Close

RHCSA – Using the Linux find command

The “find” command is the main command to use if you are trying to locate a particular file or folder.

Announcement

I have released my new course on Udemy, Kubernetes By Example. Sign up now to get free lifetime access!

The find command is incredibly versatile and has lots of features. So the best way to understand how to use it is by taking a look at some examples:

Find a file by it’s name

Let’s say I want to find a file called “sshd_config” but have no idea which directory it might be in, in that case I do:

$ find / -name sshd_config -type f
/etc/ssh/sshd_config

Let’s break down whats happening here:

  • / – first argument that I specified is an absolute path, which in my case is the root directory, “/”. This tells the find command where to search, which in my case is the entire linux filesystem. Hence this command may take several minutes to complete, as there’s a lot of files/folders to search through. That’s why you should specify a lower level folder in order to narrow the search scope and get a faster response.
  • -name sshd_config – The “name” option is used to tell the find command, to perform a search and return all results based on the file’s (or folder’s) name. In this case I specified that the name should be “sshd_config”. You can also make use of wildcards here.
  • -type f – Here I specified that I am looking for files and not directories. This argument is optional and if I omit it, then the find command will return matches for both files and folders.

Note you can omit specifying a path, in which case the find command will default to searching through the cwd. Therefore the following:

$ find -name sshd_config -type f

is the same as writing:

$ find . -name sshd_config  -type f

Find a folder by it’s name

For example, to locate all directories beginning with “ssh”, and located somewhere in /etc, I do:

$ find /etc -name ssh* -type d

Note: you cannot be in your home directory when running the above command, because it won’t work. I think this could be a bug.

Here’s I specified the type as “d”, which mean’s I want to see matches that are directories only.

If I omit to specify a type, then the find command will return all matches, i.e. files and folders.

Find a file that has been recently accessed

So far we matched files/folders based on the “-name” condition (aka test) being satisfied. However there are lots of other tests that are available, which you can view in the man page. E.g you can use “-amin -x” to list all files that have been accessed less than x minutes ago. You can then combine these tests together like this:

[root@localhost /]# find / -name ssh* -amin -50 -type d
/root/sshd_config

Alternatives to the find command

The find command is really powerful. But there are other user-friendly (but less powerful) commands that you can use to locate files, they are the which, locate, and whereis commands.

See also:

35 Practical Examples of Linux Find Command