Limit access to your searx engines

Administrators might find themselves wanting to limit access to some of the enabled engines on their instances. It might be because they do not want to expose some private information through an offline engine. Or they would rather share engines only with their trusted friends or colleagues.

Private engines

To solve this issue private engines were introduced in PR 1823. A new option was added to engines named tokens. It expects a list of strings. If the user making a request presents one of the tokens of an engine, they can access information about the engine and make search requests.

Example configuration to restrict access to the Arch Linux Wiki engine:

- name : arch linux wiki
  engine : archlinux
  shortcut : al
  tokens : [ 'my-secret-token' ]

Unless a user has configured the right token, the engine is going to be hidden from him/her. It is not going to be included in the list of engines on the Preferences page and in the output of /config REST API call.

Tokens can be added to one’s configuration on the Preferences page under “Engine tokens”. The input expects a comma separated list of strings.

The distribution of the tokens from the administrator to the users is not carved in stone. As providing access to such engines implies that the admin knows and trusts the user, we do not see necessary to come up with a strict process. Instead, we would like to add guidelines to the documentation of the feature.

Next steps

Now that searx has support for both offline engines and private engines, it is possible to add concrete engines which benefit from these features. For example engines which search on the local host running the instance. Be it searching your file system or querying a private database. Be creative and come up with new solutions which fit your use case.


This development was sponsored by Search and Discovery Fund of NLnet Foundation .

Happy hacking.
kvch // 2020.02.28 22:26