How-To Geek

What is trackerd and Why Is It Running?

If you’ve looked at the running processes on your Ubuntu box and wondered why there’s a process named “trackerd” that is overusing the CPU, you are in luck, because that’s exactly the topic we’ll cover today.

Tracker is a search tool built into Ubuntu, and by default seems to be configured to maximize CPU while indexing. We can either throttle it down, or just simply uninstall it if you never use it.


What Exactly Is It?

If you go to Applications \ Accessories, you’ll find the Tracker Search Tool in the list. From here you can do a full-text search against your files, and even refine by category.


It’s not a bad search tool, really.

Throttle Indexing Speed

What you can do is configure Tracker to not use as much of your CPU, by going to System \ Preferences \ Indexing Preferences.


From here you can choose to completely turn off indexing by unchecking the “Enable indexing” option.


On the performance tab, you can change the slider for Indexing speed from “Faster” all the way down to “Slower”. Then you can choose to Minimize memory usage as well.


On the Ignored Files tab, you can also add in paths of files to exclude from the indexing. If you’ve got a ton of files sitting around that you know you’ll never need to search through, there’s really no reason to have them in the index.


At this point you can Close the dialog to apply the changes. Note that if your indexing process is still out of control you might have to kill -9 the process ID, or just reboot if you feel like it.

Uninstall Tracker From the Command Line

If you never use the search screen and would simply like to get rid of it, you can open up a terminal and use the following command to remove this process.

sudo apt-get remove tracker tracker-search-tool tracker-utils

Uninstall Tracker From Synaptic

If you prefer, you can search for “tracker” within Synaptic Package Manager and then just uncheck the tracker options in the list. Once you are done, use the Apply button to actually do the uninstall.


Does anybody actually use this search engine?

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 10/1/08

Comments (25)

  1. Rob Wilkerson

    Nope. I recently switched from Windows to Ubuntu at work and immediately turned this off (I did leave it installed, though). locate and grep aren’t that difficult to use so the background noise of indexing just wasn’t worth it for me.

  2. Bush -- not related

    I’m a huge fan of Apple’s Spotlight search (though I use it through Quicksilver) but as no other OS has as effective (efficient?) a search, I’ve not really gotten into the habit of searching elsewhere.

    I do prefer Beagle, however, to Trackerd, in the Ubuntu world.

    And while I LOATHE XP’s search utility, I’ve heard good things (no, really, I have) about Vista’s search.

  3. Anirudh

    Trackerd is real nice because it’s prolly the only desktop search engine I’ve seen around which has a commandline based search frontend. However the command is pretty long so an alias helps.

    Is there any similar commandline frontend for the beagle indexer

  4. thrashnbash

    Don’t use it. I have used the search feature within Gnome Commander. Primarily though I will also just use find or grep. It gets the job done.

  5. John

    (Vista has a good search)
    I disagree… I like XP’s search better… Since I know what’s in my files, I just need to find the file name not if it has 5 upper case letters in the first paragrah. :)

    This program is really fast for searching for files on your computer, and quite light weight…


  6. jack7h3r1pp3r

    when i look in my processes it is using 8.4mb and isn’t using the cpu at all so for now i will be leaving it on :)

  7. Anon

    Honestly, I hate that it chews up CPU cycles to heavily while it’s indexing. Gross. Personally, I miss the days of BeOS (a now defunct OS that was purchased by Palm), which had probably the best native search capability of any OS. You could tag any file or folder with any number of custom attributes and really find exactly what you were looking for in a flash.

  8. bassmadrigal

    I have always just used locate (doesn’t help that I run slackware and tracker installed). In fact I have gotten so used to locate that I found a program for windows based off of it (except it is gui based). It is called locate32 found here:

    The thing I enjoy the most about it is, it will show a regular context menu in the results. I have my automatic database updates turned off, but you can right click on my computer and select update databases at any time.

  9. dirk

    well, tracker is a great tool, but the real desktop power search comes in the form of the ‘deskbar’, which tracker is only a small part of.

    so, i don’t use tracker explicitly, i use it sometimes when needed through deskbar.

  10. techtonic

    Ok, Trackerd was constantly eating my CPU, but i do lot the faceted (categories) search.
    Assuming the “Slower” slider cuts down on that, and I only use Trackerd, should I be disabling Beagle?

    Aren’t they doing the same thing, and redundantly eating resources and disk? How do I disable beagle completely? The preferences screen doesn’t seem to explicitly say “Disable Beagle.”

    Is there another automatic Search in play anywhere, that should also be disabled?

  11. techtonic

    This is maddening. I set to tracker performance to “slowest,” restarted the tracker daemon, and again my entire system started to crawl. Barely does screen draws. Since tracker preferences are set via Ubuntu admin menu, isn’ t it really the default search tool? I guess I always thought beagle was.

    Since Tracker obviously has a BAD bug, can someone suggest what i ought go be enabling or disabling, to have at least beagle running, or some search facility that doesn’t hose my sessions every day? This is what I hate about Linux. The most basic stuff is often unstable. Arggg.. Tips appreciated.

  12. Achanon

    I prefer to just use ‘locate’ from the command line. Simple, effective, and only updates the database when you tell it to.

    Anon: “Personally, I miss the days of BeOS (a now defunct OS that was purchased by Palm), which had probably the best native search capability of any OS. You could tag any file or folder with any number of custom attributes and really find exactly what you were looking for in a flash.”

    Have you taken a look at Haiku? It’s essentially a community driven re-build of BeOS, and while I don’t use it myself, it does look quite nice.

  13. Mike


    Also worth noting is that Apple hired the developer of the BeFS file system to work on the OS X filesystem.

  14. SilverWave

    Catfish is a great front end for “find” or “locate”
    I absolutely detest tracker and beagle first thing I do is uninstall!
    Recoll has a much better search interface and it works. i.e it actual will find what you are looking for :)
    For search and replace try the “regexxer Search Tool”

  15. bigbert

    Note: the ‘find’ and ‘locate’ commands are just for FILENAMES. Tracker searches the CONTENTS of files as well. Very useful if you want to find all the documents where Joe Soap is mentioned. It also searches Evolution emails.

    Also note the ‘catfish’ is a very nice & useful front-end for tracker, available in the repo’s.

    Don’t use Beagle – it needs the Mono framework. I don’t trust Mono, because it is based on the Microsoft .NET framework. Who knows when / if MS will decide to sue people using it.

    I do agree that tracker can chew CPU, but this is just initially (to build a database) and there after when you copy a file to your HDD. Give it time; after a month or so it will settle down.

    I agree that recoll is cool; if you want to unintstall tracker and install recoll + Xapian, go for it.

  16. Zac

    I use tracker sometimes. It does an index 45sec after startup, which is quick depending on how much changes you did the previous session. I just turned off indexing Evolution email, as I use mostly gmail now with prism and checkmail. Mainly use tracker to search for documents. I have had no problems with tracker at all, search results are very quick. I also, because of mono prefer tracker over beagle but is tracker getting constantly improved? Beagle is supported by Novell so it probably gets better funding?(Ubuntu 8.04)

  17. shnoofy

    I don’t need searchtools because I know where my files are located. A searchengine would be useful in private library software for books and multimedia, but desktopsearch is extreamly useless to me.

  18. Drake Justice

    excellent article… all new ubuntu tweakers need to read this.

  19. Fab

    I use Pinot, either with the stand-alone UI or through Deskbar. It also has a command-line based front-end.

  20. Lorn

    No, don’t use it, and don’t need it, and or the system resources it uses.

    put this function in your .bashrc file.

    # finds a filename recursively and case insensitively from the current directory.
    # you can change ‘ff’ to any alias you want that’s not used.
    # ex: ff readme
    function ff() { find . -iname ‘*’$1’*’ ; }

  21. mark

    always wonder what people use these things for, just organize your files in some rational manor and use version control for anything important, maybe its just me but between using svn for all code/design/office documents and reasonable organization for everything else i have 9TB of data on my workstation and never need to search for anything

  22. ykanello

    I just removed. I wanted first to see if it will break anything in the ubuntu-desktop setup but all went nice. I removed it because I don’t use it, (either locate or find does the job for me) plus even when tuned down it runs only on one core, and gets the system out of powersave mode, so the fans kick in even when its idle.

  23. Andrew P.

    Tracker is half-baked and broken, at least in my experience with Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy Gibbon) and Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex). It slows down the machine and I’ve never seen it find anything. Canonical may have been including it in the distributions in a forlorn hope that the creators of Tracker will fix it real soon, but little progress has been made to that end in the last two years. Short of removing it, it’s best to disable it through the Main Menu:

    System > Preferences > Sessions

    Uncheck “Tracker” and “Tracker Applet”. It won’t be loaded the next time you log in. Use Places > Search for Files… from the Main Menu instead.

  24. Tom Kirkpatrick

    This has been bugging me for some time. If I want to find something, I open up a terminal and type `locate filename` – much simpler. I’m sure others find it useful, but I’ve uninstalled tracker now – it really eats up the CPU with the default settings.

  25. zevera

    I’m a big big fan of Apple’s Spotlight search (though I use it through Quicksilver) but i have found it more efficient and effective. its really very useful.

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