A Nod to Linux By Google’s Desktop Search

It’s the moment some Google  fans have been waiting for. At least, the Linux-loving Google fans.

Google released a beta version of its Desktop search application that runs on Linux, adding a third leg to its operating system support that includes Mac OS X and Windows.

Google Desktop is a desktop search application that provides full text search for e-mail, files, music, photos, chats, Gmail and Web pages that users view. Think of it as using the Google search engine without the browser.

Rivals Yahoo , AOL and Microsoft  also offer standalone desktop search apps. But Microsoft is really looking to best Google by baking desktop search functionality into Vista.

Google said in a statement the new Linux version, developed by the search giant’s Beijing engineers, lets users search text, HTML files, e-mail from Thunderbird, OpenOffice.org documents, folders, images and music. The software also lets programmers search source code and information contained in .pdf, .ps, .man and .info documents.

The software also finds deleted files and older file versions, and lets users search their Gmail Webmail and Web search history whether they’re online or offline.

“Not only can you rediscover important documents that have been idling on your hard drive for years, but you can also search through emails saved in Gmail or other applications,” Mendel Chuang, product marketing manager at Google, said in a blog post.

There is also a quick search box so that users can do Web and desktop searches by tapping the Control key twice.

Google Desktop for Linux works with both the GNOME  and KDE  graphical desktop environments and runs on Debian 4.0, Fedora Core 6 (but not Fedora 7), Ubuntu 6.10, SUSE 10.1 and Red Flag 5. The application can be downloaded here.

Google is hardly a stranger to Linux, with versions of its Picasa, Google Earth and Google Toolbar for Firefox applications tailored for the open source operating system.

The company also shows strong support for open source developers, hosting Summer of Code contests, and has hosted its Google Code developer site for more than two years.

In other Google news, the company triggered a pilot initiative called Google Gadget Ventures to support an “economic ecosystem around gadgets,” according to a company statement. Google Gadgets are applications that developers can create and anyone can embed into their iGoogle homepage or Web site.

“In the year and a half since we launched Google Gadgets, we’ve seen a lot of growth in this program,” said Sep Kamvar, engineering lead for personalization at Google, in a blog post. “The developer community has created thousands of gadgets, and the top gadgets get tens of millions of page views per week.”

Google Gadget Ventures will offer third-party gadget development and gadget-related businesses grants of $5,000 to developers who’ve built gadgets in Google’s directory that receive at least 250,000 weekly page views. Qualified Gadget developers must submit a one-page proposal.

Google is also offering seed investments of $100,000 to previous Google Gadget Ventures grant recipients who want to build a business around the Google Gadgets platform. Qualified developers must submit a business plan.

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