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Ubuntu 13.04 was supposed to get a new Unity Smart Scopes feature, which eventually didn't make it, but if you don't want to wait for Ubuntu 13.10 to try it, you can install it right now in Ubuntu 13.04, by using a PPA.

Smart Scopes tries to provide a better and smarter Dash search experience by adding various scopes that return relevant data depending on the search terms.

Smart Scopes Ubuntu Unity
 
Installing the Smart Scopes, you'll get some new categories and sources on the home lens. When you search for something, Dash tries to automatically select the right categories and sources for your search term so for instance if you search for "Pink Floyd", Dash will automatically select the "Music", "Reference" (which in turn selects the Wikipedia source, among others), "Files & Folders" and so on. Or if you search for "Barcelona", it should display the weather, etc. You can also manually select / deseelect categories or sources.


Below you can see a search for "pink floyd" without manually selecting any source in the sidebar filter:


Smart Scopes did figure out this is music-related and displayed my Pink Floyd albums and some online info about Pink Floyd (among others), but it also displayed some applications.

And here's the same search again, with some custom sources selected in the filter:

Smart Scopes Ubuntu Unity

That looks a lot better and that's pretty much how the default search results should have looked like. The default search results are ok considering the Smart Scopes feature hasn't been officially released and it's still work in progress, but hopefully the scopes will be smart enough in the future so we won't need to manually select any categories.



Smart Scopes video


To understand exactly how this works, watch the video below:


(direct video link; for more videos, subscribe to your YouTube channel)


Remember, this feature is under development so it may change by the time it's added by default in Ubuntu.


Supported scopes / sources


Currently, the PPA provides the following scopes / sources:
  • Audacious
  • Banshee
  • Calculator
  • Chromium Bookmarks
  • Clementine
  • Colour Lovers
  • Dev Help
  • DeviantArt
  • Facebook
  • Files & Folders
  • Flickr
  • Evolution
  • Firefox Bookmarks
  • Gallica
  • Google Drive
  • GitHub
  • Gmusicbrowser
  • Google News
  • Guayadeque
  • IMDB
  • Launchpad
  • Manpages
  • Music Store
  • Musique
  • OpenClipArt
  • OpenWeatherMap
  • Picasa
  • Remote Videos
  • Rhythmbox
  • SoundCloud
  • Shotwell
  • SshSearch
  • Texdoc
  • Videos
  • VirtualBox
  • Yahoo Stock
  • Yelp
  • Zotero
These are all the sources used by the Smart Scopes feature for now but more will be available in the future.



How to install Unity Smart Scopes in Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail


The Smart Scopes feature wasn't added by default in Ubuntu 13.04 because it's not completely ready so if you decide to use the Smart Scopes PPA, you must be aware that this feature is currently under development and some things can break, some scopes might not work and also, Unity and Compiz will use more system resources. Also, in my test, after installing the Smart Scopes, the Unity Friends Lens has stopped working!

If you're ok with the above warning, let's proceed with the installation:

1. To add the Unity Smart Scopes PPA and install the new Smart Scopes feature in Ubuntu 13.04, use the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-unity/experimental-certified
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
Important: for the last command above, make sure no packages are removed except for the unity-lens-shopping. If the command tries to remove more packages, it means something is broken on your system and you need to fix it so do not proceed with the installation!

2. To make sure the packages we've installed from the PPA are not overwritten if newer lenses / scopes land in Ubuntu 13.04 (the PPA will be updated eventually if that happens, but it's better to use this so things don't break), install the following package:
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-unity-experimental-certified

3. And now run "sudo apt-get upgrade" which will actually downgrade the packages to the version from the PPA, if they are older than the ones available in the official Ubuntu repositories (if any; at the time I'm writing this, the packages that will be downgraded are the Unity Files Lens and Gdocs / Gdrive Scope):
sudo apt-get upgrade

4. Once all the packages are installed / upgraded successfully, restart your system (a simple Unity restart or logout doesn't seem to be enough).

Report any bugs you may find, HERE.



Revert the changes


If you want to remove the Smart Scopes and go back to the lenses / scopes used by default in Ubuntu 13.04, use the following commands:
sudo apt-get install ppa-purge
sudo ppa-purge ppa:ubuntu-unity/experimental-certified

For me, ppa-purge doesn't work in Ubuntu 13.04 if the purged PPA has a package that's not available in another source (like in the official Ubuntu repositories): it segfaults instead of purging the PPA. If that's the case for you too, you can revert the changes manually, using the following commands:
sudo sed -i 's/^deb/#deb/g' /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ubuntu-unity-experimental-certified-raring.list
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get remove ubuntu-unity-experimental-certified
sudo apt-get install gir1.2-dee-1.0/raring gir1.2-unity-5.0/raring libdee-1.0-4/raring libdee-dev/raring libunity-common/raring libunity-core-6.0-5/raring libunity-dev/raring libunity-protocol-private0/raring libunity9/raring unity/raring unity-common/raring unity-lens-applications/raring unity-lens-files/raring unity-lens-music/raring unity-lens-photos/raring unity-lens-video/raring unity-lens-friends/raring unity-scope-musicstores/raring unity-scope-video-remote/raring unity-services/raring unity-scope-gdocs/raring unity-scope-gdrive/raring

The first command above disables the PPA. Then, we update the software sources and remove "ubuntu-unity-experimental-certified" which we've installed to pin the packages from the PPA (under step 3). And finally, the last command above downgrades the packages that were upgraded from the Smart Scopes PPA and automatically removes all the scopes that were installed from the same Smart Scopes PPA.

And finally, restart the system.
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