Cyberborean Chronicles

Nepomuk-KDE with the Sesame backend

There is a helpful article on how to make Nepomuk a lot faster by switching its default storage backend to Sesame2:

Pimp my Nepomuk

Being both a really old KDE user and a semantic desktop partisan at the same time, I am, of course, keeping my eye on the progress in Nepomuk project.  It was apparently close to my old dream of a tagging framework supported natively and consistently across the whole desktop environment, so I highly appreciated this effort and it was nice to hear that Nepomuk would be officially included into KDE – my desktop of choice for many years.

Unfortunately, the experience was rather disappointing. It’s turned out to be painfully slow, not only slow by itself, but being a brake for overall desktop navigation. Even hovering the cursor over files and folders in Dolphin made Nepomuk process to eat above 50% of CPU time and caused annoying delays. The simple operations like assigning a tag to a file took seconds, the responsiveness which is obviously inappropriate for a real-world desktop system. It thus was turned off in a hope that the things would be improved in future versions (I was confused a bit by how it might appear in the production release, but, frankly, early KDE 4 was full of much more disastrous things). Since then, I checked it after every KDE version upgrade, but there was no visible progress in performance, alas.

It was really good news – the author of the post above argues that the performance issues are in fact, caused by a storage backend which Soprano, an RDF framework underlying to Nepomuk, uses to keep RDF data. By default, it’s shipped with Redland (aka librdf), an RDF database library written in C. Luckily, the backend is easily replaceable and it’s worth to try to install a faster alternative seeking for a better performance. The author recommends Sesame2 – a 100% pure Java RDF framework which works (surprisingly for many, I think – but not for me!) much faster than it’s native code counterpart.

I tested Nepomuk with Sesame and convinced that now it works really faster – as it should, in fact. There is of course, a room for improvements in Nepomuk to be a real end-user tool – e.g. a tag navigation interface without which the tags are rather useless, but its another story. At least, the performance is not a blocker anymore, so Nepomuk now is enabled in my KDE all the time.

For Kubuntu users: How-to

I tested the Sesame2 backend for Nepomuk on Kubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope, KDE 4.3.0 and Sun JRE 6 (I have no idea if it works with GNU Java, but you can give it a try).

  1. Install soprano-backend-sesame package (sudo apt-get install soprano-backend-sesame)
  2. Make a symlink from $JAVA_HOME/jre/lib/i386/client/ in the /usr/lib directory
  3. Restart Nepomuk server

Check if Sesame2 backend is used now:

qdbus org.kde.NepomukStorage /nepomukstorage usedSopranoBackend

It should answer “sesame2“. If it still answers “redland“, something was wrong. You may need also to replace the value “redland” to “sesame2” in ~/.kde/share/config/nepomukserverrc file manually and restart Nepomuk again.

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