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This page preserves old documentation for ShinxSearch extension up to version 0.7.2. These old versions used a different approach where a whole new special page was configured, so it had its own interface, radically different from standard MW search. Current approach is to rely on MW itself for the interface wherever possible by extending SearchEngine and related MW classes.

Please do not use this old documentation and old versions of the extension unless you absolutely have to (for example if you are unable to update your MediaWiki installation to 1.16 or above.)


The extension can be installed in one of two modes:

  1. Provide an additional Special Page for searching using Sphinx. This method is excellent for providing a method for evaluating the performance of the extension while still maintaining the default search engine.
  2. Completely replace the built in search engine with the sphinx search engine.

SphinxSearch extension also adds some additional features like "Did You Mean" suggestions for misspelled searches. This functionality is fundamentally different from Extension:DidYouMean which only suggests alternate article names for existing articles. Also, SphinxSearch can be easily evaluated before rolling it out as a complete replacement search engine.

SphinxSearch doesn't support the same search syntax as Lucene search which is used on the the Wikimedia wikis. For example Lucene syntax such as intitle:philosophy doesn't work the same on Sphinx.


This extension has been shown to work with the following MediaWiki versions. Please add more successes and failures to this list. MW prior to 1.9 is not supported at all. Sphinx prior to 0.9.9 works with older versions of the extension (available at SourceForge) but may not work with 0.7+

MW Sphinx Status Description
1.7.1 Fails (FuturePrefect)
1.9.3 Works (Gri6507)
1.10 Works (Svemir)
1.11 Works (, Svemir)
1.12 Works ( (Windows/IIS), Svemir)
1.13.0 Works (Erik Gregg), Thanks guys! Nice Job! It works on Wikipedia!
1.13.2 Works (Jipipayo)
1.13.3 Works (RADION Openlab), Kamil Wencel, thanks works well on our new testsite LAMP + sphinx
1.14 Works 12:47, 24 February 2009 (UTC), works great on our WIMP
1.15 Works works great on CentOS 5 LAMP server (anonymous) and Windows (Svemir)
1.16 Works works on CentOS 5.5 LAMP server (contact:tigerheight@gmail.com)
1.16.2 Works (Fungiblename)
1.16.5 1.10-beta (r2420) Works MediaWiki 1.16.5, PHP 5.2.13 (apache2handler), MySQL 5.1.44-community, SphinxSearch (Version 0.7.2), Sphinx 1.10-beta (r2420), Windows Vista --MWJames 18:35, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
1.17.0beta1 1.10-beta (r2420) Works MediaWiki 1.17.0beta1, PHP 5.2.13 (apache2handler), MySQL 5.1.44-community, SphinxSearch (Version 0.7.2), Sphinx 1.10-beta (r2420), Windows Vista --MWJames 18:35, 3 June 2011 (UTC)
1.19alpha (r92860) 0.9.9-6 Works MediaWiki 1.19alpha (r92860), PHP 5.3.5-1ubuntu7.2 (apache2handler), MySQL 5.1.54-1ubuntu4, SphinxSearch (Version 0.7.2) (r92860) --Jeroen De Dauw 17:05, 22 July 2011 (UTC)

The extension has been shown to work with the following Sphinx versions. Please add more successes and failures to this list

The extension has been shown to work with the following languages. See below for #Charsets for all languages

Language Status Description
English Works all versions - (Alpha3)
German Works W2k3 and IIS - (
Chinese Works MW1.15 + XAMPP + SphinxSearch 0.7 (MarkYin)
Chinese Works Win2003 wamp 1.7.3 - (Alpha3)
Chinese Works RHEL 5.4 + Nginx + Mediawiki With HTTPS -(atyu30)
Chinese Works OpenBSD 4.5 -(atyu30)
Russian Works (XAMPP, Debian) - StasFomin.
Hebrew Works W2K3 and IIS - CrushKing.
Japanese Works MediaWiki 1.16.5, PHP 5.2.13 (apache2handler), MySQL 5.1.44-community, SphinxSearch (Version 0.7.2), Sphinx 1.10-beta (r2420), Windows Vista --MWJames 18:35, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

Installation Instructions[edit]

Step 1 - Install Sphinx[edit]

Download Sphinx Search Engine. Follow the instructions. You only need to do the actual installation, which means you do not need to do the "Quick Sphinx usage tour". You can verify your installation by following the rest of the steps here. Note: if installing on a Windows server, you do not need to compile anything; just download the Win32 release binaries.

Step 2 - Configure Sphinx[edit]

Download and extract the extension to a temporary directory. Copy the sphinx.conf file from this download to some directory (we will refer to this file as "/path/to/sphinx.conf" below.) This directory should not be web-accessible, so you should not use the extensions folder. Make sure to adjust all values to suit your setup:

  • Set correct database, username, and password for your MediaWiki database
  • Update table names in SQL queries if your MediaWiki installation uses a prefix (backslash line breaks may need to be removed if the indexer step below fails)
  • Update the file paths (/var/data/sphinx/..., /var/log/sphinx/...) and create folders as necessary (i.e. for default unix install, add /usr/local on front and mkdir /usr/local/var/data/sphinx).
  • If your wiki is very large, you may want to consider specifying a query range in the conf file.
  • If your wiki is not in English, you will need to change (or remove) the morphology attribute.

Credit: Thanks to the author of this excellent article for providing an excellent starting point on configuring this file.

Step 3 - Run Sphinx Indexer[edit]

Run the sphinx indexer to prepare for searching:

/path/to/sphinx/installation/bin/indexer --config /path/to/sphinx.conf --all

Once again, make sure to replace the paths to match your installation. This process is actually pretty fast, but clearly depends on how large your wiki is. Just be patient and watch the screen for updates.

Step 4 - Test Out Sphinx[edit]

When the indexer is finished, test that sphinx searching is actually working:

/path/to/sphinx/installation/bin/search --config /path/to/sphinx.conf "search string"

You will see the result stats immediately (Sphinx is FAST.) Note that the article data you see at this point comes from the sql_query_info in sphinx.conf file. In the extension we can get to the actual article content because we have text old_id available as an extra attribute. It would be slow to fetch article content on the command line (we would have to join page, revision, and text tables,) so we just fetch page_title and page_namespace at this point.

Step 5 - Start Sphinx Daemon[edit]

In order to speed up the searching capability for the wiki, we must run the sphinx in daemon mode. Add the following to whatever server startup script you have access (i.e. /etc/rc.local):

/path/to/sphinx/installation/bin/searchd --config /path/to/sphinx.conf >> /var/log/sphinx/sphinx-startup.log 2>&1

Note: without the daemon running, searching will not work. That is why it is critical to make sure the daemon process is started every time the server is restarted.

Note: If the daemon fails to start with FATAL: listen() failed: Address already in use try commenting out port = 9312 in /path/to/sphinx.conf since port is deprecated. It is suggested to configure the listen parameter as IP:PORT if you need to specify a different port. The --port parameter does not seem to work.

Step 6 - Configure Incremental Updates[edit]

To keep the index for the search engine up to date, the indexer must be scheduled to run at a regular interval. If your wiki is small, it's best to comment out wiki_incremental in sphinx.conf and just run the indexer for wiki_main. The reason is that wiki_main and wiki_incremental are additive only. Words that have been removed since wiki_main was updated will still appear even after wiki_incremental is run.

On most UNIX systems edit your crontab file by running the command:

crontab -e

Add this line to set up a cron job for the full index - for example once every night:

0 3 * * * /path/to/sphinx/installation/indexer --quiet --config /path/to/sphinx.conf wiki_main --rotate >/dev/null\
2>&1; /path/to/sphinx/installation/indexer --quiet --config /path/to/sphinx.conf wiki_incremental --rotate >/dev/null\

Add this line to set up a more frequent cron to update the smaller index regularly:

0 9,15,21 * * * /path/to/sphinx/installation/indexer --quiet --config /path/to/sphinx.conf wiki_incremental --rotate >/dev/null 2>&1

As before, make sure to adjust the paths to suit your configuration. Note that --rotate option is needed if searchd deamon is already running, so that the indexer does not modify the index file while it is being used. It creates a new file and copies it over the existing one when it is done.

On Windows, commands like these inside a batch file should do the trick, provided you previously created the .CMD files running the indexer:

at 23:00 /INTERACTIVE /every:M,T,W,TH,F,S,Su "%~dp0%__IndexMain__.cmd"
at 08:00 /INTERACTIVE /every:M,T,W,TH,F,S,Su "%~dp0%__IndexIncr__.cmd"

Note that those tasks will only be manageable by the "at" command, and not through the control panel "Scheduled tasks" interface.

Also, adjust the SQL query for src_wiki_incremental source in sphinx.conf to match the time in the crontab for wiki_main, keeping in mind that MediaWiki may be storing the times in UTC while server that runs the cron may be using a different time zone.

Step 7 - Extension Preparation - Sphinx PHP API[edit]

Create extensions/SphinxSearch directory and copy the Sphinx API file, sphinxapi.php there. This file is part of the sphinx download, under the api/ directory. You will need to copy this file again each time you update the Sphinx engine.

Step 8 - Extension Installation - PHP Files[edit]

Copy all remaining files of the extension (SphinxSearch.php, SphinxSearch_body.php, etc.) from the temporary directory you extracted the code to in #Step 2 to your extensions/SphinxSearch directory.

Step 9 - Extension Installation - Local Settings[edit]

Add the following text to your LocalSettings.php

require_once( "$IP/extensions/SphinxSearch/SphinxSearch.php" );



For the most part, the extension's default options do not need any modification. However, if tweaking is needed/desired, there are a number of configuration options that could be configured from LocalSettings.php after the above require_once line. Those are:

  • $wgSphinxSearch_host - the hostname on which sphinx's searchd daemon is running (defaults to localhost)
  • $wgSphinxSearch_port - the port number on which sphinx's searchd daemon is running (defaults to 9312)
  • $wgSphinxSearch_mode - the Sphinx search mode. The default mode is the most intuitive. See Sphinx documentation for other valid options.
  • $wgSphinxSearch_matches - the number of search hits to display per result page.
  • $wgSphinxSearch_weights - the way Sphinx orders the results. The default is pretty good. See Sphinx documentation for other valid options.
  • $wgSphinxSearch_groupby, $wgSphinxSearch_groupsort - define how to group the results. See Sphinx documentation for other valid options.
  • $wgSphinxSearch_sortby - set matches sorting mode (default to SPH_SORT_RELEVANCE). See Sphinx documentation for other valid options.
  • $wgSphinxMatchAll - when using the default $wgSphinxSearch_mode (which gives the user radio buttons to choose between "match any word" and "match all words"), setting this to true makes "match all words" the default.

Mode Of Operation[edit]

By default, this extension will run so as not to overwrite the built-in search engine, but instead provide a new Special Page called Search Wiki Using Sphinx or Special:SphinxSearch. This allows the users to evaluate this extension by directly comparing the search results of the built-in search vs. Sphinx search.

If the performance is deemed acceptable to replace the built-in search engine, this extension can easily be configured to act as the default search engine. To do so, modify LocalSettings.php and add this before the require_once line that includes the extension:

$wgSearchType = 'SphinxSearch';

Now, the standard search method will use Sphinx by default. Note: when used in this way, the extension preserves the functionality of the Go and Search buttons.

Did You Mean[edit]

When performing a search and the search query is misspelled, the search results could be greatly impaired. Without knowing about the misspelling, it may take the user a while to figure out why their search results are not very good. That is why this extension has an optional "Did You Mean" support. When enabled, this feature will suggest a properly spelled search query for the user in case of a spelling mistake. Also, since many wikis utilize their own jargon, in order to make the "Did You Mean" suggestions more reasonable, this extension can optionally utilize a personalized dictionary.

The spell checking capability is provided via one of two methods.

  1. Aspell - a command line program for performing spell checking
  2. Pspell - PHP native interface to aspell

If you are using ubuntu or debian , you could easy install pspell in 2 steps :

 sudo apt-get install php5-pspell aspell-en

(replace -en with your desired language). Then restart your apache:

sudo /etc/init.d/apache2 restart

The Did You Mean feature is turned off because it requires the presence of a spell checker and some configuration. In order to enable this functionality set these values in your LocalSettings.php file:

$wgSphinxSuggestMode = true;

This will automatically pick whichever method for interactive with the spellchecker utility is more efficient. If your wiki server does not have Pspell support, then specify the path to the Aspell executable by editing the line containing

$wgSphinxSearchAspellPath = "/usr/bin/aspell";

If for whatever reason the Aspell dictionary files on the server are not in the default location, you can specify the proper path to the dictionary files by setting

$wgSphinxSearchPspellDictionaryDir = "/usr/lib/aspell";

If using a personalized dictionary, add this line before the require_once line that includes the extension:

$wgSphinxSearchPersonalDictionary = dirname( __FILE__ ) . "/personal.en.pws";

to point to where you'd like to keep the dictionary file.

When the Did You Mean feature is enabled and is configured to use a personal dictionary file, then the next step is to add contents to this dictionary. SphinxSearch will create a new restricted access special page called Wiki-specific Sphinx search spellcheck dictionary. This page is only accessible by users with DELETE permissions (typically PowerUser and SysOp groups). These users can utilize this page to view the words already in the dictionary, add words into the dictionary, and remove words from the dictionary.

Stop Words[edit]

When modifying the sphinx.conf file (see #Step 2 - Configure Sphinx), there is an option for specifying a file containing search stop words. Stop words are those common words like 'a' and 'the' that appear commonly in text and should really be ignored from searching. A somewhat complete list of English stop words can be found here. Simply copy those words into a text file, and modify your sphinx.conf to point to that file with

stopwords = /path/to/stopwords.txt

Charsets for all languages[edit]

Copy the charset you need from here to the end of the definition of the charset_table in the sphinx.conf file. After doing so you need to run a full index and restart the service. See this post on Sphinx forums for additional details.


  • Add image thumbnails to image matches.
  • Assign weights to namespaces.
  • Sort the results in SPH_SORT_EXTENDED mode by @relevance and by number of times the page has been viewed (available from wiki database). The idea behind this is that given two pages that have the same relevance to the search, if one has been viewed more times, there is probably a reason for that. Number of links to each page could also be included in the calculation.
  • Use existing titles in "did you mean" suggestions.
  • If originally "Go" was clicked, and "did you mean" link results in a direct match, redirect to that page.

Completed ToDos[edit]

  • We use SPH_MATCH_EXTENDED for better relevance weights, but we process the search term to make it assume an OR instead of an AND on multiple. This will be replaced with an option on the search form.
  • Add the "did you mean" functionality to the search results.


Old revisions described here can be downloaded at SourceForge

  • v0.7 - February 17, 2010
    • Added "ignore" checkbox to category search (so only articles that do not have that category are returned.)
    • Smarter handling of multiple Sphinx index files.
    • Added experimental support for excluding categories ($wgUseExcludes)
    • Use addcslashes() to escape new sphinx operators (/()[]"!)
    • Added a warning when sphinx stats may appear misleading
    • Added 'match titles only' checkbox
    • Added $wgSphinxSearch_index_list (defaults to '*', can be used to set specific list of indexes to search)
    • Added $wgSphinxSearch_index_weights (allows setting different weight per index)
    • Added i18n and alias files for correct way to provide translations
    • Changed the default port to the new official sphinx port (9312)
    • Use listen in sphinx.conf (address directive deprecated)
    • Use autoload directly, no more dependence on ExtensionFunctions
    • Moved things around so it is not necessary to edit SphinxSearch.php anymore
    • Added initial Search API support
    • Added $wgSphinxSearch_sortmode, fixed $wgSphinxSearch_sortby
    • Add nowiki tags around user input
  • v0.6.1 - November 11, 2008
    • Added SphinxSearchGetNearMatch hook - called with $term and $title (or null) returned from SearchEngine::getNearMatch.
    • If PECL SphinxClient is installed, do not include sphinxapi.php.
    • Added $wgSphinxSearch_maxmatches (defaults to 1000) and $wgSphinxSearch_cutoff (default 0) for full control of SetLimits call (and to prevent PECL extension from breaking.)
    • $wgSphinxSearchJSPath can be used to specify a different web path for SphinxSearch.js (for category search.)
    • Search term is now urlencoded when used in URLs (thanks Stas!)
    • Make sure $wgSphinxSuggestMode and $wgSphinxSearchPersonalDictionary are declared before being accessed.
  • v0.6 - August 25, 2008
    • fixed several bugs discovered since 0.6 beta release (or earlier...)
  • v0.6 beta - April 12, 2008
    • category filtering and AJAX-based sub-category filtering
    • various bug fixes
    • compatibility with Sphinx 0.9.8
  • v0.5.3 - October 27, 2007
    • case insensitive Did You Mean suggestions
    • allow for custom ASpell dictionary locations
    • support for editing the Personal Dictionary via special page.
  • v0.5.1 - October 25, 2007
    • fixed a bug where search results with long strings without spaces forced the user to use the horizontal scroll bar.
  • v0.5.0 - October 20, 2007
    • added google-like "Did You Mean" support for misspelled queries
    • fixed a bug for Internet Explorer users where pressing enter in the search form did not act like clicking the Go button
    • have an option to match any or match all terms
    • added the Before and After hooks around the search results
  • v0.4.3 - October 15, 2007
    • when sphinx is not the default search engine, viewing pages 2 and up of the results now actually uses sphinx.
  • v0.4.2 - October 12. 2007
    • when sphinx is not the default search engine, the special page search actually uses sphinx now.
  • v0.4.1 - October 11, 2007
    • made it optional to replace the default search with Sphinx completely. By default, Sphinx search becomes just another special page.
    • fixed a bug when search would crash if a matching article was deleted after last indexer run.
  • v0.3 - October 5, 2007
  • v0.1 - September 24, 2007
    • initial release (RFC)

See also[edit]