locate (Unix)

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locate is a Unix utility which serves to find files on filesystems. It searches through a prebuilt database of files generated by the updatedb command or by a daemon and compressed using incremental encoding. It operates significantly faster than find, but requires regular updating of the database. This sacrifices overall efficiency (because of the regular interrogation of filesystems even when no user needs information) and absolute accuracy (since the database does not update in real time) for significant speed improvements, particularly on very large filesystems.

locate was first created in 1982.[1] The BSD and GNU Findutils versions derive from the original implementation.[2] Their primary database is world-readable, so the index is built as an unprivileged user.

mlocate (Merging Locate) and the earlier slocate (Secure Locate) use a restricted-access database, only showing filenames accessible to the user.[3][4]


  1. ^ Woods, James A. (1983-01-15). "Finding Files Fast". ;login:. Vol. 8 no. 1. Usenix. pp. 8–10. Retrieved 2016-03-27. 
  2. ^ "Finding Files". GNU. Free Software Foundation. 2012-11-17. Retrieved 2016-03-27. GNU locate and its associated utilities were originally written by James Woods, with enhancements by David MacKenzie. 
  3. ^ Miloslav Trmač (2005). "mlocate". Archived from the original on 2006-04-11. Retrieved 2016-03-27. ...faster and does not trash the system caches as much...attempts to be compatible to GNU locate, when it does not conflict with slocate compatibility. 
  4. ^ Kevin Lindsay (1999). "Secure Locate". Archived from the original on 2005-05-07. Retrieved 2016-03-27. ...will also check file permissions and ownership so that users will not see files they do not have access to. 

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