I'd like to use mlocate on my Ubuntu server, but only to index certain directories (e.g. /home and /data, but not everything under /). However, mlocate's standard configuration works the opposite way; you specify the paths you want to remove (with PRUNE_PATHS).

Is there any easy way to achieve this, or any similar utility that will do what I want? (note: it should maintain an index like mlocate, so find is not acceptable, for example) Thanks.

3 Answers 3


Edit the file /etc/updatedb.conf

Set up PRUNEPATHS with the directories you DO NOT want to search

PRUNEPATHS="/tmp /var/spool /media"

PRUNEPATHS: A whitespace-separated list of path names of directories which should not be scanned by updatedb. Each path name must be exactly in the form in which the directory would be reported by locate. By default, no paths are skipped.

Note that all of the above configuration information can also be changed or updated through the command line options to the utility updatedb.

  • No, that's the exact opposite of what I want. This will index everything except those directories. Jul 6, 2012 at 13:39
  • You can set PRUNEPATHS with everything except your directories. This way, it will only scan your directories.
    – LnxSlck
    Jul 6, 2012 at 13:40
  • OK, thanks for the clarifying edit. That's a bit impractical, because as I add subdirectories alongside directories I want to index, I'd have to remember to add them to PRUNEPATHS. However, it would work. Thanks for the suggestion. Jul 6, 2012 at 13:44
  • Yes i know, but i can't find much info on mlocate to do that. Can't you use something like find?
    – LnxSlck
    Jul 6, 2012 at 13:48
  • No, I have a lot of data, so it's important that it's indexed. Have clarified in question. Jul 6, 2012 at 13:51

You can use the -U option (--database-root PATH)

updatedb -l 0 -U /home/user/music -o /home/user/databasefile

-o writes to the output file

-l 0 makes that you can read it, otherwise it is only accessible for locate

Then you can then use it like:

locate -d /home/user/databasefile Dylan

-d sets the databasepath

To use mlocate with more than one root directory, simply create two databasefiles, and use locate with two databasepath's options like this:

locate -d /home/user/dbfile1 -d /home/user/dbfile2 searchstring

To sum it up and answer the question more specific:

updatedb -l 0 -U /home -o /home/user/home_dbfile
updatedb -l 0 -U /data -o /home/user/data_dbfile
locate -d /home/user/home_dbfile -d /home/user/data_dbfile Dylan
  • Upvoting, as this is a partial answer. However, it only allows for whitelisting one path. My question was specifically about how to whitelist more than one path. Dec 10, 2013 at 16:49
  • 1
    Improved the answer and for easier handling I suggest create an alias
    – Janghou
    Dec 12, 2013 at 10:38
  • good answer! I didn't realise you could search in two databases in parallel, thanks for the clarification. I am going to mark this accepted unless a better answer arrives! Dec 12, 2013 at 16:17
  • Is updatedb -l 0 -U /home/user/music recursive? Doesn't seem to be in my case
    – Gaia
    Dec 2, 2016 at 1:04

I found something else you could try:

  1. QuickSearch - "So my SearchTool use a different way: it uses 'ls' command to list content of searched folder, then does the search on that output. This way search speed is very fast (except for the first time it has to make the 'ls' output)."

Not very sure about indexing.

  1. Use tool tracker-gui
  2. Pretty lame solution sudo find "place your search directories here" > files.list grep 'filename' files.list
  • Try not to add multiple answers. If necessary, edit the existing answer and include more information. Thanks.
    – jokerdino
    Sep 3, 2012 at 1:03
  • Yes, i will do that
    – LnxSlck
    Sep 8, 2012 at 21:54

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