An introduction to Searx

05/19/2021 10:08:18 AM


Searx is a privacy-respecting decentralized meta-search engine. It queries multiple search engines and presents the results in a neutral manner. With Searx, nothing is hidden from you, promoted for political or monetary purposes, or logged and tracked for profit.

Decentralized?

Searx is developed and hosted by volunteers. When using Searx, you are asking my computer to act as a middleman for your web searches, and for it to use multiple sources for your results. There are hundreds of us offering this service, so if for whatever reason you don't trust me, you can simply find another volunteer who is hosting a Searx instance, or, better yet, host one yourself! So what do I know about you when you're using my Searx instance? For my instance, nothing at all, but this won't be the case with all other instances; some may be as benign as logging your IP to prevent abuse, and others may be being hosted for nefarious purposes, such as selling your search history to a third party, using your IP and browser fingerprint to uniquely identify you. So when using Searx, you are trusting a volunteer with your web searches, rather than corporations with the infrastructure to create profiles of your behaviour across the web for profit, research, or political purposes. Even if we assume the worst possible scenario when using Searx, this to me is far more preferable.

You can find my Searx instance here. It currently takes up half of my servers memory, so if you would like to help fund an upgrade to secure its existence, consider donating with BTC: 1DpubHVd2m18889J1DpD8WARgAEqZqNQR1. One of my goals with this website is to host more decentralized services, so any help is appreciated, though I hope you start hosting some of these services yourself, too!

So how do I use it?

When first opening Searx you'll want to head to preferences to add and remove search engines. Under 'engines', press 'allow all' and then disable reddit and digg in the general, images, news, social media, and videos sections. As of Searx 1.0 there are 70 search engines available, some are a little redundant and often break so disable any engines you have issues with. Google is often broken, but if you're reading this article then I imagine you see little value being lost there. I've just gradually whittled the number of engines down over time. I would like to promote the use of Wiby, which is a fantastic search engine for non-commercial, minimal websites that aren't full of scripts and cookies, so be sure to keep that one enabled!

There are a few other settings you might consider changing, these are under the general and plugin sections. I have dark mode(under 'Themes'), show advanced settings, results on new tabs, and vim-like hotkeys(under plugins) enabled. Keep in mind cookies are used to save these settings.

For Firefox users, you can use a Searx instance as your default search engine by clicking "page actions" in the address bar, "add search engine", and then heading to your settings to enable it as your default.

Documentation for users, admins, and developers can be found here. Any bug reports or suggestions should be made to the git repository.

Have lots of fun!


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