The solution for your problem is very simple. But if you want to know better why the error is occurring and why the proposed solution works, you can read the entire answer.
Otherwise, if you only want to get the answer, go straight to the "How to update your locate db?" session.
What exactly locate.updatedb does?
This is the current behavior of
- If you are running the script as
root, the script calls itself with the user
nobody. Then, when the children returns, it updates the final locale database with the database saved by the children process (
nobody user) in a temporary location, and then exits;
/usr/libexec/locate.updatedb, line 31, with additional comments added by me):
if [ "$(id -u)" = "0" ]; then ## IF ROOT USER
export FCODES=`mktemp -t updatedb` ## CREATE A TEMP FILE
chown nobody $FCODES # TEMP FILE OWNED BY THE NOBODY USER
tmpdb=`su -fm nobody -c "$0"` || rc=1 ## CALL ITSELF AS USER NOBODY
if [ $rc = 0 ]; then
install -m 0444 -o nobody -g wheel $FCODES \
/var/db/locate.database ## INSTALL THE LOCATE DATABASE SAVED \
## BY THE CHILDREN IN THE TEMP FILE
exit $rc ## EXIT
- When running with another user (it is, the user
nobody), the script indexes your system (ignoring the paths which it doesn't have permission) and then saves the result in a temporary file (actually, the previously temp file created by its father).
- Part of the logic is executed as root, and other part as nobody;
- If the script is called without
sudo, it won't work (only
root has permission in the
/var/db directory). It is, you must really run the script as
- As a result,
locate.updatedb can't index files inside your home directory (the
nobody user doesn't have permission to access it);
- I think
locate.updatedb indexes this way because it will be impossible to an user to discover name of files that belongs to another user (in another home directory);
- If you want to locate files inside your home, you can use
mdfind, as proposed by @ted-naleid.
Some code (
/usr/libexec/locate.updatedb, line 93, with additional comments):
if $find -s $SEARCHPATHS $excludes -or -print 2>/dev/null | ## SEARCH
$mklocatedb -presort > $tmp ## CREATE LOCALEDB
case X"`$find $tmp -size -257c -print`" in
X) cat $tmp > $FCODES;; ## SAVE LOCALEDB IN THE TEMP FILE
Why are you getting "Permission Denied" errors?
As I said,
locale.updatedb launchs a new instance of itself as the
nobody user. However, you cannot start a script inside a workdir in which the script has no permissions.
Probably, you are getting "Permission denied" errors because you're running
locale.updatedb inside your home.
I'm creating a simple script to show this fact:
if [ $(id -un) != "nobody" ]; then
sudo -u nobody "$0"
find / -mindepth 1 -maxdepth 1 | wc -l
If you put this script inside
/tmp/test.sh and set execution permission to it (
chmod +x /tmp/test.sh), depending of your workdir, it can show or not errors:
$ cd /tmp
$ cd ~
shell-init: error retrieving current directory: getcwd: cannot access parent directories: Permission denied
job-working-directory: error retrieving current directory: getcwd: cannot access parent directories: Permission denied
find: .: Permission denied
How to update your locate db?
Now, it's simple! Only change your workdir to a place where
nobody has permission before executing