AltaVista Personal Indexer


Probably not a good idea..

I never got into the whole ‘desktop search’ thing as I used to know where my stuff was.  But now we live in the future where not only can you just go out and buy terrabytes worth of storage but downloading 10 years worth of usenet is something you can accomplish in a few minutes (on a good connection) but storing it as flat files only takes 20 minutes to decompress some 2,070,332 worth of files is a trivial manner.  It’s really cool to live in the future.

Total Files Listed: 2070332 File(s) 5,429,376,673 bytes 
                    168164 Dir(s) 1,119,884,468,224 bytes free

Now what about finding something in those files?

I should be embarrassed as I was using grep.

Yes in my hunt for obscure information grep was my tool of choice.

So after Frank had mentioned it in passing, if I’d ever used AltaVista Personal Search 97 before I thought I’d give it a bit of a test.  First I unpacked some BSD source code, and had it index that.  The results were incredibly FAST.  So the next thing to do was to try the UTZOO archives.  I should have expanded my NT 4.0 VM’s disk first, but I got this far until I was down to 200MB of free disk space

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 9.04.27 PM


I should add that I’m sharing the UTZOO archvie over the network.  Not the fastest way at all.  And I only made it about 40% the way through the archive.  Even at this point the search database is only 1.2GB

So how does it run?  Well it’s a localized web service that resides on your desktop.  Of course it only works when you request from as they sold a network searchable version of AltaVista, the Workgroup Edition.  Even this was a retail product at one point retailing for $29 to $35

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 9.46.46 PM

Show me the Xenix!

So you hit the web page, type in your search, and you answers like immediately.  It really is scary how fast this thing is.  Although the results can need a lot of tweaking but we are talking 800,000 files.

But needless to say there was the disastrous Compaq buyout of DEC, and the entrance of Google, and it was over.  From what I understand people are still selling the workgroup/enterprise search.  I can see why even though the 97 is rough it still has promise.

What a bargain!

What a bargain!

For anyone who cares, it’s geared to Windows 95, or Windows NT 4.0.. 2000 and beyond is at your own risk.  It uses a Win16 setup program, so Windows 7 x64 was out of the question, but you can download it here.

9 thoughts on “AltaVista Personal Indexer

  1. honestly, I actually run a shared sharepoint instance for me and friends… and the native search since Vista/Tiger has gotten a lot better

    certainly pretty interesting! did they release an alpha version? 😉

    • I was just thinking of putting one online. I was going to use apache as a reverse proxy and serve a bunch of legacy stuff off of this box.

        • From what I can find the workgroup and enterprise versions were very expensive. And ran on NT and Unix. But it was all sold to some Finish company (not Nokia) who was bought by Microsoft and basically shut down.

          I don’t think there was an Alpha NT version.

          It’s effectively all dead now. What I need is a good reverse proxy for NT.

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