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Tags: 18.04   nautilus   gnome-shell   search   yad  
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Title: Search is useless. How can I force it to index my hard drive (2018)
ID: /2018/12/24/Search-is-useless.-How-can-I-force-it-to-index-my-hard-drive-_2018_
Created: December 24, 2018    Edited:  December 24, 2018
Upload: November 24, 2022    Layout:  post
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Files are indexed for the locate command but normally it is updated every day so any new file you created today won’t show up until tomorrow. I’ve circumvented this shortfall by putting sudo updatedb as a cron job that runs every 15 minutes (it only takes a few seconds to run).

The locate command behaves as if wildcards are used:

$ time locate etc/profile

real	0m0.696s
user	0m0.671s
sys 	0m0.024s

I prefixed the locate command with the time command so you can see how blindingly fast it is doing lookups on indexed filenames and directory names with implied wildcards.

The locate output is rather sparse so I created an alias llocate to format the output nicely (

$ time llocate etc/profile
ACCESS      OWNER  GROUP  SIZE  MODIFIED      NAME (updatdb last ran: 2018-07-01 11:30:05)
-rw-r--r--  root   root   575   Nov 12  2017  /etc/profile
drwxr-xr-x  root   root   4096  Jun  4 17:19  /etc/profile.d
-rw-r--r--  root   root   40    Feb 16  2017  /etc/profile.d/
-rw-r--r--  root   root   580   Oct 18  2017  /etc/profile.d/
-rw-r--r--  root   root   663   May 18  2016  /etc/profile.d/
-rw-r--r--  root   root   1003  Dec 29  2015  /etc/profile.d/
-rwxr-xr-x  root   root   301   Feb 20  2013  /etc/profile.d/jdk.csh
-rwxr-xr-x  root   root   299   Feb 20  2013  /etc/profile.d/
-rw-r--r--  root   root   1941  Mar 16  2016  /etc/profile.d/

real	0m0.760s
user	0m0.754s
sys 	0m0.020s

Notice how the heading tells you the last time files were indexed. If you can’t find the file you are looking for and, was created before that time, simply run sudo updatedb.

The time command is used again so you can see that using llocate is marginally slower than locate unless a huge number of results are returned.


locate GUI front-end glocate

Although locate is a CLI command I’ve created a GUI front for it using zenity. This is an initial β€œno frills” front-end that could be improved using yad instead.

Enter up to 10 search file names / directory names

This screen appears when you start glocate:

glocate 1.png

You can enter directory names and filenames in whole or in part.

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Results returned in scroll box

glocate takes about a second to display the results in most cases:

glocate 2.png

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Bash Script

Here is the bash script you can create using:

sudo -H gedit /usr/local/bin/glocate

Then copy and paste the following line:


# NAME: glocate
# PATH: /usr/local/bin
# DESC: Provide zenity GUI front end to locate command

# DATE: Dec 24, 2018.

# NOTE:	Written for:

Init () {
    # Get date `sudo updatedb` was last run
    LastRun=$(stat --printf=%y /var/lib/mlocate/mlocate.db | sed 's/\.[^\n]*//')
    SearchMax=10    # Search for up to 10 filenames or directories at once

GetSearchNames () {

    SearchNames=$(zenity \
        --title "glocate - updatedb last run: $LastRun" \
        --text '<span foreground="blue" font="14">Enter up to 10 search names</span>' \
        --forms --width=800 --height=480 \
        --add-entry="Search 1" --add-entry="Search 2" --add-entry="Search 3" \
        --add-entry="Search 4" --add-entry="Search 5" --add-entry="Search 6" \
        --add-entry="Search 7" --add-entry="Search 8" --add-entry="Search 9" \
        --add-entry="Search 10" 2>/dev/null)

    Action="$?" # Glitch: When ESC pressed or Cancel clicked result is 0?
    # echo "Action: $Action" # Remove leading # to debug

    # Zenity not returning array like yad would. Build array manually
    SearchArr=() # Reset array
    for (( i=1; i<=$SearchMax; ++i)) ; do
        Field="$(echo "$SearchNames"| cut -d '|' -f $i)"
        [[ $Field != "" ]] && SearchArr+=("$Field")

    # Click OK without search names?
    CharacterCount=$(wc -c <<< "${SearchNames[@]}")
    # echo "CharacterCount: $CharacterCount" # Remove leading # to debug
    # if [[  "$Action" == 0 && "$CharacterCount" == "$SearchMax" ]] ; then
    if [[ "$CharacterCount" -le "$SearchMax" ]] ; then
        zenity  --error --title="glocate" \
                --text="No search names entered. Program will end." \
    return "$Action"  # 0 = Proceed with search, anything else = quit.

DisplaySearch () {

    Result=$(locate "${SearchArr[@]}" )

    zenity \
        --title "locate search results" \
        --text '<span foreground="blue" font="14">Scroll to see more results</span>' \
        --list --separator="$IFS" --width=800 --height=480 \
        --hide-header --column "Directory and filenames" \
        "${Result[@]}" 2>/dev/null

Main () {

    while GetSearchNames ; do DisplaySearch ; done



Save the file and exit gedit.

Mark the script as executable using:

sudo chmod a+x /usr/local/bin/glocate

If you want to create a desktop shortcut see: An easy way to create a desktop shortcut?

To call the script from the terminal simply use: glocate.

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