[Techtalk] updatedb hard drive thrashing

Carla Schroder carla at bratgrrl.com
Sun Jun 22 13:14:14 EST 2003

On Sunday 22 June 2003 10:19 am, Deanna Dunker wrote:
> I've noticed that sometimes it won't allow me to use the Find utility until
> I've ran updatedb.  I'll go to find a file, and a message will pop up
> saying something along the lines about how the search wont be completed
> until I've run updatedb as root.  This has happened to me several times in
> RH9, which I've been running for a few weeks now. I've never had that
> problem in RH8.
> Is there a way around it?  I've just been trying to find files through the
> GUI (*cringes*, yes I'm a gui-gal).  Would I be able to search without
> having to wait to updatedb another way?  Also, would this affect Ed's
> searching capabilities if he uninstalled the program?
> At 11:56 PM 6/22/2003 +1000, Mary wrote:
> >On Sun, Jun 22, 2003, ed orphan wrote:
> > > I'm running Red Hat 7.3 and every so often, while I have KDE going,
> > > the hard drive starts to work very very hard. It sounds like it's
> > > thrashing.  So I got into root and ran top. The problem seems to be a
> > > program called   updatedb.  It was gobbling up CPU time and working
> > > the hard drive very hard.  Is updatedb an important program? Can I axe
> > > it?  What does it do?  Even when I close down KDE, and exit the user
> > > account, and I'm just in root on the command line, it keeps going. I
> > > have to do a shutdown and re-boot to make it stop thrashing the hard
> > > drive.  Does anyone else have this problem?  Any information on
> > > updatedb would be most welcome!
> >
> >Updatedb is a program that updates the locate database. You can use
> >locate to find files on your disk very quickly. For example, "locate
> >pdf" finds all the pdf files on my system in just over a second. Doing
> >an actual search of the harddrive would take much longer (so long that I
> >don't want to test it for the purposes of this mail).
> >
> >The reason it can do this is that updatedb has stored the name of every
> >file in a database on my system. updatedb itself finds all the files by
> >searching the entire disk once a day - hence the thrashing. (I once
> >heard a joke along the lines of "It's 6am, do you know why *your* Debian
> >machine is thrashing?" because the updatedb cron job runs at 6am on
> >Debian systems that use the default findutils setup.)
> >
> >So the answer to "is it an important program?" depends on whether you
> >use the "locate" command a lot. Fellow Red Hat users might be able to
> >tell you how to uninstall (or more likely, disable) it.
> >

1. OK, call me mean, but this business of top- and mixed-posting is driving me 
NUTS. Bottom-posting is correct netiquette; at the very least PLEASE follow 
the pattern already set in the message. Some replies are on top, some below, 
and it's a mess. Bottom-posting and replying in context are logical and easy 
to follow.

2.  Running the "locate" command when updatedb has not run in awhile will 
generate an error message, about needing to run updatedb. I don't know why 
running find would generate this error message, unless Red Hat has done 
something goofy with it.

3. Red Hat's manuals are very good, and all of them are available online if 
you don't have hard copies. I highly recommend consulting them first, 
especially as Red Hat is very customized, and does things their own way.

Carla Schroder
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