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I love Synapse in Xfce and want to know more about improving its use.

I use it to restart, logout or shutdown, launch applications, access files and folders.

I have been trying to fix a few problems that affected file access on my second drive, as it involved opening files with executable permission and searching on a NTFS partition.

I'm not sure the second problem is fixed: all the files I have searched for until now on the second partition are accessed through locate command — that is, typing the filename shows nothing and I have to press ENTER for locate to run and find them. After being found and opened in this way I would expect them to be found directly (without locate) the next time, but that is not the case. Such files are not even shown in the recent files (opening Synapse and pressing DOWN-ARROW; files appear in the recent files list if accessed from the file manager instead of Synapse).

On the other hand, at least some files and folders from $HOME are shown directly in Synapse without the need for locate to find them.

What triggers the difference between these and the rest?

I guess Zeitgeist is involved in all normal Synapse search (the one that doesn't involve locate) and the fact Synapse is just showing me the $HOME files is because the problem of Synapse not searching NTFS partition (linked above) is not solved yet! I'm not sure I understand how locate plugin is supposed to work? Is Zeitgeist needing it in some cases or not, or are they completely separate processes?

  • How are you mounting the NTFS partition? – eyoung100 Oct 14 '19 at 21:58
  • @eyoung100 - NTFS partition mounted at startup by setting in Disks at mount point /media/username/DEPO — (nosuid,nodev,nofail,x-gvfs-show,noexec). – cipricus Oct 15 '19 at 6:18
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Trying to learn about this, I have found about the basics of Synapse's operation, which can be presented here as an answer.


Not only Synapse launcher has a lot of plugins that enhance its operation, but it is entirely based on plugins. Disabling all of them makes it useless: even Application Search is a plugin.


When just typing in Synapse, file search is done through Zeitgeist plugin, which provides search within the Zeitgeist logs. These are event logs, not files logs. More here. For a file to be found in this way, it has to have been already accessed in some way. Synapse cannot and is not intended to search for any file by simply typing part or all of its name.

That can be done through the locate search, which is based on a specific plugin intended to run that command (by selecting the last entry in the list of the simple Synapse search — which is the only entry when nothing is found).

enter image description here

The locate search is made within databases prepared by updatedb. The sudo updatedb command is needed to update the data base. Once found by locate, if files are accessed/opened, they can be then found by simple Synapse search . To be found by locate a file needs (1) to be on a partition that is not excluded through the settings in /etc/updatedb.conf, and (2) to have been created before sudo updatedb was run.

Files created on the desktop are immediately found by Synapse.

Folder search is based on a separate plugin.

After a file was opened and added to Zeitgeist, thus available with a simple search (without locate), other similar files will be found in the same way (e.g. with the same extension, within the same folder); that is due to other plugins: "Hybrid Search" and "Related files".

More here and here.


The answer to the above question is that normal Synapse file search (just typing in Synapse) uses different methods and tools than the search made with the locate command (selecting last entry after simple search and pressing ENTER). Normal search by just typing involves a tool (Zeitgeist) that only logs events, and thus finds only names of files already accessed (supplementary results are given because of the other plugins mentioned above). The search with locate is applied to all files listed when sudo updatedb was run last. Thus, it is the only way of finding files in Synapse that haven't been previously accessed and are not related to such files.

  • @sudodus - obviously! thanks! – cipricus Oct 15 '19 at 11:58

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