Whereis Command in Linux with Examples

Whereis Command in Linux

Linux, the open-source operating system known for its robustness and versatility, has become an essential tool for developers, system administrators, and tech enthusiasts worldwide. One of the most powerful aspects of Linux is its command-line interface (CLI), which allows users to perform complex tasks efficiently. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the whereis command, a valuable tool for locating binaries, source files, and manual pages associated with a specific command. By the end of this article, you will have a solid understanding of how to use the whereis command effectively, along with practical examples to help you master this essential Linux tool.

Understanding the Whereis Command

The whereis command is a Linux utility that helps users locate the binary, source, and manual page files for a given command. It searches for files in a restricted set of locations, such as standard directories like /bin, /usr/bin, /usr/local/bin, /sbin, /usr/sbin, /usr/local/sbin, and /usr/share/man. This command differs from similar tools like find, locate, and which in terms of its speed and the specific types of files it searches for.

The basic syntax of the whereis command is as follows:

whereis [options] command_name

Some of the commonly used options with the whereis command include:

  • -b: Search only for binaries.
  • -m: Search only for manual pages.
  • -s: Search only for source files.
  • -u: Search for unusual entries, which are entries that have more than one binary, source, or manual page file.

Setting Up Your Linux Environment for Using Whereis

Before diving into the usage of the whereis command, ensure that you have access to a Linux terminal. The process of opening a terminal may vary slightly depending on your Linux distribution:

  • In Ubuntu or Debian, you can open the terminal by pressing Ctrl+Alt+T or by clicking on the terminal icon in the application launcher.
  • In CentOS or Fedora, you can access the terminal by clicking on the terminal icon in the application launcher or by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting “Open Terminal.”

Most Linux distributions come with the whereis command pre-installed as part of the util-linux package. However, if you encounter a “command not found” error when running whereis, you may need to install the package manually using your distribution’s package manager. For example, on Ubuntu or Debian, you can install the package by running:

sudo apt install util-linux

Basic Usage of Whereis Command

Locating Binaries

One of the primary uses of the whereis command is to locate the binary files associated with a specific command. For example, to find the location of the grep command binary, you would run:

whereis grep

The output will display the paths to the grep binary and its manual page:

grep: /usr/bin/grep /usr/share/man/man1/grep.1.gz

Finding Source Code

The whereis command can also help you locate the source code files for a particular command. For instance, to find the source code of the bash command, you can use:

whereis -s bash

This will display the path to the bash source code, if available on your system.

Locating Manual Pages

In addition to binaries and source code, whereis can locate the manual pages for a given command. To find the manual page for the ls command, run:

whereis -m ls

The output will show the path to the ls command’s manual page:

ls: /usr/share/man/man1/ls.1.gz

Advanced Examples of Whereis Command

Combining Whereis with Other Commands

You can combine the whereis command with other Linux commands to enhance its functionality. For example, to filter the results of whereis using grep, you can use the following command:

whereis -b -m -s bash | grep "/usr/bin"

This command will search for the binary, manual page, and source code files for the bash command and then filter the results to display only the files located in the /usr/bin directory.

Troubleshooting Common Issues with Whereis Command

While the whereis command is generally reliable, you may encounter some issues when using it. One common problem is the “command not found” error, which occurs when the whereis command itself is not installed on your system. As mentioned earlier, you can resolve this by installing the util-linux package.

Another issue you may face is when whereis fails to locate certain files. This can happen if the files are located in non-standard directories or if they have been removed from your system. To ensure accurate and comprehensive search results, you can use alternative commands like find or locate, which search a wider range of directories.

Alternatives to Whereis Command

While whereis is a powerful tool for locating files associated with a specific command, there are other commands that serve similar purposes:

  • find: A versatile command that searches for files and directories based on various criteria, such as name, size, or modification time.
  • locate: A command that searches for files and directories using a pre-built database, making it faster than find but potentially less up-to-date.
  • which: A command that displays the full path of a given command, helping you determine which executable is being run when multiple versions are installed.

Each of these commands has its strengths and weaknesses, and the choice between them depends on your specific needs and the task at hand.


The whereis command is a powerful tool in the Linux user’s arsenal, simplifying the process of locating binaries, source code, and manual pages for specific commands. By mastering the usage of whereis and understanding its various options, you can streamline your workflow and become a more efficient Linux user.

As you continue to explore the vast landscape of Linux commands, remember to practice using whereis in different scenarios and with different options. Don’t hesitate to consult the official Linux documentation and participate in online forums and communities to deepen your understanding and learn from the experiences of others.

With the knowledge gained from this comprehensive guide, you are now well-equipped to harness the power of the whereis command and take your Linux skills to the next level.


r00t is a seasoned Linux system administrator with a wealth of experience in the field. Known for his contributions to, r00t has authored numerous tutorials and guides, helping users navigate the complexities of Linux systems. His expertise spans across various Linux distributions, including Ubuntu, CentOS, and Debian. r00t's work is characterized by his ability to simplify complex concepts, making Linux more accessible to users of all skill levels. His dedication to the Linux community and his commitment to sharing knowledge makes him a respected figure in the field.
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