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Installing Searchlight

Installing Searchlight involves several steps, some going beyond the boundaries of your Drupal site. You will need shell access and administrative-level permissions on your server or local machine. Expect additional pain and suffering if you are using Windows.


  1. Ensure basic requirements are met and install Drush.
  2. Choose a search backend service and install it.
  3. Install Searchlight on your Drupal site and configure its backend.
  4. Configure the datasource(s) for your website.
  5. Generate configuration files for your search service.
  6. Index your content and start your search backend service.
  7. Search for content.

Requirements & dependencies

  • PHP 5.2 or greater
  • Drupal 6.x or equivalent core (e.g. Pressflow)
  • CTools 1.3 or greater
  • Views 2.x (a relatively recent release) or 3.x
  • Drush 3.0
  • One of the Search backend services (e.g. Apache Solr or Sphinx)

1. Ensure basic requirements are met and install Drush

Make sure you have all the required components and have installed and tested Drush. Note that you will also need the respective requirements of the search service you plan on using. For example, Sphinx requires standard UNIX build tools as well as MySQL or PostgreSQL as your datasource. See the documentation for Sphinx and/or Solr for more information:

2. Choose a search backend service and install it

Searchlight currently support Sphinx and Apache Solr. You only need to install one of these search services. Searchlight cannot use both Solr and Sphinx at the same time, though you can have both services installed and switch between them during development. Instructions for installing each are below.

  • Searchlight has been tested against Sphinx 0.9.9. Run the usual .configure, make and make install commands to build and install Sphinx on your system.

    Note: On some OS X installs you have to adjust the $PATH environment variable to make sure that the mysql_config binary was in available (edit .profile and add /opt/local/lib/mysql5/bin).

    Some helpful links:

  • Searchlight has been tested against Apache Solr 1.4. If you uncompress the download into /usr/local/apache-solr-1.4.0/ Searchlight will find it as expected. You can also specify an alternative path to your Solr install using the --sl-jar-path=[path] option when using the Searchlight drush commands.

3. Install Searchlight on your Drupal site and configure its backend

Searchlight can be installed like any other Drupal module. Ensure you have all of its dependencies installed and then enable Searchlight on admin/build/modules.

Once Searchlight is installed you can select the backend you would like to use on admin/settings/search/backend. Any additional settings for your backend (ports, ttl, etc.) can be configured here.

To get started quickly, a searchlight_basic module is available. It has a simple datasource configuration and search view configured to use Searchlight. Enable this module if you are testing Searchlight out for the first time. You can leave this module disabled if you plan on configuring your own datasource and views.

4. Configure the datasource(s) for your website

Searchlight allows you to define what content on your site will be indexed. Searchlight basic (if you chose to enable it above) provides a default and very basic node table datasource called searchlight_node. If you would like to index content beyond basic node properties you should edit the existing datasource or create a new one at admin/settings/search/datasource. You can also create new datasources for indexing other base tables like users or comments.

5. Generate configuration files for your search service

Once you have configured and chosen the datasources you would like to use, you will need to generate configuration files for your Search backend service that correspond to your Drupal configuration. To do this run the following drush command for your site:

$ drush searchlight-conf

The command will write configuration files for your search backend. You can (and should) re-run this command whenever your datasource configurations change so that your search service accurately reflects your Drupal configuration.

6. Index your content and start your search backend service

Once your configuration files are written, you will need to index the content on your website.

For Sphinx, you must run the indexer first before starting the search service:

$ drush searchlight-index
$ drush searchlight-searchd

For Solr, you must start the search service before indexing:

$ drush searchlight-searchd
$ drush searchlight-index

You will probably want to set up a periodic cron job to schedule the indexing of your content regularly. These commands are run on the drush cron command so using drush to run your Drupal site's cron tasks is recommended. To do this add the drush --root=/path/to/my/site --uri= cron command to your crontab.

7. Search for content

Searchlight provides a default view at search/ with an exposed filter that you can use to test that your search is working. You can also build your own Views using the Searchlight filter/argument.

Multisite deployment with Aegir

Searchlight can be deployed on an Aegir-hosted multisite configuration. To do so, you must copy the into the .drush directory of your aegir user. This is usually at /var/aegir/.drush but may vary based on the setup of Aegir on your server. This drush command file provides post-install and post-deploy hooks for provision that ensure the search service is restarted when a site is installed or migrated.

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