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an alternative search engine

Created in response to the environs of apathy concerning the use of hypertext search and discovery. In Lieu, the internet is not what is made searchable, but instead one's own neighbourhood. Put differently, Lieu is a neighbourhood search engine, a way for personal webrings to increase serendipitous connexions.

lieu screenshot


  • Enable serendipitous discovery
  • Support personal communities
  • Be reusable, easily


How to search

For the full search syntax (including how to use site: and -site:), see the search syntax and API documentation.

Getting Lieu running

$ lieu help
Lieu: neighbourhood search engine

- precrawl  (scrapes config's general.url for a list of links: <li> elements containing an anchor <a> tag)
- crawl     (start crawler, crawls all urls in config's crawler.webring file)
- ingest    (ingest crawled data, generates database)
- search    (interactive cli for searching the database)
- host      (hosts search engine over http)

    lieu precrawl > data/webring.txt
    lieu crawl > data/crawled.txt
    lieu ingest
    lieu host

Lieu's crawl & precrawl commands output to standard output, for easy inspection of the data. You typically want to redirect their output to the files Lieu reads from, as defined in the config file. See below for a typical workflow.


  • Edit the config
  • Add domains to crawl in config.crawler.webring
    • If you have a webpage with links you want to crawl:
    • Set the config's url field to that page
    • Populate the list of domains to crawl with precrawl: lieu precrawl > data/webring.txt
  • Crawl: lieu crawl > data/crawled.txt
  • Create database: lieu ingest
  • Host engine: lieu host

After ingesting the data with lieu ingest, you can also use lieu to search the corpus in the terminal with lieu search.


Tweak the theme values of the config, specified below.


The config file is written in TOML.

name = "Merveilles Webring"
# used by the precrawl command and linked to in /about route
url = ""
# used by the precrawl command to populate the Crawler.Webring file;
# takes simple html selectors. might be a bit wonky :)
webringSelector = "li > a[href]:first-of-type"
port = 10001

# colors specified in hex (or valid css names) which determine the theme of the lieu instance
# NOTE: If (and only if) all three values are set lieu uses those to generate the file html/assets/theme.css at startup.
# You can also write directly to that file istead of adding this section to your configuration file
foreground = "#ffffff"
background = "#000000"
links = "#ffffff"

# the source file should contain the crawl command's output 
source = "data/crawled.txt"
# location & name of the sqlite database
database = "data/searchengine.db"
# contains words and phrases disqualifying scraped paragraphs from being presented in search results
heuristics = "data/heuristics.txt"
# aka stopwords, in the search engine biz:
wordlist = "data/wordlist.txt"

# manually curated list of domains, or the output of the precrawl command
webring = "data/webring.txt"
# domains that are banned from being crawled but might originally be part of the webring
bannedDomains = "data/banned-domains.txt"
# file suffixes that are banned from being crawled
bannedSuffixes = "data/banned-suffixes.txt"
# phrases and words which won't be scraped (e.g. if a contained in a link)
boringWords = "data/boring-words.txt"
# domains that won't be output as outgoing links
boringDomains = "data/boring-domains.txt"
# queries to search for finding preview text
previewQueryList = "data/preview-query-list.txt"

For your own use, the following config fields should be customized:

  • name
  • url
  • port
  • source
  • webring
  • bannedDomains

The following config-defined files can stay as-is unless you have specific requirements:

  • database
  • heuristics
  • wordlist
  • bannedSuffixes
  • previewQueryList

For a full rundown of the files and their various jobs, see the files description.


Build a binary:

# this project has an experimental fulltext-search feature, so we need to include sqlite's fts engine (fts5)
go build --tags fts5
# or using go run
go run --tags fts5 . 

Create new release binaries:



Source code AGPL-3.0-or-later, Inter is available under SIL OPEN FONT LICENSE Version 1.1, Noto Serif is licensed as Apache License, Version 2.0.