While developing my GeeQE iPhone application I decided I needed a way to let users search posts so I started looking around for a simple search engine that I could use with PHP. I took a look at a number of different options like MySQL Full Text search, Sphinx, Solr and others based on Lucene. After looking at what it would take to get started with each I decided to go with Sphinx. Sphinx looked like it would be the easiest and quickest to set up, didn't require a lot of resources to run in an idle state and would integrate with PHP easily.
This post goes over how I went about configuring Sphinx and gives an example of how to integrate it with PHP. I'm using MySQL as the data store filled with the Stack Overflow CC data dump although it should be easy to adapt the instructions to other data sources. To follow along just download a copy of the data dump and use my schema and loader to get the same MySQL database.