The sys admin's daily grind

Charly's Column – googler

Article from Issue 250/2021

If you are a genuine admin, you will want to be able to google things at the command line. Charly uses googler for this; it has pretty useful capabilities despite the unimaginative name.

What if you need to google something but only have access to a command line? You could just grab your smartphone, but if you want to copy and paste something from the search results, that's not really a good solution. A text-mode browser like Lynx is more suitable.

But there is another option that is more powerful and fits seamlessly into the workflow on the console: googler [1]. Many distributions have the tool in their package repositories, but it can also be installed manually with a few commands (Listing 1). The current version (at press time in July 2021) is googler 4.3.2.

Listing 1

Installing googler

$ cd Downloads/
$ wget -c
$ tar -xvf v4.3.2.tar.gz
$ cd googler-4.3.2/
$ sudo make install
$ cd auto-completion/bash/
$ sudo cp googler-completion.bash /etc/bash_completion.d/

In the simplest case, you can start a keyword search on Google by calling googler TERM. The result for the keyword "Linux" is shown in Figure 1. You can see that googler numbers the search results. If you type the number for a search result, googler passes the address to the default web browser to open. If this does not work for you, that means that googler cannot determine the appropriate browser. You then need to pass in the name of the program with the --url-handler parameters, for example, as --url-handler lynx (or whatever you use).

Figure 1: googler displays the hits for the search term "Linux" in a numbered list.

By default, googler always returns 10 search results; the number can be increased or reduced with the -n NUMBER parameter. The parameter I use most often, however, is -t 12m. This will only show hits that are at most 12 months old – which is quite handy, because if you're looking for a particular error message, for example, you are naturally more interested in recent results than ancient ones.

It is also often useful to limit the search to one website. For example, if you only want to see results from Wikipedia, you can do this with the -w option. The example in Figure 2 shows hits for the term "Linux" that come from the Wikipedia website.

Figure 2: If needed, you can restrict the search to a single website.

If you do not want to leave any data traces when searching the web, take a look at ddgr [2]. It comes from the same author as googler, supports (almost) the same parameters, but uses DuckDuckGo and is therefore far more frugal in terms of data handling.

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