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This page is meant to give an overview about compiling and configuring Samba with support for OS X Spotlight support.

Samba uses Gnome Tracker as search engine, search tool and metadata storage system.


First, you need the following packages installed: tracker and libtracker-sparql-dev, the exact name may be different on your system.

Next, configure samba with --enable-spotlight:

$ ./configure ... --enable-spotlight ...
Checking for tracker-sparql-1.0                                                                 : not found 
Checking for tracker-sparql-0.16                                                                : yes 
Checking for header tracker-sparql.h                                                            : yes 
Checking for library tracker-sparql-0.16                                                        : yes 
Checking for library glib-2.0                                                                   : yes 
Checking for library gio-2.0                                                                    : yes 
Checking for library gobject-2.0                                                                : yes 
building with Spotlight support

Setup on Linux

This is for Tracker version 1.0 or newer, for older version see below.


Depending on the distribution, it may be necessary to manually install a some additional packages that are needed for the configuration, otherwise gsettings won't work:

  • dconf

Tracker services wrapper

We need a small wrapper that will be used in DBUS service files and ensures this environment variable is always set for all tracker binaries:

TRACKER_BUS_TYPE=system /usr/libexec/$1
Saves this as
and don't forget to make it executable.

Create a user under which Tracker will run

For security reasons it is highly recommended to create a unprivileged user under which Tracker process will run:

# useradd -m mdssvc
# passwd mdssvc

The user needs a home directory as Tracker stores its database and configuration inside the users home directory.

Tracker will run as this user when crawling and indexing filesystems, so permissions on filesystems must grant read access to this user as desired.

dbus Configuration

Tracker doesn't provide a dbus config file for running as a system service yet, so here is one: Tracker Config File. Thanks Martyn!

This file must be saved as

dbus Service Files

Grab Tracker DBUS service files from [Tracker DBUS Service Files] and save them in:


Start Tracker as a special System Service with systemd

Grab the systemd unit files for tracker from [Tracker Systemd Unit Files] and save them in:


Now enable the services:

# systemctl enable system-tracker-store
# systemctl enable system-tracker-extract
# systemctl enable system-tracker-miner-fs

...and start services:

# systemctl start system-tracker-store
# systemctl start system-tracker-extract
# systemctl start system-tracker-miner-fs

Configuring which Paths to index in Tracker


If you can do a graphical login, depending on the OS the GUI may offer to configure which paths to index.

Login as the user mdssvc and eg on Fedora launch Settings and then goto Search.


Tracker uses Gnome GSettings which mean settings are stored in the user's home directory. Changing settings can be done by running the command gsettings, but this requires a user dbus session to be active:

# su - mdssvc
mdssvc$ dbus-launch --sh-syntax > .dbus_settings
mdssvc $ . .dbus_settings

Once you have sourced .dbus_settings you can run gsettings command:

mdssvc $ . .dbus_settings
mdssvc $ gsettings list-recursively | grep Tracker
org.freedesktop.Tracker.DB journal-chunk-size 50
org.freedesktop.Tracker.DB journal-rotate-destination ''
org.freedesktop.Tracker.Extract wait-for-miner-fs false
mdssvc $ gsettings set org.freedesktop.Tracker.Miner.Files index-recursive-directories "['/Volumes/spotlight']"
mdssvc $


mdssvc$ export TRACKER_BUS_TYPE="system"
mdssvc$ /opt/tracker/libexec/tracker-store -v 3

Configuring Samba

You can run the Spotlight RPC service mdssvc either as an embedded service or as separate RPC daemon by enabling the mdssd RPC daemon:

    rpc_server:mdssvc = embedded


    rpc_daemon:mdssd = fork
    rpc_server:mdssvc = external

Finally enable Spotlight searching on a per share basis:

    path = /some/path
    spotlight = yes

Starting Samba

One must add

export TRACKER_BUS_TYPE=system

to the Samba init script, or, in case of starting Samba with systemd add


to the systemd unit file.

Tracker versions older than 1.0.0

Tracker uses DBUS for IPC between Tracker processes and processes that want to run queries against the Tracker metadata store. Therefor you have to carefully start Samba, a dbus-daemon instance and Tracker ensuring all processes are then able to communicate with each other over the correct DBUS bus: Samba Spotlight Start Script. The magic that makes this work is the environment variable DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS.

The dbus-daemon that is started from the script need its config file with a matching DBUS session address, here's an example: Spotlight DBUS Configuration File.

Another point to keep in mind is the location where Tracker stores its config and database. Tracker was developed with a per-user use case in mind, as such configuration and data is put in locations relative to the users home directory of the uid of the Tracker processes. By changing the value of the HOME environment variable (a more fine grained approach is modifying the environment variables of the XDG basedir specification).

Configuring Tracker and using Tracker tools

In order to use the Tracker commandline tools, you have to run a root shell and export the DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS variable to the shell environment. The value must match the path from the Spotlight DBUS Configuration File:

export DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS="unix:path=/var/run/samba/spotlight.ipc"

Now you can tell Tracker which directories to index:

# gsettings set org.freedesktop.Tracker.Miner.Files index-recursive-directories "['/Volumes/spotlight']"

For older Linux versions where Gnome settings are not yet migrated to gsettings and still use dconf, use:

# dconf write /org/freedesktop/tracker/miner/files/index-recursive-directories  "['/testshare']"