YaCy: The OpenSource P2P Search Engine

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Freedom, independence and you can set it up by yourself – that’s what YaCy is. The free and open source search engine can be used and hosted by anyone. Instead of search engines provided by (commercial) hosted providers, who (may) track user’s search behavior for marketing or research YaCy won’t track you for this reasons.

How it works

YaCy is a peer to peer search engine. This means that all the indexed file are not stored on a single server or server farm maintained by one person or company. The indexed websites are stored on all the devices of the community who are participating and results come together on a user search request. This has some advantages and disadvantages. First of all, you as a user are not completely anonymous. Keywords can be tracked by all the instanced of the community were the search results are requested at. But they only can see that someone searched for “How to install Gentoo on my toaster” but not the IP of the user and no geo-location, browser, operating system or screen resolution. And if you click on a link, this click won’t be tracked as well. So the privacy of the user’s are very high.

Peer to peer

The peer to peer system makes the search slower than on other centralized search engines. When you (the user) searches for a keyword, this keyword has to be redirected to other devices in different network environment and countries. Maybe home-devices with a slow upstream connection. So you have to wait longer for your search results than on other search engines. But you’ll get all crawled websites – things like censoring are not possible here. Another problem is when big P2P server disappear; they will take a huge amount of crawled websites offline as well and they’re no longer searchable.

Index quality

The quality of the index depends on the number of active peers within the network. They are called “seniors”. Seniors are crawling new and existing pages and provide updated search results. The higher the number of seniors within the P2P network, the higher the number of results.

Download and how to use it

You can use YaCy on your local machine. You don’t have to contribute to the community – you just can use it just to search the web for yourself. Download YaCy from yacy.net for Linux, Windows or Mac and run it. Open your web browser, enter http://localhost:8090 and start browsing.

How to contribute

Everybody can contribute. Start YaCy on your server or local machine and switch to the admin interface. If you want to run your server in senior mode, you have to expose port 8090. This allows YaCy to connect to other peers in the network. You can start to crawl custom websites or enable the auto crawler to start to crawl the web automatically. There are great videos tutorials how to start at YaCy Tutorials Page

But there is more

You don’t have to use YaCy to search the whole web. You can use it in-house for your intranet or for your personal forum or website as well. Within the admin interface you can select “Community-based web search”, “Search portal for your own web pages” or “Intranet Indexing”. With YaCy you’re free to do whatever you want. It’s your search engine!

Public hosted YaCy

I’m running YaCy in senior mode by myself and contribute to the P2P network. You can access the public search interface here at yacy.space


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