find filenames quickly
locate utility searches a database for
all pathnames which match the specified pattern. By
default, the database is recomputed
weekly(8) and contains the pathnames of all files which are publicly
Shell globbing and quoting characters
]’) may be used in
pattern, although they will have to be escaped from
the shell. Preceding any character with a backslash
\’) eliminates any special meaning
which it may have. The matching differs in that no characters must be
matched explicitly, including slashes
As a special case, a pattern containing no globbing characters (“foo”) is matched as though it were “*foo*”.
The database stores all bytes occurring in filenames except
\n’) and NUL
\0’). Internally, it uses a
dedicated, compressed, undocumented format. For example, bytes less than 32
or greater than 127 are encoded as two bytes, whereas the 128 most frequent
two-byte sequences are encoded as single bytes.
The options are as follows:
- For each entry in the database, perform the search on the last component of path.
- Suppress normal output; instead print a count of matching filenames.
- Search in database instead of the default filename
-doptions are allowed. Each additional
-doption adds the specified database to the list of databases to be searched.
database may be a colon-separated list of databases. An empty database name is a reference to the default database.
$ locate -d $HOME/lib/mydb: foo
will first search for the string “foo” in $HOME/lib/mydb and then in /var/db/locate.database.
$ locate -d $HOME/lib/mydb::/cdrom/locate.database foo
will first search for the string “foo” in $HOME/lib/mydb and then in /var/db/locate.database and then in /cdrom/locate.database.
$ locate -d db1 -d db2 -d db3 pattern
is the same as
$ locate -d db1:db2:db3 pattern
$ locate -d db1:db2 -d db3 pattern
- Ignore case distinctions in both the pattern and the database. Since
filenames are not character strings but merely opaque byte strings,
locateignores the locale(1) set by the user, always operates under the "C" locale, and the case rules employed are those of the ASCII character set.
- Limit output to a specific number of files and exit.
- Print some statistics about the database and exit.
- Path to the locate database if set and not empty; ignored if the
-doption was specified.
- script that starts the database rebuild
- script to update the locate database
- locate database
locate utility exits 0 on
success, and >0 if an error occurs. Zero matches are not
considered an error.
find(1), fnmatch(3), locate.updatedb(8), weekly(8)
Woods, James A., Finding Files Fast, ;login, 8:1, pp. 8-10, 1983.
locate command appeared in
locate may fail to list some files that
are present, or may list files that have been removed from the system. This
locate only reports files that are
present in a periodically reconstructed database (typically rebuilt once a
week by the weekly(8) script). Use
find(1) to locate files that are of a more transitory nature.
locate database is built by
user “nobody” using
find(1). This will skip directories which are not readable by user
“nobody”, group “nobody”, or the world. E.g., if
your home directory is not world-readable, your files will
not appear in the
locate database is not byte order
independent. It is not possible to share the databases between machines with
different byte order. The current
implementation understands databases in host byte order or network byte
order. So a little-endian machine can't understand a locate database which
was built on a big-endian machine.