slocate - Linux


slocate is a command-line utility in Linux used for searching the entire filesystem for files and directories by their names. As a security-enhanced version of locate, slocate maintains a system-wide database of filenames and enforces permission checks on search results. It ensures that users can only see filenames for files they have permission to access, making it ideal for multi-user environments.


The general syntax of the slocate command is:

slocate [options] pattern
  • pattern: The text string or regular expression to search for in the filenames stored in the database.


  • -u, --update: Updates the database to include the latest files and directories on the system. Typically requires root access.
  • -i, --ignore-case: Ignore case distinctions in both the pattern and the file paths.
  • -n, --limit: Limits the number of results returned. By default, all matching entries are displayed.
  • -r, --regexp: Treat the pattern as a regular expression when searching for matching files.
  • -d, --database: Specifies a custom database file instead of the default system database. Useful for using custom or localized indexes.
  • -v, --verbose: Shows progress during database updating (used with -u). It displays the names of directories as they are scanned.
  • -l, --existing: Shows only the files that currently exist on the filesystem. Helps in ensuring that output does not contain stale links.


Simple name search:

slocate myfile.txt

Update the database (usually needs sudo):

sudo slocate -u

Search for files using regular expression:

slocate -r 'my_file_[0-9]+\.txt$'

Ignore case distinctions:

slocate -i "MyFile.txt"

Limit results:

slocate -n 10 error_log

Common Issues

  • Permission Denied: When updating the database, make sure you run slocate -u with root permissions.
  • Out-of-date Database: If files are not found but exist on disk, update the database using slocate -u.
  • Pattern Complexity: Regular expressions that are too complex may slow down searches significantly.


slocate can be combined with other commands like grep for filtering results or xargs for performing actions on found files:

Search and delete logs:

slocate old_log | grep '.log$' | xargs rm

Count specific files:

slocate -i ".mp3" | wc -l
  • locate: The basic version of slocate without strict permissions checks.
  • updatedb: Command to update the database used by locate and slocate.
  • find: A command for searching files in the filesystem which can be an alternative to slocate but is slower as it does not use a database.

For further reading on slocate, the Linux man pages (man slocate) provide a wealth of detailed information. Additionally, many Linux distributions host documentation online which can be consulted for more in-depth usage scenarios and troubleshooting.