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I've just created a Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Live USB with persistence (3GB) on a 4GB USB flash drive.

I was wondering whether I could install a program (or a file, something that takes up space) and then when i delete/remove it I will get that space back.

(If not) how does that persistence work exactly?

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Yes, space occupied by files written to a persistent area on rewriteable media (like a USB flash drive) is reclaimed when the files are deleted.

If you find that space is not being reclaimed, please make sure the files are really deleted. In particular, if you have a trash folder on a persistent area and you "delete" a file from somewhere else on the persistent area to the trash, no space is freed until the trash is emptied.

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