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Manual Reference Pages  -  GUPDATEDB (1)


updatedb - update a file name database




updatedb [options]


This manual page documents the GNU version of updatedb, which updates file name databases used by GNU locate. The file name databases contain lists of files that were in particular directory trees when the databases were last updated. The file name of the default database is determined when locate and updatedb are configured and installed. The frequency with which the databases are updated and the directories for which they contain entries depend on how often updatedb is run, and with which arguments.

In networked environments, it often makes sense to build a database at the root of each filesystem, containing the entries for that filesystem. updatedb is then run for each filesystem on the fileserver where that filesystem is on a local disk, to prevent thrashing the network. Users can select which databases locate searches using an environment variable or command line option; see locate(1). Databases cannot be concatenated together.

The file name database format changed starting with GNU find and locate version 4.0 to allow machines with different byte orderings to share the databases. The new GNU locate can read both the old and new database formats. However, old versions of locate and find produce incorrect results if given a new-format database.


--findoptions=’-option1 -option2...
  Global options to pass on to find. The environment variable FINDOPTIONS also sets this value. Default is none.
--localpaths=’path1 path2...
  Non-network directories to put in the database. Default is /.
--netpaths=’path1 path2...
  Network (NFS, AFS, RFS, etc.) directories to put in the database. The environment variable NETPATHS also sets this value. Default is none.
--prunepaths=’path1 path2...
  Directories to not put in the database, which would otherwise be. Remove any trailing slashes from the path names, otherwise updatedb won't recognise the paths you want to omit (because it uses them as regular expression patterns). The environment variable PRUNEPATHS also sets this value. Default is /tmp /usr/tmp /var/tmp /afs.
  File systems to not put in the database, which would otherwise be. Note that files are pruned when a file system is reached; any file system mounted under an undesired file system will be ignored. The environment variable PRUNEFS also sets this value. Default is nfs NFS proc.
  The database file to build. Default is system-dependent. In Debian GNU/Linux, the default is /var/cache/locate/locatedb.
  The user to search non-network directories as, using su(1). Default is to search the non-network directories as the current user. You can also use the environment variable LOCALUSER to set this user.
  The user to search network directories as, using su(1). Default is daemon. You can also use the environment variable NETUSER to set this user.
  Create the database in the old format. This is a synonym for --dbformat=old.
  Create the database in format F. The default format is called LOCATE02. F can be old to select the old database format (this is the same as specifying --old-format). Alternatively the slocate format is also supported. When the slocate format is in use, the database produced is marked as having security level 1. If you want to build a system-wide slocate database, you may want to run updatedb as root.
  Print the version number of updatedb and exit.
--help Print a summary of the options to updatedb and exit.


find(1), locate(1), locatedb(5), xargs(1)

The full documentation for updatedb is maintained as a Texinfo manual. If the info and updatedb programs are properly installed at your site, the command info updatedb should give you access to the complete manual.


The updatedb program correctly handles filenames containing newlines, but only if the system’s sort command has a working -z option. If you suspect that locate may need to return filenames containing newlines, consider using its --null option.

The best way to report a bug is to use the form at The reason for this is that you will then be able to track progress in fixing the problem. Other comments about updatedb(1) and about the findutils package in general can be sent to the bug-findutils mailing list. To join the list, send email to

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