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Since I found a few differences in the above documented procedure, and a bit of time has passed, I wrote this in hopes it helps others.
HOWTO upgrade your Vanilla search to Sphinx Search on Ubuntu 14.04
Pre-install best practices
* Upgrade your vanilla install to the latest version - 2.1.11 as of this writing
* Upgrade your plugins to latest versions - I recommend you install version check plugin - it's a great way to keep tabs on this
* Upgrade your OS patches - I'm assuming Ubuntu 14.04 x64 for this
* Take a db backup - never huts...
* Install sphinxsearch OS package: (NOTE I had a problem using sphinxsearch 2.3 version from website, stick to version in your OS repos)
* apt-get install sphinxsearch
* Install sphinxsearch vanilla plugin, don't activate it yet...
* Download sphinxsearch source tarball of the same version (2.0.4 as of this writing) from http://sphinxsearch.com/downloads/archive/
* Untar sphinxsearch source from above and copy $srcdir/api/sphinxphp.api over $vanilla_dir/plugins/SphinxSearch/sphinxphp.api
* Enble sphinxsearch plugin and click 'settings'
* Click on install wizard link in the plugin, click start wizard button
* Step 1 - change nothing, unless you're using a remote mysql database - then enter your DB IP, not localhost, click save and continue
* Step 2 - copy and paste contents of /etc/sphinxsearch/sphinx.conf.sample into windows that says "paste your text here" (remove paste your text here text first...)
* Click save and continue
* Copy the newly generated sphinx.conf file under "Congratulations!" to /etc/sphinxsearch/sphinx.conf
* Start initial indexing: /usr/bin/indexer --all --config /etc/sphinxsearch/sphinx.conf
* If you get an error here, make sure your credentials and db setting in /etc/sphinxsearch/sphinx.conf are correct and that the sphinx plugin is enabled...
* Enable sphinx search daemon startup scripts:
* sudo update-rc.d sphinxsearch defaults
* Enable autostart on boot - edit /etc/default/sphinxsearch and change START=no to START=yes
* Start searchd - /etc/init.d/sphinxsearch start
* Go back to browser window to configure cronjobs in "step 3"
* Enter /etc/sphinxsearch/sphinx.conf in "conf path"
* Click 'save and continue' - done!
* cronjobs scripts are saved in $vanilla/plugins/SphinxSearch/cron/cron.reindex.* - *** you MUST manually edit root's cron and add these 3 entries in yourself
* Test if out
* Optional: dump your Mysql vanilla DB, edit the 3 newly created tables to change their type from 'MyISAM' to 'InnoDB' -- N.B. I like to run all my MySQL tables as InnoDB, and Amazon Web Services RDS complains if you don't...