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Interview: Roberto Cappuccio of KAT

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Kat Desktop Search Environment is an open source framework designed to allow KDE applications to index and retrieve files; loosely speaking, a search tool. Tuxmachines has had the rare opportunity to speak with Roberto Cappuccio, wonderfully talented developer of KAT.

Roberto is a 38 year old student in Bolzano, Italy, working on his Master of Science degree. Previously a software consultant for his own company, he is now the System Administrator of the Faculty of Computer Science at the University of Bozen-Bolzano. He's not married, but he is in a committed relationship, gals.

According to the website, Kat is similar to the Windows applications WhereIsIt and Google Desktop Search. Metadata, fulltext and thumbnails are extracted from documents, images, mp3 and other media allowing quick and accurate information retrieval.

Also being featured on, one can find a quick howto, brief changelog and more screenshots of this wonderful utility there. svn is available here.

As you might recall, KAT now ships with MandrivaLinux and the index tool is present by default in the system tray on their 2006 desktops. In addition, Roberto states that Kubuntu ships with KAT and "Debian is evaluating the possibility of including Kat in Etch."


TM: I notice a few distros are shipping with Beagle, how is yours different? better?

Roberto: From a technical point of view:
Beagle is a Gnome application, written in C# (and another 2 or 3 languages), using the MONO library and lucene. Kat is a KDE application, written in C++, using KDE and KIO libraries, using and extending the KDE architecture.

From a functional point of view:
Beagle is only a Desktop Search engine, like Google desktop search. Kat technology will be used as a base for the Context Linking engine of KDE called Tenor. This means that we index files and content like Beagle, but then we go beyond this and link the items based on their context.

The result is: better and more accurate search.

TM: What distro do you run most of the time? favorite distro?

Roberto: Debian SID, but right now I'm using Kubuntu, which is more user friendly.

TM: When did you first start using linux, what was your first experience, why when what etc?

Roberto: I have always been a Windows power user. I tried Linux a lot of times during the past years but I found it terribly unstable and mostly unusable. Six months ago I had to do an assignment for a course in Data Mining and it had to be done in C++ in Linux. So I armed myself with patience and discovered Debian. That project has become Kat.

TM: Are you actively involved in other open source projects, what if any, are some of your other projects?

Roberto: Yes, I will collaborate with the Tenor team in order to create the new Search Engine for KDE, which will incorporate also Contextual Linking.

TM: Why KAT?

Roberto: It is a word joke. It creates catalogs, it is developed for KDE (and you know that almost all KDE apps have a name beginning with K), so it should have been called Katalog, but an application with that name already exists... So I contracted it to Kat. I love cats (I have always had cats around), so the similarity between Kat and cat made the rest. I also designed Kat logo.

TM: What's in the future for KAT?

Roberto: Kat will remain an application on its own as long as we manage to merge it with Tenor. Then it will survive inside of Tenor, as the Content Search layer.

TM: Would you like to say hi or anything to anyone? Or do you have a message you'd like published?

Roberto: I'm searching for a sponsorship from a big software company, like the one Trolltech offered to Aaron Seigo. I need to work a lot to Kat and Tenor, but I also have to work for my university. If I could get a sponsorship, the evolution of Kat could be much more quick.

Tuxmachines found Roberto to be an extremely nice and accessible developer, and very much enjoyed doing the research on this wonderful application for this article. I encourage everyone who desires a comprehensive search utility to install and use Kat. Visit the home of Kat and look for Kat in the upcoming release of Mandriva 2006.

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