Search engine alternatives

Yeah, I’m pretty sure this is what pushed me away from Qwant awhile back now. I tried a number of ‘alternative’ search engines, and while DDG is maybe not ‘perfect’, it’s the best that I found. Qwant is very nice, but this sharing of info with Microsoft is just not OK with me.

I did find that Qwant makes it’s money off of ads and that, for me at least, those ads are only on Qwants search page. I didn’t see any ads on the search results page.

What does everyone think about using searx, but configuring it to only use Qwant? The next question will be, which searx page to use.

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With SearX i’m worried about skin-in-the-game and accountability.

Some random dude hosting a SearX instance doesn’t have much to lose and no one (or very few people) to blow the whistle if they do implement things they’re not transparent about.

If hypothetically you wanted to mine date or do something nefarious SearX is a great place to start because if you’re found out you can just pop back up somewhere else or flood trackers with your nodes.

It’s an interesting question what an “ideal” SearX instance might look like and answering that would help in the finding of one as close to that as possible.

The only true way is to host SearX yourself on your machine. But it would be only available to your machine I guess (don’t know), unless you make it public. That also means you can’t access the search from any system or phone otherwise. But it is the ultimate private search engine for you in this case: Searx - LinuxReviews has some explanation how do to that, I might do it if it’s not complicated. maybe

Agreed. There are some project-based searx pages out there.

Here is one:

This one being run by the Garuda distro.

I also need to check myself because this frikkin’ sucks and i’m beginning to justify the failings of alternatives like qwant.

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About Qwant finances, its primary resources comes from private investors. I’ll have to trace back the french article I found a while ago to say which exactly. The only I remember is the latest to join : Huawei (that caused some emotion in french tech :sweat_smile:)

They lost money every year since launching but apparently the investors still believe it can live up to the hype once they’ll be able to be independent from Bing

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This is coming down to identifying the lesser of too many evils.

For testing purposes, I dont know much about SearX or this instance.

Example for adding a SearX instance in Brave (garudalinux.org)

In the address bar, go to:

brave://settings/searchEngines

image

# Entries
SearX
:x
https://searx.garudalinux.org/?q=%s

After saving either make it a default or in the address bar type:

:x Search Term Here
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There is another method. Just go to the searx instance, click in the URL bar to expand it’s menu. Down at the bottom it says “next time search with…” And you’ll see the searx logo. Click it and its now added to the menu of search engines. You can set it as default through the usual method.

This is my take on most of the available search engine alternatives:

TL;DR: SearX and Brave Search are two good albeit imperfect options.

Another good option is Whoogle Search (proxy for pure Google results), but it has fewer available and less reliable public instances.

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Problem

garudalinux search engine went down today.
https://searx.garudalinux.org/?q=

I’ve been asking around about SearX and i’ve heard the best way to run it is randomizing the instance you use each search.

That’s acheivable using an extension similar to libredirect but I don’t recommend it because the developers are anonymous (see here) and I don’t particular want to add more people to my trust chain than necessary.

Solution

There’s something called a Data URL which allows you to render an arbitrary website from the URL string.

Paste this in your address bar to see how it works:

data:text/html,<script>alert('Hello from Ulfnic')</script>

What that means is I can make a Data URL website that accepts a search query from the browser and forwards it to a random search engine by reading the querystring value it appends to the end.

This example randomizes between searx.be and searx.xyz (note: I have not vetted these instances)

You can add/edit/remove as many as you like.

data:text/html,
<script>
urls=[
'https://searx.be/?q=',
'https://searx.xyz/?q=',
];
url=urls[Math.floor(Math.random()*urls.length)];
query=window.location.href.split('!--?').pop();
window.location.href=url+query;
</script><!--?%s

Installation is as easy as just copy/pasting into a field:

  • Go to: brave://settings/searchEngines?search=search
  • Click “Add” next to “Other search engines”

  • Either set it as a default or in the address bar use: :r My Search Term
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Or, better yet, set up your own Yacy server. Not only will you personally be free of censorship and google tracking , but by adding another node you can help others who have restricted searches from finding them

I love this question on their FAQ, “Isn’t P2P illegal?” lol

Here’s my dummy question… my instinct tells me if I self-host search i’ll be extremely trackable because my searches will originate from my server’s IP (assuming it’s not somehow behind a VPN).

The closest I can find in the FAQ is this which is jargon to me:

Will running YaCy jeopardize my privacy?

YaCy respects user privacy. All password- or cookies-protected pages are excluded from indexing. Additionally, pages loaded using GET or POST parameters are not indexed by default. Thus, only publicly accessible, non-password-protected pages will be indexed.

For a detailed explanation on the technique: How YaCy protects your privacy wrt to personalized pages.

Can other people find-out about my browsing log/history?

There’s no way to browse the pages that are stored on a peer. A search of the pages is only possible on a precise word. The words are themselves dispatched over the peers thanks to the distributed hash tables (DHT). Then the hash tables of the peers are mixed, which makes retrieving the history of browsing of a certain peer impossible.

… my instinct tells me if I self-host search i’ll be extremely trackable because my searches will originate from my server’s IP (assuming it’s not somehow behind a VPN).

No, because it uses a DHT, that is the aggregate search that is shared between all nodes, and you only look up what other nodes have added by crawling, plus what you have been crawling yourself. It can no more tie you back to an individual search than can a Tor transit node can.

Think of it like this. Say you have a node in India, and they choose to scrape all their local sites. When you, from the US, look up a search related to India, you will already have access to more alternative sources than your usual suspects Google, Bing etc. They have no way to curate your results because you are bypassing them completely.

It may seem like it would be inaccurate. But, as someone who lived before the advent of massive search engines, I can tell you most people have been ‘conditioned’ into entering loose and non-specific search terms and having the ‘algorithm’ think for them. The art of carefully crafter queries, has been out of people.

You will find it is pretty liberating to search and find the joy of discovering something tangential to what you were looking for but which was more relevant than you originally thought of.

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Update: searx.garudalinux.org is back up

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Just to check in…

I’ve been running Brave Search for ~2 months and it’s been very good. I rarely feel compelled to fall back to qwant or google but when I do I usually don’t get what I need there either.

You just have to remember to turn on “Anonymous usage metrics” here. I blow my cookies away every session which makes that a pain but I made a browser extension that does it automatically on browser launch.

Guide here:

Isn’t Searx what @dasgeek mentioned a while back in some detail?

Search engine’s have really been failing me lately. I’m so sick and tired of searching for something only to have some of my search terms ignored. So, I have to perform a search, then have to ‘Ctlr-f’ to search the results for what I was really looking for.

What we really need is user-ranking in the search results. This would help control the ‘sponsored’ results that are poisoning ‘our’ search. I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but it’s about what I am looking for, not what others want me to see.

I hope that one of the search engines will eventually step up to the challenge here.

Oh, and one more thing: Since when is posting marketing propaganda considered a review?

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