Permanently Disable Tracker in Ubuntu

Ubuntu Gnome Desktop comes with a background service called Tracker that runs a bunch of other sub-services such as tracker-miner-fs, tracker-extract, tracker-store, etc., that do the job of scanning and indexing the files in your user home folder. It’s a service used by the Gnome file manager for speeding up the search bar. This is fine and all, except for a few very important catches:

  • The indexing action of tracker-miner-fs runs on boot after user login and also when files are being created or moved, i.e.: any time there is any major disk activity. This robs disk performance.
  • Tracker services run even if you’re using xfce4 Desktop. If Gnome3 is installed on the system, you get the punishment regardless.
  • tracker-miner-fs runs best on SSD and NVMe storage, which I do not have. My workstation’s primary disk is spinning rust. So the indexing, at critical times of heavy disk activity, causes more thrashing of the read heads. Everything slows to a crawl, because Tracker is stealing time. Rude.
  • All of the Tracker services are running under systemd’s user slice, which start and run when the user logs in. You can use systemctl --user stop tracker-miner-fs and even go so far as to disable the service files, but Tracker will just re-enable those services on next boot. Stupendously rude.
  • You can uninstall the package that provides Tracker, but that will also uninstall all the packages that depend on it. That’s a dependency hell you do not want to walk into.

There is no way to completely stop Tracker from running on boot.

Well, I thought there was no way. Check out this Gist on Github that explains that Tracker is started by Gnome .desktop files in the system’s autorun folder under /etc, and that you can copy them to your profile’s autorun folder and change a variable to disable and hide the service. Boom. No more running on boot, and no more thrashing when you’re trying to move files around.

I’ve been bumping my head into this for a while, but it’s a problem that I only see once on every reboot, which is on the order of weeks apart. A recent issue with my workstation had me rebooting several times in an hour, so I had to find an answer to this just to reduce my loop time.

Thanks to the brilliant Chris Marchesi in the gist above for the protip.

Published by Shawn

He's just this guy, you know?