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Im not being able to run update manager as I get the error saying that there is not enough free space in the /tmp directory. I've practically cleaned out the tmp directory but the error persists.

Any help would be appreciated. here's df-h

/dev/loop0       13G   11G  952M  92% /
udev            2.0G  4.0K  2.0G   1% /dev
tmpfs           785M  920K  784M   1% /run
none            5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
none            2.0G  584K  2.0G   1% /run/shm
/dev/sda6        20G   14G  6.4G  68% /host

overflow        1.0M   16K 1008K   2% /tmp
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where is your / ? Why is it on a /dev/loop ? – josinalvo Oct 13 '12 at 14:53
Here, a simple reboot solved the issue. As @josinalvo explained, / was full and was increased on the fly: The disk was a virtual disk. – koppor Feb 24 '14 at 19:46
up vote 24 down vote accepted

What seems to have happened:

Your / was full, then Ubuntu created a new partition, in RAM memory, to use temporarily.

Now, this 1MB partition is not big enough for the job, either.

What we can do:

1) increase the size of this partition just to do the upgrade

2) actually delete enough files in the HD that this partition is no longer needed.

To do 1:

open a terminal and run

sudo umount /tmp
sudo mount -t tmpfs -o size=1048576,mode=1777 overflow /tmp

This should give you an 1MB partition (just like the one you had =P).

Now, to increase the size, you increase the size in that line, so that, with size=10485760, you'd get 10 MB.

Your goal is to find a number that is enough for the job, but leaves enough ram too

To do 2:

open a terminal and run

sudo umount /tmp

then clean up!

Delete files in /tmp (now /tmp is the thing actually in your HD, rather than a virtual ram disk), uninstall unused packages, delete files in your home folder and so on.

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This answer worked for me but I needed to kill some things before /tmp would umount. If you get a message that says /tmp is busy, then do fuser -m /tmp to find pids that are using /tmp, then ps -elf <pids>, stop or kill processes. Then umount /tmp. Also suggested on internet sudo umount overflow. – gaoithe May 9 '14 at 15:10
@gaoithe I used sudo lsof | grep tmp to find the pid then kill to kill it. In my case this was Xorg. This is the X Window System which I don't use anyways. – DutGRIFF May 5 '15 at 5:03
To do 2 even simpler: after cleanup just reboot. This avoids problems with umount /tmp because of a being busy. – Roland May 1 at 11:03
May i know why you have reverted back my edits? – heemayl Jul 16 at 13:49
Thank you for your improvements on my answer! (but some, I did not like and removed) – josinalvo Jul 16 at 13:53

I am pretty sure @user220420 was referring to /etc/fstab instead of /etc/mtab. I had lots of free GB in my root, however, Firefox wouldn't let me download anything from the internet. A small window would pop-up before finishing any download, telling /tmp had not enough space left. Within fstab, there's this line where you can increase tmp's folder size. It was set to 100M so I changed it to 1000M. After reboot, I right-clicked on /tmp (in root) and properties showed 1GB free (to make sure changes applied properly). That was it.

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Let me tell you that this worked with other distros other than Ubuntu. I could accomplish this on Sabayon as well. – user63070 Sep 26 '14 at 18:34

I know about this problem on my Kubuntu 16.04, and user63070 shows the best answer. Change the size at /etc/fstab like this:

tmpfs     /tmp     tmpfs     defaults,size=10G,mode=1777     0     0

Reboot, and you got 10GB for your /tmp folder.

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Open up /etc/mtab in your favorite text editor with root privledges (ie “sudo vim /etc/mtab”). And increase the memory allocated to your /tmp folder. After restart Ubuntu will increase the space to /tmp, and fix this problem.

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1) You don't edit /etc/mtab - that file is handled by mount, 2) there is probably no entry fo /tmp in etc/fstab either. – guntbert Nov 29 '13 at 20:42

Looks like your / partition is full.

If you have space on other partitions on your disk, you might use this space to increase the size of your / partition. There are tools available for this, for example gparted.

sudo apt-get install gparted

share|improve this answer
is there a 'safer' tool, apparently gparted is kinda tricky to handle especially for noobs – KodeSeeker Oct 13 '12 at 8:47

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