Part 1: Getting Started with Fess

After Google ended its Google Site Search in March 2018, many people are looking for a search service to be incorporated into their website. At the same time, the number of files owned by companies and individuals are increasing year by year. A long time ago, there was Namazu (, but now there are various low-layer libraries such as Apache Lucene to use. Fess is a search serviced based on Apache Lucene.

In this series, we will introduce how to use the full-text search server Fess to implement web search and corporate search. This document gives a practical explanation on how to perform actual search tasks, not the theoretical story of search.

Fess is easy to deploy and it is worth your time!

What is Fess?

Fess is an open source full-text search server that can handle a wide range of searches from web search to corporate search. It has a wealth of features, but the biggest feature is that it can be easily installed without the need for full-text search expertise, and a search system can be built simply by pointing to the browser. If you start Fess, the following search screen is available immediately.


The search system needs to be able to respond to search results. Elasticsearch is used as the search engine, which can be said to be the heart of Fess. Achieving a high response speed by making the most of Elasticsearch’s functions, it can also respond to complex search requirements such as searching for file servers that exceed several terabytes and giving priority to specific files.


Let’s build a search server immediately. Fess requires a Java execution environment, so please install Java 11 in advance.

You can download the Fess distribution from As of this writing (Feb 2021), the latest version is 13.11.

Please follow the detail steps here for installation If it does not start properly, check that the environment variable JAVA_HOME is set correctly and that there is no space in the extracted path.


First, access http://localhost:8080/admin/ on the administration screen and create settings to crawl search targets. The admin account/password for logging in to the administration screen is admin/admin. After logging in to the management screen, the dashboard will be displayed.


Web Crawl Settings

Select “Crawl” > “Web” from the menu on the left to display the list of web crawl settings. Web crawl settings are settings for crawling documents (web pages) on the web and making them searchable. Fess can be set to search for shared folders and databases in addition to the web.

Press the “New” button on the upper right to display the crawl setting screen. The explanation of the main setting items is as follows.

Name Description
URL URL to start crawling (start crawling from this URL)
URLs to be included / excluded Specify URLs to be included or excluded by regular expressions
Depth Depth to crawl from the starting URL and follow links in the page
Maximum number of accesses Maximum number of pages to crawl and get
Number of threads Number of threads to crawl (if 5, crawl the site with 5 threads simultaneously)
Interval Interval to crawl the page (in case of 5000, one thread gets every 5 seconds)

This time, create a crawl setting with the following settings. This setting crawls the page group under with two threads at 1 second intervals (crawls about 2 pages per second) and searches about 100 pages.

Name Value
Name Fess
URL to crawl*
Maximum access 100
Number of threads 2
Interval 1000

Start Cralwer

Start crawl after creating crawl settings. Fess manages the crawler as a job, so you can start crawling by starting the job.

Select “System”> “Scheduler” from the menu on the left to display the job list. Select the “Default Crawler” job to display the job details, and press the “Start Now” button to start crawling. A running job is displayed as “Running” in the job list. The crawl is completed in a few minutes, depending on network conditions.

“Default Crawler” is set by default to start at midnight every day. So, if you start Fess, crawling will start automatically at the specified time. As in this case, you can start at a time other than the scheduled time with the “Start Now” button.


This time, we introduced that you can build a search server with simple settings using Fess. You can build and use a search server with just these simple steps.

In a next article, we will explain how to embed search results in existing web pages.