Linux locate command

Updated: 04/26/2017 by Computer Hope

About locate

The locate command finds files by name.

Description

locate reads one or more databases prepared by updatedb and writes file names matching at least one of the PATTERNs to standard output, one per line.

If --regex is not specified, PATTERNs can contain globbing characters. If any PATTERN contains no globbing characters, locate behaves as if the pattern were "*PATTERN*".

By default, locate does not check whether files found in database still exist (but it does require all parent directories to exist if the database was built with "--require-visibility no"). locate can never report files created after the most recent update of the relevant database.

locate syntax

locate [OPTION]... PATTERN...

Options

-b, --basename Match only the base name against the specified patterns, which is the opposite of --wholename.
-c, --count Instead of writing file names on standard output, write the number of matching entries only.
-d, --database DBPATH Replace the default database with DBPATH. DBPATH is a : (colon) separated list of database file names. If more than one --database option is specified, the resulting path is a concatenation of the separate paths.

An empty database file name is replaced by the default database. A database file name - refers to the standard input. Note that a database can be read from the standard input only once.
-e, --existing Print only entries that refer to files existing at the time locate is run.
-L, --follow When checking whether files exist (if the --existing option is specified), follow trailing symbolic links. This causes bro ken symbolic links to be omitted from the output.

This option is the default behavior. The opposite can be specified using --nofollow.
-h, --help Write a summary of the available options to standard output and exit successfully.
-i, --ignore-case Ignore case distinctions when matching patterns.
-l, --limit,
-n LIMIT
Exit successfully after finding LIMIT entries. If the --count option is specified, the resulting count is also limited to LIMIT.
-m, --mmap Ignored, but included for compatibility with BSD and GNU locate.
-P, --nofollow, -H When checking whether files exist (if the --existing option is specified), do not follow trailing symbolic links. This causes broken symbolic links to be reported like other files.

This option is the opposite of --follow.
-0, --null Separate the entries on output using the ASCII NUL character instead of writing each entry on a separate line. This option is designed for interoperability with the --null option of GNU xargs.
-S, --statistics Write statistics about each read database to standard output instead of searching for files and exit successfully.
-q, --quiet Write no messages about errors encountered while reading and processing databases.
-r, --regexp REGEXP Search for a basic regexp REGEXP. No PATTERNs are allowed if this option is used, but this option can be specified multiple times.
--regex Interpret all PATTERNs as extended regexps.
-s, --stdio Ignored, for compatibility with BSD and GNU locate.
-V, --version Write information about the version and license of locate on standard output and exit successfully.
-w, --wholename Match only the whole path name against the specified patterns.

This option is the default behavior. The opposite can be specified using --basename.

Exit Status

locate exits successfully with status 0 if:

  • any match was found, or
  • the command was invoked with one of the --limit 0, --help, --statistics or --version options, because those options cause it not to search for anything at all. Therefore, even though locate did not match any results, the command exits successfully.

locate exits unsuccessfully with status 1 if:

  • no match was found, or
  • a fatal error was encountered, causing the program to terminate.

Note: Errors encountered while reading a database are not fatal; search continues in other specified databases, if any.

locate examples

locate perl

Locates files named perl on the local machine.

find — Find files within a directory hierarchy.
whereis — Locate the binary, source, and manual page files for a command.
xargs — Build and execute complex commands, and execute them on multiple files.