fix indexed search (baloo, balooctl):
      1. In System Settings > Search > Plasma Search, some filetypes have a hidden configuration icon.

      Also 2. the System Settings > Search > File Search, the description actually says “Do NOT search the locations” and it seem to automatically add ALL MOUNTED partitions there!
      Means, if your data resides on different partition than /home, regardless how it was mounted (fstab, automount or KDE login mount) it will not be indexed! And I assume that’s majority of people do!

      Once I REMOVED everything from “File Search” section, it started to find my files. However, it seem to have problems with links, as it finds the same file over and over.

      Regardless, removing baloo and using kfind is a good way if static search is preferred (baloo is dynamic and constantly indexes). Kfind static search finds only files and takes much slower to do so, but does not need to be constantly running.

  16. One and a half years later and this is still not fixed…
    But thank you! One year after switching to dolphin I can finally use the search feature :D

  17. In Kde 4
    In the file $HOME/.kde/share/config/baloofilerc

    Write

    [Basic Settings]
    Indexing-Enabled=true

    This makes the search bar work

    The places on the left side disappear

  18. to me the stupidest thing about baloo is that “by default” it doesn’t index plain/text mime types, which means no content search in text files.
    This is totally absurd.
    I’m going to apply your tip, thank you very much!

  19. Ryan, your resolve to solve and document this probem are still appreciated two years later. The KDE team responsible for this error still have not taken notice of its severity.
    Many thanks to you.

  20. Ugh, I’ve tried for hours to set up dolphin (Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS with Gnome 3) and your post is the closest I got from the success. It’s also your post that made me give up …
    I think I ‘ll try to make peace with nemo and forget dolphin :'(

  21. Ryan-

    Two years on, and this bug still exists. At least with the current Mint install I didn’t have to install / disable packages – everything I needed was already in place. I just had to disable File Search in the settings to enable it. Which is stunningly counter-intuitive.

    Thank you for the solution.

  22. Good lord.

    Thank you.

    FYI, I found I didn’t need to install the kde-baseapps package – just disabling the desktop search seemed to do it…

  23. Thank you!! This is still broken in Kubuntu 17.10 / KDE 5.10 . Seriously wtf. Appreciate you documenting the workaround as I never would have tried disabling the search feature to use the search feature.

  24. Just here to let everyone know that it’s 2017 I’m running KDE Neon and the search function on Dolphin is still a broken pile of trash. Baloo is awful, KDE is for morons, and George Bush did 9/11.

  25. I’m going to be 100% honest with you – after almost 10 years of KDE I never knew it worked at all. My world has just been blown wide open. Thanks.

  26. Still broken. Only now your fix doesn’t work in Mint. If I try to install Baloo4, it wants to uninstall the desktop and Dolphin! Some kind of baloo is installed by default, but it’s major league broken. Tried just turning of the search files, and it runs, but never returns a result.

    A simple find . -type f -exec grep “example” ‘{}’ \; -print
    runs all of a fraction of a second.

    So it looks like I’ll need a damn shell script just to search in files for a text string. It should not be this hard to have a user friendly find in files function. Sadly this also seems to impact Kate’s feature to search in files, because it can’t find any files.

    1. What version of Mint are you running? I’m currently running Kubuntu 18.04 and find is working fine in Dolphin without any modifications right after installation.

  27. “Enable Desktop Search.” is the Wrong Name for a feature that Excludes directories from the search.

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